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How to Start a Record Collection

Within the last decade, vinyl records have gone from being widely regarded as an outdated format to becoming the format of choice for younger music collectors. This is for good reasons– not only do records provide a unique tactile experience and allow for media like record sleeves and inserts to shine, but the lack of digital compression might just render vinyl the best way to listen to music. If you’re looking to start a collection, keeping a few pointers in mind can help your journey be a successful one.

Make sure you start with the right setup.

If you already have the equipment and are simply wondering how to build your collection of LPs, you’re all set– but you might also be starting from scratch, in which case there’s no need to fret. While record collecting has a reputation as an expensive hobby, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. This extends beyond perusing the used record section, however– used and refurbished equipment can also save you a lot of cash while getting you a reputable turntable or speakers. While any quality pair of stereo speakers will serve you well, the player itself can be a trickier find.

Most recommend staying away from suitcase-style all-in-one players, as they tend to feature a lot of vibration courtesy of the built-in speakers as well as a heavy tracking force, making them prone to damaging vinyl records. Opt instead for a separate turntable and speaker set. Good vintage turntables aren’t difficult to find and despite demand, many still come at reasonable prices. However, if you’re in the market for a brand new model, brands like Sony and Audio Technica offer good beginner turntables. Just keep in mind that some players require an external preamp to play at a proper volume through your speakers.

Have a designated place to store your records.

While it may be tempting to set a stack of new LPs down now and organize later, storing vinyl on top of one another runs the risk of causing warping and damage. Keeping records stored vertically in a designated place, such as in a crate or on a shelf, will keep them in good shape for many years to come. IKEA’s Kallax line of storage cubes and bookshelves, for instance, fit 12-inch LPs perfectly, as do any storage methods that exceed 12”x12”. Here’s an example of a good starter shelf if you’re on the hunt for one, or a crate if you’re looking for a more minimalistic and space-conscious option.

As your collection grows, keep tabs on what’s in it.

While it may seem incomprehensible at first, after enough years of collecting, you’ll start to find yourself asking: “Wait, do I have this one?” Apps like Discogs allow you to log each record (or CD, cassette, or other formats) you own down to the precise release edition and vinyl color– as well as buy and sell records from other avid collectors and independent record shops alike. Keeping track of your collection can be as simple as writing it down or keeping an entry in your notes app, however.

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