A while back I fell down one of those rabbit holes life puts in your path that you manage to fall down when you are vaguely disinterested in your everyday life. I developed a "hobby". Well maybe not so much a hobby, but a very focused interest in collecting actual physical copies of music albums again. And of course, being the generational war zone that I am, I settled on reliving my childhood through record ownership.
To be honest, I didn't really give it much thought - I just went into JB Hifi (gasp) one day and picked up a cheap entry level turntable (double gasp) and a couple of albums and started playing.
Welcome to the douche snobbery club...
Now let's be honest about turntables should we? Despite several comments either side of the fence when it comes to what constitutes an entry level turntable, I did start out with what I would term a "toy" type player. I actually liked the look of the thing in its little suitcase being all retro, but it was basically an Australian branded Crosley player. Not the best quality but, heck I thought it did the job.
Well I was so fucking wrong. It took my third record to figure that out... quickly. Because Queens of the Stoneage (those sonafabitches) released Like Clockwork as 45 rpm. Damn that cheap cute player really could not handle that, and the distortion was just terrible. So when I went back to play the other two records I owned at the time, I could not help but notice just how bad they sounded now to my polluted ears.
So I was kind of put off after that, because no matter where I went online there were a number of audiophiles obviously bashing the likes of Crosley, but also citing "If you're serious about vinyl you at least need ..." and the dollars kept piling up. I didn't want to spend so much on a system I couldn't afford the albums themselves. I hunted for the holy grail - a second hand setup from the 70s-80s, but believe it or not, the ones I found were priced higher than some higher spec new ones.
I took a breath, and stepped back from my affair with vinyl for a number of months and searched for a solution. The closest I could come to an "affordable" turntable with good reviews was one from Pro-Ject, and luckily a local hifi shop had several of their models in stock for me to compare. I ended up with the Pro-Ject Essential II for just under $400 AUD on a Christmas promo, and while I still don't have epic speakers, I can already hear the difference in quality. It's comforting to know that I haven't spent too much, even though it's way more than a toy player.
Collect all the things!
Safe to say, once the cost of your initial setup is out of the way, vinyl collecting can either be an expensive obsession or a relaxing lifestyle hobby. At first, I was obsessed with trawling through the vinyl sections at music stores, but after a couple of months and a few hundred dollars I became more focused and select about my purchases. It sounds like epic douche-baggery to say, but I started to curate a collection for myself based on memories, experiences, and people I have in my life.
Nearly every album I have acquired in the last 5 months has a story as to why it's in my collection. Of course I don't go around telling these stories - I'd sound like a hipster nut job, but I can kind of get why the guy from High Fidelity looked at sorting his collection autobiographically.
At the time of writing this, my collection is very small, only 31 albums. Still that hasn't stopped me from downloading the Discogs app and keeping track of what I have for on the go wishlist making.