Saturday, December 8, 2007

Vinyl Turntables are Alive and More Expensive than Ever

I need me a pair of these babies on my next DJ gig...

The Caliburn, made by Continuum Audio Laboratories, costs a hefty six figures. PLATTER: The record sits on a large 80-pound “platter” designed to flatten the record and minimize vibration. CHASSIS: Cast from a special magnesium alloy, the chassis works with the platter to eliminate vibration in the tone arm and ensure that the cartridge receives a strong signal. THE TOP SHELF: The shelf on which the turntable legs rest is magnetically levitated to isolate it from vibration in the room. CONTROLS: The dials at far right control the turntable speeds: 33 1/3, 45 and 78 rpm. The dial at top left engages the vacuum that holds the record in place on the platter. The other two dials are used to make fine adjustments in the turntable speed. VACUUM PUMP: Provides the pressure needed so the record adheres firmly to the platter. Once that pressure is reached, the vacuum shuts off so it doesn’t interfere with the music.

The LP turntable went the way of the Hula-Hoop. Now it’s back—and more expensive than ever.

In the biggest show business comeback since Sinatra after throat surgery and Cher after her infomercial, long-playing records are back. Of course, if you were born during or after the mid-1980s, when compact discs were taking over the recording industry, you may never have seen an LP (stands for long-playing) record except inside a dusty box in your parents’ garage. They were flat, cumbersome vinyl discs —much larger than CDs—that were hard to stack and easily scratched or broken. And audiophiles never gave up loving them. “A record sounds so much better than a CD,” says Michael Fremer, a columnist for Stereophile magazine. “It’s more real. There is a three-dimensionality to the sound . . . like the singer is right there in the room with you.” Although vinyl love sounds vaguely kinky, it’s moving from audiophile cult status to the edges of mainstream. In addition to a few hip-hop artists (who helped keep vinyl alive) and alternative rock bands, some major stars, such as Bruce Springsteen, have released new material on LPs. Want more proof? recently opened a vinyl section on its site, and Urban Outfitters, the all-purpose general store for hip grunge, has begun selling turntables. Now, where was that dusty box?......

A Price That’ll Make Your Head Spin

Vinyl guru Michael Fremer says his records sound fantastic on his Caliburn turntable made by Continuum Audio Laboratories ( of Australia.

They’d better.

The price of a Caliburn, according to its U.S. distributor (, is $125,595. But that includes a technician who will travel almost anywhere in the U.S. (Alaska and Hawaii are extra) to set up the turntable. It makes it practically a steal.

If that price is still too high, Fremer recommends turntables from Project ( that start at about $300. Otherwise, a Sony turntable is available at Target for $90. And Urban Outfitters online ( offers a retro-style unit from Crosley Radio that includes a USB output to download records to your computer. It’s $140.

Source [LATimes]

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