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The phonograph record dates to the late nineteenth century, when Thomas Edison perfected recording sound on a wax cylinder. By the early twentieth century, the industry had settled on a flat disk, first one-sided and later with recorded music on each side. Advances were swift and by the middle of the twentieth century, records were even available in stereo.
The advent of the compact disc in the early 1980s nearly spelled the extinction of the phonograph record, as record companies sought to increase profits by eliminating the then-century old product. Consumers were persistent, and the record is now again enjoying popularity among consumers.
The appeal comes from several factors, including a larger format that allows users to more easily read the information printed on the covers and sleeves. An added bonus is that records can produce better sound than compact discs when played on good equipment. Obviously, to play records, one needs a turntable, and while the manufacturing of turntables was nearly extinct about fifteen years ago, they are now, like records, enjoying a resurgence.
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New turntables can be bought at any local hi-fi store, and at numerous sites online. Prices range from as little as $50 for entry-level models to $50,000 or more for high-end models designed to squeeze the last little bit of sound from any record placed upon it. While new turntables are popular, collectors and audiophiles still revere vintage equipment.
Companies such as Empire, Garrard, Dual, and Bang and Olufsen produced well-designed, iconic turntables that, with care, will continue to provide high-quality sound even today. Some maintenance will be necessary, obviously, such as replacing a worn stylus or an old belt. Aside from that, most turntables are fairly easy to use; they simply need to be connected to your stereo system and turned on.
Collectors and audiophiles revere the rugged construction of many vintage turntables. Empire turntables were solidly built and had hefty platters when compared to other tables from the time, making speed and stability more accurate. Some companies, such as Bang & Olufsen, produced attractive turntables that also functioned as works of art. Short-lived models by famous manufacturers, such as Nakamichi, are also sought out; this Japanese company was mostly known for cassette players and their turntables, while highly regarded, are quite rare, as the company did not manufacture them for very long. While collectors like older models, most consumers will be happy with modern designs.
Our site includes information about all kinds of turntables, both modern and vintage.
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