7 best record shops in seattle

Vinyl 101: The History of 7 Inch Vinyl

We have never lived in a time when it was more convenient to listen to music. In the age of streaming platforms, all it takes is a device and a login to immediately access thousands of artists, podcasts, and curated playlists. And still, in the age of ads and endless options, enduring love of vinyl prevails, especially for 7 inch vinyl.


For some, collecting vinyl records is as much about the archival experience as the music itself. As each year passes, owning physical media becomes rarer, and playing an album on a turntable can feel like stepping into a time capsule. It can be grounding to tap into the technology of recent history and see how quickly the medium and sound quality has evolved. One of the distinguishing markers of vinyl LPs is their size, and RPM (revolutions per minute). The size and RPM of vinyl can tip you off to the basic time period it was pressed in, or at the very least, give you an estimate of how much music is packed in.


The history of the 7-inch vinyl showcases shows us how flexible and curious audiophiles have been about vinyl’s versatility. Whether you’re a life-long collector, new to the world of records, or you simply love queuing up the dive bar’s jukebox, this refresher on how 7-inch singles hit the scene will likely inspire a visit to the record store.


The beginning of vinyl

Before we jump into the arrival of the 7-inch rpm records, it’s important to rewind back to how it all began. Music made the jump from a purely live experience to a massively recorded art form in 1877, when Thomas Edison first patented the phonograph. Edison had been working on an invention similar to the phone when he discovered he could use his discoveries to create a machine that could record and playback sound. The first official recording was “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” and Edison quickly made headlines with his massive breakthrough.


78 RPM records

For the first few decades of its existence, the phonograph was an expensive and niche product that needed to be operated by experts. By 1901 phonographs were finally getting mass-marketed, the first 10-inch 78rpm record came out, and the machines entered people’s homes.

78s were the only format of record for decades, they were generally pressed on 10 or 12-inch records, and could only hold about three to five minutes of music per side. Naturally, the short runtime limited the number of songs each record could hold. While many people associate the term “vinyl” with all records, the original 78s were made out of shellac. Shellac is a material created with natural resin that female lac bugs leave on trees. The resin is mixed with alcohol, then formed into shellac. It’s easy to scratch shellac, which made cutting the record grooves a breeze, and the material also resists moisture which made storage simpler. 


Vinyl LPs

It was hard to imagine any format replacing 78s until 1948, when Columbia Records released long-playing albums pressed on a new plastic called polyvinyl chloride. As a material, vinyl was much tougher than the shellac used to make 78s, which gave records a longer shelf-life. Even more importantly, vinyl allowed grooves to be cut even closer together which meant you could store far more music in one record. Rather than topping out at four minutes per side, an LP extended play to as much as twenty or twenty five minutes of music before being flipped over. This was possible because the record pressing cut the grooves closer together, but also because LPs were played at 33 RPM, which allows the needle more than double the time to arrive at the center (when compared to a 78).


The arrival of 7-inch vinyl

As with most inventions in the history of humankind, a competitive spirit was what ushered in the 45 RPM single. It’s crucial to note that RCA was Columbia’s major nemesis, so when Columbia licensed their first LPs in 1948, RCA vowed to enter the arena. For over a decade, RCA had developed similar technology capable of creating LPs, but their patents had expired so they didn’t beat Columbia to the chase. 


Rather than riding the tail of Columbia’s invention by releasing their own LPs, the company released 7-inch vinyl singles as another answer to 78s. Visually, 45s made a splash as they were much smaller, with large holes in the center, and originally printed on colored vinyl sorted by genre. Country records were released on green vinyl, hues of blues and reds were used for popular music, R&B, and classical, and children’s music was on yellow vinyl. 


Public reaction

At first, the arrival of 33s and 45s caused a lot of public confusion. Neither the full-length 33s nor the 45 singles could be played on a gramophone, due to the different RPMs, which meant people interested in “upgrading” to vinyl had to buy a new record player altogether. This meant you had to choose between a Columbia record player compatible with 33s, or an RCA turntable compatible with 45s. 


Nowadays, most record players have adjustable speeds (like the Signature 12 from Pro-ject USA) with the capability for both 33s and 45s (some rare ones can even play 78s, like the Debut PRO from Pro-ject USA). But during the advent of vinyl, you needed to pick a team or shell out for two new record players.


Luckily, the public was clearly ready for change.


The explosion of the 7-inch vinyl

Within one month of the format’s debut, RCA sold a million 45s, and struggled to keep up with the immediate demand. 45s were cheap to produce, and easier to move around and hand out to radio stations, which made them an ideal vehicle for pop music. Vinyl singles sold for 65 cents (roughly $7 today), which made them affordable for people across incomes. In contrast to LPs, which sold for $5 or more (roughly $60 today), singles were one dollar Itunes digital download of their time. You didn’t have to commit too much money or time to a musician in order to see what they were all about.


The rise of rock n’ roll singles

Timing is everything, and when it came to the advent of the single, the iron was hot. The vinyl pressing of the first 45s came a few years before the birth of “rock n roll,” and a whole teenage subculture surrounding it. One of rock’s earliest major hits, “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets sold three million singles in 1955. The affordable promo friendly format of 45s was soon in its heyday, with everyone from The Beatles to The Rolling Stones releasing best-selling singles via 45. On top of the affordability, one of the appeals of the single was the excitement of fishing out the inserts and stickers, getting your hands on a hot picture disc, or flipping the 7-inch vinyl to check for surprising b-sides. Fans who flipped over Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” in 1977 got a b-side of “Silver Springs, the Stevie Nicks breakup anthem that got cut from Rumours


Singles proved a popular and lucrative way to release music for decades, reaching their commercial peak in 1974 when a reported 200 million were sold. Since then, the global demand has gone down, but they’ve held on in creative ways.


Singles in the time of CDs and the internet

The arrival of the compact disc in 1982 was one of the many factors that began to tank the sales of 45s (and flexi discs as well). Even before the CD arrived, many artists were experimenting with longer song formats, some of which couldn’t be contained on a six-minute side. On top of this, the number of jukeboxes in bars was going down, cassettes had hit the scene, and even cassette singles were competing with 45s. By the time CDs were in the mix, it was a death knell for the 45s. At least, for a couple of years.


Wherever there’s passion, there’s sure to be a revival. And in 1988, the indie record label Sub Pop launched a “Singles Club,” where they mailed 7-inch singles to members, and introduced the world to Nirvana. The club continued to grow, featuring many more household names like The Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, and Babes in Toyland


Around the same time, early 90s dub, techno/house, and hip-hop DJs created tracks in-home or local studios and would press as many as 500 to 1000 singles on 12-inch white labels to sell at dance music record stores. While these were a larger physical size than the 7-inch singles, they were still played at 45 RPM and promoted in a similar fashion. Just as the Sub Pop “Singles Club” harkened to an earlier era in rock music, the DIY ethos of mass pressing white labels gave a nod to the 1970s, when the disco era ushered in the first 12-inch singles.


Where are 45s sold today?

One of the biggest current proponents of the 45 format is Jack White of The White Stripes. Over ten years ago, Jack White started to resuscitate the 45 on his Third Man label, starting with his Dead Weather single. Since then, Third Man has released over 300 7-inch vinyl singles, with each averaging around 2000 sales per single, enough to keep the labor of love worth it for the musicians and the audiophiles. 


Online marketplaces like Discogs offer music lovers seeking everything from reggae to psych, to classical the chance to scope out limited edition singles, box sets, rare reissues, and truly whatever your heart wants to add to cart before checkout. 


And of course, your favorite local record store is the ultimate place to dig into some crates and score a 45 that transports you to another time in music. While 45s have fallen from their original throne, the fact that they’ve outlived CDs and are facing a resurgence of interest shows they refuse to go down softly.

Top 10 Record Stores in Raleigh NC

Raleigh is one of the up-and-coming major metropolitan areas in the U.S., and it’s got quite the arts and music scene. Not only does the city have a vibrant college radio presence, but live music is experiencing something of a renaissance. In fact, it was considered by Rolling Stone to be one of “The Best Music Scenes Right Now.” As a result, record stores in Raleigh, NC, are drawing audiophiles from around the country to experience its aural flavor.

Music lovers who live in NC state often travel to larger cities on record store day to find new places to find rare vinyl gems and vintage items. The Raleigh-Cary Metropolitan area in North Carolina, often referred to as the triangle, has several shops to find new and used vinyl at affordable prices. Each location has a myriad of genres and exciting history that is fun to learn. Let’s dive in and explore the top record stores to add to your vinyl collection in Raleigh, NC.

Schoolkids Records

schoolkids records raleigh

While folks from the Chapel Hill area may know Schoolkids Records, it’s also worth visiting the Raleigh store, located at 2237 Avent Ferry Rd, Ste 101. At the Schoolkids Records Raleigh location, you’ll find a variety of indie gems from artists like Black Country, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, and Hippo Campus. You’ll also find more established artists, with vinyl available from legends like Paul McCartney and Neil Young at the store.

Schoolkids also has merch, such as T-shirts and hoodies with the iconic fish logo from the store. The store is a great way to stay up-to-date with new releases, but it also has a used vinyl section so that you can find the gems that will augment your collection.

Sorry State Records

sorry state records raleigh

Located at 317 W Morgan Street Ste 105, Sorry State Records is something of a legend for fans of vinyl records. The store has new and used punk titles of music organized lovingly by an expert staff who are well-versed in music history. In addition to punk, there is also an extensive selection of soul, jazz, and alternative rock for vinyl lovers.

Sorry State Records also purchases records for top dollar prices for those looking to sell their extra or unused vinyl. For those looking to buy, the store frequently restocks popular titles, and there’s a weekly newsletter that helps customers stay up to date with what’s available.

Hunky Dory Records

hunky dory records durham

Named after the seminal album by rock great David Bowie, Hunky Dory Records can be found in both Durham and Raleigh. The store in Raleigh at 111 Seaboard Ave has a very classic feel – instantly reminding visitors of the old-school record stores of the 80s. Records are presented in crates, and the well-lit store also provides opportunities to drink on-tap craft beers while listening to in-store tunes.

In operation for 12 years, Hunky Dory has always kept vinyl sales as its primary raison d’etre, and of the store’s collection, about 99 percent is used. This means there are plenty of opportunities to grab some true classics from bands like Pearl Jam, Radiohead, and the Grateful Dead.

The Pour House Music Hall & Record Shop

pour house records raleigh

The Pour House Music Hall & Record Shop is located in downtown Raleigh at 224 S Blount St. If you enjoy listening to live music, make sure you stop by for a show. They have events most nights, so look for something while you are in the area, regardless of whether it’s a weekday or a weekend.

They sell both used and new records in the upstairs section of the store. There is even a $1 bargain bin where you’ll find treasured vinyl deals that you won’t want to miss. In addition to this, drinks can be purchased at the location. In fact, they have quite a few draft beers on tap that are worth tasting as you explore the store.

The Record Krate

record krate raleigh

If you enjoy jazz music, make a stop at The Record Krate. They have three locations that are easy to visit in North Carolina. The address in Raleigh is 508 St. Mary’s Street Raleigh, NC 27605. They also have locations in Wake Forest and Selma that you can visit if you would like to check them out and see how the vinyl collection differs from place to place.

The Record Krate sells turntables, cassettes, and vintage t-shirts that you can explore as well. Try some of the handcrafted kombucha brewed on location as you are exploring the vinyl the store offers. There are even record players located throughout the store at listening stations to listen to the artist before diving in and purchasing it.

Nice Price Books & Records

nice price raleigh

Located at 3106 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, Nice Price Books & Records is another excellent location to find rare gems for your vinyl collection. If you are searching for something specific, the staff will special order vinyl for you if it’s available. New and used records are available as well as other items like t-shirts, books, comics, movies (DVD, VHS, and Blu-ray formats), and turntables from popular brands like Pro-Ject.

Nice Price Books & Records has a bargain bin that you will want to take advantage of. When searching for the top record stores in Raleigh, NC, few others also hold a book club and an artist choice club where individuals gather and talk about books, movies, and music.

Chaz’s Bull City Records

If you are visiting the Durham area, stop by Chaz’s Bull City Records – you won’t regret it. This store has been around since 2005, so they have an extensive collection. They have new and used records from every genre. If you know what you want and cannot go to the store, they even offer the option of purchasing an album online.

For music lovers that purchase new vinyl monthly, there is a subscription service that will allow you to explore hand-picked staff favorites. This record store also has listening parties for local and non-local artists to help introduce you to new music that you may not have heard.

Carolina Soul Records

Run by soul collector and vinyl lover Jason Perlmutter, Carolina Soul Records is located on 117 E Main St. in Durham.


While infamous for selling on eBay and Discogs, Jason is also a purveyor of some of the finest soul, jazz, and funk records in the Raleigh-Durham area. One of the more exciting ways to find new records there is to check out their Soundcloud account where they post mixes every few months. If you hear something exciting and new, Carolina Soul is the place to find it.


It's a brilliant marketing tactic to us!

Sound Off Records & Hi-Fi

sound off records raleigh

Sound Off Records & Hi-Fi is a great store where collectors can find rare albums. Located at 14 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, this location sells both new and used records. If you have records that you want to trade, they also have that option to consider. They also sell turntables, amps, and speakers if you need to upgrade your record equipment. However, equipment sales are only done on the weekends.

The record store is actually where Groove Records used to be located. It became Sound Off Records in 2016 when Anna and Aaron purchased the location. The record store is a pet-friendly building, so feel free to bring in your furry friend for some pets as you browse.

Cream Puff Records

If you plan to explore the surrounding area for vinyl records, make sure you head over to Charlotte and visit Cream Puff Records. Their collection of records is stellar, so you will have no problem finding the genres you prefer. The store also is an excellent option for anyone looking for live music.

In addition to selling both new and used records, Cream Puff Records is also a place where you can purchase clothing, books, and art. There is also a small coffee shop where you can grab a cup to enjoy while browsing through the vinyl.

Record Stores in Raleigh NC: Honorable Mentions

Father & Son Antiques is a vintage record store that sells clothing, furniture, and other accessories. Make sure you check out the upstairs to find a full collection of vinyl records that could hold a true treasure for your collection.

TrunkShow is another one of the more unique record stores in Raleigh NC. In addition to finding records at this location, you will be able to shop for local art and vintage furniture.

Finding The 7 Best Record Stores in LA

Living in Los Angeles, there are plenty of independent record stores to improve on your collection of vinyl records. Whether you are looking for new releases or vintage records to play on your turntable, LA has a record store that fits your style. Music lovers can find memorabilia and vintage rarities on record store day at many of the best record stores in LA.


Not sure where to start looking for LPs in the City of Angels? Let’s take a look at seven of the best record stores in LA and the Los Angeles area.


Amoeba Music

Amoeba Records in Hollywood Reopening on March 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Amoeba Music claims to be the largest independent record store in the world. In fact, contrary to its miniscule name, the store is large enough to take up an entire city block. Since 2001, the store was located on Sunset Blvd, but in 2020, it relocated to Hollywood Blvd. The shop has a wide selection of vinyls, CDs, cassettes, and more. If you are looking for indie, jazz, blues, or other specific genres, they have a wide selection of each to explore. Finding a diamond amongst the LPs is not too difficult with such a wide selection of old and new music.


If you are interested in seeing a live show, Amoeba Music even sells tickets to local shows. There is even a jazz room on location that features live bands and charity events. If you need new gear, they also sell record players and other audio gear from Pro-Ject turntables and other popular brands.


The Record Parlour

Located at 6408 Selma Ave in Hollywood, The Record Parlour is a great place to stop if you are looking for rock, funk, or soul. This location has a more intimate experience than Amoeba Music, and they have a collection of over 15,000 records, so you will have plenty of options to choose from if you are adding to your collection.


This record shop also has music memorabilia and vintage audio gear. There is even a lounge in the back where you will find jukeboxes and several vintage pinball machines. They also restore these types of items, so if you are a vintage collector, this is a stop you will want to make.


Gimme Gimme Records

Gimme Gimme Records originated in New York’s East Village, but after 18 years of success on the East Coast, the store moved to York Blvd in Los Angeles. After two years, another expansion was needed, so the record shop moved to a larger location on N Figueroa Street, which is still in Los Angeles.


Record genres available in the store include hip-hop, jazz, psych, country, and more. If you have trouble finding what you are looking for, the store owner is very knowledgeable and helpful, so just ask. New albums are rotated into the collection of what is offered so that the records don’t get stale for music enthusiasts.


Freakbeat Records

Freakbeat Records is located at 13616 Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks. It offers a vast library of unique vinyl records, along with discount bins that have amazing finds in them at a relatively low price point. You can even find reggae, classic rock, and motion picture soundtracks in the library of vinyl available at the store.


One of the reasons this is considered one of the best record stores in LA is that you can listen to your vinyl before purchasing it. They have a ton of hidden gems that you can listen to at one of the three listening stations in the store.


Record Surplus

Located at 12436 Santa Monica Blvd, Record Surplus has a large selection of vinyl, an intuitive layout, numerous listening stations, and reasonable prices. In addition to vinyl records, the store also sells CDs and DVDs so you can get some new movies in addition to music. If you have a wish list for records, stop by this location to see if you can check some off of your list.


The store was founded in 1985, so it has been around for nearly four decades. The vast library will satisfy any genre need, and even some of the rarest albums can be purchased for a few dollars. They even have a bargain bin with records that only cost $1.


Rockaway Records

Rockaway Records is located on Glendale Blvd in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. This location has a vast collection of rock records ideal for your music-loving friends and family. They have a bargain bin that has tons of hidden gems and collectibles that you may have been searching for. In addition to records, there is also rock memorabilia that may catch your eye.


The store opened in 1979, which makes it one of the oldest and best record stores in LA. In addition to selling records, this location also purchases used records that are in good condition. With that being said, you may find a used classic here that you are looking for when new copies are no longer being produced.


Common Wave Hi-Fi

When it comes to LA record shops, Common Wave stands out as one of the most dedicated to the aural experience. Not only will you find audio componentry from manufacturers like Pro-Ject, but you’ll also find a section dedicated to the repair and upkeep of turntables. This Turntable Workshop hosts DIY sessions where you can learn how to work on turntables.


If you’re looking to explore new artists, Common Wave also has musical performances every month. This includes DJ sets, singers, and live bands. As a Vinyl collector, you’ll want to marvel at the shop’s extensive collection and get to know the Pop Up Record Shop that has a rotating collection of vinyl gems.


Honorable Mentions for the Best Record Stores in LA


If you are looking for hardcore, punk, grind, or thrash music, stop by Headline Records. The store is located on Melrose Avenue, and they even have clothing and collectibles that could interest you.


Mount Analog, located in Highland Park, is an excellent option for those searching for techno, darkwave, or dance music. If you are interested in experimental music, check them out.


Fingerprint Music in Long Beach is a music store with a hand-curated selection that includes top hits and music that is considered odd. They also hold intimate performances on location that can hold up to 250 individuals.


If you are interested in zany LPs with a Halloween theme, then stop by Atomic Records. Located in Burbank, the shop, which has been open since 1996, specializes in new wave, punk, blues, and classic vinyl.


Cosmic Vinyl, which is a record store and a vegan coffee shop, is located right in the center of Echo Park. They have vintage stereo equipment, listening stations, and pinball machines as well.


On Glendale Blvd in Los Angeles, you will find a small record shop called Mono Records. They have a wide selection of vinyl to search through, especially if you are looking for soul, reggae, or funk.


Permanent Records, located in Highland Park, is a small store that has plenty of classic jams. Take a look at the bargain bins to find some real gems.


Jacknife Records and Tapes is a small hole-in-the-wall shop that sells records, tapes, and more in Atwater Village. They have rare, new, and used vinyl that you will not want to pass up.


Poo-Bah Record Shop, located in Pasadena, is a large independent record store that opened in 1971. Their collection includes rock, disco, funk, hip-hop, jazz, and music from local artists.

collecting vinyl essentials

Vinyl Essentials: 12 Must Have Albums for Vinyl Lovers

Visiting amazing record shops in search of vinyl essentials is by far the best part of collecting records. There are few more simple and lasting joys than carving out a space to listen to your favorite music. As with all things art-related, there have been endless arguments over the question of what makes up an essential album.


Your preferred genres are always going to play into this question, as well as the way you approach music. Some people prioritize the beat over everything, while others will happily sit through slow ballads if they have intricate lyrics. Naturally, any record that got you through a breakup or an angsty teen phase is going to hold more emotional power than a trending billboard chart album. The overlap between personal music taste and what’s widely loved is going to vary depending on the person, which makes any attempt at naming the “best albums” a practice in subjectivity.


When it comes to essential vinyl records, there are some universal factors that help narrow it down. Because turntables are analog devices, some recordings will simply translate better to vinyl. Regardless of your taste in music, there’s no denying the way that some albums sound fully realized on vinyl, while others lose their sound quality in translation. With this in mind, we’ve compiled some of the best vinyl albums to take for a spin on your turntable, both for the sound quality, and the music itself.


The 12 Vinyl Essentials Every Vinyl Lover Needs


David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars


The fifth studio album from David Bowie managed to break the mold among an already rich and creative body of work. Channeling his androgynous alien alter-ego Ziggy Stardust, Bowie gives listeners a fully realized 1972 glam rock experience. If anything is meant to be played on vinyl, it’s an album about a space-traveling rock star delivering a message of hope to earth, only to be ultimately destroyed by his own fame. The sound editing and pure theater of this album are best served in analog.





Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon


Identifying as a vinyl lover without grabbing a copy of Pink Floyd’s eighth studio LP feels deeply contradictory. The psychedelic rock journey of The Dark Side of the Moon is one best heard sitting on a pillow on the floor, while incense burns and your turntable blasts “The Great Gig In the Sky.” The rainbow prism-laden album cover, designed by Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson of Hipnogsis, also made its mark as one of the most iconic album covers of all time.






Michael Jackson - Thriller


It’s hard to argue against the best-selling album of all time. The sixth studio album from Michael Jackson is full of danceable bangers even the most forgetful person can sing along to. If you want to get guests on the dance floor during a party you’re hosting, then putting Thriller on for a spin is the forever move. Regardless of whether you identify as a “Pretty Young Thing” or more of a “Billie Jean,” having the post-disco sounds of Thriller in LP form is a fool-proof move.






Beastie Boys - Pauls Boutique 


Whether you’re a die-hard hip hop fan, or you just have a soft spot for the Beastie Boys, Paul's Boutique is arguably one of their best albums to hit the shelves. The sophomore album that received the nickname “Sgt Pepper of hip hop,” features intricate multi-layered sampling best appreciated on vinyl. Produced by the Dust Brothers, this album set out to be more experimental sonically, and it shows in the listening experience. The cover art and gatefold also feature a rich sunny photo of Ludlow Street, a true time capsule to late 80s NYC.





Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On


When he set out to release his eleventh album, Marvin Gaye was not afraid to break the rules. Often cited as the first album self-produced by an artist, What’s Going On doesn’t hold back creatively and politically. With nine full songs written from the perspective of a Vietnam War veteran returning to the mayhem of America, it’s an account that plays best through the vinyl format it was mastered for. Hearing Gaye’s 1971 commentary through the sound quality of a turntable just makes sense.





Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin


The self-titled debut album from Led Zeppelin has made its marks in the ranks of great albums in general, but also, albums that are best appreciated in LP format. As we all know now, Led Zeppelin’s striking fusion of blues and rock immediately topped the charts in both England and America. While producing this album, Jimmy Page used a “distance makes depth” approach which harnessed natural room ambiance to enhance recording texture. This texture is best heard with the holographic sound that exclusively comes from a turntable listening session. The cover art, which shows the burning Hindenburg airship from the 1937 disaster, is both iconic in its visuals and the controversy it caused.




Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde


Few albums feel more like they should be played on vinyl next to a rainy window more than Bob Dylan’s seventh studio album Blonde on Blonde. Replete with Dylan’s poetic songwriting, and his gritty but heartfelt vocal style, this double album is the pinnacle of 1960s energy. If you can find yourself a clean-cut vinyl of Blonde on Blonde, few listening experiences feel more apt than hearing his 11-minute “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” crooned through a phonograph. When it comes to sonic quality, Dylan’s musical style lends itself best to vinyl in general, so adding him to your collection is always a win.



Funkadelic - Maggot Brain


Funkadelic pulled out all the punches with their third studio album Maggot Brain. The gatefold of the album features an article excerpt exploring fear: “Fear is at the root of man’s destruction of himself. Do we know the extent to which we are at war with one another - on every level from personal to worldwide - because we are afraid?”

The choice to include a philosophical question in the LP packaging falls completely in line with the ethos of Funkadelic in 1971. Best known for the 10-minute title track in which frontman George Clinton performs LSD-fueled spoken work, Maggot Brain not only topped R&B charts, it helped redefine the possibilities of funk for future musicians. 




Radiohead - OK Computer


Drawing inspiration from Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, the already successful Radiohead broke their own musical mold in 1997. Wanting to part from the Brit Pop revival they saw their peers lean into, Radiohead hunkered into an Elizabethan manor house to record melancholic classics like “Karma Police,” and “Paranoid Android.” 


The album art, much like the music itself, is meant to convey a world of social isolation, and mindless consumerism. During production, the band harnessed natural reverberation by recording on a staircase, the effects of which are best heard moodily played through your turntable.



Fleetwood Mac - Rumours


The eleventh studio album from Fleetwood Mac is the epitome of late 70s rock culture, in all the most toxic and wonderful ways. Musically, Rumours combines rich warm vocal harmonies with crisp guitar picking, and the sense of rapidly shapeshifting feelings. One of the best-selling albums of all time, Rumours uses the pop sounds of electric keyboards and three-way harmonies to channel incestuous band relations and rampant drug use into pure art. The pluckiness of the melodies, and the warmth of the layering, and the pure 1970s bliss of this extreme talent is best appreciated on vinyl. Plus, doing research into the backstories playing out during the making of Rumours makes the listening experience that much more intense.




DJ Shadow - Endtroducing


The debut 1996 album from producer DJ Shadow is a gorgeous tapestry of sound. Any audiophile or lover of instrumentals will be able to appreciate the hip-hop album patched almost entirely from vinyl record samples. During the production process, DJ Shadow edited and layered samples into his own moody collages of sound. Considered a landmark recording for instrumental hip hop, DJ Shadow’s sampling techniques have influenced the style of many current artists. And given the many layers of vinyl samples, this album is at its best sound quality when played analog. 





The Beatles - Revolver


The seventh studio album from The Beatles was their last recording before retiring from performing, and they used it to flex their creative range. Hailed as one of the most innovative albums in popular music, Revolver reflected the shifting philosophies and increasingly psychedelic bent of the band. Since they knew they wouldn’t be playing live, they went full avante-garde with the recording process. The use of automatic double-tracking, close audio miking, reversed tapes, varispeed, a collage of tape loops and heavy tanpura are all implemented in the album. The psychedelic sounds, and existential songs reflecting on Eastern philosophy, death, transcendence, and loneliness truly shine brightest in vinyl form.



Collecting Beyond Essential Vinyl

When you dig deep into the world of collecting, this list is the tip of the iceberg of must-have vinyl records. If you haven’t listened to all of these play through the warmth of your turntable, it’s past due to check if they’re in stock. At the very least, you know what to add to your wishlist for the upcoming holidays.

Check out some of the best online record stores to see if what you're looking for is out there!

record stores in brooklyn

Seven Best Record Stores in Brooklyn

While Manhattan has long been one of the best places to shop for vinyl records, Brooklyn has become something of a hidden gem for audiophiles throughout the city. The best record stores in Brooklyn have sprawling collections of both new and vintage LPs, and finding your favorite genre is simple.


The experience in Brooklyn varies from spot to spot; some of the record stores are small but have some truly rare vinyl and other stores are truly massive with library-like collections. In fact, the borough is home to one of the largest stores in the city itself!


Consider taking a subway trip on your next record store day and see what New York’s largest borough by population has to offer for your sonic experience. Not sure where to start? Are you new to the city? Take a look at our guide to the best record stores in Brooklyn so that you’ll have all the info you need to build up your collection.


HiFi Provisions

hifi provisions record store

Having only opened up in 2021, HiFi Provisions is a music store that specializes in vintage audio, from vinyl records to record players. For example, it’s easy to find audio equipment throughout the store from McIntosh, Fisher, ProAc, and of course, Pro-Ject. At HiFi Provisions, they also purchase vinyl, vinyl turntables, and speakers.


This store is a testimony to the love of its owner, Matthew Coluccio. Out front, there are wooden racks featuring several vinyl gems. Many of the records are vintage, but there are some newer LPs as well. The entire store has a cozy feeling, and don’t be surprised if you come across one of Matthew’s audio tinkering projects, which usually involves analog tube amps. Coluccio is also known for his willingness to travel for rare records, so don’t be surprised if you come across something truly one-of-a-kind. Genre-wise, you’ll find something for most musical tastes, except for classical recordings.


Public Records

public records record store brooklyn

A local homage to the explosion of Tokyo-based music bars, Public Records is where you can find your favorite LPs while listening to live or vinyl-recorded music. Public Records serves cocktails, vegan food, and non-alcoholic drinks and is catered by local restaurateur Henry Rich. Peruse their extensive list of records in the Sound Room, and check out the vinyl record players for sale here, which include models from Pro-Ject.


The Sound Room is known for its intimate performances that are held almost every day. Public Records is genre-agnostic; you can find pressings from multiple artists from several different record labels here, and from day to day, live performance styles will vary similarly. The venue's construction also promotes sonic integrity; when music is playing via the vinyl player or live instruments, it resonates with a clarity that is perfect for the audiophile looking for their next immersive experience.


Black Gold Records

black gold records

Black Gold Records is a small, intimate vinyl shop located on Court Street in Carroll Gardens. They do not have a massive collection of records, but they offer some exciting vinyl, including Motown classics. They also sell vintage and antique items that will catch your eye as you walk through the shop.


One of the reasons this place stands out from the rest of the records stores in Brooklyn is because it’s also a coffee shop. Listening to music and sipping a cup of cold brew makes it easy to lose track of time at Black Gold Records.


Academy Record Annex

academy record annex brooklyn

Located on Oak Street in Greenpoint, Academy Record Annex is known for having the largest selection of records in New York City. In addition to having such a vast collection of vinyl, this is a place to find rare memorabilia like t-shirts and posters for specific bands. They even have magazines with articles about the musicians.


In addition to work from artists around the world, you can also find work from local artists in this Brooklyn music shop. Regardless of what you are searching for, the vinyl is well organized, so finding a specific album should be easy to manage if they have a copy for sale.


Earwax Records

earwax records brooklyn

Earwax Records is one of the oldest record stores in Williamsburg, and it’s one of the most recognized names in Brooklyn. Founded in 1990, the store has both new and used records in every genre. They carry various classics from the 60s and 70s and more contemporary music to complete your collection. If you need a vintage record player, they can be found at this store as well.


Since the owner has over 40 years as an experienced DJ, he has a love for music that only hardcore fans will understand. If you are visiting the shop, look for handwritten notes describing some of the records available for purchase.


Turntable Lab

turntable lab record store brooklyn

While the storefront location for Turntable Lab has closed down permanently, the Brooklyn-based company, which has been in operation since 1999, runs one of the most hands-on online shops in the country. The shop has something for everyone but very much caters to DJs. This is because the founders actually were DJs and still have a staff mainly comprised of DJs and musicians.


As a result, Turntable Lab is a place where you can find high-end vinyl turntables, such as the ones offered by Pro-Ject, as well as an extensive collection of vinyl records. You’ll also have an easy time finding things like record slipmats, adaptors, and vinyl storage items so that your collection is protected.


Rough Trade NYC

rough trade brooklyn record store

When you talk about the best record stores in Brooklyn, Rough Trade of Williamsburg was typically the most widely known. This sprawling record store felt like the Library of Congress for vinyl since its catalog of new and vintage LPs is massive. Not only did the venue serve as your on-demand location for vinyl, but over the years, several famous acts performed on its concert stage.


Unfortunately, Rough Trade recently announced that it would be closing this location after seven successful years. This isn’t the end though – they have opened a new location across the river in Manhattan.


Honorable Mentions

If you are hunting for specific records in Brooklyn, there are several shops to check out and get lost looking through the vinyls.  Here are some of the best record stores in Brooklyn that an audiophile looking for a specific niche collection should consider visiting.


Check out Record Grouch on Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint, where they feature the work of local musicians. They have a wide selection of music, and if you want to hear an album before purchasing it, there is a turntable available to see how the records sound.


The Mixtape Shop is a record shop that offers more than just great music. If you are near Bedford Ave in Bedford-Stuyvesant, make sure to stop and explore the shop while grabbing some banana bread and a cup of coffee.


Brooklyn Record Exchange, located in Bushwick, was formerly known as Co-Op 87. It is one of the best record stores to explore if you are into funk and soul records. They have a wide selection, and many of these are sold for just a few bucks. Don’t forget to bring your headphones to sample the music!


If you are looking for punk, avant-garde, or just hardcore sound, check out Material World Records to find vinyls for your collection.  They even have a collection of cassettes to explore.


Vinyl Fantasy is a record store where you can sell, buy, and trade vinyl. They have jazz, punk, classic, and indie rock at their location, and they also sell classic and indie DC and Marvel comics.


Music Matters is a record store that has been located in Park Slope since the 90s. They have a large selection of vinyls, CDs, and cassette tapes. They even carry some hardware in case you need something during your visit.


Human Head Records in East Williamsburg has every type of vinyl, from reggae and jazz to 80s boogie and prog rock. They also sell refurbished turntables and brushes for cleaning records before playing them.


If you want to listen to live music while visiting Bushwick, Second Hand Records NYC is a great place to start because they have a studio in the back of the store. They sell new and used LPs and offer a great selection of hip-hop, jazz, rock, and funk.

sonic boom best record shops seattlesonic boom best record shops seattle

The 7 Best Record Shops in Seattle

If you’re in the mood to browse quality record stores for a rare LP, then Seattle is one of the best places to be. With a rich history of local music and globally renowned acts like Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana, the city is chock full of record shops that serve up everything from indie, to hip-hop, to poppy new arrivals. No matter what your genre or sound preferences are, there’s a shop curated to your tastes.


In fact, in many ways the hardest part about finding record shops in Seattle is narrowing down which spots are the best record stores for you. If you’re more a fan of a small record store that specializes in rare vinyls, then your idea of the perfect day at the record store is going to be vastly different than someone who loves to browse a wide selection. Similarly, if you’re in the market for a new turntable or stereo system, then a shop that also carries gear is going to top the charts. Of course, as with the records themselves, aesthetics and vibe are also a big factor when considering where you want to shop. A place with massive selection but fluorescent lighting is going to emotionally feel different than something cozy that requires you dig into the crates in a low-lit corner. 


So, whether you’re new to Seattle, or you’re a local who is finally getting into vinyl records, this list should help you narrow down your next stop on the quest for the ultimate record collection. It should be noted, these are numbered in no particular order, they are all solid options for very different reasons.


Sonic Boom Records

sonic boom record shop seattle

Image credit: Sonic Boom/Instagram

Sonic Boom Records has been one of the top record shops in Seattle since its opening in 1997, when northwest indie enthusiasts Jason Hughes and Nabil Ayers joined forces to open up shops in Fremont, Ballard, and Capitol Hill. 


The flagship shop blew up as a place-to-be after Hughes and Ayers invited Death Cab for Cutie to play in one of their shops, and that opened up the doors for decades of packed and memorable live performances by local and touring acts alike.


While Sonic Boom is extra ideal if you’re an indie music lover, they carry new and used records across a wide variety of genres, as well as cassette tapes and CDs. So if you’re looking to sweeten up your collection, it’s likely they have something you’re looking for. 


Also, the location at 2209 NW Market St in Ballard is open every day from 11AM-7PM, it’s easy to find a time to pop in.

sonic boom inside record shop seattle

Image credit: Sonic Boom/Instagram


Gig Harbor Audio

gig harbor record shop seattle

Image credit: Gig Harbor Audio/Instagram

A record collection is only as good as the equipment you play it on, which is why stopping by a shop with top-tier gear is essential. If you’re looking to update your set-up, Gig Harbor audio is a fantastic place to browse anything from high-end used pre-amps to pristine Pro-ject turntables. If you’re strictly analog, they have everything ranging from turntable cartridges to record players to ATR reel to reel as well as cassette tapes. 

If you’re looking for some hi-fi electronics, Gig Harbor Audio also carries everything from tube amplifiers to wireless speakers so all of your listening experiences can be elite.

The store is located in the heart of Gig Harbor (roughly an hour on the outskirts of Seattle), at 3019 Judson St. Suite A.


Golden Oldies

golden oldies record shop seattle

Credit: Instagram

If you’re looking to score a rare or old vinyl, look no further than Golden Oldies. Nestled into the corner of Wallingford, Golden Oldies has been open since 1977, Golden Oldies isn't just one of the best record shops in Seattle, it's also got the title of “Seattle’s oldest record store.” 

Adorned with an Abbey Road mural and yellow exterior, Golden Oldies maintains its 1970s aesthetic while specializing in hard-to-find and out-of-print records. They also carry new vinyl, CDs, cassettes, and a selection of 8 track tapes.

In order to help customers cash in on rare finds, they create “want” lists of vinyls customers are searching for, and when an item is found, they notify the customer of the price and record grading of the lp. That unique service is free and can be accessed in-person, on the phone, or through their website. 

They also buy and trade records from collectors, so if you’re looking to celebrate record store day (April 22nd) by trading, they are a great place to soak up old-school vibes and fall in love with something on the shelves.

Kitsap Audio Video

kitsap audio record shop seattle interior

Image credit: Kitsap Audio Video/Instagram

If you’re a hi-fi audiophile looking to add to your record collection or upgrade your gear, Kitsap Audio Video specializes in both affordable and quality hi-fi.

When it comes to updating your listening room, they carry subwoofers, turntables, preamps, DACs, wireless audio options, and used and demo gear. Plus, if you’re looking to pick up a new vinyl, they have both new and used options spanning all genres. 

The shop is just outside Seattle in Silverdale, and is a great option if you want to grab gear and a new record in one trip. Plus, since it’s not in the middle of the city, you have a better chance of scoring something golden before someone else gets to it.

Holy Cow Records

holy cow record shop seattle

Image credit: Holy Cow Records/Instagram

If you’re stopping by Pike Place Market to watch the men toss fish, or buy yourself a warm crumpet, then it’s only natural to make a stop at one of the best record shops in Seattle, Holy Cow Records. Located inside the market on Pike St, Holy Cow is a small but mighty shop that’s been around for over two decades.


Holy Cow is an exclusively used record store that specializes in rare vinyl LPs and 45s, as well as a selection of CDs, DVDs, and various music memorabilia. It’s a great spot if you’re looking for a rare or weird find, or you want to actively buy, sell, or trade records and other music-related curios. If you’re not in the Seattle area, you can also find their listings on eBay. But the true Holy Cow experience involves seeing the cow sign in person and eating a croissant from Le Panier right afterward.


Georgetown Records

georgetown record shop seattle bowie

Image credit: Instagram/Georgetown Records

Georgetown Records shares space with Fantagraphics bookstore, so if you’re a fan of comic books then a trip to the shop will give you even more to browse through. The shop is a hub for regular live music and performance events, giving people across different mediums a chance to connect and collaborate. 

Specializing in mostly used and a handful of re-issued vinyl LPs, Georgetown Records leans older in its selection. However, they don’t sell online, so if you’re in Seattle it’s a great place to snag a find without worrying about online competition. But if you’re far away, you’ll need to save them for a brick-and-mortar shopping trip.

Silver Platters SODO

silver platters sodo record shops seattle vinyl

Image credit: Silver Platters/ Instagram

If you’re looking to shop a large selection of vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, and even books, the local Seattle chain Silver Platters is the place to be. Spanning across all genres, from popular new releases to avant garde used records, Silver Platters is an ideal place to go if you’re looking to grab multiple kinds of records at once, you want to grab a Blu-ray DVD, or you just feel like browsing a large selection.

If you like getting lost and overwhelmed in a large store full of goodies, then this is it. 


Notable Record Shops in Seattle

When on the hunt for the best record shops in Seattle, there are so many Seattle record stores to get lost in. It only feels fitting to add a few footnote mentions that are great options for the niche record collector. 

If you’re a big punk or metalhead, then Belltown’s Singles Going Steady (appropriately named after the Buzzcocks album) is a must-stop spot. It’s an idyllic level of crusty, with a full-on Hellraiser statue haunting you from the corner.

On the Corner of 12th and Pike, you’ll find Wall of Sound, a top pick if you’re looking for jazz, noise, avant-garde, or electronic music. This shop has remained weird and adventurous since 1990, which is a feat in the age of streaming music.

A trip to Stumbletown Records smells like chocolate because the shop is connected to Chocolat Vitale, which sells coffee, chocolates, and other delicious treats. The record selection itself is confined to a small space, so you gotta love digging through crates yourself, but there will be chocolate and coffee there to fuel you.

Last but not least of the notable mentions is the Central District’s Selector Records and Apparel, which deals in imported and underground dance music. This is ideal if you’re a DJ, an aspiring DJ, or you just love a rare dance record.

And if you're stocking up on used vinyl, be sure to check out our guide to cleaning records before you drop your stylus on them.

parts of a record player debut carbon evo

Vinyl 101: Parts of a Record Player

In the beginning, there was the phonograph, then came the turntable, today there is the record player. The main difference among these terms is who happens to be uttering the words. ‘Phonograph’ is the oldest term for this analog instrument, dating back to the mid-1800s when the concept of a stylus responsive to vibration was first being explored. Back then, the parts of a record player were different.

On a victrola, a horn was fixed near a vibrating stylus that amplified the noise with simple acoustics - like a horn to your ear as a hearing aid. Remember that even today, putting your ear near a record while a stylus is tracking reveals that it’s transcribing what’s in the record groove acoustically (in addition to electrically).

‘Phonograph’ remained the mainstay until ‘turntable’ entered the picture. This was somewhere near the time when folks started building component systems as the industry learned that there was much more to explore in the way of sound quality. The nature of the audio system changed when the principle of amplification moved from acoustic to electrical.

Enter audio receivers (amplifiers & preamplifiers with tuners & built-in phono preamps), loudspeakers, audio signal-carrying RCA cables & speaker wire as well as a slew of options among phono cartridges and styli. Here we also entered the era of the vinyl ‘Microgroove’ record as the audio community had begun to move away from shellac-coated 78rpm discs – the beginning of the audiophile era as we know it. As it remains today, ‘turntable’ was a way to describe the record-playing portion of a Hi-Fi component system.

The latest and current generation of vinyl record enthusiasts understands the term ‘record player.’ Acknowledging that this dates yours truly, more than once I’ve been met with a blank stare in response to using the word ‘turntable,’ followed by the quiet inquiry, “…you mean record player?”  To this day, ‘phonograph,’ ‘turntable,’ and ‘record player’ are all active terms and we’re all speaking the same language (at least generally). No one’s right and no one’s wrong here. I say ‘turntable’ because that is the generation from whence I came.

I digress… we are, after all, here to discuss the basics of the modern turntable. I find it helpful to start from the ground up…

Parts of a Record Player: Isolation Feet

…so let’s begin with isolation feet. It’s hugely important to understand that the impact of vibration & resonance on your turntable goes well beyond the skipping of the stylus in the groove. As an example, when you play your music, your speakers resonate everywhere (including on the floor and up the walls!). The more effectively you can separate your turntable from any and all external low-frequency vibration & resonance, the better it will sound. The feet that support the turntable are therefore significant, particularly for folks who don’t want to bother with the likes of fancy audiophile racks, platforms, and so on.

A good isolation foot usually implements some sort of spring and/or damping material (such as TPE and various types of rubber). Such a foot is good at absorbing resonance coming up from under the turntable. Another tried & true foot is the classic conical one, known in the plural as spike feet. These minimize the contact surface between your record player and the surface on which it rests, disallowing a good amount of vibration & resonance to travel upward. There are many combinations of these designs as well as plenty more ‘sophisticated’ approaches out there. Try upping your isolation for better sound. You’ll hear it in varying degrees in your playback’s clarity, spatial awareness, and low-level detail.

Parts of a Record Player: Plinth

The feet support the plinth, otherwise referred to as the turntable base or platform. Mass & solidity are paramount here. A hollow hunk of plastic serving as a plinth will resonate internally, regardless of how well you isolate the turntable. A plinth that’s optimized to give you the best sound will typically be solid (not hollow or minimally hollow) and will be made of something resonance-absorbing, resonance-dispersing, or some combination of the two.

MDF and other off-shoots of wood are typically good and keep production costs low. As plinth isolation gets more involved, many turntable makers aim to disperse and/or eliminate unwanted resonance a) through uniquely shaped plinths and/or b) by eliminating as much of the plinth as possible. Many audiophile turntables on the market lack a conventional chassis for this reason. Where there is a plinth, keep in mind that resonance not inherently bad. Some materials and combinations of materials are used specifically because of the way they resonate (their resonant frequency). The idea, though, is that resonance is controlled and deliberate.

Parts of a Record Player: Drive System

Next, we move to what’s usually mounted to the plinth: the direct drive system. The conversation regarding belt vs. direct drive is a big one that we will save for another day, but suffice it to say that a direct drive turntable uses a motor that drives the turntable platter directly, i.e., the motor & platter are coupled. We will focus today on the belt-drive system, which is widely agreed to be capable of better sonic performance (again, there are no absolutes – there are damn good direct drives out there).

There are a couple of reasons the belt drive system is most common these days: a) in the consumer range, it keeps costs down and b) in the vinyl aficionado range, it de-couples the motor from the record platter. The belt (usually some sort of rubber) is what drives the platter, so motor noise and/or resonance are isolated from the record-playing surface, amounting to a lower noise floor which in turn makes musical information more available to your ears. Stand-alone motors that are entirely decoupled from the plinth are more effective still.

The quality of the power supply, motor, and motor mounting is also very important. Shortcuts in the development and production of these parts amount to noisier motors that vibrate more, and with lower speed tolerances. Your turntable cartridge, cantilever (the metal rod that houses the diamond), and stylus (some folks say ‘turntable needle’) are highly sensitive and will only amplify unwanted noise.

Parts of a Record Player: Platter

Now we move on to the platter – that which rotates atop the drive system. Principles here are similar to that of the plinth. High mass is a good thing (less prone to being affected) and selected materials should be anti-resonant. You’ll find plenty of low mass aluminum platters on the market. When you get a chance, remove a similar platter and give it a rap or two. You’ll hear it ringing, which is far less than ideal if sound quality is your priority. Steel is better because it’s less resonant and more massive, acrylic is acoustically dead.

More advanced platters use various coatings and/or ‘sandwich’ designs that combine materials to affect resonance. The sky is the limit.

Turntable Mats and Slipmats

The turntable mat is of course the last line of defense in terms of isolating your cartridge & stylus from external unwanted vibration & resonance. As with the above, everything under the sun has been at least tried as a record mat. Some mats are meant to couple the record to the platter (to simulate the resonance properties of the platter and/or record itself), or to de-couple (to add another resonance barrier). Since it's in direct contact with your records, which in turn makes contact with your stylus, the record mat can make audible differences in playback.

For the record (no pun intended… seriously), most stocks felt mats are OEM, and their main function is to protect your vinyl from the hard surface underneath. Their greatest value is in peace of mind. They do little in the way of promoting sound quality. Cork turntable mats or rubber slipmats do the most when it comes to dampening.

The Tonearm is Essential

Needless to say, as the carrier of the phono cartridge, the tonearm is instrumental in getting the most from your system. There should be no ‘play’ in the tonearm bearing, meaning basically that tube should not wobble in any direction. Here again, plastic is no good. It resonates and is not rigid. Rigidity in the tonearm structure allows your cartridge to do its best work, unimpeded by vibration & resonance that negatively color the sound. Aluminum & carbon fiber are commonly used materials that are light, rigid, and anti-resonant. Basic elements for pivoted tonearms (most common) are the headshell, armtube, bearing & counterweight.

The headshell (sometimes user-replaceable) is the end-portion of the tonearm to which you mount the cartridge. We recommend a carbon fiber headshell.

The armtube is the prevailing length of the tonearm, longer in curved tonearms. As a general rule, a longer tonearm allows for less ‘error’ in the tonearm’s arc across the disc, yielding cartridge alignment geometry that’s closer to optimal.

The bearing structure is at the pivot point. Its job is to provide secure and fluid lateral movement of the arm. The counterweight is used to balance the cartridge and at an optimal value so that the right amount of VTF (vertical tracking force) is applied to the stylus in the groove. The anti-skate mechanism can take one of several forms, but its task is to offset the inward-directed momentum of the tonearm so that the only force applied to the stylus is vertical force (so that the stylus retrieves information equally from each lateral groove wall).

Phono Cartridges AKA Record Player Needles

sumiko phono cartridge pro-ject turntable

The cartridge and stylus are a larger conversation that we will discuss down the road, but let’s briefly go over the basics. Put simply, the stylus (the actual diamond) is responsible for responding to the contours of the record grove. At the opposite end of the cantilever (a metal rod with diamond bonded to it) are magnets and coils that generate an electrical signal based on the motion of the stylus. This principle is known as electromotive force (energy created by motion).

The signal is passively sent to the cartridge output pins to which the tonearm lead wires are connected. The tonearm lead wires carry the signal through the arm, out the turntable jacks (usually RCA), and over to the phono preamp. Moving magnet & moving coil are the two main types of phono cartridge. If a cartridge has a replacement stylus that you can swap out yourself, you can usually infer it’s a moving magnet. If the stylus is not user-replaceable, it’s a moving coil in most cases.

Keep Dust Away With a Dust Cover

Last, atop the whole machine, you’ll usually find the dust cover (some record players don’t accommodate a proper cover). Its main utility is just as its name suggests; it’s a cover that protects your gear from dust. Of course, one should use it for its practical function and/or maybe aesthetics, but it’s best to remove it or to leave it open (if hinged) while listening. The dust cover is a known resonator – it creates a cavern over your turntable, like listening to your vinyl collection inside a cave.

Feeling Like an Expert?

We hope you’ve enjoyed our overview of record player parts & principles. Indeed your CD player or MP3 player might offer a bit more convenience, but we love the notion that listening to vinyl forces you to engage more with an album proper. Truly it’s a different listening experience entirely. Turntable parts can be a lot to consider, and as always, we advise you to engage with your collection to the extent that’s best for you as the listener. The main priority is that you’re having fun. Some folks will dive in deep and make a hobby of it (or even a profession!), others will spin records from their kitchen countertop while washing dishes. What matters is that it brings you joy.


Happy listening!

Pro-Ject USA felt turntable mat

Vinyl 101: What is a Slipmat? Do You Need One?

If you're wondering "what is a slipmat?" or "do I need a slipmat for my turntable", you may not realize how a mat improves your vinyl experience!

Most audiophiles don’t realize how much debt they owe to DJ-ing and hip-hop culture for the recent interest in turntables, and vinyl records. However, one thing probably needs clarification, the difference between a slipmat, and a standard turntable mat.

Crazy, I know, but remember, this is a group that likes to discuss, compare, contrast, and sometimes get into heated discussions about sound quality. So, let’s focus on the terminology, materials, and applications, so you can join the party when everyone’s talking about your record player!


First, the DJ Slipmat


The true reason for a turntable slipmat is to allow the record to spin freely, so that a DJ can back cue a record to the precise spot they want a cut to begin (also done in the broadcast industries years ago) when transitioning from track to track.

While some analog DJ’s use a leather slipmat, the weapon of choice is a felt slipmat, as it allows the most freedom of movement, both back and forth on the platter. There really are no cork slipmats, because they do not allow for movement of the record on the platter, but we’ll get into the usefulness of a cork mat later.

What a lot of people either don’t know or remember is that in order to set your record player up for DJ use, the VTA (vertical tracking angle) on the stylus needs to be set to 0 degrees – straight up and down. That way when you are cueing, or back-cueing a record, the stylus will move freely.

Using the standard 15-degree VTA will cause the stylus to shear off when scratching or back-cueing. While this “straight up and down” VTA scheme will affect normal playback somewhat, in a DJ situation at maximum volume, no one will notice!


Turntable Mats for Hi-Fi Lovers

pro-ject slipmat turntable

Looking at a more hi-fi application, the turntable mat is a different accessory. The tonearm, platter, headshell, cartridge, and even the turntable platter mat need to work together as a high quality playback system to achieve maximum fidelity.

DJ turntables, like the ubiquitous Technics SL-1200 utilize a direct drive system, in part for their quick startup time, and maximum torque, to aid in a quick recovery from scratching and cueing. As Pro-Ject turntables all utilize belt drive, we will concentrate on their approach with different mat materials for audiophile playback.

Though some turntable manufacturers choose a felt mat as a standard option, its biggest downfall is the lack of anti-static properties this material has. In some cases, this can make things in an audiophile setup worse.

Some of those “clicks” you hear when playing a record might not even be dirt embedded in the grooves, it might just be micro bits of static electricity between the vinyl record itself and the felt mat.


What is a Slipmat Versus a Platter Mat Versus a Felt Mat?


Depending on the turntable engineer’s intent when designing a turntable, they can decide how much the platter will assist in dampening the micro-vibrations that occur just from the act of the stylus tracking through the record grooves.

Some turntables (and even some in the Pro-Ject lineup) use synthetic platter materials, like acrylic to achieve these goals. Often the acrylic platter is designed in concert with some kind of record weight or clamp, that goes over the spindle, holding down the record in the center. This can make for a better platter to album interface, allowing the cartridge and stylus to extract more information from those minuscule record grooves.

This is a challenging experience when listening to an EP versus playing a 12-inch LP. Turntable manufacturers making acrylic platters suggest no mat at all, but like everything in audio, you can experiment.

The most popular turntable mats are usually rubber mats or cork mats. Turntable Lab is a great place to start. They have a number of different mats for Pro-Ject and other tables, including a full line of felt slip mats and decorative mats. Even if you aren’t going to be scratching for a house party with your Pro-Ject table, adding a cool felt decorative mat is a great way to personalize your setup.


Adding a Slipmat or Turntable Mat to Your Deck


One thing to remember when adding a rubber turntable mat, or a cork mat to your turntable is that you will need to reset your turntables’ VTA, as these mats are almost always thicker than the felt mat they replace.

Adding even a millimeter or two to your platter’s height will throw the VTA adjustment off.

Should you forget to reset VTA, you may notice your records sounding a little bit duller or slightly brighter (more emphasis on treble) than they did before. That’s when you know it’s time to make a fine adjustment. Then you can start listening seriously.

Depending on the resolution of your system, changing the mat will change the resonant characteristics of the platter, and in the end, change how your system will ultimately sound. Sometimes a mat can make all the difference in the world, even with a modest setup. The most fun (and sometimes most frustrating) part of analog playback is that everything makes a difference.

Cork mats tend to be slightly more benign in sound character, while the rubber mats tend to have more of a dampening effect on playback. One cartridge will respond better to one, and you’ll know by listening, when you’ve got it right. Again, if you live in a fairly dry environment, it might be worthwhile to switch to a rubber or cork mat just to minimize the static effects.


Turntable Mats are Functional and Decorative


In the end, adding a mat to your turntable, or changing the one you have will give you a sonic improvement at best, or up the cool factor at worst. Nothing wrong with that, and it’s an inexpensive tweak. Give it a go and see what you think!

45rpm vinyl records EPs

Vinyl Records 101: What Does EP Stand For?

If you’re new to collecting and listening to vinyl records, you may have heard the term EP tossed around, but what does EP stand for?

It’s an abbreviation for Extended Play, and this case, more minutes of music than a standard 45 r.p.m. single, yet not as many as a full album.

Spending a bit of time hanging out on any number of message boards, and social media sites will offer different definitions. We'll try to be comprehensive here.

What Does EP Stand For vs LP Records?

A standard, single platter, “long play,” (or LP) vinyl release usually has less than 40 minutes of music spread over two sides. An EP has less music and less space for music if it's in a smaller format.

For many people in the music industry, the extended play record eschews the larger 1.5-inch hole in the middle of a 7-inch single and utilizes the 9/32” spindle hole from a standard long-playing album. This was incredibly handy for people with portable phonographs, that would only accommodate a 7-inch disc.

Playing an EP can be tricky for new record collectors. If you don't have a 45rpm adapter, you'll risk your tonearm skating into treacherous territory. The adapter allows you to play 7-inch 45rpm records as smoothly as your 12-inch LPs.

Why Were EPs First Created?

One of the primary functions of the EP was to not only get new music out now, but to offer a less expensive way of getting a “hit” in listeners hands.

At the height of the punk rock era, some bands arguably had shorter music careers, and many only released EP’s. Indie record labels saw it as being more DIY, and more in keeping with the ethos of punk rock.

45 RPM RCA collection

Knowing what does an EP stand for requires knowing its history.

The EP was officially introduced by RCA in 1952, with Britain’s EMI records in April of 1954. Often, the EP was a short compilation, either featuring a few tracks from a new artist, hits from a new or upcoming album, and still other times, either multiple versions of a single; extended mixes, alternative mixes, or the “radio” version, which was often edited down in the better hope of airplay on the radio.

Many a rapper would release a single track, with three to five alternative mixes on their EP. Eminem’s Slim Shady EP was the disc that launched his career.

The 7 and 10-inch EP’s were usually only good for three or four songs. Later, the 12-inch EP would extend this to five or six tracks. Fewer songs on these 12-inch EP’s meant bigger grooves. If you can find these, or their close cousins, the 12-inch “maxi-single,” they always have more dynamics and can really be cranked up!

Another industry favorite was to release one or two versions of the track, and one or two b-side tracks. It was almost like getting two 45s in one!

Many associate EP’s, regardless of diameter as a 45 r.p.m. record, but many of them are pressed at 33r.p.m. All of these are some of the best sounding records you can find, if and when you can find them. Every vinyl lover should have at least a few. But why?

What EPs Meant to the Music Industry?

Some industry vets claim the EP was a cost-saver or even a loss leader. Back in an all-analog world, it was certainly easier to mix and master EPs and even cheaper to get them out the door. CD Baby calls the EP “the gumbo of recorded music,” suggesting this format to their users as an accessible way to reach a wide swathe of fans.

No doubt many DJ’s on the scene took advantage of well-cataloged cases and crates of records for easy access during intense sets. Think of this as the first portable way to categorize music. A skilled DJ knew the contents of their collection intimately and organized the records meticulously, so just the right track could be added to the mix with perfect timing.

A fully analog playlist could be edited as the evening went on. While some EPs came in basic white wrappers, as the format reached its heyday, the artwork often mirrored that of the album the tracks came from or at least were produced to the same level of creative craftsmanship.

Some even had unique artwork, posters, stickers, and other memorabilia to go with.

Can a Cassette Be an EP?

maxi cassette Depeche Mode Personal Jesus EP

As cassettes were taking some of the thunder out of the LP record, and CDs were just beginning to make inroads to how we played, stored, and transported music, the EP/maxi-single concept stayed strong as ever. Only the method of delivery changed.

Now cass-singles (usually about $2.98ea) had their own section of the record stores, soon to be released by CDs with only a few tracks.

One personal fave is Depeche Mode’s CD single with no less than 3 versions of “Dangerous,” and 5 versions of “Personal Jesus.” A quick perusal of Discogs reveals just how many variations on the theme there are for collectors.

What Does EP stand for in 2021?

Asking "what does an EP stand for" in 2021 requires we offer a new definition.

Even in our digital music world, the acronym once meant to describe the extended play record still stands, often with new music. Artists, with a large fan base, often release EPs in a digital format before the full-length album is available.

A quick perusal of Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz, or whatever streaming service you might use often has digital Eps instead of the physical media we grew up with – and some of those Eps and Maxi-Singles are now available online. But because this is the Pro-Ject site, we’re guessing your thinking vinyl.

Yes, you can still get in the game, but like all things vinyl, prices have gone up from about 10 years when no one knew what these gems were. Of course, you can still grab a copy of Phil Collins’ “Sussudio” for five bucks, but a sealed maxi-single of Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast” is gonna set you back 200 large – if you can find one.

And once you get a handful, Amazon has some great record cases to devote to your collection.

Lovely as it is to stream millions of tracks, and be able to create playlists at will, many of us still remember laboring over a mixtape and squeezing every last drop of music onto the side of a C60 or C90 cassette. There's a lot of pride in showing up at a party with the said mixtape, or even better, a crate full of singles, ready to entertain the evening’s guests.

The continued ubiquity of new and used EPs means that it's usually easy to find lots of great tracks at a low price and spinning them at a party for guests or enjoying an intimate night of listening.