IT’S great that the vinyl community is growing by the day, and there is no better occasion than Christmas to pamper ourselves or our friends with a lovely gift. Here are some gift ideas to enhance the festive spirit and merrily spin into 2020.
1 – Garrard/SME 301 turntable (US$: P.O.A.)
If there is a single turntable I want for Christmas, it is this Garrard 301. SME’s acquisition of Loricraft gave it access to a huge inventory of Garrard parts to build the 301. This Garrard 301 is packaged with an excellent SME M2-12R tonearm on a gorgeous handcrafted solid walnut plinth. The high mass platter driven by a macho motor via an idler mechanism will rock your Christmas.
2 – Sony PS-LX310BT turntable (US$180/RM849)
This turntable is packed to the brim with features such as a built-in phono stage, selectable gain settings and automatic one-step playback, and is literally “plug and play”. Aside from the physical connectivity option, it also comes with Bluetooth to hook up to your wireless speakers or headphones. You can even digitise your records for playback from your phone. It’s truly fuss-free.
3 – Technics SL-10 turntable (approximately US$1,000)
If it doesn’t have to be new, it must be this. The SL-10 was a state-of-the-art turntable in its day and can still run circles around modern turntables. It is armed with a linear-tracking tonearm, quartz-locked servo direct-drive motor, auto-sensing playback and return (useful if you fall asleep) and MC gain amplifier, all squeezed into a die-cast alloy chassis that is the size of a normal record outer sleeve. It even has a repeat button to continuously play in a loop at parties!
4 – Cary Audio VT-500 phono stage (US$5,495/RM24,000)
This is latest iteration of a long series of single-ended Class A all-tube phono stage designs by Cary Audio. The elegant two-box design comes with a separate power supply, dual MM and MC input terminals and adjustable input impedance. Step-up-transformers are used for the MC gain stage for a quieter noise floor. You will never get bored with it as its character can be transformed simply by tube rolling with a wide selection of NOS and modern production 6SL7 tubes.
5 – Hana ML moving coil cartridge (US$1,200/SGS1,500)
The new Hana ML offers superlative performance at real-world prices, with mouth-watering specifications. Alnico magnets and low-impedance high-purity copper coils are used for its signal generator. The ML is fitted with a Microline stylus that’s housed along with cryogenically-processed components in an acoustically inert Delrin cartridge body sporting a brass top plate.
6 – Best Tractor Protractor by MintLP (US$130)
If you have obsessive compulsive disorder, this bespoke precision set-up protractor could be the best remedy. The Best Tractor has two null points along a finely etched line on a thin glass base. You need to provide details of the turntable and tonearm in addition to measuring the actual distance between your stylus tip and the mounting edge as this will only work for that specific cartridge. Imagine having one Best Tractor for every cartridge that you own.
7 – Mobile Fidelity Original Master Record inner sleeves (US$20 for pack of 50)
Have you seen the high quality inner sleeves used by MoFi for the records it sells? You can now get them in packs of 50s. The sleeves are three-ply with anti-static properties to keep your records dust-free in storage. It’s always a good idea to pay a little more for inner sleeves as those of inferior quality may leave stains or plastic residue on your LPs’ surface.
8 – Onzow Labo Zerodust stylus tip cleaner (US$39/RM195)
Ever had difficulty using a brush to remove dirt or lint from your stylus tip or the glue used to attach the stylus to the cantilever? Don’t fret, you can now use the Onzow Zerodust to clean your stylus tip. It’s made from a specially formulated ultra-soft plastic that’s 15 times more elastic than baby skin. Just gently lower the stylus tip onto the cleaning surface, raise it, and the job is done.
Feel free to surprise me with a Christmas present #1. Merry Christmas everyone and have a Happy New Year ahead.