Whether you’re a longtime vinyl enthusiast or just starting out, it’s fun to tweak your system to make everything sound better. Here are some of our most popular ways to make it all happen…
Perhaps the easiest, most cost-effective way to improve your overall system sound is by upgrading the cartridge. The Danish company Ortofon makes outstanding cartridges for turntables at every price point, and one of their most popular models is the Ortofon 2M Blue. The 2M series features Ortofon’s trademark split pole pins, a proprietary invention that enables moving magnet cartridges to have a flat frequency response like a moving coil cartridge. The 2M Blue adds more dynamics and resolution, sounds more open and reproduces more details.
And for ultra-high-end audiophile performance, check out the Hana ML. Stereophile Recommended Component USA had rave reviews for this cartridge declaring “the overachieving Hana ML: a stunning-sounding, artfully engineered phono invention that loves all music, and a fantastic bargain.”
The phono preamp is an often-overlooked component that can make a dramatic difference in sound quality. Its critical job is to take the comparatively small electrical signal from the cartridge and amplify it so it can be used with a line level input on a receiver or amplifier. Some receivers and integrated amplifiers have a built-in phono stage, but many don’t, and almost all really high-performance systems employ an outboard phono stage.
At the entry level, check out the Pro-Ject Phono Box DC, which offers low noise circuitry for low distortion and a flat RIAA equalization curve to deliver Hi-Fi performance for both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges. In the $1,500 range, the Hegel V10 is neutral, dynamic, and exceptionally revealing. And for the absolute crème de la crème, check out the MOON 810LP, the company's first Evolution Series phono preamplifier. The dual-mono fully balanced differential design features a combination of customized parts in an ultra-refined audio circuit which is mounted on a floating suspension and fed by a unique power supply.
The Wildcat Tonearm Cable from AudioQuest makes a significant sonic improvement over most stock tonearm cables. It features solid PSC conductors for effortless signal transfer and it’s shielded by a silver/gray braided jacket with 5-pin JIS plug to 2 x RCA plugs, plus a ground. And with the addition of its patented Dielectric-Bias System, the AudioQuest Cougar brings a level of low-level clarity and resolution rarely seen at this price. Perfect-Surface Copper+ is the icing on the cake, raising Cougar's performance significantly above Wildcat's.
One of the best turntable accessories to have is a top-notch record cleaning machine. Vacuum cleaning your records gets dirt, dust, and grime out of the grooves to let you hear the music you've been missing. The vacuum powered Record Doctor V is the most highly recommended low-price record cleaning machine in the world. Stereophile Magazine calls the Record Doctor, "the least expensive way to effectively clean records."
The Pro-Ject VC-S2 ALU offers the ease, convenience, and benefits of wet vinyl LP cleaning in a fully set-up package that rids records of offensive dirt and annoying debris. You'll hear your vinyl like never before, and enjoy improved dynamics, clarity, and detail.
The innovative Kirmuss Audio KA-RC-1 Ultrasonic Record Restoration System increases your listening pleasure by eliminating most of those pop and crackling sounds from both new and old records, breathing life into your music collection. Through Kirmuss Audio's patented and patents-pending record suspension system, fungus and remnants of prior cleanings are stripped off the record
Even after you've thoroughly cleaned a record, it can pick up dust particles and dirt as it sits on your turntable. You'd be surprised how much dust is in the air of a typical room, and you don't want it accumulating on your records and compromising the sound quality. The Record Doctor Carbon Fiber Record Brush is a cost-effective way to sweep dust and dirt away. Also recommended is the AudioQuest Anti-Static Record Brush, whose conductive carbon fiber bristles and gold contacts remove microscopic dust before it becomes embedded in the vinyl. It’s also perfect for computer keyboards!
LAST Stylus Cleaner removes even the toughest deposits. This protects your stylus and precious vinyl records from abrasion damage caused by dirt that has adhered to the stylus tip. Clean the stylus before each record play, or anytime you hear distortion or mis-tracking.
After cleaning with LAST Stylus Cleaner, protect your stylus with STYLAST Stylus Treatment, which dramatically reduces the friction at the stylus/groove interface for extended stylus life, reduced distortion and reduced record wear. (Get one bottle of each in this specially priced Combo Kit.)
IsoAcoustics zaZen is a stable isolation platform designed for turntables and other sensitive audio equipment. The combination of the platform mass and the integrated IsoAcoustics isolation technology allows audio gear to reveal greater acoustic clarity and detail. Call, chat, or visit the store nearest you for ordering details.
Another one of our most simple and best selling turntable accessories is a record puck. The Pro-Ject Record Puck is a heavyweight record clamp that dampens vibration and holds your record in place on the platter. It’s made of metal with a powder-coated black finish on top and felt on the bottom to protect your records.
Most records are positively charged with static electricity, and this positive charge attracts dust and grime to the disc groove, resulting in unwanted surface noises. Here are two solutions that safely protect the disc inside the outer sleeve to reduce the positive charge and thereby release the dust: Kirmuss Audio's Anti-Static Vinyl Record Sleeves and Goldring Exstatic Record Sleeves.
Last but not least, and probably the most obvious, a new turntable can bring a whole new level of performance – and therefore enjoyment – to your listening experience! If you currently have an entry-level model and are looking to move up a level, we highly recommend the Pro-Ject X1. Available in a variety of colors, it incorporates a newly developed carbon fiber/ aluminum composite construction tonearm and comes with a high quality Sumiko Olympia cartridge.
Going several steps up the performance ladder is the Rega Planar 10, which features new innovations in hub bearing, sub platter, motor and drive-belt design for greater accuracy in turntable speed resulting in improved sound performance. And for audiophiles interested in the ultimate, check out the Technics SL-1000R Reference Turntable System. Let’s let the British mag What Hi-Fi? tell part of the story:
The heart of this turntable is its direct drive motor. That’s the main point of differentiation from most other high-end alternatives on the market, which invariably tend to be belt driven.
On paper, direct drive promises impressive speed, accuracy and stability, something that a stretchy rubber belt transmitting the torque from a motor to the platter just can’t compete with. However, the downside has always been motor vibration, noise and precision of the spindle’s bearings – these things really matter when that motor is directly connected to the platter that the record sits on.
The engineers at Technics have tackled these issues head-on and come up with a sophisticated double coil, twin rotor-type design. Not only is it capable of a high torque output – essential to move the hefty 7.9kg platter – but Technics also claims an astonishingly low wow & flutter figure of 0.015%. This is said to be at the limit of what can be measured and is at least a factor of ten better than most belt drive designs.
We currently have the SL-1000R on display in our Denver showroom, so if you’re interested, we invite you to come by and take it for a spin!
As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call, chat, or visit the store nearest you to talk with one of our career sales consultants.