Old thing back: records all the rave  

The holidays are coming — and even though everything is a bit different this year, many local stores are finding new ways to do business. Something which isn’t new this year is that vinyl records are awesome, record players are awesome, and both make awesome gifts. 

Yes, you heard it right. Those things your grandparents once called phonographs and your parents once called lp’s are back in vogue, and the younger gens are calling them vinyls.  

As the world becomes increasingly more technologically advanced, some yearn for a return to simpler times. Others just love the sweet, smooth sound a vinyl record produces as it spins and scratches along their favorite tune, and others yet are looking to start a new and interesting hobby.  

You may have thought vinyl was extinct, but it actually never left the building. In recent years, vinyl records and record players have made a huge resurgence in popularity for their timeless quality and quaint appeal.   

Where to Find Vinyl in Corvallis  

There are two record stores in Corvallis, although be sure to check that they’re open with the pandemic freeze going on.  

Happy Trails Records longtime employee Mark said they’ve got a wide selection of vinyl, among many other audio items, for sale leading up to the New Year. Tom, the guy who keeps things alphabetical at Happy Trails Records, says that while production slowed during the shutdown, they are ready for the holidays. Mark added that anything they don’t have in the store can be ordered easily.   

Another local spot to check out what’s new in vinyl is PreAtomic Records on Madison Ave. While we weren’t able to talk to the store before this article was published, you can look into their offerings at their web site.   

Taking Care of Your Vinyl  

New this year, and already popular among holiday shoppers at Happy Trails, are Christmas-themed cleaning kits. Those are invaluable for the new and experienced vinyl collectors alike. 

“It’s more or less just some diluted alcohol and a soft brush,” Mark said. “You can also clean them if you go around with the grooves — even if you’re using paper towels with water or Windex.” 

Mark, who’s worked at Happy Trails for over 12 years, said being gentle with and taking good care of vinyl will help ensure it keeps on spinning. He said the shop itself helps guarantee that any record sold for more than a dollar is guaranteed not to skip. But there is also a dollar section in the store for cheaper gifts.   

Record Players  

If you’re really going to enjoy vinyls, players or phonographs are prerequisite to all the fun.  

There’s a few other places around Corvallis that could help you find exactly what you’re looking for — like Audiofiles on 9th St., PreAtomic Records on Madison Ave., or any of the thrift stores in town — but we’ve got a couple of suggestions for what to look for.   

For anybody who loves the old tones emanating from those vinyl turntables but doesn’t know where on earth they should get started, Audio Technica is a great brand to look at. They have a handful of budget offerings which don’t compromise quality amidst the dogged pursuit of accessibility.You can’t go wrong with the simple, retro take on a record player — it’s a great choice for anybody who wants to jump into the hobby passively or has a large collection.  

Denon offers a fully-automatic model, albeit at a higher price point than entry-level models offered by other manufacturers. It’s another great choice for both anybody new to collecting records or to vinyl more broadly, as well as to the seasoned collector looking for high value in a small and affordable package  

For anybody looking to spend big money on a phonograph, look no further than the high-end offerings of IsoAcoustics. These vinyl players are custom built of hardwood, which influences the tonality of the music, and pushes the top of any audiophile’s budget. But the players are high quality and are, to an extent, pieces of art by their own merits. This sort of player is unlikely to be found in local pawn shops, but anything is possible.   

Sony offers a fully-automatic and Bluetooth-compatible model for under $300, which represents one of the best-valued models in the category. Sony players are generally high-quality and at least this writer is partial to them – they offer both high-quality sound and ease of use and affordability.  

Another great option, the most affordable on the list, is the blue-briefcase model offered by Victrola. For under $100, the vintage-inspired phonograph comes in a portable briefcase for ease of use and conjures images of the early days of vinyl production and sound. These are a great option for younger enthusiasts or for anybody searching for a great record player that absolutely won’t break the bank.   

So make your record needs list, check it twice, and remember that we’re all calling them vinyls now.  

By Gabriel Perry 

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