Some folks have asked me to share my audio set-up, so I thought I’d post that today. I’m not much of a gearhead, but in talking with friends who are thinking about improving their current set-up or starting from scratch, it’s discouraging that many make the assumption that a ton of money is needed for a quality listening experience with vinyl.
You really have to decide what kind of listener you are, or that you think you’re going to be. For me, I absolutely do sit and listen to records and I’m able pick out distinct differences between the vinyl and an MP3 or CD version of the same record. However, I also just want to have something on in the house when people come over, or crank a side while I do dishes. If you feel you’re going to be more focused when listening, maybe you do want to invest in a $300 turntable or $600 speakers, and no one can fault you for that. But what I have currently works for me on so many levels - affordability, compactness, overall sound - that I thought I’d try to let folks know just how easy it is to sniff out something that also works for you.
TURNTABLE: Audio-Technica AT-LP60 (My cost: $95) // This is a pretty no-frills machine: Minimal installation is required and it plays like a dream. I opted to not go for one that can convert vinyl to MP3 because that’s not really my goal. I just wanted something that would play perfectly and this guy does. I had eyed them at Kiss The Sky, my local store here in the western Chicago suburbs, and did a lot of YouTube research on it before I invested. It finally took a recommendation from my lawyer/blogger pal Steve Rogovin to push it over the top for me.
RECEIVER: Sony STR-D615 (My cost: $50) // Yes, it’s a heavy, clunky receiver, but freelance writer/musician/friend Jeff Elbel had one just sitting in his garage, so I lucked out. I always run the setting on phono, even though the turntable as a line level switch that would allow you to run off the turntable’s own pre-amp. Despite the size, it fits nicely on my shelving right next to the turntable and for an older unit, it doesn’t overheat and I find myself getting the volume I need by keeping it at 3 or under. I always get a quality sound without any distortion.
SPEAKERS: Pioneer CS-G201WA II (My cost: $15) // I credit my wife for spotting these at Goodwill. For the price, I couldn’t go wrong because if I got them home and they didn’t work or even just performed less than I was hoping, I didn’t blow my paycheck. Yes, they have the fake wood paneling, but I was super happy plugging these guys in. They’re 100 watts and each has a 10” woofer, 4” midrange and a 2.5” tweeter. All of the above, partnered with the IKEA 2x2 Expedit for storage, make this portion of our living room my favorite part of the house, and I was able to do it all for under $200.
As I posted previously, I was approached by the lovely folks at Insound about becoming an affiliate of theirs, allowing me to have my own online store through them and offer some of the vinyls I’ve featured here on the blog, as well as some other current favorites of mine.
Every month, I have the ability to give my readers a discount, so with the weather cooperating and baseball season underway - full disclosure: GO BREWERS! - why not start now?
So for all of April, up until May 1, you can get 10% OFF anything in my store with promo code happyapril10. I tried to throw a little of everything in there, so you’ll find vinyl, turntables, books I recommend and other random stuff.
Even if I wasn’t a part of Insound’s affiliate program, I’d tell you that they’re incredibly fast and they stock pretty much everything you’re looking for. So go get yourself something awesome. You deserve it!