Updated: Sep 22, 2022
I've always been in to hi-fi equipment. Equally as long as I've been into music, they just go hand in hand for me. And I've always owned 'separates'. I ordered my first Kenwood amp and CD player from my mum's Freeman's catalogue and paired them with the biggest set of Jamo speakers I could fit in my dad's car from my local Richer Sounds. This period paved the way to me being a victim of noise complaints ever since.
It's this genuine interest in stereo equipment that made me want to stock turntables because, you know, sometimes working in a record shop isn't indulgent enough. Anyway, I thought I would put this together to try and help those interested to understand what we stock and what else you will need to get up and running. So here goes.
I made the assumption above that everyone would know what I meant by 'separates'. If you don't I basically meant that to own 'separates' you need to buy each piece of the set up separately. Separate turntable, amp, speakers, cables, the lot. It can get quite pricey but you are guaranteeing 100% attention to the build of each piece and it opens up the world of upgrading later on.
The alternative is an all in one system, which are often considerably cheaper, but cramming all those sensitive electrical components together, in my opinion, can only have a detrimental effect on the overall sound. This is an absolutely acceptable and sufficient solution for most people but if you have a desire to suck every last piece of detail out of those grooves, then I feel you're gonna need more.
So let's talk turntables aka decks or record players. They're quite important in the grand scheme of things. The turntable is where the sound enters the system from the tip on the stylus and travels in through the tone-arm. There are two main types out there, direct drive and belt drive. The difference is simple, a direct drive uses a motor directly under the platter to make it spin and a belt drive uses a motor offset from the platter and a rubber belt wrapped around it to make it spin. The reason for choosing which to go for however, is not so simple. You have to weigh up the pros and cons.
Direct drive turntable are able to get up to speed much quicker than their belt driven counter parts and they offer greater consistency when tracking through the grooves. This is why they are favoured by DJs when mixing two tracks together. The negatives here are that with the motor so close to the platter it comes with some inevitable unwanted vibrations.
Belt driven, on the other hand, offer the opposite. They are slower to get up to speed but due to the space between the platter and the motor, plus the addition of a rubber belt, are less open to unwanted motor vibration.
Here at Applestump we stock Rega belt driven turntables. Rega are legends of the turntable world. They're a British company who have been around since the early seventies and have won countless awards for their turntable engineering. They are also a great advocate for the independent record shop, having sponsored Record Store Day for the past nine years.
We currently stock two of their turntables, the infamous Rega Planar 1, more commonly known as the P1, and the Planar 2, yep you guessed it, known as the P2.
Multi-award winning ‘Plug and Play’ design utilising Rega's handmade RB110 tonearm, with pre-set bias and a factory fitted Carbon cartridge.
Developed over two years alongside the latest Planar 3. Featuring the RB220 tonearm, a new 24 V, low noise motor, acrylic high gloss laminated plinth, newly designed central bearing and so much more.
Now you've chosen the right turntable for you, it's time to connect it to a suitable amplifier. The possible combinations are endless and to be honest lie solely with the listener and the kind of sound each prefers. I like a natural sound so tend to go with an amp that boasts this, such as the Yamaha AS range, but that's a story for another article.
From a technical perspective whichever amp you choose it either needs a built in phono stage or will require a separate phono pre-amp. If your chosen amp has a built in phono stage then happy days, you can plug in and away you go. If not, then you will need a pre-amp. These needn't be a big investment, they start from around £20 and sit between your turntable and your amplifier with the sole purpose of boosting the signal from the turntable so that the amplifier can process it sufficiently.
If this all sounds like a minefield, Rega have pulled together an all-in-one system comprising of high quality 'separates'.
Consisting of the multi-award winning P1 turntable, the io amplifier, Kyte loudspeakers and all the cables you need to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of vinyl.
I hope this article has helped to shed some light on the tightrope that is selecting hi-fi equipment. At the end of the day it is all subjective and I am by no means an expert, I just have a genuine interest in it.
We have a Rega P1 turntable set up in the shop hooked up to a Yamaha A-S201 amplifier and Monitor Audio BX2 speakers so if you would like to see and hear this in action just pop in. I would be more than happy to crank it up and talk more. - Steve