I just bought a new turntable. My last one simply wore out, as they tend to do (in my experience). I’ve owned five turntables in my lifetime. They all, essentially, do the same thing; they turn round and round and play my beloved records.
I listen to a lot of music, and over the decades I have changed, replaced, or upgraded each individual component of my stereo system many times. I have blown out speakers and blown up amplifiers, updated tape decks and equalizers and switched out receivers and compact disc players, but the precious turntable has outlasted them all. They have all served me well.
The most surprising thing about my most recent purchase is I actually bought the equipment at an actual stereo store. I’m not a big online shopper and I believe that turntables, like shoes, need to be touched and tried out before purchase.
Thing is, there are not a lot of actual stereo shops in existence, even in this country’s largest city. The couple of stores that I knew of have closed down in the last five years, and it seems this pandemic has closed a couple more.
There are those big-box electronics stores where you can get computers, wall-sized televisions, vacuums and, I suppose, turntables, but I wanted to test a few, listen, and ask questions of somebody who knew what they were talking out.
I had gone into a record store where they had a small range of equipment, but staff were unable to inform me of the wow or flutter rate, the anti-skate capabilities, or even if they were direct drive or belt-drive components.
So, I drove way across town to an independent shop that has been in business for more than 30 years. Yes, over the years the store has changed with the trends, particularly as home theatre became more of a need, want, or demand in the market place. But, this place still sold stereo systems, and components, and had a great selection of turntables.
Technology has changed greatly through the decades, but when it comes down to it, a turntable is a weighted platter spinning a record at a controlled speed with the needle at the end of a tone arm pulling the magic from the grooves in a slab of vinyl.
The salesman, who was about my age, knew the importance of the turntable, recognized what I was looking for, and answered all my questions. He even played a favourite record of mine from 40 years ago.
I was sold. I probably spent more than I thought I would, but appreciated this investment once I got it home and hooked up. It sounds great. It should last a decade or two. I hope.
I sincerely doubt that, when it comes time to replace this turntable, there will be stereo stores anywhere on the retail landscape. If there is, will there be salesmen around who know the product and the purpose as well as this guy did?