The time I tried to ‘get into vinyl’ and it was a massive ballache

Early on in lockdown I listened to my entire CD collection and decided enough was enough. The CD age ended a long time ago and my little library had had its swansong.

It was time to get in to vinyl.

Turns out that’s easier said than done. I wrote this so you don’t have to go through the ballache I did.

First some background. I’ve likely been avoiding this eventuality for longer than I should. The incredulous reaction from the other Picky Bastards to just one of the CDs I bought in 2020 (I’ve bought five) said an awful lot.

It was only a matter of time before I became the vinyl stereotype I was destined to be. Let’s examine the facts:

  • Male – tick
  • Over 30 – tick
  • Rides fixed gear bicycle – tick
  • Likes “real” music – tick
  • Has beard – tick
  • Recently cut down on meat – tick
  • Once made sourdough from scratch – tick
  • Into vinyl – X

The next logical step to follow the hipster crowd to full twat status no?

I sought advice from other bearded 30-something males who already own a vinyl rotator. I’m the last of the PB editors to take this confusing forward-yet-backward step into this world so I would be foolish not to listen to them. Let’s break some of this wisdom down.

You can’t get a cheap one because it will sound shit.

Any basic internet research and, you know, just thinking about it, will tell you this.

Ok. Well you can’t get one with a built in amp/speakers because it will ruin your records.

Fair enough. So I can run this thing through my existing CD player and speaker set up with a RCA cable right?

Maybe? Give it a go. You’ll probably need a separate amp.

I’ve got a seven inch single that someone bought me years ago. I’ve never listened to it so I’ll use it to test.

Didn’t work.

Yeah you need an amp.

Oh. Oh cheers. FFS. But how do I switch between my existing set up and this new amp? I’m not buying a second set of speakers too.

Fuck knows mate, you’re on your own with this one.

Hmm. Deal with that later. I need something new to play on this thing. Vinyl albums are how much now?

18 quid ish. Depends if you want a fancy coloured/marbled/transparent one or whatever.

So double a CD. I guess they are like 4 times the size though.

Also it’s two months’ streaming subscription. But then I’m actually supporting artists I like instead of them getting 0.02 pence a week.

I could probably shop around online and find a good price though.

Whoa whoa whoa. You can’t go on *cough* — Amazon! The vinyl snobs will judge you forever. You must support your Local Independent Record Store™ or the artist’s Bandcamp.

Round that £18 up to £22 then…

Fine.

Let’s go shopping.

Nice list you have there. You know you can’t simply buy all the old albums you want like you did on CD though.

Wait. What?

You could try Discogs for second hand. Or you never know when a reissue might come along. You’ve missed Record Store Day for this year mind.

So I have to pay extortionate amounts for scratched and tatty second hand copies or wait an unspecified amount of time for reissues with 84,493 bonus tracks that I don’t want?

Yep. Or nope. There’s two parts to that question. I’m confused. Albums without bonus tracks are sometimes on 2 3 or even 4 discs anyway.

Whoa.

And just because there’s more than one disc it doesn’t mean that all the songs you want are actually on there. They might remove one or mess with the tracklisting to make it fit.

That’s annoying.

And sometimes they need two discs but only use one side of the second disc so you get an empty side.

This really is bizarre.

Look are you actually going to listen to some music?

Yeah, yeah, ok I think I’m finally ready.

Right so I’ve got my turntable, amp and my first LP. Pressing play.

Eugh, this sounds terrible. It’s so scratchy and quiet.

Yeah you occasionally get a dodgy one. They’re probably smashing out loads of copies dead quick without much of an eye on quality. Sometimes you get a bad pressing.

Ok I’ll try another one. It’s a Two Disc Blue Transparent Vinyl Special Edition. Brew?

Fancy. Don’t get too involved in doing anything else while you’re listening though because y…

Hold on. Need to turn it over.

Back. Sorry what were you saying?

Don’t worry. Thanks for the tea. So you’re fully “into vinyl” now. How do you feel?

Skint but reassured that vinyl won’t be going away any time soon.

I heard cassette tapes were making a comeback.

Fuck right off.

 

Words by James Spearing.

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