Record player questions
August 27, 2020 8:04 PM   Subscribe

I have two questions regarding record players. 1) I'm wondering if my father's old record player can be repaired. 2) I'm looking for recommendations for an all-in-one record player.

During a recent visit to my mother's place, I became nostalgic and went through my father's record collection!

I'm back visiting this week and was about to deal with the mammoth task of re-hooking up my dad's record player and audiosystem and discovered that his record player was the victim of a past mouse infestation. One of the cables was chewed completely through, but I'm not sure a) what this cable was for and b) if it can be repaired or not. His record player is a Dual 701. Photo of the damage. Can it be repaired? Should it be repaired? I'd like to repair it, if possible. The record player does seem to have decent reviews online.

Now, onto my second question. Regardless of it can be repaired or not, I'm interested in purchasing an all-in-one turntable for myself. I'm not wanting to listen to these records for their "audio-quality," just their sentimental value. I'm not much of an audiophile (and I don't think my dad was much either, he hopped onto CDs and then onto MP3s as fast as he could), so I'm not really looking to listen to these records to like... hear something amazing? But we have them and I want to listen to them from time to time. Are there any decent all-in-one turntables out there? I'm looking for an all in one because I really don't want to deal with hooking it up to some sort of sound system. I just want something I can pop a record on and listen to it.

I've heard Crosley has a terrible reputation. I went through a very, very brief "vinyl phase" in my early 20s, so quick I don't think I ever listened to one record! During this phase I purchased a Crosley Keepsake Turntable CR249, that I promptly forgot about. Everything I've read about Crosley model basically reads as: "You'll ruin any record you own if you play it on this machine! Run away!" Which models should I be looking into?

I think I gave up on my brief vinyl phase because vinyl just seems too daunting!
posted by VirginiaPlain to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think that's a chewed off end. I think that's the turntable's ground cable which are often just bare or "tinned" wire ends. It needs to go to the ground terminal on the receiver/amp. Most old school turntables will have 2 rca plugs, a power cord and a ground cable.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 8:14 PM on August 27, 2020 [10 favorites]

Best Turntables 2020. You won't go wrong with any of these.

That's not really what a mouse infestation would look like.
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:36 PM on August 27, 2020

Ooooh, I never thought of it being the ground cable, Larry David Syndrome, could be.

JimN2TAW, the mouse infestation is been long gone... but anything that looks chewed/frayed wires take me back to those days!
posted by VirginiaPlain at 8:42 PM on August 27, 2020

You’re not asking for audiophile quality, but I would still avoid an all in one turntable because they have a tendency to be cheaply built, and actually damage the records long term. Especially if they’re nostalgic records, you’re going to at least want to keep them in playable shape.

This record player is one of the cheaper units out there that I would trust not to wreck the records.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:45 PM on August 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Nthing that the cable doesn't look like it's not usable and that Audio Technica is the go-to brand for budget but respectable record players.

When hooking up a record player to an amp, if you're not aware, there's an equalization curve applied to audio on records known as RIAA Equalization that needs to be undone to sounds right. An amplifier with a phono input will have the circuitry to do so built into it, but many recent amps don't bother to have one. You can get a standalone preamp that will do the same thing, but they tend to be aimed at people spending lots of money on audio equipment. And some turntables have them built in, including at least one one of the budget Audio Technicas.
posted by Candleman at 10:41 PM on August 27, 2020

The simplest thing would be to contact a quality used hi-fi store. Get them to walk you through your father's set-up, get a new needle fitted, clear-up any issues, buy a suitable amp and speakers if needed. Why not use that at your house? Doesn't sound like your father would miss it.
posted by einekleine at 1:33 AM on August 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yes, the Dual can and should be repaired. It was an excellent turntable of its time.

I don't know if your city has the equivalent of Toronto's Ring Audio who will inspect and quote for refurbishment of the turntable. They also carry a huge selection of used amps and speakers, and you'll get a decent-sounding system for not much money.
posted by scruss at 5:15 AM on August 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

nthing the Audio-Technica recs and also that the cable there is just a ground, and that they often were just bare wire. On the amp side, there's usually a screw terminal to attach the ground to. Also nthing that getting the Dual working with a more modern setup (or with a computer or something) will require a pre-amp - without a phono pre-amp, records sound awful. I got the Behringer version of this, which should let you plug it into anything expecting a normal line-level output (so, audio in on a computer, or a standard modern stereo, or powered speakers). It worked fine for me , until I ended up digging out my actual amp later that has a built-in preamp.

One thing to consider: something like a new A-T will probably have its own phono pre-amp built in, as most stereo gear these days doesn't, as well as potentially a USB connection or something to hook straight into your computer. It will also have a new needle, which your Dual unit most likely doesn't. Needles wear out - and are are (typically) a lot easier to replace than it may seem - but it'll take some work and money to find an appropriate replacement, install it, and set the player back up right. I would definitely do this - the Dual is worth spending a bit on to get set up proper - but in terms of ease, getting like an Audio-Technica for now will let you play your stuff and then you can do the dive into needle/stylus/cartridge replacement, and figuring out what preamp you want, with less pressure.
posted by mrg at 6:59 AM on August 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

I still own that same turntable, c1974ish. Yes, get it repaired. The don't make like they used to. I have three TT's but I use this one mostly for my precious classical records.
posted by james33 at 7:29 AM on August 28, 2020 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the advice! I'll hang onto the Dual 107 and look into getting it refurbished.

Question about pre-amp, is this something I'd need to purchase if my father's receiver has a phono in (which it does)? Or is a pre-amp something I'd need regardless?
posted by VirginiaPlain at 6:41 PM on August 29, 2020

No, you're fine with using the phono input on your father's receiver. See Candleman's link on the RIAA Equalization - correcting for this is what a phono preamp does, in your case it's built into the receiver.

You'd only need an external preamp if you had a receiver without that phono in. (Or, I suppose, if you were gonna dig deep into improving the audio quality, but that doesn't seem to be your bag, so I wouldn't worry about it.)
posted by soundguy99 at 7:12 AM on August 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Got it up and running again with the help of a local stereo shop! Thanks for your help! Listening to a record on it now and it sounds great! (So relieved the ground wire was, well, a ground wire, and not chewed up by a mouse!)
posted by VirginiaPlain at 9:38 PM on September 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

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