The Basics

Turntable
Stereo receiver with a phono preamp
Speakers
And, of course, vinyl records

Turntables

spin

Turntables have several parts on them. These include a base, a motor, a platter with a spindle, signal cables, a tonearm and a cartridge with a needle.

There are several types of turntables, which I will explain here.

Automatic Turntables do what they sound like. That is, they automatically start and stop a record without much assistance from you.

All you have to do is press the turntable's "START' button, and the music begins playing. There is a more technical explanation than that, but I want to keep thing simple.

Shopping
Least expensive- $49.99 (used)
Most expensive- $888.79
Good in-between: $120.32

Manual turntables need you to start and stop the record. That mean you place the needle at the edge of the record once it starts spinning and you have to remove the needle once the album stops playing songs.

Shopping
Least expensive- $48.96
Most expensive- $1066.65

Semi-automatic turntables fall between the automatic and manual turntables. You have to place the needle on the edge of the record to get the music to start playing, but the needle automatically lifts off the record when the music stops.

Shopping
Least expensive- $29.99
Most expensive- $551.70

Stereo Receiver

receiver

Why you need a phono preamp on your receiver

The output from a turntable is much lower than typical audio sources that you plug into the receiver like a CD player or the TV audio. Because of that, the turntable output requires an extra amplification to bring its volume up to a normal level. This is where the phono preamp comes into play.

Most old stereo receivers have a phono preamp built in. There are plenty out there and here is one that I found by simply searching on Google.

But what if I don't want to drop that much money?

First of all, you need a stereo receiver, assuming you can afford one. Now, if you already have a receiver but it doesn't have a phono preamp built in, chances are you don't want to buy another receiver that is probably older and not as good. What do you do?

The simple answer is an external phono preamp.

How does this work? You plug the turntable into the external phono preamp. You then plug the external phono preamp into one of the receiver's inputs (AUX, Tape, Line, CD, etc.).

What should I buy?

Obviously, there are low-end options, high-end options and in-between options. What you choose is up to you.

Speakers

speakers

I'm going to go ahead and assume you know what speakers are and how they work. If you don't, I doubt you understand what the Internet is and how you ended up on what we call a "Web page."

Because I'm sure you know what the Internet is and how speakers work (to an extent), I'm going to hop right into some cool speakers you can get if you don't have any yet.

Perfect8 Glass-Speaker System

When I said "cool speakers you can get," I really meant "cool speakers you wish you can get. These bad boys are $566,000, so I doubt you'll be getting them anytime soon. Regardless, you should check out this cnet writeup on the speakers.

Perfect8 shatters wallet with $566,000 glass-speaker system

Pea Speaker

This system has a base speaker with a bunch of small "pea" speakers. These peas are wirelessly connected to the base and can be spread throughout the room to create a "surround sound." How much do they cost? They have not been released, but you can be sure that they will cost a lot.

Like Peas in a Pod

Alienware Speaker System

British designer Kevin Boulton created speakers that apparentlycame from Mars. They are not sleek. They are not subtle. They might be cool though. Again, you will probably be able to afford these only if you don't have to pay for things like a house or food.

Alienware Speaker System - Clear Sound and Freaky Awesome Design

Vinyl Records

records

I've already done a profile on the record stores in Gainesville, FL, but I thought I would list a few Web sites that sell old and new vinyls in case you don't live in my hometown.

Music Stack- Boasts "25 Millions Vinyl Records, Used CDs and Music Albums." The Web site receives new shipments every week.
Amazon-The online warehouse has everything on top of everything in every category, so why wouldn't it have a crazy collection of vinyls? Old, new, mainstream, obscure... Amazon has it all.
360 Vinyl- Underground rap vinyls. If you want some J Dilla (R.I.P.) for your turntable, 360 vinyl is the place for you.
Turntable Lab- If you're a DJ, this is the place to shop.