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Tip of the Week, March 2, 2015

unique wall shelf

 

If you are looking for a unique wall shelf for your suspended subchassis turntable, you might check out this Etsy shop:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/SilicateStudio

I exchanged some emails with the fellow, and he says custom sizes are available along with heavier duty brackets.  He said he can provide a shelf that would hold over 70lbs.  Check it out…


Tip of the Week, July 14, 2014

A common question I get asked is what are the differences between a Thorens TD-160 and a TD-165. This video highlights those for you.

 


Tip of the Week, June 30th 2014

Ikea Jansjo

 

Just bought one of these Ikea Jansjo lamps as a turntable light. LOVE it!  I have tried  two battery operated TT lights before, but I get sick of changing batteries when I forget and leave it on two days straight!  This one has AC.  If you have an Ikea near you, go there. If not, this is the cheapest price I could find online.

 

 

 

 

 


Tip of the Week, June 23, 2014

Demagnetize your phonocartridge for FREE!

 

 


Tip of the Week, April 20, 2014

phono_cartridge_shim_vta_spacer

 

Something every turntable owner should own is a set of phono cartridge shims for fine adjustment of VTA or Vertical Tracking Angle. Frustrated by the lack of affordable quality shims available for purchase, I took one of my favorite designs to my sheet metal fabricators and had these high quality non-magnetic shims produced.  Each is individually machined.  The open end design is a PLEASURE to use.  You can read more about them and purchase your shim/spacer set here.


Tip of the Week, April 6, 2014

20 wt oil

 

At the Thorens factory, for most vintage models they used a straight SAE 20 wt. turbine oil.  There are all kinds of other oils on the market, but if you want what Thorens intended, just go to your local hardware store.


Tip of the Week, March 24, 2014

user510 screws

 

Thorens used a cartridge mounting screw size that’s sometimes difficult to find. Many people offer kits, but Steve Clarke of The Analog Dept offers the best. Click the link: The best source for Thorens cartridge mounting screws.


Tip of the Week, February 17, 2014

jico

If you are lucky enough to own a vintage Shure V-15 series cartridge, you owe it to yourself to replace the stylus with as SAS stylus produced by Jico of Japan.  I have had the pleasure of auditioning the SAS version  II, III, IV, and VxMr over the last several years, and none of them disappointed.  I’ve never had the occasion to compare them with NOS originals, but they certainly blow away any other Shure stylus replacement out there.  You can buy direct from Jico in Japan or at LP Gear here in the US.  Pricey…yes…but worth every penny.


Tip of the Week, January 20, 2014

A simple and quick video on how to handle a vinyl lp correctly…


Tip of the Week, November 18th, 2013

Custom Drying Rack ;-)

Custom Drying Rack ;-)

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is how do you clean (deep clean) your records. It’s an extensive topic with many opinions.  This thread at Steve Hoffman Forums is a good place to get started.  One thing I will add is that once I finally bought a record vac, I wondered why the heck I had waited so long; if you own a lot of “yard sale” records it is indispensable at getting them into playable condition.


Tip of the Week, November 4, 2013

One piece design vs two piece design

One piece design vs two piece design

 

With mixed feelings, I must withdraw my endorsement of Thorens 16X armboards made by Sound Supports based in the UK.  I have been using Shaun’s armboards for over a decade, and in terms of customer service and one small business understanding another, the relationship has been outstanding.  However, in terms of the Thorens armboards which they currently offer, their two-piece design held together with just an adhesive, is no longer something I deem sturdy enough to endorse.

Two piece design separated during shipment

Two piece design separated during shipment.  Photo: © 2013 Scott Snyder

Over the course of the last decade, there have been three instances where the two pieces of the armboard separated, resulting in extensive damage to the turntable, tonearm, and cartridge.  Unfortunately, two of these instances happened just in the last six months. In each case Shaun was kind enough to replace the board itself free of charge, however, I lost hundreds of dollars on each transaction.

As a result, working closely with a local metal manufacturer here in the US, I have begun to have manufactured a one-piece design in solid aircraft quality aluminum.  They not only look amazing, but they are impossible to break under turntable use or turntable shipping conditions.  As a result, beginning today, all of my restored turntables with custom arms will be shipped with these armboards.

At this time, I am only offering boards for three models:  Rega with single hole, Rega 3-point design, and SME.  All will be available in my eBay store, and eventually on my sister website Vintage Thorens.  The introductory price, available through December 31, is exactly the same as what one would pay to have a Sound Supports board shipped from England.

 


Tip of the Week, October 28, 2013

Ortofon Stylus Guard 2M Series

See the youtube video below for a short illustration of how to remove the stylus guard on an Ortofon 2M Black, Bronze, Blue or Red Phono Cartridge.  These break frequently, but perhaps my video will help you to keep yours intact!

Ortofon 2M Series Stylus Guard Removal and Installation

 

 


Tip of the Week, September 9, 2013

Thorens TD-150 MKII, Completely Stock

If you’re looking to purchase a Thorens at a reasonable price, I can’t recommend the TD-150 MKII highly enough.  (I’ve also written about this in my blog)  This model was the precursor to the TD – 160.  It shares with the 160 a 10mm bearing shaft, a heavy outer platter, and a three-point suspension.  The tonearm looks clunky, but is actually capable of producing outstanding sound once you learn its idiosyncrasies.  Google “Kugel” arm, and you will see many sing its praises.  If you are going to purchase one, be aware that all of the doodads on the arm, if missing, can easily add up.  However, if instead like to replace the tonearm, the relatively simple armboard design makes it a do-it-yourself task for most modestly experienced woodworkers.  Prices for these great tables are often under $200.


Tip of the Week, January 7th, 2013

A small but very important part of my restoration process for a stock Thorens unit such as the TD-160, TD-165, or TD-145 is replacement of the headshell leads.  On the TP-16 headshell, this is a very do-it-yourself operation that yields great sonic results.  Sometimes it is truly like lifting a veil from the music.  All it really takes is a pair of tweezers (or fine needlenose pliers), a new set of leads, some Deoxit, and some patience.   If your leads have never been changed out, you will be amazed at what 40 years of tarnish looks like.  The metal portion will be black. Take note of the order of the old leads, remove them, and then clean all of the contact surfaces with the Deoxit.  Let those dry, and then install the new leads in the same fashion.  Occasionally, you’ll find a lead connector needs to be crimped or expanded.  For crimping, I use the needlenose pliers and a very light touch.  For expanding, you can use a small brad, again with a light touch.  Don’t forget to also clean the headshell to tonearm connectors, though they are typically not as tarnished, it’s a good idea to remove what is there.  Then, sit back and enjoy.  I think it’s because this is the first signal path from the cartridge, but it really makes a remarkable difference.  You can find headshell leads costing from a few dollars to over $100.  I would just make sure that they are gold-plated (to reduce later tarnish) and highly flexible.  Final cost is up to you.


Tip of the Week, December 3rd, 2012

Having a small lint roller near your audio rack can be helpful.  If you are using a stiff felt mat, the roller does an excellent job removing dust and other particles from your mat.  Likewise, if you clean off a particularly dusty record with your carbon fiber brush, the lint roller is a quick way to get those particles off the brush and prevent them from floating around the room.  Finally, the brush is handy for cleaning fabric speaker grilles, especially those black ones that show every speck.


Tip of the Week, November 19, 2012

I found this nice Youtube video for beginners setting up their first turntable…


Tip of the Week, November 12, 2012

If you are trying to get into a new vinyl rig package as inexpensively as possible, but still trying to keep your options open for easy and affordable  phono cartridge upgrade, you should explore the introductory cartridges from Grado and Ortofon.  The Grado Black retails for just $60 dollars and has been hailed for decades as a stellar value.  Likewise, the more recently introduced Ortofon 2M-Red retails for $99 and has also received many accolades for that price point.

What I think makes each an even greater value is the ability of each to accept replacement styli HIGHER in their product line.  So, if you own a Grado Black, when you have the dough, you can spring for perhaps a Grado RED stylus at $70.  No need to change/adjust your cartridge alignment, just slip the old one out and the new one in.  So, rather than spend $140 retail for a new Grado Red, you just spent half that!   Likewise, in the Ortofon line-up, the 2M-Red can be upgraded to BLUE stylus for $179, rather than spending $225 retail for a complete Blue.  And once again, you won’t have to fuss with mounting a complete new cartridge or re-adjusting your alignment!


Tip of the Week, October 22nd, 2012

Vinyl Nirvana Thorens Motor Spindle Support Kit

One of the most catastrophic issues that can affect one of these great vintage tables is a damaged motor that knocks, disturbing the quiet operation of your beloved Thorens.  This newly introduced kit eliminates knock in your vintage Thorens motor.  You can buy the kit here.  It is intended for the vintage Thorens models listed in the eBay ad.

The Kit

The kit consists of an individually-machined nylon housing with a stainless steel adjustable pin and a stainless steel ball bearing tip.  The stainless steel pin has an internal spring that keeps consistent tension on the ball bearing, which in turn supports the motor’s spindle. The bearing is pre-lubricated for the life of the motor.

Installation


Installation is very do-it-yourself.  No need to remove the motor; it is done in place! Unplug the unit and remove the four screws holding the bottom plate, exposing the motor.  Locate the motor. Clean the surface.  Let dry. Use a small amount of super-glue (approved for nylon to metal) to attach the nylon housing to the motor. (Glue not included.)  The perfectly machined housing takes the guesswork out of positioning. Once the glue dries, plug the motor in and tighten the screw with a small plain screwdriver until the knock disappears.  Replace bottom.

Performance


I was stunned at the immediate difference this kit made in eliminating the knock in a Thorens TD-145 motor I could hear across the room!  Just a couple of turns of the pin, and the noise was gone!  I positioned my ear just inches from the motor and I could not even hear it running!   Unlike a similar kit on the market, this kit uses a nylon housing to reduce resonance, there is never a need for additional lubrication, and the internal spring exerts constant and consistent pressure.
Some have asked if the kit will help to prevent motor knock from developing in their Thorens motor, and it is my opinion it will because it raises the motor spindle off of the internal bushings.  Instead, the spindle is riding on the stainless steel ball bearing tip.

100% Guaranteed to eliminate your motor knock or it may be returned for full refund minus shipping.


Tip of the Week, September 24th, 2012

When cleaning your bearing well, you never want to use a Q-tip like swab.  They can leave residue that over time can act like sand-paper against your bearing well and shaft.  Always use a non-linting swap. Here’s my source:  http://www.harmonycr.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=P1806-PCFL Great company for a variety of products.


Tip of the Week, September 3, 2012

Building a Wall-mounted Shelf

Suspended subchassis turntables struggle with placement on a bouncy wooden floor.  The best solution is a wall shelf.  This video walks you through how easy it can be to make one DIY.  Please note that you can BUY trim rather than make it yourself, as the person in the video did.   Note: when buying your brackets, buy some suitable to hold over forty pounds to be safe.


Tip of the Week, June 25th, 2012

When adjusting the suspension on a vintage Thorens TD-16X or 14X series, the correct socket wrench size is 8mm. (But US 5/16ths will also work.)


Tip of the Week, May 21, 2012

A question I am asked frequently is how do I expand my vinyl collection? Most definitely the best way to add to your collection is through yard sales. This requires a lot of work on your part, but the rewards can make it very worthwhile. The past few years, I have backed off a bit from heavy duty “yardsaling” because I am at a place in my own collection where the stuff I really want isn’t out there…or it is spaced so far apart, that the empty-handed days aren’t making it worth all of the effort. In any event, for those unschooled in the fine art of the yard-sale, I’ll describe my process.

The first step in a successful experience is to find the local publication in which the majority of yard sales in your area are listed. In my area, the Friday edition of the paper has a special section devoted to yard sales. (In case you didn’t know, Saturday morning is THE prime yard sale time.) Grab a highlighter, scan through the listings, and see if anyone is offering lps, records. vinyl, etc. Those will be your first stops the next morning.

If one of those locations happens to be several towns over and you are wondering whether it will be worth the ride, use the “reverse phone number lookup” on one of the several websites devoted to phone listings. Type in the yard sale address, and give the folks running it a phone call. Immediately apologize for bothering them, then briefly explain your plight, and ask them what kinds of vinyl they will be selling. If it’s grandma’s Lawrence Welk collection consisting of five lps, you will have saved yourself some wasted gas and wasted time. If it’s a promising collection, ask them what time is the very earliest you can stop by. Thank them profusely for their time.

After you’ve made your call(s) and highlighted the sales that have vinyl, develop a “game plan” for the next morning. Look over the start times, and take into account the geographical location. Get a loose idea in your mind of where you will start and what general direction in which you will travel. Mapquest is invaluable if you don’t know the local area well. Plug in the info from address to address and print off the directions as needed.

Speaking of yard sale start times, there is a fine line between what is called an “early bird” and a stalker. Most definitely I always arrive prior to the starting time listed in the paper if the sale looks promising; however, you need to assess the situation when you get there. Have some respect if the poor people haven’t even set up a table and are just barely getting things put out. Go to another sale first, and come back again. On the other hand, if there is lots of stuff out, it doesn’t hurt to roll down your window and ask politely if you can begin to look over their stuff. Most times the answer will be yes. They will appreciate that you asked. I have seen folks just run out their cars and accost folks who are barely set up. I just think that’s in poor taste.

When you get to a yard sale, try to get the “big picture” of what’s offered first. Take a quick walk through the entire area. Be on the look out for milk crates and liquor boxes, the two types of containers most often used for lps. Even if you spot some lps right away, complete your walk-through to make sure there’s not a bigger and better stash offered a few feet away. (That happened to me several times before I started always doing a quick walk-through.)

After you have visited the yard sales that specifically mentioned lps or records, start on the rest of the yard sale list that looks promising. “Estate Sales” and “Moving Sales” are usually the most desireable, because a whole house is being cleared. One particularly effective technique I started using a few years back was to ALWAYS ask one of the people running the sale whether or not they have some “old records” they might be willing to sell. Nine times out of ten the answer is no, but every so often you might hit the jackpot and be the first person to peruse a collection.

Another moderately successful technique is, when someone says they HAVE records but they are NOT for sale, is to leave your name and phone number with them. Write the word “Records” in big letters across the top. It has worked for me a couple of times that when folks realized how much they had to move and/or they realize how small their new home is, they decide they WILL get rid of their records. Once again, you get to be the first person to peruse their collection.

Folks run yard sales for different reasons. You can get a sense for that within a few moments of being there. While looking around, listen to the response to low ball offers on items. If someone else offers 2 bucks for a 5 buck item, and the seller accepts, that leaves the door open for you to deal too. In general, the more you buy, the more you can try for a discount. A lot of times I find lps for 50 cents a piece. I end up with 12-13 albums, and I offer a total of five bucks. They are usually happy to get five bucks, and will allow the extra 2-3. (Oh yeah, psychologically, it’s advisable to have the five dollar bill right in your hand where they can see it, and your wallet put away.)

Yard sale prices per album vary, but most assuredly, this is the way to expand your collection on the cheap. It’s ironic, but I often find the best collections have the cheapest prices (twenty-five or fifty cents) while the sales with junk charge outrageous prices such as two dollars each. One thing I personally never try to do is take advantage of someone who looks like they really need the money, and the lp titles and condition are great. In those cases, I always pay full price.

You are probably wondering about the condition of lps you will find. For me, given the low prices I am paying, I am not going to take a ot of time examining an lp. I take five seconds to make sure the album inside is correct and that there are not any “death scratches.” Lastly I make sure it’s not warped. In my yard sale travels I frequently bump into a fellow vinylphile. He must spend a minute or more examining each lp before he buys. I simply can’t justify that much time when the prices are so darn low to begin with. (Obviously if I am in a record store paying 8-10 dollars, that’s a different story.) If you later get the lp home and it’s unplayable for something you didn’t catch in your five seond perusal, you are out a quarter or fifty cents. Big deal.

One final aspect of condition of yard sale lps I should mention is the prevalance of mold. If the albums are damp and smell heavily of mold, you will most likely NEVER get rid of the smell and the mold spores. Avoid. In some cases, if it’s a really desireable lp, I will take it, but later discard the cover. Briefly cleaning the lp itself in a light solution of bleach/water usually kills the mold there. If you find an lp in the “iffy” zone, I soak the lp in the bleach solution, and I use a BARELY wet sponge (from the bleach solution) and wipe down the cover. I follow this up by leaving the lp cover for 4-5 days in a deep freeze. I have been told this will kill the spores.

Well, that’s the lowdown on yardsales, complete with a couple of pro “secrets.” Happy hunting..and remember, just when you are about to give up is usually exactly the time when you get the biggest reward.


Tip of the Week, May 7, 2012

I wish the number of videos was growing more rapidly, but here is a link for my youtube channel.  If you subscribe to the channel, you will be notified each time a new one is posted.  I hope to cover a number of areas this summer.


Tip of the Week, April 23, 2012

Occasionally through the years I have purchased audio equipment that was previously housed in a smoking enviroment.  I am personally very sensitive to smoke smell, and before I found Nok-Out, I was never quite satisfied with any product or process for removal of smoke smell and nicotine stains.  This stuff is amazing. It is VERY gentle, yet it is obviously formulated to dissolve smoking residue.  You will not believe what comes off with one swipe!  Now be forewarned, a truly smoke-filled piece of equipment is going to take work to get smell-free, but it IS possible with this product. I have even used it safely on wood, as well as metal and plastics.  A 16oz bottle is available for under $15, so very affordable, too.


Tip of the Week, April 2, 2012

If you have a broken or cracked dustcover, here is a great page describing the best way to make a lasting repair:

Tip of the Week, January 6, 2012

If you are attempting to service the bearing well on a Thorens in the14X or 16X line, and the drive platter will not lift out, you need to remove the bottom of the turntable (just four screws, one at each foot) and then find the clip next to the bearing well that is pictured above.   Fully unscrew the screw which also holds a ground wire in place.  Keep track of the screw.  Next, gently pry the clip so it moves in the slots you see pictured at each side.  That movement of the clip in the direction away from the bearing well, will release the platter so it can be serviced.  Reverse the procedure when finished.


Tip of the Week, January 30, 2012

NOT AN ENDORSEMENT! AVOID THIS COMPANY. At the end of December, I ordered some nice quality headshell leads.  After some very confusing telephone conversations, I finally received my package, but it was not what I ordered. They were extremely inferior leads, not as advertised.  The representative asked me to send a picture of what I got, which I did immediately.  Knowing that pictures sometimes have trouble getting through, I also sent an e-mail telling them I had sent the pictures.  Days passed. Weeks passed. No word from the company.  Finally, a couple of days ago, I decided to leave negative feedback for Hollywood DJs on several of the feedback sites they themselves promote.  Lo and behold, today I received an e-mail looking into the case!  After a whole month has expired, they are now telling me they cannot deliver the product I originally ordered.  For all this hassle, and lack of attention, they insult me by only offering a refund, nothing else.  Hollywood DJs is obviously a company that only looks out after itself, not its customers. Avoid them, and spread the word.


Tip of the Week, January 23, 2012

There are many commercially available cartridge alignment protractors.  However, for the average person, purchase of an expensive protractor is unnecessary.  You can get your alignment very very close with a protractor you print for free on your printer.  The best resource I know of for free protractors is here in the Tool Section of Vinyl Engine.


Tip of the Week, January 16, 2012

For those with Iphones or Androids, you won’t want to miss this very cool app.  Using your smartphone’s GPS, it will lickety-split give you a list of all indie vinyl record stores in your area!   Touch that store, and you immediately get a map and, if any have been entered, “Shouts” about the store.   (Disclosure: I have only used the Android version.)  Click the link above to find out more.


Tip of the Week, January 9, 2012

The photo actually misrepresents my tip of the week, but I couldn’t resist using it once I saw it.  Many of you in restoring your own turntables may be faced with sticky residue from adhesives left on metal surfaces.  (For example, someone having used a glue to adhere a dust bug to a Thorens metal plate.)  I have found WD-40 to the best at removing that residue.  It takes some elbow grease, but with a clean cotton cloth and judicious use of WD-40, you can remove many types of adhesive residue without harming the surface.  As residue is transferred to the cloth, keep turning the cloth to a clean area.  As always, be careful to keep the WD-40 off of the surfaces of the pulley and drive platter.   And, always test in a small inconspicuous area, if possible.


Tip of the Week, January 2, 2012

Update:  Sadly, after a 10 plus year relationship, I must report I am dropping Fedex.  Three unacceptable situations in one month is just too many, and I am tired of always being the one who has to initiate communication when there’s a case filed.  So long Fedex, never again.

As you can imagine, shipping vintage turntables is not for the faint of heart.  I have been doing it now for over 10 years.  My practices have gradually changed over time, hopefully all improvements, but one thing that hasn’t changed is I continue to use only FedEx for shipment of my complete turntables.  I don’t know how competitive their prices are, and I really don’t care, what matters is my packages get to where they’re supposed to be in the same condition they left my shop.  That’s been true for 10 solid years. It is also nice to see, via their new commercials, that they are moving towards much greener modes of transportation.


Tip of the Week, December 26, 2011

If you have never set-up a phono cartridge before, this guide is a good place to start:  A Beginner’s Guide to Cartridge Set-up by Andrew Chasin.


Tip of the Week, December 19, 2011

Not exactly audio-related, but I cannot praise highly enough what this little label printer has done for my shop and my shipping.  It is the Brother QL-570 and is available widely for less than $60.  It plugs into the USB plug of your computer, and it comes with very easy-to-use software.  I have used it for labeling everything in my shop.  It was quick and easy.  Additionally, I use the labeler daily for shipping.  It is recognized by both Paypal and eBay shipping interfaces, and before you know it, you have a self-sticking mailing label printed.  I ESPECIALLY love that you do not have to pay for INK; it operates through “thermal printing”…whatever that is!  I recently discovered you do NOT have to buy Brother labels for it; there are generics that use the Brother plastic roller.  Also, their customer service is outstanding…I had a problem with my first labeler, and it was promptly replaced.


Tip of the Week, December 12, 2011

For years, I have been urging buyers of my turntables to purchase one of these handy devices.  Instead of “balancing out” your tonearm” this simply designed Shure SFG-2 Tracking Force Gauge is a more straightforward way to set tracking force.  To me, it takes all of the guesswork out of the process.  Some folks promote digital scales of all sorts, but I still love this simple gauge. For under $30, it’s a stocking stuffer for any analog lover.


Tip of the Week, December 5, 2011

Every hobbyist and homeowner seems to have their own favorite metal polish/tarnish remover.  After using many products over many years, Maas Metal Polish is my favorite.  First of all, it works with the least amount of effort. I am not saying NO effort, but the least amount of effort.  It is less messy than many others and less pungent.  Two ounces will set you back less than five bucks, and one tube lasts a long time.  Literally, “a dab will do ya” in most cases.  Please note this is NOT intended for brushed aluminum.


Tip of the Week, November 28, 2011

Recently traveled to Virginia and picked up this Rolling Stone special edition in the airport. Fascinating stuff…I read it cover to cover over the course of three days.  Whether you are a casual Beatles’ fan or a devotee, I think you will enjoy it. It has been especially satisfying to now listen to the albums with this background knowledge.  Available for a limited time.  As I type this, copies still available at Amazon.


Tip of the Week, November 21, 2011

If you are looking to block spam, don’t use the service called Spam Blocker by Earthlink.  EarthLink’s Spam Blocker forces the person replying to your e-mail to go to a webpage and fill out information and one of those code boxes.  I just spent a half hour trying to reply to a customer’s e-mail looking for my help.  I tried five times to complete the information/code box.  Each time it failed.  Then I called customer service.   There was just one number listed on the site, and that turned out to be sales.  That person directed me to call another number.  That turned out to also be sales.  That second person gave me a number to call, but it was the number I had previously dialed twice.  I told him that, and they transferred me to customer service instead.  The representative I spoke with finally told me it was up to the person who sent the e-mail to unblock me.  How Completely Ridiculous!  I had just finished telling them I could not reach the person at all, so how could I tell them my e-mail was not getting through!   Unfortunately, due to this Spam Blocker program I am unable to help someone who e-mailed me.  If you are an EarthLink user, I feel badly that there could be many people who are unable to reach you because they have gone through the same thing I just did.  I recommend without hesitation using Gmail…it does an amazing job limiting spam not only from my Gmail account, but also my two business accounts that I filter into Gmail.  There is no need for a ridiculous spam blocker that requests a person you are trying to contact to return an e-mail.  Give Gmail a try…having used most of the major online  e-mail services, I find it to be the best.


Tip of the Week, November 14, 2011

If you own a vintage turntable, you no doubt on a dust cover that is showing its age.  Whether there are scratches or scuffs, the best products I have used over the years to bring a dust cover back to life, are made by Novus.  Pictured above is a kit that is sold in various places on the Internet, that will give you a great start.  I am not saying the Novus products are miracle workers, there is still a lot of elbow grease that must be applied…but truly, for most light scratches and scuffs, you will have great success.


Tip of the Week, November 7, 2011

We have all heard horror stories about experiences on eBay.  The good news is for the most part, over the last 10 years, eBay has become a pretty safe environment for buyers.  One way you can make it even more safe is to look for sellers with the above logo/status.  Top Seller Status is reserved for eBay sellers that consistently receive the highest scores in a number of areas related to customer satisfaction.   Up until a few months ago, I didn’t even know what the logo meant…it just got lost in the barrage of images on the typical eBay listing.  However, since I made Top Seller Status myself in July, I have begun to look for the logo, and if I have a chance to buy an item from more than one seller, now I will always choose the one with Top Seller Status.


Tip of the Week, October 31, 2011

I have been a lover of vintage SME tonearms for a long long time. At first, I admired them from afar, but after I owned my first, I realized that were not all just great looks…they were also great at reproducing sound.  Over the past ten years since I owned my first, I have seen the prices on these vintage arms almost double.  Now, with prices averaging close to $600 for a complete arm in the revered 3009 Series II (et al) , I have come to the realization that it’s now better to spend your money on a new SME arm, in the M2 line-up.   This fact was driven home to me recently when I spent $350 dollars to have one refurbished and rewired.  When all was said and done, I’d invested close to $900 dollars in an arm that was 30 years old.  So…lately I have begun recommending to customers coveting a vintage SME to investigate the M2-9 line instead.  If you shop shrewdly, they can be had for around $1000.  That’s NEW. It’s hard to argue with that price given the M2-9 comes with many of the features best loved in the 3009 Series II lineup, but it also adds better wiring,  better design, and a WARRANTY.  Having installed and tested four of these arms in the past few months, I can say unequivocally, they are a better arm than the 3009 Series II, even after “upgrading.”


Tip of the Week, October 24th, 2011

Many of my customers are already vintage audio aficionados.  However, many only know a little bit about vintage audio, and they are hoping to create the best possible vintage system.   If you have read my blog, you know that before I concentrated on turntables only, I was also a huge fan of Marantz equipment.  In particular, their integrated amps, tuners, and receivers.  Part of my love is their great looks… I completely swoon for the brushed aluminum  front plate and those signature blue lights.  In addition, however, they are extremely well-made and very easy to work on for the do-it-yourselfer.  Also, like the ARs and the Thorens, there is a lot of information out there to help you.

If you are looking to purchase a quality vintage Marantz receiver or other component, I highly recommend this seller on eBay.  He has been  restoring and selling for well over a decade, and you can see by his feedback, he does it right.  I have not personally bought from him, but I have recommended many folks to him over the years, and all have been satisfied.  If he doesn’t have a Marantz listed when you visit the link, you can always contact him via the eBay mail system, and ask him what he has coming up.


Tip of the Week, October 17th, 2011

You need to protect your records.   If you’ve been putting off getting new sleeves, go here now.  I love this place.  They have been around since 1976.  One great thing (of many) about the company is their prices almost always include shipping.  There are other places that sometimes offer things more cheaply, but once you figure in Bags Unlimited gives you free shipping, they almost always come out on top.   Also, they offer collection protection for other hobbies in which you or your family might partake.


Tip of the Week, October 10, 2011

Unfortunately, due to their two piece design, I have withdrawn my endorsement of the Sound Support boards. 

If you are doing a tonearm upgrade on one of the Thorens in the TD 160 lineage, you can either make an armboard yourself, or get one pre-made.  If you go the pre-made road, I highly recommend this outfit out of the UK.  Their products are first quality, and their service is also first-rate.  


Tip of the Week, October 3, 2011

I read this on a forum years ago.  It’s especially helpful if you have a dark plinth that shows dust easily.  About once a week, instead of dusting my turntable with a cloth and risking catching the stylus, I use the duster pictured above instead.  Never directly aim it at the stylus itself, but blowing the dust off of your dust cover and your plinth is done in seconds using one of these cans.

Some people also use a duster to remove dust from an LP, but I would worry about the sandblasting effect happening at a microscopic level.  Therefore, I don’t advise that.  However, I’ve read so many stories over the years about people catching an expensive stylus in their dust cloth, that using this device instead certainly makes a lot of sense. It will also save getting those swirl marks on your dust cover, if you happen to own a new one.


Vinyl Nirvana Tip of the Week, September 26, 2011

I have been using Magic Eraser as a stylus cleaner for about 2 years. Here is a great link with an explanation of why and how: Magic Eraser as Stylus Cleaner


Vinyl Nirvana Tip of the Week, September 19, 2011

Genuine Thorens Turntable Belt w/Logo

Finding a reliable source for belts for your vintage turntable is sometimes challenging. I sell replacement belts for AR turntables that I have thoroughly tested. They are available on my Upgrade/Replacement Parts page.  For Thorens genuine turntable belts with logo (as shown above), I sell those in my eBay store.


Vinyl Nirvana Tip of the Week, September 12, 2011

One of the most helpful resources for the vinyl enthusiast is the Vinyl Engine website. I use some aspect of this website daily. The forums are a wealth of information and are filled with wonderfully detailed exchanges. However, the most valuable resource is the library (http://www.vinylengine.com/library.shtml) which contains literally hundreds of manuals, templates, and info sheets on just about every turntable or tonearm out there. It is free to join, and by becoming a member, you can download all of this information in PDF form free of charge.  When you go, be sure to bookmark…you will be back.


Vinyl Nirvana Tip of the Week, September 5, 2011

As I point out in the tuneup video on the do-it-yourself page, it is very important to use anhydrous isopropyl alcohol when cleaning the metal parts of your turntable. Using something from your medicine cabinet, it will likely contain water, and why would you attempt to clean your bearing well only to contaminate it?  Tech Spray, in the picture above, sells a pint sized bottle of what you need. (There are other makers.)  As it states on the label, it is also safe on plastics.


Vinyl Nirvana Tip of the Week, August 29, 2011

When I was at the point where I was still trying to substantially increase my LP collection, every Saturday, from spring through fall, I would head off early in the morning and visit yard sales. I called it “yard-saling.”  I had pretty good luck over a number of years. Of course, I waded through my share of absolutely terrible titles. However, I also had some terrific takes.  For those who are still in the collection phase, I highly recommend yard sales. Most people these days, advertise on Craigslist…so the process begins the night before deciding which sales to visit, and deciding on a route. ( Boy, how I wish I had a GPS in those days!)  For me, I pretty much visited every yard sale in my vicinity, say in a perimeter of up to 10 miles. I would start very early in the morning, and my first stop would be the yard sale furthest away that started the earliest. From there, I would work my way home… again, visiting the sales that started earliest first.

My number one tip to yard sales success is related to the Columbo picture and quote above. For those who don’t know the Columbo character, he was known for always leaving the scene and coming back with the comment, nonchalantly, “Oh, just one more thing….”  Though it seemed like he was a bumblehead, that question when he returned was often the most important question. In terms of yard sales, I would always always always ask the homeowner if they had any LPs they were thinking of getting rid of. I would always word it that way: thinking of getting rid of.  I would wait and asked the question at a point when the homeowner was not busy with a sale or with set up. I would always be dressed neatly and appear very friendly when I asked.  These last two points are important, because in four or five cases over my years of yard-saling, homeowners actually allowed me into their homes to see their album collections. The few times that asking that question worked, were among my most lucrative finds. You will get dozens and dozens of no answers, but the day you are the first to peruse someone’s album collection makes it all worth it. Good luck!


Vinyl Nirvana Tip of the Week, August 22, 2011

When I started playing vinyl seriously, we all pre-cleaned our records before playing with a Discwasher brush and possibly some fluid. These days, the more common method is to use a carbon fiber brush. (I use the model available by Hunt, pictured above.) The carbon fiber brush doesn’t replace a proper cleaning of your LP, it is just intended to clean off excess dust before a play.  I use mine religiously before each side.