Vital vinyl accessories

Collecting, playing and enjoying your record collection requires some investment in equipment, opening up the opportunity to ‘accessorize’ to your heart’s content. Over the last 40 years or so, I’ve been through a good number of turntables, cartridges, phono stages and other bits and bobs. So here’s the current state of play in the TGS listening room…

Firstly the cartridge. Currently installed is a moving-magnet Nagaoka MP-200 (pictured above). It’s a mid-range purple wonder that punches well above its weight. I’ve had a couple of Nagaoka cartridges before (MP-100 & MP-110) and they both were excellent performers but the MP-200 brings significant improvements. Sporting a Boron cantilever and a nude, elliptical stylus, this cartridge draws out all kinds of subtle details from the grooves. It provides a serious, neutral sound that demands to be heard.

Secondly the all-important turntable. Crikey, I’ve been through a few decks over the years… Rega, Pro-ject, NAD & Dual to name a few. However, I’d never dabbled with the iconic Technics SL-1200 range. The ability to play test 78 rpm shellac records had become more and more important so the benefits of a removable headshell and the ability to spin a disc at the fastest speed were obvious.

Swapping out a cartridge/stylus combo to play shellac records for a standard microgroove variety is easy with an interchangeable headshell. The Technics SL-1200 Mk7 provided this option and became the replacement for a Pro-ject RPM5 deck. Outstanding quality. Relentless tracking and rhythm from the direct drive. 33rpm, 45rpm and 78rpm at the touch of a button or two. The S-shaped arm is easy to set up with the gimbal mechanism providing straightforward adjustments to tracking force, anti-skate and VTA. I can’t recommed this deck highly enough. Not sure I’d ever return to a mid-range belt-driven spinner.

Next up… Play & Display by Art Vinyl. A simple but consummate design to make the most of that gorgeous cover art. These frames make it dead simple to get your album sleeves on the wall… and to swap them out whenever you fancy. Stonkingly good. So what’s in mine at the moment? Three striking 12″ singles by the early 90s garage punksters and noise rockers, Daisy Chainsaw.

Last but not least, the phono stage. The vital piece of kit that takes the teeny-weeny signal from the cartridge and brings it up to line-level and provides all-important equalization. Usually this is a stereo device and the equalization is the Recording Industry Association of America standard (RIAA).

But what if you don’t always want RIAA and/or stereo reproduction? That’s where the Graham Slee Revelation M comes in to its own. Not only is the sound quality truly high-end but this wonderful little pre-amplifier offers stereo/mono switching and a unique set of toggle switches to tweak the EQ.

Why tweak the EQ? The ability to set the turnover frequency and the treble cut-off can vastly improve the playback of early vinyl records and, perhaps more importantly, 78rpm shellac discs. Here’s some info on the reproduction of vintage records. The Revelation M provides a scintillating listen in RIAA mode and the flexibility to get the most out of a wide range of older recordings. Peachy.

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