music systems

Pick of the Best Vinyl Players in the UK

The Best Vinyl Players in the UK

Vinyl fans say that nothing beats the sound of cared for records on a well-maintained turntable; CDs simply can’t compare and MP3s … bah! The thing is vinyl is undergoing a revival, which means more and more people are becoming converts and extolling vinyl to the skies. According to James Stables, vinyl was officially declared dead in May 1991, but in 2006 vinyl sales started to seriously pick up with current annual sales at around £12 million.

Who’s doing all the buying?

Well, it’s not baby boomers on a memory trip. Stables cites an ICM poll conducted in April 2013 which found that 18 – 24-year-olds are the biggest vinyl buyers. Clearly the CD/digital generation sees the same benefits of vinyl that their parents and grandparents saw. Interestingly, 27% of the new vinyl generation don’t own a turntable.

Reasons for the “revivyl” include the tangible and emotional nature of records. Buying and listening to records is an event, as opposed to the clinical downloading and playing of digital music. And, aside from the “best sound”, the imperfections give it charm, integrity and authenticity, at least according to Stables.

What turntable should you buy?

Given that a significant number of vinyl fans don’t actually have turntables, we thought we’d round up some of the best turntables in the UK, from budget to high-end buys and even portable players.

  • Rega RP1 Turntable

In December 2013, Paul Rigby assessed some of the best turntables for home listening. The Rega RP1 made the list for its mid-range price (£229/£300) and clear sound. It’s a great system if you’ve never had a turntable before, as it’s easy to set up. Vinyl noobs won’t have any problem putting needle to track and kicking back to their favourite sounds.

  • Michel Gyrodec SE

Gyrodec has been a respected name in turntables since vinyl’s heyday. The modern versions are no less notable for their sound quality and aesthetic appeal. At £1449, the price tag is perhaps a little intimidating for first-time buyers, but the fact that it outshines many higher-end turntables makes it excellent value and a must-have for the getting-serious vinyl fundi.

  • Avid Acutus SP Reference

Rigby is a big fan of this very high-end record player. At £15,000, it is not cheap and so is better suited to those with big budgets and big passion. Even though the price tag is high enough to take away your breath, Rigby says that it still offers “superb value for money” with mature, detailed sound, delicate upper midrange and big, bold bass.

  • Marantz TT5005

In March 2014, Rigby turned his attention to better budget turntables. He warns that the truly cheap kind is likely to ruin your records, let alone the music, so if you are looking for affordable record players, you need to resign yourself to spending at least £150, which is the price tag on the Marantz. It’s simple, easy to use and produces quality sound, which exactly what you want from a budget machine.

  • Pro-Ject Elemental USB

This turntable combines old school with new school, so you get the magic of vinyl sound with a USB port thrown in. The port allows you to record from your record onto your computer, so you can get the best sound on your iPod or MP3 player. It costs around £219.

  • Thorens TD 170-1

Modern Thorens models are as renowned for the value for money and quality as their vintage models, which are still in great demand. The TD 170-1 has three speeds, so you can play all your (and your dad’s) 33rpm, 45rpm and 78rpm records. It retails for around £385.

  • Numark PT01

The delicate needle and finicky grooves make turntables the least likely of portable devices; however, there are some versions that take portability in their stride. The prices for decent portable turntables vary widely, but if you want to start at the lower end of the market, you’re looking the Numark PT01 for £95. It’s battery-powered (of course) and comes with a 12V adaptor and USB port. You’ll have to look quite hard for one because, according to Rigby, the model has been discontinued, but you might be lucky on Amazon, eBay or Gumtree.

  • Vestex Handy Trax USB

For a relatively low £155, you get a lightweight turntable with a basic amp, mono speaker and up to 65 hours of battery life. There is a USB port and can play 78rpm records. All in all, it’s not bad value for money.

  • Braun PCV 4

Rigby calls the Braun PCV 4 a piece of art. It’s a tad vintage, which goes some way towards explaining the price. But it’s the sound quality that sets it apart from most other portable players. It has a built-in amplifier and speakers and closes up into a handy suitcase-type carrier. If you’re lucky enough to find one, you’re looking at about £600.

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Hi-Fi Audio Systems Explained

Hi-Fi Audio Systems; Explained

What is Hi-fi?

Hi-fi means high fidelity sounds. The terminology was first introduced in the 1950’s to describe systems that produced images and audio in the purest form.

Hi-fi audio systems reproduce sound with minimal background disturbances and offer the closest resemblance to the original sound. Using a hi-fi system, you are able to recreate the exact acoustics as experienced at a live musical concert. If you close your eyes and listen to hi-fi audio, it is as if you had a live musician playing for you.

Today the term ‘hi-fi’ is used to describe the high quality acoustics of some home-theatre systems, televisions, DVD players and surround sound speakers.

How is Hi-fi different from high-definition (HD)?

A hi-fi system can have both digital and analogue sounds. On the other hand, a high-definition audio system only produces high-quality digital sounds.

The term HD audio is relatively new. It refers to specifications and hardware features that allow your computer to send digital audio signals to ancillary audio devices such as speakers and headphones. Although an HD system offers an impressive listening experience, in no way does it recreate the ‘original sound’ effect like the hi-fi audio system.

Hi-fi systems are ideal for listening to classical and acoustic music, while HD speakers are better for listening to studio-recorded pop/ rock music.

Is a Hi-fi audio system for you?

A hi-fi audio system is something that every avid music lover aspires to own because of the supreme sound quality and the hefty cost of buying one.

If you are a musical purist, then you would probably be happier using a traditional hi-fi system, comprising of an amplifier, turntable, radio, CD player, digital to analogue convertor, and a powerful set of speakers.  Needless to say, you would also need the space to accommodate all these devices. This system can cost anywhere between £7000 and £13000, depending on the value of the individual components.

Alternatively, you can consider the simpler and convenient all-in-one box such as NaimUniti. It is priced at a comparatively modest £2,700, and is capable of bringing genuine high-quality sound to every room in the house.

For more affordable options, have a look at the ten most recommended hi-fi audio systems by Stuff UK.

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How To Choose A Hi-Fi System Under £50

How To Choose A Hi-Fi System Under £50

Strapped for cash and devoid of sounds? Well you won’t be for long. Not if you purchase one of the following smart Hi fi systems – all of which come in under £50:

  • Karcher MC 6510-S. Has audio ports for plugging in remote devices and for headphones. Comes with CD and radio function (AM/FM tuners). Costs around £36.
  • TM-099K MP3 Micro HiFi System. Has an FM RDS tuner with 30 presets, a USB 2.0 port and SD/MMC slot. Can hook up to portable media and has headphones jack for speakers. Costs around £37.
  • iTek I60006 Silver CD Radio Micro-System. Has a top loading CD player/CD-R/CD-RW player and AM/FM stereo radio along with 20 track programming. An LCD display and single alarm function are also built in. Comes with remote control. Costs around £37.
  • LOGIK LCDHF512 Mini Hi-Fi System. Comes with two mini speakers (which can be connected to an MP3 player), an LED display and remote control device.  Costs around £39.
  • Akai A60006 Micro Hi-Fi System. Micro CD and radio with alarm and LCD display. Comes with LCD display, 20 track programmable memory and remote control. Costs around £39.
  • TOKAI TM-101PE CD/MP3 Micro HiFi System. The system supports CD, CD-R/-RW and MP3 formats. Has an FM tuner with 20 station programmable memory. The USB 2.0 port hooks to portable media. Has an alarm clock with sleep and snooze settings. Costs around £40.
  • Polaroid CM1101W. This micro system contains a CD, radio (FM) and Bluetooth player with headphone sockets. Also has smart LCD display. Costs around £40.
  • Denver MC-5000 CD Player Micro System Wall Mount AUX. Free standing micro hifi system which can also be wall mounted. Has built in radio, CD player and option to connect an MP3 or CD player. Has radio/CD alarm and two way speakers. Costs around £48.
  • IWANTIT IHFUSBN13 Wireless Docking System. Connects between the iPhone, iPad and other compatible devices. Near Field Communication (NFC) means similar devices will hook up automatically for instant sounds. Can also play CDs and listen to radio and has 10 W power. Costs around £49.
  • LOGIK LHFIP2112 Micro Hi-Fi System. A built-in iPod dock, CD player and FM radio, this system comes with 10 W power, sleek-looking speakers and a slimline remote control. Costs around £49.
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