If we take ourselves back 30 years the talk of the town was CD and digital and apart from a few dedicated stalwarts vinyl records were a thing of the past and had served their time in history. People for many years after that time delivered their vinyl collection that had been treasured for years delivered it to the Op Shop or tragically the tip as they saw it as the past, enjoyable but gone.
Much enjoyment and memories were created for so many music lovers by playing their records and their favourite artists with the clicks and pops accompanying their record playing experience. The whole tactile experience of playing a record from reading and viewing the cover notes and artwork to placing it on the turntable was a special and treasured experience. Unfortunately low quality tonearm technology and poor isolation didn't deliver the true atmospheric vinyl experience. Then came CD with it's clinical ease of application that made it all a lot easier with load and play and track selection at the push of a button. No clicks and pops and an unexperienced convenience of use, it was truly easy. But something was missing. The whole experience of the music.
Step back to 1980 when we felt that spending $1000 on a hifi system that was based on a turntable, amplifier or receiver and a pair of speakers would transcend the music listener to a new space, and it did, truly the best of technology at the time for what people could afford. To put things in perspective a Commodore sold for $8,000 at the time. The average price of a turntable at this time was $200 to $300 and at that price we thought we were getting the goods. Unfortunately, a plastic chassis with a low performance tonearm didn't extract the musical information from the record groove.
As a comparison, Rega had started producing turntables in the UK in 1973 were delivering the beginnings of affordable quality turntables but they weren't priced at $200 to $300 so few people experienced the potentials of what vinyl could deliver. The cutting edge at the time was a Linn Sondek. Handmade in Scotland, these exquisite pieces for those few who could afford them at multiple $1,000's gave a correct understanding of the information that was in the vinyl groove.
In 1990, electronic amplifier designers threw in the towel and stopped including a phono preamplifier in their designs. An economic decision that made sense at the time. Whilst this was happening there were people out there like Heinz Lichtenneger who founded ProJect Audio in Austria that had been selling refurbished Thorens turntables that were popular with his new founded market. He then took the plunge and started designing turntables and producing them in the old Tesla turntable factory he acquired in the Czech Republic. His designs gathered popularity as they brought the sound of vinyl to life at exceptionally affordable prices. Over years this process gathered momentum and the ProJect Debut was released and there were accolades for it's design. It evolved into the Debut Carbon that became one of the best selling turntables in the world for it's affordability and performance.
Meanwhile,in the background, Rega were evolving their designs and bringing more music to the people at more affordable prices. They had stepped up their tonearm technology and isolation designs. If you listen to the founder and chief designer Roy Gandy in his interviews on Youtube he speaks of his passion to deliver music on vinyl that creates a special experience to the music lover.
Founder of Rega, Roy Gandy says: "The turntable is a whole. The arm, the cartridge and the turntable itself is a measuring machine and it measures vibration. You can't make it perfect. But you design the compromises to get the closest to perfection". In a number of conflicting engineering parameters Roy says "the energy seems to come from the record. Once a record is rotated and the stylus starts moving there is energy".
Many people don't know that Rega hand assemble their tonearms in their UK facility. They have technicians that are trained to hand pick the tonearm bearings for their turntables. Rega handmake their cartridges in their UK facility to have a 2 part construction as against a 7 to 8 part construction that is the norm in most phono cartridge construction. What we are saying is that there are designers that are understanding new technologies that make vinyl tell it's truth. It is a special medium that cares for the listener and delivers.
Then there is Audio Technica whose history stretches back to 1962 and in their growth they developed not only cartridge technology but their adventures into tonearm technology and turntable design have brought us affordable turntable designs that have delivered much enteretainment and quality to the vinyl listening experience.
And we have MoFi. Mobile Fidelity have had access to master tapes from classic artists including The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to create Half Speed Mastered versions on LP and CD that are still considered a benchmark in record quality. A few years ago they decided to design and produce 2 models of turntables, 2 phono preamplifiers and 3 cartridge models that set new benchmarks in their price categories. Incorporated technologies include a longer 10 inch tonearm for less inner groove distortion and a Delrin by DuPont platter for an improved record playing surface. After the MoFi UltraDeck turntable was named the Best Analogue Product of 2018, there has been further reviews...."It’s no accident that MoFi’s first turntable effort is at the top of the class with their first effort – they have a crack team behind it. Allen Perkins from Spiral Groove was tapped to guide the turntable design, and his Spiral Groove tables are some of the best made at any price."
The technological development of tonearms and what they do in the record groove has been a key to discovering how much information is in the record groove. Combine this with the understanding of isolation from external vibration and noise has given us the truth that is playing vinyl records - they deliver the whole experience - just sit back and enjoy - and relax - vinyl is back.
We are in a special place with music enjoyment. Designers are bringing all of the music to us. We are a long way from MP3 and we are blessed with the reconnection with vinyl. Time to enjoy and take yourself away to something that is special.
And don't worry if you don't have an audio device that has an input but not an inbuilt phono preamplifier. We have a range of turntables with an inbuilt phono preamplifier that make it easy for connection even to your WiFi system. CLICK HERE to see our range .
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