What Vinyl quality should I be using?

Is there a recommended type of vinyl one should be playing on high end systems? I heard from someone just standard vinyl won't do good systems justice and could even be bad for them. Is this true?
Not true! I have many "standard" LP's that sound much better than 180 or 200gm reissues. I hate it when people make sweeping statements like that. The quality of sound has more to do with proper recording than whether it is on "Audiophile" vinyl.
So you are willing to only play certain vinyl.....what a sad little life that would be! I hope who ever told you this isnt your boss because it would be difficult to work for an idiot :)
The problem is that many of the best musical performances don't give you a choice as to format and quality. I know I'm not giving up the music I love just because some fancy "audiophile" version isn't available.

Further, ordinary music will not damage a high end system as long as the pressing is in presentable condition. Any system that is so delicate that it cannot play an ordinary recording isn't worth having.
thanks for the responses! I think what the person meant was that if it's an old not well taken care of vinyl it might damage the cartridge. Who knows I don't know much about it as I'm just getting in to this.

Again thanks for the responses!

One last question, can anybody show me a good cheap beginner analog set up or a good reference? With so many amps, speakers, tts, etc, it looks a little daunting to a beginner.

As far as a tt, i'd like to get a clear audio... but they seem very expensive. What's the average price I could pay for an entire set up?

Thanks a lot,
shoot can't edit my thread... I was going to add that if anything I could just get a nice headphone amp and a turntable. I already have some pretty good sounding headphones. Beyerdynamic dt770's

Anyway if anyone can help out that would be great!!

I also am fairly new to this audiophile thing-although it has pretty much consumed my life for the past year or so. I recently got back into vinyl after not playing since my teenage years (70's). There are many threads with loads on info on entry level tt (turntables). I recently purchased a modded Technics 1210 M5G from Kevin at KABUSA that has all the bells and whistles with the performance of a hi end table at a reasonable price, around $1k for mine table and cart. I am very happy with the performance so far. There are volumes of threads on these tt along with those by Rega, MM, Perfection and many other fine tables that will grab you by the ear and drag you into this fine hobby. Good luck and welcome.

I got back into vinyl about 6-7 years ago and here is the path I followed, and some recommendations.

TT: I started with a Rega-25, found an old but mint Thorens, and ended with a Teres 265. What I have concluded from that journey is (your experience may vary), the Rega had about 90% of the musical quality of the Thorens, which had +/- 95% of the musical quality of the Teres. If I remember right, the Rega cost about $1,200 with arm & cartridge, and the current set-up with arm & cartridge is +/- $10K. Or, for $9,000 you get 5%. Don't get me wrong, for me, the $9K was worth every penny!

Phono Pre-amp: Same as above, starting with Rega, to Coif Nia, to EAR, to Herron. $100 to +/- $3,500 for 5 to 10%.

Cartridge: Same as above. $250 to +/- $3,800 for 40 to 50% increase in musical quality. This and the speakers, are the only up-grades to my system (for either vinyl or digital), that really made such a huge jump in the quality of the end product (the music).

Cables, tweaks, amps, pre-amps, etc: All, and I mean ALL, up-grades have followed the same path with the same result. With good quality entry level equipment you will get 90 to 95% of what you can get. Getting closer to the audiofool goal will cost you big bucks, but it is really alot of fun!

So, what does a terminally broke audiofool recommend?

First and most importantly, shop around, take your time, and buy used, good quality equipment. The prices for new equipment are not worth paying, for an audition.

Second, tailor your system to your environment. If you live in a house or apartment with anything but a concrete slab for a floor, you need to understand that a TT with a suspended platter (Thorens, etc) will be hard to set-up so that the needle doesn't jump every time someone walks across the floor. It can be done, but it takes stands, tweeks, etc, which translates into unexpected $$'s. The solid TT's are easier to set-up on a suspended floor and the musical quality has much more to do with the cartridge than the turntable design.

Third and last, the speakers, the cartridge, and the media are what you will hear. Spend your money there at the start and modify the stuff in-between later.

If you take your time and shop wisely, you can get a 90 to 95% system (which by the way, is pretty damn nice!) for not much money.

As far a the vinyl is concerned, just make sure it is clean.

Best regards,

No relation to the seller, but there's a Clearaudio Emotion Blue on Audiogon right now that looks like a decent bargain. Add a phono stage and you're ready to go for under $2000.
All in all, good advice but one can never determine the quality of something by asking quantity questions. What we are most concerned with is sound quality and trying to put a number on this doesn't work for me. Listening to music, eating a good meal, or enjoying the art institute are all things utilizing the other half of your brain than the side used for used for balancing your checkbook, figuring an affordable car payment, etc. The whole percentage thing is accessing the wrong half of your brain for this endeavor. Sorry to sound like I'm nit picking semantics but IMHO one really gets to the root of what is important.
What I found is that as you move up the chain some high-end analog setups can actually improve the playback of many of those less than pristine LPs. But it takes everything in the chain to get this kind of playback. It's not that the clicks and occasional pop from the years of abuse are gone, but they are much more in the background and thereby let more of the music come through. Finding the right links in the chain is the tricky part.

On the other side of the coin, some hi-end components can detract from one's enjoyment of those treasured records you've had for years. What happens is the resolution can become so great that the music is picked apart and doesn't sound as well integrated. Usually, such a system is just showing how less than good those recordings where.
An absolute necessity is a record cleaning machine with vacuum. Any other means of cleaning is just pushing the dirt around. You will be amazed how good old vinyl can sound with a good cleaning.
Second what Sns said. I just listened to my first lp cleaned on a record cleaner with vacuum, good 3 step AIVS solutions, and 3 good brushes. The sonics blew me away! Was just using a Discwasher before. The difference is night and day!
Getting started in analog is much more expensive than just buying a cd player, but if you truly love music it is the only way to go in my opinion. I agree that a wet cleaner LP RCM is a nessessity. I recommend a VPI 16.5. Works well and is reliable. I do want to say that in my 30+ years in this hobby, I am amazed at what lies in the grooves of an LP. I owned some of these same LP's when I was a teenager using a $79.00 cheapo TT. The platter folded down and the speakers detached so you could spread them out. If a record skipped, I would just tape a few pennies on the head shell (dig a new groove). I am getting off track. My point is as my analog playback has evolved over the years the sound of these old LP's (not the ones I dug a new groove in) sound amazing! The record did not change, only the playback system. So get the best you can afford and upgrade when you feel it is time. Good luck and have fun.
05-30-08: Nickclarson
I was going to add that if anything I could just get a nice headphone amp and a turntable. I already have some pretty good sounding headphones. Beyerdynamic dt770's
For convenience, reliability, good sound for the money, good ergonomics and great resale value, you could try a Technics SL1210 M5G and add the fluid damper from KAB Electronics. Pair it with a cartridge with higher output such as a Goldring 1012x or 1022x (KAB sells both at excellent prices) or Ortofon 2M Blue and plug it into a Bellari VP129 tube phono stage. The Bellari only has 30dB of gain, so the Goldring and Ortofon moving magnet carts would be a good match. The Bellari also has a headphone output.

If you're just getting back into vinyl, the ruggedness of the Technics plus its removable headshell makes things easier--less likely to break something and much easier to mount and align cartridges.

The Technics with fluid damper is great for playing used vinyl from "questionable" sources. My setup can track some pretty incredible warps and keeps them inaudible.
05-30-08: Sns said:
"An absolute necessity is a record cleaning machine with vacuum. Any other means of cleaning is just pushing the dirt around."

I disagree. Rinsing a record is no different from rinsing the dishes. Do it right and you end up with clean dishes or records.

Cleaning with the Disc Doctor record cleaning system allows you to really focus on the dirty spots, if any, and adjust the cleaning to the degree of dirt.

Most new records do NOT need cleaning, merely brush with a carbon fiber brush, hit it with the Zerostat, clean again with a slightly damp micro fiber cloth and you're ready to play.

Dcstep, I just went through the process of cleaning just about every one of my 2,000 albums (stored for the past 20 years or so) with Disc Doctor cleaning system. Yes, the cleaning with carbon fiber brush, zerostat, micro fiber cloth, the whole deal. While the albums were much cleaner, I was still not completely happy, too much surface noise. Recently I purchased a VPI 16.5, only then did I learn how dirty these records remained after the previous cleaning. Much quieter, lower noise floor adds up to increased resolution. Any cleaning without vacuuming leaves a residue which you will hear. Vacuuming is absolutely necessary!
dave is right....i have records that i've owned since the seventies...still clean, quiet and visually mint. labels are perfect, and they've never seen a cleaning machine.
Sns, I don't want you washing my dishes... ;-) Did you remember to rinse? LOL

Good lord, I'm sorry to hear that you cleaned 2000 records and didn't realize that you weren't getting them clean? Too bad my mother wasn't there to inspect for you.

Ok everyone, it IS absolutely imparative that you rinse with distilled water and the DD rinsing brush AND clean the brush EVERY TIME.

I DIDNT EVEN READ THIS THREAD. IT IS THE RECORDING ENGINEERS AND SO FORTH THAT MAKE IT IMPORTANT. If it is done rite (look to Madonna; Immaculate Collection) DONE RITE and it is standard vinyl. They should start firing like the automotive company's are.

Roger Busby
Come on, I'm not dumb enough not to have rinsed with distilled water. There is still residue left on those records, I hear and see it after each play.
Have you guys even tried a rcm with vacuum? The vacuum simply cleans off that remaining residue better than rinsing. Now for high pressure rinsing, I might go for that.

I could also make an analogy to the automatic car wash. Would you rather have your car dried with the vacuums or clean rags, I choose the vacuum. No matter how clean those rags are they pick up some of the remaining residue and drag that around. Again, I hear a quieter surface with vacuum cleaning.
05-31-08: Sns asked:
"Have you guys even tried a rcm with vacuum?"

Yes, long ago and far away. It was a VPI used under supervision of a used LP dealer.

IME, Disc Doctor is superior.

We will agree to disagree, others will have to judge for themselves.
While this takes the thread way off topic...

I believe the DD process is very good (albeit labor intensive) and I use it as my primary cleaning approach. However, afterwards, I vacuum the still-wet LP with a DIY attachment to my ShopVac. I have to admit, it is, IMHO, a significant improvement over the DD process alone (and less than $2 USD to make).

Quite frankly, I can't see spending the coin on an RCM given the effectiveness of this approach. It is not very elegant, mind you, but very effective. YMMV...

And to take this back to the original question of the thread..."standard vinyl", particularly used vinyl found in old bookstores, estate sales, and resale shops may be the most under-rated pleasure in the world (aside from new guitar strings and a good cup of coffee).

With a little effort, those forgotten treasures can look and sound like new (see earlier posts in this thread), and you can open yourself to a world of new music for very little money. Plus, again IMHO, the hunt for "standard vinyl" in these obscure locations is part of the fun...much more so than arguing over cleaning techniques.
I have found great quality music on most vinyl formats. Some hold up better, won't warp as easy, etc.
As far as cleaning your records, I have recently found the steaming method to be beyond reproach, although labor intensive. I don't believe an automatic machine/vacuum can match steaming with hand vacuuming done properly. There is a thread about steaming and if you haven't tried it check it out. Steaming will remove stuff deep in the micro grooves that a passive machine just doesn't effect. It is completely safe to the records with proper care to cover the labels, if that is important to you. I could care less about the labels, jackets either for that matter. It's all about the grooves for me and steaming will reveal things that you haven't heard since your records were new.
I don't want to belabor the subject, but I never said that hand cleaning vinyl was inherently inferior to machine cleaning. My claim is that vacuuming as a final step is superior to hand drying. Every record I've played thus far has been cleaned by hand, and then cleaned again on the VPI 16.5. This is I believe, the superior way to clean vinyl, all future cleaning will still include the hand cleaning.
As to the subject at hand, records worth playing can be found at garage sales, record shows (if they still exist), flea markets, used record stores, new from web retailers,etc., in other words wherever you can find them. Visual inspection is ok, a demo play is best. Most of my 2,000 plus records are from shows, used record stores and garage sales, very little new vinyl.