Vinyl record

Record sales hit a 25-year high of 3.2 million LPs last year, up 53 percent from 2015.

Gone are the years when going to the store and buying a CD was the only way you could listen to your favorite artist’s new album. When CDs phased out, so did the physical experience of owning music. But in recent years, people have turned to vinyl to get that experience back, as more people are starting their own collections. Maybe it’s the artwork on the sleeve, the sound quality or simply a longing for the past, but record sales are on the rise. We’ve got some tips if you want to start your own music library.

The setup

Edith Piaf record

Vinyl Renaissance shift manager Kevin Carroll suggests the Crosley C100 as an inexpensive yet high-quality turntable.

For the assembly, it’s all about how much you’re willing to spend. Most inexpensive turntables that range from $50 to $100 have internal speakers that produce a lower-quality sound than a setup with external speakers. But with external audio, in addition to the turntable, you need a stereo system, a preamp and two speakers.The cost of all the gear can add up, but it’s necessary if you want the full vinyl experience that many believe is the best way to listen to music. Kevin Carroll, a shift manager at Vinyl Renaissance, suggests the Crosley C100 if you aren’t trying to spend as much. It costs $200 at Vinyl Renaissance and has the preamp (an electronic amplifier) built in, so you only have to run audio cables to a stereo connected to speakers.

Buying records

When you first walk into a record store, the number of shelves and rows might be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask where something is. (As intimidating as a cool record shop might be, employees are there to help.) Carroll says to start your collection with five of your favorite albums. When you listen to them on vinyl, he says you’ll hear a wider range of frequencies, and you’ll be able to recognize an improvement in audio quality from the version you’re used to hearing. Checking records for damage or scratches is also important. A scratch will be visible, and if you can feel it with your finger, Carroll says it’s likely to affect the audio quality. Ted Sharp, the store manager at Slackers, also says to check the record for warping by holding it at eye-level to make sure it’s flat. He suggests buying plastic sleeves to put your records in and storing them upright, like books in a bookcase, to keep them from warping.

Growing your collection

Ana Perez

Ana Perez displays her record collection. She has accumulated 110 records and likes older classics from artists such as Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. 

After starting her collection five years ago, Ana Perez, an MU senior, has accumulated 110 records. Most of them are 45s, smaller records with one song on each side that play at 45 revolutions per minute (rpm) as opposed to the 33 1/3 rpm of a standard-size album. She likes to look for older classics from artists such as Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. After buying a few records by artists you know you like, Perez says to try to diversify your collection by browsing the cheap record section at the record store and picking out a few that look interesting. Some sell for as little as a dollar. Many older, more obscure records aren’t easily found online, so you’ll be beefing up your collection while also exposing yourself to music you might not have heard otherwise. If you have some money to spend, it can also be fun to hunt down a rare record. Perez says it took her three years to find “La Vie En Rose” by Louis Armstrong. Finding and owning a physical copy of an album makes the music meaningful in a way the age of streaming has left behind.

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