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Should You Buy a Vintage Turntable? – Gear Patrol

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There are definite pros and cons to buying a vintage turntable instead of a new one. We weigh them up.
Vintage audio is undoubtedly in vogue. Vinyl has been experiencing an incredible renaissance — so much so that it has encouraged a whole industry to making new turntables, preamps, phono cartridges and other components. And it seems to have had a trickle down effect into other old-school playback formats. Interest in CDs and cassette tapes are both experiencing resurgences, as well (albeit not to the same level as vinyl).
But it’s not just listening to vintage audio formats that a lot of hi-fi enthusiasts love — it’s listening to them on vintage components and machines. Any purist will tell you that “they just don’t make them like they used to” and that’s actually true in some ways. The look, feel and nostalgia of an old-school turntable or receiver is simply unmatched.
The good news is that if you’re in the market for a vintage turntable — like an old-school Rega Planar 3 or a Thorens TD-125 MK II — they are out there. It’s not actually that difficult to find a vintage machine. But purchasing one and getting it in working order might not be as straightforward as you think.
The main reason why anybody would shop for a vintage turntable when there are so many modern turntables available (which are easier to buy and use), is the nostalgia. Most turntables from previous decades are quite large, made of high-quality woods and metals, and harken back to a time when vinyl was really the best and easier why to listen music. And let’s be honest, today’s influx of modern turntables just don’t have that same vibe.
It might seem a little counterintuitive when it comes to vintage hi-fi, but you can buy a vintage turntables – from online marketplaces like eBay, Reverb, Amazon, Sweetwater or Craigslist — for a pretty reasonable price. For example, you can find old school turntables from Marantz, Pioneer, Technics and others for a few hundred bucks (or less).
But this is for a reason…
If you’re serious about buying a vintage turntable, the first thing you need to know is that there are a lot of sellers of vintage audio equipment — including turntables from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s — but most of what is being sold won’t be in perfect working order. In fact, a lot of vintage turntables are being sold for parts (mostly belts, tonearms and motors); meaning they’re designed for people who are restoring a vintage turntable they already have.
Unless you seriously know what you’re doing, we recommend finding and reaching out to a local hi-fi shop and asking what they think of the turntable you’re buying and if they can help you fix it up. The most difficult thing in restoring vintage audio is finding old-school parts, and they might tell you that restoring the model you’re eyeing might not be so easy.

The reality is that even though vinyl is an old school audio format, there have been a lot technical advancements in the way it’s played. Modern turntables have more sophisticated components (tonearms, motors, belts, cartridges, circuitry, etc.) and are thus able to produce a more accurate and warmer sound than turntables from decades ago. So if you’re building a hi-fi system around a vintage turntable, you’re most likely doing it for the project and the nostalgia rather than the end sound quality.


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