I'm looking to buy a record player
March 25, 2005 11:58 AM   Subscribe

I just received a load of great records from my parents. Of course, I don't have anything to play them on. I have a stereo receiver that I'd like to plug the record player into. Basically I'm not looking for something top-of-the-line. I just want something decent and/or used. Please see extended....

Any suggestions on make/model? How much I should expect to pay? Where I should look (ebay?)? Is there a difference between a turntable and a record player?

Ideally I'd like to spend no more than $150
posted by derekislost to Shopping (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Make sure you even have phono inputs in your receiver. Many newer ones do not have them, and I don't know if you can connect a phono some other way to these receivers. I tried with mine (onkyo a/v receiver) and I couldn't do it.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:22 PM on March 25, 2005

Well, I guess that a "record player" is any device that plays records. A "turntable" just produces an output signal that requires amplification before it can be heard. In addition, a turntable's output cannot (usually) be plugged directly into the "aux in" plugs on the back of your stereo, as the signal is far too weak. You need an additional device called a pre-preamplifier. I imagine that it'd be difficult to find a turntable and a pre-preamplifier for $150 or less.

You might be able to find something with "line level" outputs; that means that you don't need a pre-preamplifier. Or, if your receiver has inputs labels "phono"... that'd work, too.
posted by Daddio at 12:23 PM on March 25, 2005

I can really offer only a general tip... The 25 year old Technics turntable that you pick up at a garage sale or thrift store for $20 will be of better quality than any new turntable that sells for a reasonable price. I once paid $100 for a NEW Kenwood turntable that turned out to be a piece of garbage. It was made of cheap feeling, light weight plastic and the arm wouldn't stay balanced.

The old ones were made to last though, and they'll sound great if they've been kept in reasonably good shape. You might want to replace the needle or cartridge...
posted by crank at 12:27 PM on March 25, 2005

Check local used record stores. Obviously ones with LPs and not just CDs are ideal. I got mine, plus amplifier & (crappy) speakers, for $75 at a used record store in Portland.
posted by librarina at 12:51 PM on March 25, 2005

Crank is correct. Scrounge garage & estate sales in your area. Be aware however, that parts for old turntables can be difficult to come by. My old Bang & Olufsen belt drive lost it's motor a while back & I had to buy a Denon to replace it as even the manufacturer couldn't offer a replacement. Bummer....
posted by Pressed Rat at 1:49 PM on March 25, 2005

A phono cartridge puts out a very low signal and has a different equalization from other equipment (such as a CD player). Thus, it needs a specialized input, which, if your receiver has it, will be marked "Phono." If it has this, any turntable will do. If it doesn't (and those made in the last few years don't), then you'll need a separate phono stage (expensive) or a turntable with a built-in phono stage. From J&R, here are two turntables with phono stages: a Sony for under $100 and an Audio Technica for $74.88 .

Turntables from eBay are risky, since you never know what condition they will be in. I'd advise getting a new one.

posted by KRS at 2:04 PM on March 25, 2005

Here are the links. Sorry about that.

posted by KRS at 2:06 PM on March 25, 2005

Third time's charmed:


posted by KRS at 2:08 PM on March 25, 2005

Make sure you even have phono inputs
Also you need a ground wire screw on the receiver, thus if the receiver has phone inputs, it’ll will be there. I once attached it to the antenna screw by mistake causing no sound.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:14 PM on March 25, 2005

My old Bang & Olufsen
Hope you kept it. Was the player very heavy?
posted by thomcatspike at 2:16 PM on March 25, 2005

this shouldn't be a problem.

Go new on the record player. Old players are great and all, but unless it's in full working condition, you may never be able to find a needle for it (or pay upwards of $40-50 for one). Also, I've never really had any great luck finding record players in thrift stores. Due to the explosion of DJ culture there's been bunches of kids wanting decks in the last six years, and the manufacturers have responded by releasing low-cost, decent quality players. Since you're not needing the greatest torque in the world, you can buy the cheapest of these and have a pretty nice player (with pitch control) that has standard carts and needles which you will be able to easily replace in the future. the only downside is that these decks are geared towards djs and you're going to have to (OMG) place the needle on the record yourself and pick it back up yourself. The $200 sony decks might do this for you, but they're cheaply made and overpriced.

i would recommend buying a turntable at guitar center. Look for a stanton or gemini brand (these are the cheapest). A few years back I picked up a set (just for the hell of it) for $100 each w/ needles-- guitar center usually has something priced around here, so you should be able to get something for around that. If you can get direct drive, get it, if you can't, don't worry -- you're just going to be listening to records anyways. make sure it comes with a needle, cause that's the kind of package you want (the needles that came with my tables are fine for just listening to stuff, if the record's in good shape).

Now for the amp you will DEFINITELY want to do some thrifting. Every thrift store i've been in, even the totally shopped-out ones, will have some kind of bigass old school amplifier with phono-ins. You shouldn't have to pay more than ten dollars for these -- heck, if you live near a college you'll probably be able to grab one for free during trash day (my friend found a vintage amp valued around $500 or so in a trash pile at his college). speakers usually hook up raw to this, and if you don't have a pair of them you can also pick that up thrift for $10-20.

hook the rca outs from the turntable to the phono in on your amp, twist in the ground, and then crank it.

Oh, and in fact, i just thought of one i'd recommend if you are gonna look into expanding your collection by buying funky records at thrift stores -- the numark portable sure, it's not really meant to be a primary record player, but I imagine it'd work for you unless you're a serious audiophile (if you are, $150 is probably way under budget anyways), AND you can take it to thrift stores and check out the records there before you buy them! The J&R ad even seems to suggest that it's got line out rather than phono out which would save you some trouble on the amp if you've already got a pre-existing one.

sidebar: holy shit the portables are down to $80! maybe it's time for me to buy one.
posted by fishfucker at 5:52 PM on March 25, 2005

samash confirms that the numark has line level outs (built-in pre).
posted by fishfucker at 5:54 PM on March 25, 2005

thomcatspike - it's a Beogram 3000 & I just can't bring myself to get rid of it - it sits in its original box in the attic. A great old table and, yeah, it was fairly heavy. Ran for about 20 years and still would, ifI could get a replacement motor (and some B&O cartridge replacements - maybe they still have those -haven't checked in about 10 years.....)
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:17 PM on March 25, 2005

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