Tag Archives: record albums

How To Start Collecting Vinyl Records

Seems kind of pointless and stupid for a blog post, right? But stop for a second and ask yourself what got YOU into collecting vinyl?

Some people think that vinyl records aren’t made anymore (hah!) and some feel “it’s too late” to start collecting from scratch. Still others believe you can’t buy a new turntable anymore (double hah!) and don’t feel up to the challenge of finding a used one.

Let it be known, that all three of those notions are myths. New vinyl is being cranked out so fast you can’t keep up with it all–both brand new titles and reissues.

New turntables are available for as low as $99 and have USB connections for those who want to digitize and convert to MP3s. And you CAN find an old-school quality turntable without spending a fortune. Personally I’d avoid pawn shops and stick to Craigslist, yard sales, thrift stores and record shops. Do you need a turntable to start collecting record albums? Not REALLLY. Some people collect LPs and picture discs for the artwork alone, and I personally have purchased vinyl recordsĀ  on the strength of the covers or artwork alone. I love displaying them as well as listening to ’em.

I got sucked into collecting vinyl because around 1996 I got interested in building a collection of obscure new wave music, and there is a LOT that never made it to CD or digital files–and possibly never will. I decided to take the plunge after attending the Austin Record Convention and finding an LP by a new wave band called Amoebas In Chaos. The track “Lude Behavior” cinched it for me–I had to start collecting these albums!

Buy one vinyl record that you’re really lusting to hear and you’re probably hooked. It’s that easy. If there’s a genre obsession of yours that’s full of rare or obscure bands that never made the jump to digital, you’ve got ages of fun ahead of you. There is nothing in the world like discovering a band you’ve never heard before that’s in the same musical zip code of other groups you like…one you’re sure you’d never have heard otherwise without that serendipitous record store excursion. Can you really afford NOT to be collecting vinyl?

–Joe Wallace

Turntables Used By Turntabling

In the course of writing vinyl record reviews, DJing, doing Vinyl Road Rage and enjoying vinyl at home, the Turntabling gear list has gotten quite interesting. At least three different models are in active use for a variety of purposes so it seems appropriate to list them here, complete with links to purchase or learn more if you like. Transparency alert–yes, these are affiliate links which do support the website should you choose to buy.

It should be understood that these models are not necessarily the absolute best audiophile quality models in the whole world. They were chosen for functionality after some research and it can be honestly said that each of the models listed here do the job they’re supposed to do and they are a welcome part of the gear list.

The only reason they might not be purchased a second time has more to do with wanting to see what else is out there as opposed to not being happy with the models themselves…

Audio Technica AT120LP USB Direct Drive Turntable


This is the model I DJ with when doing Paisley Babylon shows, mash-ups, and audio experimentation. The Audio Techica AT120LP USB turntable been used to record Paisley Babylon albums and I even use it as a photo model when shooting pics for the WTF Records book.

The price point on the AT120LP USB is about $250, which is why I own three of them. It features a built-in preamp, pitch adjustment, USB connectivity and selectable output. The preamp makes it heavy and a pain in the arse to lug around to gigs (especially when you have to cart three of the damn things) but overall I’m pleased with the performance of this Audio Techica direct drive turntable. It’s the pro gear portion of my setup, and while there are definitely better turntables out there at higher prices, I am quite happy with this unit.

The Crosley Revolution Portable Turntable

The Crosley Revolution battery powered portable turntable has a variety of features that make it perfect for taking on the road during Vinyl Road Rage. First, it’s battery powered AND has a USB power option. It has a headphone jack, an internal speaker, or you can output via USB. It is extremely portable, small, and easy to use on the road.

Is it the best sounding turntable out there? Well, it’s designed to be portable and small, so obviously this is not what you’re using to enjoy the subtle nuances of that Nurse With Wound LP.

But it is an awesome, affordable way to do a vinyl blog on the road with actual vinyl. I made several videos with the Crosley and was pleased enough with the results to take it back out on the road for the next Vinyl Road Rage cross-country blogging tour.

Picky audiophiles shouldn’t even be reading this section, but the rest of us who love vinyl regardless of whether you get massive audio fidelity or not will have no qualms with this as a traveling companion. It has wonderful potential for impromptu DJ parties using the FM-band broadcast feature…buy two of them and you see where the possibilities are. I’ve mentioned before that the Crosley Revolution turntables could be used for a crazy DJ busking concept, but beware playing your vinyl in the direct sunlight, folks.


I have one of these in the living room and use it recreationally. I have used it to digitize vinyl records in the past, but the software requires some babysitting and it’s really not my bag…I prefer to play the vinyl instead while at home anyway and for that purpose the ION TTUSB USB turntable is a decent middle-of-the-road performer.

Nothing fancy, no outrageously mind-blowing quality but fairly dependable. It’s smaller than my pro gear, lightweight, and easy to use. I call it a “fun” turntable instead of a “serious” model like the AT120LP. It looks nice and modern, does what its told, and doesn’t complain.

The ION TTUSB is a belt-driven turntable (as opposed to a direct-drive model without the “rubber band”, as some call it, to spin the platter) which will turn off a hard-core audiophile–but that’s not the market for this ION model. It is a decent entry-level record player that can serve a new collector well.

That said, my own personal complaint with this model is that the large white start/stop buttons on my unit became a bit unresponsive over time. Dust is probably the issue there, so keep your ION TTUSB covered when it’s not in use, which should delay that issue for a longer time.

Price point on this ION model is around $175. For about hundred more you can get the Audio Technica AT120LP USB direct drive turntable which is pro-quality and will last forever with good care…but some may not like the larger size and increased weight of the Audio Technica mentioned above. The ION is much lighter and more portable, so it really boils down to what you prefer in your turntable–does portability matter to you? Or are you interested in higher quality? Either way, you have some decent choices here.

–Joe Wallace


Vinyl Blogs To Love: Bad Record Covers

This totally bewildering album cover (ok, it’s the cover for a SINGLE, not a full-length album, but STILL…) come by way of the absolutely fabulous Bad Record Covers site, which has plenty of visual atrocities on display for your amusement. Behold:

This HAS to be some kind of ironic statement about the futility of war, right? Because otherwise it’s likely some kind of sick nationalistic drum beating exercise designed to whip people into a frenzy of…well, ok, settle down. It’s probably nothing aside from a really awful idea for a record jacket.

I hope.

The real point of all of this is to send you over to Bad Album Covers to get your fill of awfulness for the day. Some vinyl blogs might consider a site like this “the competition” but as far as Turntabling goes, there can NEVER be too many bad album cover detectives working out there. It’s a big, scary world filled with millions of intimidating discount record bins. Who could get through them all? Not me.

–Joe Wallace

How To Grade Vinyl Records: Another Point of View

Recently I posted an introductory post about grading vinyl records. A lot of people don’t care about vinyl grades; “Good”, “Very Good”, Near Mint” and other ratings don’t mean anything to some as they prefer just to pull the album out of the sleeve and run an eyeball over it.

Which is great until it’s time to buy a record sight unseen on eBay, Discogs.com or elsewhere, and then suddenly those vinyl grading terms mean a hell of a lot more.

This video is one point of view on grading vinyl records, and the background music is fun, too. There is a great amount of personal preference built in to grading vinyl records, but once you get used to the grading systems and know what to look for this whole topic is much easier to deal with. Again, some of this is really down to personal preference–how much wear is acceptable to you?

–Joe Wallace