Sure, wooden crates filled with record collections make for an amazing decorative detail, and all our favorite tastemakers all seem to have a turntable strategically perched in their respective stylish living rooms. But a lot of you may still be wondering: why vinyl? My good friend Paul (a fellow music lover, and symbolically, the person who gifted me with my first record player) put it perfectly: “Because vinyl is physical and not digital, the way it stores sound is literally exactly what was recorded, instead of a recreation. Think about looking at the Mona Lisa in person as opposed to looking at it on an HDTV. Sure, it looks great on the TV, but there are things you just can’t capture digitally, like the texture and 3D of a painting.” So when listening to an old record, you’ll pick up tones and a quality of timbre that you might not get from an mp3 file, resulting in an overall richer playback experience. Make sense?

So now that we’ve convinced you, you might be wondering where to begin. Today we’re demystifying the world of collecting and playing vinyls, beginning with arguably the most important part of all: setting up your system. Have some tricks of the trade to share? Leave a comment below!

*featured image source

Option #1: The Beginner.

You’ve seen this option pinned a hundred times for its rainbow of color options and affordability. With an all-in-one turntable, speakers are built-in so that you don’t need to purchase any other add-ons… but of course, you’re compromising sound quality for convenience. So, while this is a great entry piece into the world of record playing, be sure to purchase an all-in-one with RCA outputs so that you have the option to upgrade your setup down the road with the addition of external speakers.

What you’ll need: 

An all-in-one turntable like the Ion Pro Sound USB Vinyl Record Player (pictured) or the Crosley Cruiser Briefcase Portable Vinyl Record Player

*Tip: Look for an all-in-one that comes with a USB port if you want the ability to convert your LP tracks to mp3s.

Option #2: The Two-Piece Setup.

The next option requires just one additional piece of equipment, but will make a huge difference when it comes to the sound quality of your music. Simply hook your turntable up to a set of external speakers with an RCA cable, and enjoy the exponentially sweeter sounds of your vinyls.

What you’ll need:

First, find a turntable within your budget (bearing in mind that in this realm, a higher price tag often indicates a better product). You’ll want one with a built-in pre-amp, like the Sony PSLX300USB USB Stereo Turntable or Audio-Technica’s AT-LP120 USB Vinyl Record Player (pictured)

What you’ll need:

Why invest in a great turntable or vinyls when you don’t have speakers that do them justice? Of course, you could spend an arm and a leg on a big, booming system, but for our purposes, we love Audioengine’s A2+ Premium Powered Desktop Speakers (pictured), or at a slightly higher price point, the Marshall Stanmore M-ACCS-00166 Speaker.


Option#3: The Ultimate Setup.

So you’ve got a great turntable and some solid speakers. Ready to splurge on a piece of gear that’ll take your setup to the next level? Time to invest in a receiver. A must-have tool on your journey to sonic perfection, a receiver allows you to adjust the output levels of your audio to get your music sounding just right, and in many cases, choose which source you’d like music to play from other than your turntable, like the radio or your smartphone.

*Tip: Depending on the type of music you like to listen to, you may also consider plugging a subwoofer into your receiver (think any genre where you really want to hear the bass line, like hip hop or classical).

*image source

What you’ll need:

In addition to the turntables we referenced on slide 4 and the speakers we suggested on slide 5, we recommend this receiver from Marantz for a great price, or a vintage one for exceptional quality.

Tip: Keep in mind how much output you’ll need to fill your space — for most home listening, 10 – 40 watts per channel is appropriate. For more tips on choosing a receiver, check out this helpful link.

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Now for the fun stuff. Some amazing record player storage options…

And a few must-have accessories…

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  1. 1
    Kate | January 28, 2016 at 6:57 am

    Such a fun post! A handful of years ago, my dad gave me what remained of his collection of vinyl albums from the 60’s and 70’s, so I went out and bought a portable Crosley record player at Target for about $80.

    This past year, I finally upgraded to a $400 plus set up of turntable, receiver and speakers. Vinyl certainly isn’t for everyone, but for me, there’s nothing like it.

    • Chanel Dror | February 1, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Kate! Your vinyl story is a classic one, and so similar to what turned me on to the medium as well. I still have such fond childhood memories of my parents putting records on in the house, so when the trend came back around I was so excited to put on some of those same old LPs. Rock on!

  2. 2
    Eva | January 28, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Thank you so much for the information! Because of your post, I FINALLY found the perfect table to rest my record player on. It’s been sitting on the floor for the past few weeks and driving me nuts. Thank you Urban Outfitters for featuring this sweet table that looks designed for a record player and vinyls and thank you for the great info!

    • Chanel Dror | February 1, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      Yay! If you’re talking about that lovely wood console table, I wholeheartedly support your purchase. She’s a beauty!

  3. 3
    Ashton Paige | February 1, 2016 at 12:43 am

    I am so glad I am came across this post! I’m an Austinite too and recently just bought my first record player (which I am SO pumped about). I am absolutely loving the sound and it’s so much more authentic than digital music. The set up you have in your gallery is awesome; it gave me some major decorating inspo for my setup! I’ll be talking more about it my blog soon. Thanks so much for the great post!


    • Chanel Dror | February 1, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      Amazing! Not only will your ears thank you, but the decor in your home will totally be turned up a notch as well.

  4. 4
    Andrea | February 5, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    I’ve got everything on your list and a reel to reel. I kick it old school. :). But my advice would be to get a changer rather than a turn table. If you can find one. I don’t think they make them any more so you have to go vintage.

  5. 5
    Nikki | November 7, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Great tips, and that ‘Vinyl Me’ club sounds amazing, definitely going on my Christmas wish list this year ; )

  6. 6
    Eric | June 26, 2018 at 11:02 am

    Please tell me where to get the chair in image 6. It looks like a perfect place to sit and listen with a pair of headphones.

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