Nowadays everyone plays the role of DJ, whether that means choosing which tracks to play as a driver running friends around town or putting on a playlist as host of a party. But as we can tell from the norm of deejaying now consisting of music being played on digital formats, much of the DJ’s art has been lost in the post-vinyl age. Of course you can still buy records, indeed their larger format has been embraced anew by musicians who value album art. What is missing, however, is the correct equipment to play these records on. You may frequently pass charity shops whose baskets literally overflow with 7 inch and 10 inch discs of funk, soul, indie, pop and jazz. But when do we pass shops selling record players and their essential counterparts: speakers, phono stage, phono preamp and phono amp? The shameful answer is once in a blue moon.
As the hip hop legends De La Soul sang in ‘The Magic Number’: ‘Everybody wants to be a DJ/Everybody wants to be an MC/But being speakers are the best/And you don’t have to guess’. This 1980s trio knew the importance of good equipment but they also had the advantage of being surrounded by good suppliers and occupying prime territory in the music scene. These days, where many more of us are amateur DJs and do not know where to look for our speakers and amplifiers, we feel quite lost.

The strange paradox of our times is that we have more choice than ever as consumers: the internet allows us to look worldwide for our purchases. This abundance of choice confuses us, however – if we really are musical amateurs we simply do not know which audio company to type into our search engine. Shopping for sound is an arduous task: at least with other consumer goods like clothes or furniture it is possible to base your choice on an image. Unless you know exactly what you are doing, this is impossible: these are arcane devices.

Here are some tips: vinyl is all about the richness of sound. The job of a phono preamp is to bring the unique warmth of the record to your ears with minimal interference. A true balanced output is what you are looking for in a phono stage and an authentic reproduction of sound that cuts out crackles and privileges the beat is what every DJ or private audiophile deserves. The phono amp should contribute to better sound than digital media.

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