Turntables: How a new world opened up to me after 25 years of DJing
I guess you can say I have always loved turntables. When I was about 5 is used to carry a portable player with me at all times. I would just play music wherever I was. It feels so familiar to me to lay a piece of vinyl on a platter and watch it spin. When I started DJing when I was 13 in 1986, I started off on a system from Radioshack. My aunt and mom teamed up and bought me 2 Realistic Lab 2100 Turntables (see below) and a Realistic 4 channel mixer. It was pretty damn sweet for Junior High kid. I would come home after school and just play on the decks for hours. More and more of the kids in my neighborhood were joining or starting DJ Crews. As I was hanging around more DJ’s I also found out more about the gear that people were using. Everyone wanted a Numark mixer and of course the gold standard of all turntables, the Technics SL-1200MK2.
In the late 80’s two 1200’s were out of league of most of High School kids. I couldn’t afford them so I had to make due with using those that were owned by those lucky enough to get them. My buddy Pete was a year older than me and he had a pair. I would go over his house all the time just so I could get my hands on them. Although I had graduated to a Pyramid PR-2700 Mixer (see below) and a couple of lower model Technics that were belt driven, they were never the same as playing on 1200’s. There was something about those tables. They are heavy and built like a tank. They seemed to last forever and could stand all sorts of abuse. I had to have them. After I graduated High School I started working and started doing some door to door marketing on the side as well. After my first commission check, the first thing I did was buy myself a pair of 1200’s. That must have been late 1991. I had them for years. I added a third deck in 2005 when I purchased a MK5 which I still have. I sold my original pair in 2006 when I purchased my first pair of CDJs.
So I had resigned to play on digital media as far as DJing goes but I still had a my MK5 for sampling or whatever. I had my turntable in my studio but it wasn’t plugged in. My wife wanted to listen to some records and asked me to set it up in the living room. This was in late 2014. Since then we have been regularly listening to vinyl and I fell in love with it again. I missed going to record stores and crate digging. I missed the tactile feeling and the warm sound. I missed listening to music as an album and not just a collection of songs randomly shuffled. I was hooked again. Late last year I purchased a new Pioneer DJ rig of 2 XDJ-1000s and a DJM-900 Nexus mixer. I thought about adding turntables back into the mix. I had one that was in great condition and last week a friend of mine from work sold me a 1200MK2 that was sitting in storage for the past 22 years. It was like a brand new vintage turntable. So that purchased solidified everything for me about having turntables as part of my DJ rig again. So now I had to think about a turntable for my living room.
I have never been in the market for a non-DJ related turntable every in my life. All my turntable purchases have been about one thing and one thing only (wiki wiki). Doing some research on audiophile turntables was quite daunting. So many companies I have never even heard of like Rega, Music Hall, Pro-Ject and UTurn Audio seemed to have great turntables that had great reviews. With prices ranging from $300 to start to several thousand on the end of the scale I had no idea where to begin. So I started where I usually start when I have no idea where to start. GOOGLE! Soon I was watching reviews of turntables on YouTube, reading comparisons on popular models and listing out advantages and disadvantages. Then there was the option to get a refurbished vintage turntable and my mind exploded at the possibilities. I thought long and hard about what model to get and what would work best for years to come. I ended up finding a deal on a Music Hall Ikura turntable. It has excellent reviews and the deal I found was hard to refuse.
Vinyl will always be a part of my life. There was a point where I was almost over it. Everything was digital and the thought of carrying around a crate of records just became too much for me. I like that vinyl has returned to my life but in a new way. I also like that I now have the option of DJing vinyl again in the comfort of my studio as well as mp3 or wav files. It is really the best of both worlds.