It’s that time of year again; the temperature is dropping, the nights are drawing in, and that nagging question of what to buy friends and family for the big day is becoming more significant with each passing week. If you’re buying for the vinyl record enthusiast, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got suggestions to suit all budgets when choosing the perfect gift for those who can’t get enough of music on wax.
A Record Weight
Buying for an audiophile who’s detail orientated? A record weight or clamp will be music to their ears. They work by clamping the record tighter to your turntable platter, which helps to improve tracking and reduce vibrations. The added mass may also help to reduce wow and flutter. Additionally, the applied weight can also help to flatten mildly warped records.
A Better Record Brush
Chances are, the record-lover in your life probably already owns a carbon fiber brush for day-to-day record cleaning. This new take on the humble record brush from Audio Quest is said to improve the conductivity of static electricity and facilitate better cleaning of micro-dirt particles through the use of smaller fibers and conductive gold contacts. This allows for a better discharge of static electricity through your body as the ground.
Project Essential III
If you’re buying a loved one their first turntable as a gift this year, I highly recommend the Project Essential III. This down to basics turntable strips away all unnecessary bells and whistles in favor of getting the fundamental playing mechanics right first and foremost. They come pre-fitted with a great quality cartridge; the only additional equipment you need to get up and running is a phono pre-amp (unless your amp/receiver has an input labeled “phono” already – in which case, you’re all set).
There are cheaper record players on the market, but for me, the Project turntables mark the price-point at which fashion accessory ends, and serious kit begins. If you don’t want to risk buying a turntable that regularly skips, or at worst, damages records, do yourself a favor and invest at this basic level first.
Higher-End Option: Clearaudio Concept
If your turntable budget will stretch a little further, consider this award-winning option from Clearaudio – considered to be one of the best turntables in the $1000 plus bracket according to consumer Hi-Fi mag, What Hi-Fi. Clearaudio delivers this exceptional sounding turntable ready to use out-of-the-box with a pre-fitted and aligned cartridge – they even set the cartridge weight and bias.
Audio Interface for Record Archiving
There are many ways to create digital copies of vinyl records — the easiest method is with a USB turntable. The problem with this approach is the quality of these devices are often poor unless you shed out for a higher-end model. At Sound Matters, we recommend using a dedicated audio interface to enable high-quality connectivity with your computer for superior sounding results. Focusrite offers a great affordable solution with their Scarlett 2i2 USB. For those with a higher budget, consider the Apogee Duet for great results (mac only). The recording process is relatively simple, but for those who want some guidance, consider forwarding our guide to recording (ripping) vinyl to your computer.
Vinyl Cover Holder
These wooden vinyl cover holder lightboxes add style and function to any listening space. The default text lets visitors know what’s playing, but the message can easily be personalized with new slide-in signs. Made from oak, they feel and look high quality.
GrooveWasher Record Cleaning Kit
Have they just dug out their old record collection only to find a few sound dirty and a little past their best? Vinyl record grooves are less than a hairline thick, so any dust, dirt, or debris will translate as the pops, clicks and static we’re all familiar with. The GrooveWasher Record Cleaning Kit is a highly-effective, well-engineered manual cleaning solution designed to clean your records safely and evaporate quickly leaving no discernible residue. As a nice finishing touch, the cleaning pad handle is Solid milled American Black Walnut.
Your loved one will be surprised at how much better their records sound when cleaned – they might even question why they went digital in the first place!
(Sound Matters readers can score 10% GrooveWasher products when buying directly from their website. Just use the code SOUNDMATTERS10. Read our guide on how to clean vinyl records for further advice on this topic).
Spin-Clean Record Washer
Need to clean a lot of records at once? If your gift recipient has just dug out their old stack of wax for the first time in years, hand cleaning each record might not appeal. The Spin-Clean record washer offers an affordable entry into record cleaning machines that can otherwise prove to be cost-prohibitive.
The device itself is relatively simple. The main unit is essentially a cleaning basin that houses two cleaning brushes. Each time you prep the unit, the bath will wet-clean up to 50 records depending on just how dirty they are.
Check out our full product review, here.
Booze & Vinyl Book
For many, Christmas is a time for making merry. Described as “The ultimate listening party guide”, this book helps the drinks loving vinyl enthusiast shake, stir, and pour their way through some of the best wax ever pressed. Craft drinks and vinyl can often be a match made in heaven. And if vinyl is all about the experience, this guide will give your festive listening experience that twist of something extra special. (Please drink responsibly). Check it out here
Art Vinyl Play & Display Record Frame
Great cover artwork is one of vinyl’s major pull factors. Record collectors love the large format covers and they often display them on walls within their own home. Wall displays are perhaps the most common way to display vinyl as art, and record frames are widely available on the market. But frames aren’t for everyone. Some designs make the records difficult to access should you wish to play one, and on the aesthetic front, some collectors simply want a cleaner, more contemporary look.
The Danish-based company, Twelve Inch manufacture record display systems that require no frames, or any visible support for that matter. The result is a clean, minimalist look indicative of Scandinavian interior design.
Vinyl Record Box Storage Case
Sadly, it’s not practical to store an entire record collection on your wall. For something a little more secure and sizeable, consider getting them a record flight case. These sturdy storage units are perfect for carrying, storing, and archiving records. Check it out here.
For those who prefer a more aesthetically pleasing, living room friendly storage solution, consider a modular unit or container from 33Rackit. Crafted from solid wood, the modular pieces, in particular, offer an attractive alternative to the obligatory IKEA storage shelves. Crafted quality, however, comes at a higher cost; a modular record storage unit will set you back $400 (CND).
Better Record Sleeves
The humble vinyl record sleeve: a simple, but essential accessory for any record collector. But what if they could be improved? By incorporating 100% North American materials, and by introducing an innovative dual pocket design, these outer sleeves form Canadian-based innovators, Vinyl Storage Solutions have set out to change the status quo of record sleeves. They remain crisp and clear, while also enabling easy access to your records without having to pull the sleeve out for each play (thus causing wear and tear).
Many record enthusiasts struggle with the idea of up-cycled vinyl record coasters, myself included. It feels like vinyl sacrilege, but I love the way they look – particularly in basement pads or apartments.
I’m assured by the company owner at GrooveWasher that the vinyl records used to make their coasters are purely old, unplayable records. These coasters are the perfect holiday gift for the vinyl enthusiast in your life.
Vinyl Me, Please/Flying Vinyl Subscription
Still stuck on what to get them? Consider buying them a subscription at one of the growing number of online record clubs. In the states, Vinyl Me, Please invite you to “Join the best damn record club today” with subscribers able to start building their collection from $23 dollars a month. Subscribers receive one LP pressed exclusively for Vinyl Me, Please members, an original art print inspired by the album, a custom cocktail recipe paired for your LP, and more.
Also worth checking out (if you’re In the UK) is Flying Vinyl, who have a slightly different approach whereby members receive exclusive 7″ vinyl records mailed out with an artist booklet and exclusive merchandise on a monthly basis.