I don’t really have the money or the patience to be an audiophile but being a music fan the thought of having a nice set up to listen to my vinyl on is really attractive. I’ve DJ’d for 20-25 years on and off, and realising that nowadays I seldom do my mixing outside the box, I decided it was time to retire the mixer to the cupboard, where it can be called upon in an emergency and use my Technics 1210 as a dedicated record player.
So I decided to go whole hog and sort out my vinyl, chuck it all in a book case from Ikea and buy a phono pre-amp etc… and set it up as a nice little listening music room that doubles as my studio.
First up was sorting the room and the vinyl. For storing the records we went out and bought the standard Ikea Expedit. I’ve got about 2000 records at my apartment, this is about half of my collection with the other half being at my brothers – actually if I’m honest it’s our collection which we split in half when we both grew up and went our own ways. So between us we have somewhere in the region of 4500-5000 records. The immediate problem for me was sorting the stuff I listen to most and storing it where I can access it. There are countless record storing solutions out there, none of them cheap but all f them much of a much, but in the end we went the direction that most vinyl collectors in recent years have taken and bought two of the 4 x 2 Expedits from Ikea, and they soak up the vast bulk of the collection I have.
Sifting through all my records, with a little help from my son, was enlightening and I realised how much I missed the vinyl experience. I was never massively bothered about the format for me it was all about the music, but it’s nice to have a genuine product in your hands.
So, records sorted and next up was buying a phono-preamp. I’d toyed with the idea of selling my 1210 and buying something like a pro-ject debut, or elemental but I decided to keep by 1210 on the basis that it’s a fantastic piece of engineering, that looks and sounds great and whilst it’s not the most perfect of sound I do still dj and it’s good to be able to practice when I need to. So I started looking at pre-amps. As with most things audiophile the price swing is massive, I could spend anything from about €10 to €1000 but realistically would I be able to tell the difference in an untreated room and mainly listening in headphones or recording into my soundcard?
So I set a budget of €50-€80. Pro-jects Phonobox was my initial choice but after reading reviews and taking into account the fact I wasn’t using an audiophile deck I choice to opt for the cheaper TCC TC-750, from www.phonopreamps.com $43.50 + P&P in all it came in around the same price as the Pro-ject before shipping, and I have to say it’s nice. My main concern was getting rid of the annoying hum that was there in the background on my mixer, music would obscure it but in the most quiet parts and silence it was there and I knew it.
The TCC has definitely done the job and removed the big chunk of metal and knobs making the whole set up much nicer to look at and sit in front of.
After that I decided that perhaps I should also change my needle from a DJ one to a midrange listening one. I’d been using the Shure M447N’s for the last 10 years or so, mainly because I was a scratch DJ. I had a spare headshell and figured it was worth having a DJ set and listening set I could change for whatever i was doing. So after reading the forums and deciding I wasn’t spending more than the price of the turntable on it I opted for the Audio Technica AT95E for €30. After mounting it properly and breaking it in (about 20 hours) it sounds good enough for me.
So there it is, it’s not the most amazing set up, I’m sure it will get some frowns from the true audiophiles but it’s good enough for me and it was enjoyable putting it together.