Do you spend less on music and new components during the summer? After going through the pandemic, it is understandable that consumers are spending more on travel and live music than high-end audio and expensive vinyl reissues.
Based on the number of sales so far and the popularity of Amazon Prime Day, manufacturers are a tad desperate to move inventory before Q4.
If you shop for records, DJ equipment, HiFi equipment, or turntable accessories online, you’ve probably spent some time on the Turntable Lab website. After more than 20 years, the online retailer has a global customer base who love their selection of products, and value their expertise and customer service. As a customer, I’ve always been drawn to their music section that offers records you don’t often see for sale on sites like Music Direct or Acoustic Sounds.
Peter Hahn is a very busy guy and constantly looking for new products for Turntable Lab’s rather extensive global customer base. He’s not afraid to take a flyer on some products that are TTL-branded concepts and many of them have proven to be very successful.
Who is your typical customer?
Judging by the type of records (emo-pop to esoteric) we sell and the price range of our turntables ($99 – $2,500), it’s all over the place. However, we have an idea of the typical “Labhead” that helps guide us. A Labhead has been following us for over 10 years; has DJ’ed at one point (or still does); and collects multiple genres of records. I know a bunch of people who fit this profile and have been shopping with us close to 20 years.
Does it surprise you that vinyl has not only come back but become the #1 physical format again?
No. I was a hyper-consumer for most of my life. It’s part of reason I came to live in New York. In the last 6 years, I started to notice that there was less to buy for collectors like me. Bookstores were closing, toy quality was going in reverse, clothing / sneakers were pricing out. Over the last 6 years, vinyl has for the most part increased in quality while remaining relatively affordable. There’s more pressing plants doing better work.
Labels are putting a lot of effort into packaging. Record stores are presenting the product better. Instagram is an excellent discovery tool. Discogs creates a fun, efficient market. Used record stores add the x-factor. Even colored vinyl, which was too soft / quiet pre-2010, is now very listenable.
What do you use in your own system at home?
I have a Technics SL-1200MK2, NAD integrated, Amphion speakers, and Line Phono Stand. I use a REVO SuperSystem for listening to internet radio. Teenage Engineering OB-4 for portable listening.
What are some of the best new vinyl accessories, tables, or deals you have seen so far this summer?
Pro-Ject Debut III Phono SB Turntable
This summer has seen some incredible manufacturer promotions. In my opinion, it’s the best time in several years for consumers to purchase audio gear. The Debut III SB Turntable is basically a pre-Carbon Debut with an added built-in pre-amp and Speed Box. This turntable was already a strong value at $499, but the recent promo at $249 makes it the best value in the entire market right now. If you’re looking into your first step into hi-fi turntables, this is it.
$249 at Turntable Lab
Humminguru Ultrasonic Record Cleaner
This model has now been out for about a year, and the consensus has been highly positive – it’s an affordable, effective, reliable daily cleaner. The one criticism we’ve seen is that the ultrasonic cleaning doesn’t offer a super-deep clean as some solution-based washes, but with new ultrasonic cleaning agents (Humminguru makes one, so does Groovewasher), this should not be as much of an issue.
$479.95 at Turntable Lab
Line Phono Universal Turntable Dust Cover
I have always wondered why hi-fi turntable dust covers are so expensive (I learned a lot has to do with shipping costs). Many covers cost the same amount as a Pro-Ject turntable! Turntable furniture brand, Line Phono, has introduced their own model ($119), which features nearly identical specs as higher priced models. It fits most turntables on the market including the problematic Clearaudio Concept and Marantz TT-15S1. It also fits on their Line Phono Turntable Stand. Note: double check the specs if your setup is on the larger side.
$119 at Turntable Lab
Rega Planar 3 Turntable – 50th Anniversary
The hi-fi world is slowly adapting to current sales trends with more releases of limited edition models (did you get a NAD C 3050 LE?). The 50th anniversary edition of the Planar 3 is stunning. It features Rega’s relatively new Walnut finish, custom badging, some custom tweaks (eg. Planar 6 drive pulley) and the excellent Exact 2 cartridge (visually, I love how the yellow goes with the wood grain). This model has been a bestseller at Turntable Lab, and the $1,695 price tag is still within reach.
$1,695 at Turntable Lab
Turntable Lab CFM Carbon Fiber Mat
I like to see carbon fiber used in the audio world. It’s a proven, highly documented material that makes a lot of machinery perform better. It absorbs vibrations while being ultra-rigid and flat, plus it’s lightweight. That sounds like a perfect combination for a turntable platter; but since the material cost is so expensive, a mat will have to do. Turntable Lab’s CFM features solid carbon fiber construction (not a veneer), with a non-abrasive padding on top.
$49 at Turntable Lab