Looking For Best Practices For Upgrading Record Collection

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by Mister Pig, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. Mister Pig

    Mister Pig Pigamus Maximus Subscriber

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    OK I got my two turntables picked out, phono stage selected, and cartridges chosen. All in all both analog rigs sound mighty fine, and some of the best analog playback I have owned.

    Now about 8 years ago i simplified my life, and it meant leaving my vinyl collection go. A mistake I regret. When I came back to vinyl four years ago or so, I bought several hundred pieces from a fellow who needed to turn his vinyl collection into cash. While the vinyl was in decent shape for the most part, many had considerable wear on the covers, and I found the vinyl itself to be of varying quality once played. As a whole I am not terribly satisfied with the vinyl collection.

    This evening I ordered four pieces from Soundstage Direct.

    Keb Mo: Blues Americana and Keep it Simple
    Big Bad Voodoo Daddy: Louie Louie Louie
    Ben Webster: Soulville

    Looking forward to getting them, but even with the Fathers Day sale, they are not cheap. Especially the Ben Webster!

    So I am looking for ideas on the best way to upgrade the library. I would make purchases of new vinyl like this from time to time on quality titles, but it can't be all my purchases. But compared to some of the offerings at local used record stores that I have been into, heck new vinyl purchases arent a lot more expensive than many used. But still, I like Windham Hill and Private Music label offerings, and those titles are lucky to be worth $3 to $5 on the used market, if that.

    So has anyone gone through this process, and care t share their experiences and observations? Vinyl condition is critical of course, but this time around I am going to care about the quality of covers also. I want my collection to be in excellent shape.

    Regards
    Mister Pig
     
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  2. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    John before buying new record please do some reading here.

    Acoustic Sounds, Analogue Productions, Quality Record Pressings
    http://audiokarma.org/forums/index....-productions-quality-record-pressings.698195/

    And let me make a point here, yes you like very good equipment and spend a lot of money and time with it. However if you don't have the best records you really haven't heard what your system will sound like. You see the record is the other half when the stylus meets the groove.

    I can listen to a common record and it can be adequate, but when I listen to a true audiophile record you can have your breath taken away from you and your whole system sounds better.
     
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  3. the_nines

    the_nines AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    This ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

    In most cases, nothing beats the original. There are exceptions but in general, the original pressing is the way to go.

    If you're going to buy re-issues (as I do, only because I can't find a trusted original copy and if I do, it's expensive) the following are the cream-of-the-crop and in no particular order:

    Analogue Productions
    Music Matters Ltd.
    Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab
    Speakers Corner
    Music on Vinyl
    ORG (Original Recordings Group)
    Cisco
    Impex
    Classic Records
    Back to Black
    Sundazed

    There may be a few I have missed, but the above list pretty much covers everything "quality product". As well, if you can find a Japanese pressing in NM condition at your local record store and if you are ok with the price, grab it. Some of the finest sounding records I own are Japanese pressings.

    As 4-2-7 mentioned, you can have all the quality equipment in the world but if you are playing a shitty record, it defeats the purpose. The record and speakers are the Alpha-Omega of the chain (source-destination) and the record, IMO, is the most important piece of your equipment.

    Good luck with the hunt and welcome to the world of "audiophile vinyl". There's no going back!

    Salutations, Mr. Cochon.
     
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  4. davidb1

    davidb1 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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  5. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Super Member

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    You play the records, not the covers. If you are into artwork, buy them for the covers, if you are into music, buy them for the condition of the vinyl. I have a bunch of albums that I got for next to nothing--covers are shot, but the vinyl is pristine (water damage to the covers). Decide whether you are building a music collection, or a retirement fund or art collection--I'd recommend the former, rather than the latter.
     
  6. 62vauxhall

    62vauxhall Well-Known Member

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    There are a number of used record stores locally where I live and I do from time to time visit them but like everywhere. prices are not what they once were. But if you are particular about jacket condition, they would likely be the most consistent source for less scuffed ones. My budget won't allow new vinyl purchases and I rarely buy from used shops anymore unless I am looking for something specific and I happen to see a copy in one.

    The main source for the past 10 or so years (heck, longer than that) has been thrift stores but it usually takes repeated visits to find titles I'm interested in and the vinyl in good condition. For coming on three years now I've had a job that although does not pay much and keeps me in a truck cab an obscene number of hour per day, has a fringe benefit if you can call it that in that I am all over the place geographically with enough "down time" to pop into various thrifts for 10 or 15 minutes and flip through records. Occasionally my timing is good and some new ones have been put out just before or just as I arrive. Can be a bit of feeding frenzy.

    I'm not so concerned about cover condition for instance ring wear but pass on those that have been defaced by severe water damage or other gross defacement which I frequently see. If the jacket's seams have split, I have two methods of fixing dictated by how it's been made. What I've found to be the case, and this is a very general observation, is if the inner sleeve is still present, chances are the record inside has been reasonably well cared for. I will still buy one without the inner sleeve if the LP looks to be in good condition and usually "rob" one from a different record. I have been disappointed a few times by warpage which is hard to assess while hand holding the vinyl. All purchases will go through a Spin Clean once I have enough to warrant making a batch of fluid.

    If you have no personal life as is my case, then spending the amount of time I do scouring around is at least something to do.

    Most of what I buy is by artists I've bypassed when the release was current or frequently because I like the artwork, find the artist's name (usually a band) intriguing or recognize some of the personnel or producers. Needless to say there have been turkeys but not many and if that's so or the record has a defect I did not spot, I'm not torqued out from having wasted a dollar or two, I have been somewhat astonished sometimes when I Google search that artist/band/album and learn what projects or affiliations existed. It certainly made me realize that good music can be regional in nature without said artist/band achieving national or international success.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
  7. meggy

    meggy AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    You might want to think about investing in a RCM (with a vacuum), as the next step. They absolutely pay for themselves over time. An RCM will open up the world of the dollar bins where there's lots of treasure just waiting for a little elbow grease. Plus you'll get a lot better SQ out of what you already have.
     
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  8. patient_ot

    patient_ot Active Member

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    Agreed. As someone that buys a lot of used records, I'll take it a step further and say that most of the weak one step cleaning fluids and homebrew cleaners are next to worthless IME. Enzyme record cleaner showed me how clean and quiet a record can really be after an RCM cleaning. It's not the fastest way to clean records because you have to let it sit for a few minutes and you have to do rinse cycles to make sure it's completely removed from the record. The results are worth it though, IME.

    As far as upgrading the collection itself goes, figure out what kind of music you like. The high dollar audiophile reissues from the niche audiophile labels can be great, however, the selection of titles is usually very limited if your taste is diverse. There is no way I could limit myself to just that even if I had an unlimited amount of money to spend on records, which I definitely don't.

    The key to building a great collection is to learn to crate dig. If you walk into a record store and are only going right to the big name individual artist sections looking for specific albums, you are missing out big time. Anyone can do that and it's not very fulfilling over the long term. Set aside some time to really look through the bins and dig for lesser-known gems.

    For example, one type of music I like is jazz. If you know anything about collecting jazz, it can be very expensive. However, because I look for lesser known gems, I'm not throwing down $$$ every time I go to buy some records. I look at the cover, the label, who played on the record, who produced it, etc. for clues that it might be interesting. Then I either listen to the record on the store's listening station or look up reviews and soundclips on my phone. I find a lot of great records from many genres this way.

    Re: thrift stores, a lot is down to luck and what the scene is like where you live. In the last 3-4 cities I've in, thrift stores have been a complete waste of time.

    Btw, @Mister Pig, that Ben Webster album is great.
     
  9. nh36000

    nh36000 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    the_nines;

    I'll have to agree with you on that one.

    The best sounding record albums I have are 'minty' Japanese imports. And the Toshiba productions, to me, top the list.

    Lu.
     
  10. Mister Pig

    Mister Pig Pigamus Maximus Subscriber

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    Own a VPI 16.5

    Funny story here. A friend of ours lives in Japan, and he has a used record store. We met them in the US and my wife tutored her wife in conversational English. We were in Japan this year for the first time, and got to visit with them.

    The topic of vinyl came up, as we popped into a used record store during our walk in Tokyo. Saturo said that the Japanese collectors prefer US, and then UK vinyl. They are not impressed with their own Japanese domestic releases. Go figure.

    As the cows says. The clover is greener in the other pasture.

    Regards
    Mister Pig
     
  11. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    Yep we always think that way.

    That's why I alway try different pressings and have many many same titles, I could have new pressings made by different labels and countries, used will be the same, and even dups. There is so many variables and until it's in your hands and hearing it who knows.
     
  12. Mister Pig

    Mister Pig Pigamus Maximus Subscriber

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    Well part of this is driven by what I need. For instance I like Triumph and yes, even White Lion. Now do I need a 180 gram re-press of these tittles? Not likely. I am not sure if there is enough to gain in the SQ of Judas Priest Screaming For Vengeance is worth the cost of a $38.99 or $50 reissue. But the caveat is that the same title in a local used record store could be $12, and I would rather pay the $20 for a known quantity new record.

    But as I said, I do like the Windham Hill label. You are not going to get many NOS titles now 30 years later. So you have to buy used on some of this. Finding a source for excellent condition used vinyl is going to have to be one avenue I need to pursue.

    So developing a strategy about how to go about this is going to be valuable to me.

    Regards
    Mister Pig
     
  13. Collin1141

    Collin1141 Well-Known Member

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    Hurts my heart to read this, I just offed over 100 titles and most were still sealed
    As for a strategy? I know of none except TIME
    I wish you success
     
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  14. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    My strategy is building a rep at the local record store and being a top customer. Record buying is opportunity buying, you never know what will come in from day to day, you just have to be there and look though the new arrivals. The stores best customers will be there a lot, they might get to pick though titles before they even hit the floor. The store owner will start to see what you like and could start putting things aside for you because they know you'll be in a couple times or more a week.

    Record stores get ALL records, just because they might be used or open doesn't mean they don't get newer audiophile pressings. My store knows I buy everything good and my primary goal is sound quality and then collect ability. So I could go in and he'll have some old out of print TOTL pressings from DCC, Audio Fidelity, MFSL, Classic Records and the likes put aside for me. He will not be charging top dollar because he wants me buying in bulk and continued patronage.
     
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  15. jeremyjustic

    jeremyjustic Analog Subscriber

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    As far as Japanese pressings, I have heard a few times they are mastered different, less bass because the japanese live in such small stacked on top of each other apartments. I have no idea if thats true or not.

    Now for buying used records and building the collection. I HIGHLY recommend www.discogs.com , Discogs is a collector based website, sellers are rated on their description and condition accuracy, grading is taken very seriously. You can find info on just about any record as well as selling stats, the lowest/highest paid for a title etc. When a record is listed they give you the condition of the cover and the record itself and priced accordingly, so if you dont care about the cover you can get a mint record with a messed up cover for less then a mint record/mint cover. My favorite feature is the wish list, you can go through and add as many records as you want to your wish list and when they come up you get an email alert, particularly useful when trying to find rare records. I have bought a LOT of records off discogs and highly recommend the site.

    You would also be able to search labels like the Windham hill label you mentioned, maybe find some offerings/artist you weren't aware of.

    Good luck!
     
  16. jeremyjustic

    jeremyjustic Analog Subscriber

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    ^^^this^^^ you really just cant beat a good relationship with a local record store!
     
  17. AvFan

    AvFan AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    ^^^^^^+++ however many. 4-2-7's post steered me to much higher quality records. For example, I gulped at the price when I bought the 45rpm version John Lee Hookers It Serve You Right to Suffer but record is amazing. Also the cover is simply the best I've ever owned. I regularly search Acoustic Sounds for QRP records knowing they are very well made.
     
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  18. sberger

    sberger Hard Core Geezer Subscriber

    Decide what you like, and do research for the specific pressing. Yes the Hoffman forums are a good starting point. I rarely buy reissues. I much prefer originals. I'm not interested in a cd experience when listening to vinyl. Some noise. A few scratches. Part of the experience. Local stores can be a good source, but a site like Discogs is valuable to deal with folks worldwide.

    Mostly, have fun with it. Thats what it's supposed to be.
     
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  19. nailer

    nailer audionerd Subscriber

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    I've had good luck with reputable eBay vinyl dealers.

    My expeienced with A/B/J pressings are that Japanese are the quietest, British typically are the best mastered and noiseyest, and American the best value. Japanese pressings are also thin sounding.
     
  20. empirelvr

    empirelvr AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yes, seconded.

    Your pen is ready for you at the Hoffman forums if you wish it, Mister Pig. I look forward to seeing you there. :)
     

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