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Getting good sound from portable record players that initially sound like garbage

June 7, 2018 • Derek

Big full-range sound, in little tiny grooves… It’s amazing that records work at all, not to mention sound as good as they do. Several people make the assertion that records contain much more detail than audio on a cd. Others may argue that they sound ok at best, and that there’s something kind of nostalgic in hearing scratchy sounding music with clicks and pops in the background. However, in my opinion, the sound of records lie somewhere between those extremes. Warn or scratched records containing recordings that were carefully mixed and mastered are compromised, but records which were properly pressed, and well-preserved will allow someone with a good turntable and preamp to hear all of the detail of badly produced recordings.

Have an example of what I mean. Can you hear the door slam? Given the song and the lyrics, you may appreciate the irony.

If you missed it, the door slamming was after the word “Joy.” Not a very joyful noise for sure, but one captured on the 1972 release of “The little drummer boy” by the Peppermint Kandy Kids.

Listening to this record has been, and is still one of my Christmas traditions. Until I found a copy of it on ebay, I just had a badly recorded tape of it though. All of the subtleties were lost in the background noise, and tinny sound of that bad transfer.

The cheep components in the turntable that were used when the tape was recorded are similar to those used in the portable record players that are popping up all over the place. Just do a search for “Portable turntable” or “Crosley” on youtube, and you’ll see a combination of negative reviews by people who are familiar with higher end equipment, and millennials who think the whole thing is like… so retro! OMG! 😛

That having been said, I’ve found a rather interesting video which discusses and demonstrates some of the advantages of performing upgrades on these low-end record players. I didn’t know that any of the components were replaceable. I figured that short of the stylus, everything else was either soldered, or hot glued together.

What are your thoughts and observations?
In addition to the kinds of things I’ve already posted, would you like me to use this blog as a means of sharing other videos I find interesting?
Let me know by leaving a comment.

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