Getting Started With The Right Equipment

Parsi Times brings you our monthly column promoting Western Classical Music by one of its leading connoisseurs – the eminent Khushroo Suntook, Chairman of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), to re-acquaint you to the joys of this unparalleled form of music.

In my last article I wrote about the pleasures of camaraderie and lifelong friendships that are built around record collectors. Sometimes, many beginners get a bit intimidated by what they feel is the cost of acquiring sufficiently good equipment to play their precious records. In this article, I would like to allay any such anxiety and share with you how we can get started…

The first care you must take while playing your collection is to ensure you always buy records in good condition. Do not compromise on quality. They must not only look good, but also play well.

In order to get off to a flying start as far as equipment is concerned, it of course depends on the strength of your purse. I will now recommend fairly basic but excellent quality equipment which will give you hours and years of pleasure!

You should start off by buying a good turntable which has no wow or rumble – ensure to tell your dealer when you buy anything from him. These days, there are a good number of dealers selling quality turntables, since LPs have made a startling come back. Turntables are now available, which come with an attached arm and stylus; you could also look at the new Project Turntables which are fairly good too.  However, if you wish to scale up, you can get into fairly expensive equipment.

I suggest you start with a good quality Project Turntable, aligned with a Quad II amplifier and pre-amp, and a pair of decent Wharfedale or similar quality speakers, which may not cost more than about £100 per pair. This is very basic equipment but is good for starters. Connect this to speakers with interconnects of good quality, such as Chord.

Do ensure that your wires do not get intertwined and that the distance from your player to the speakers is about four feet on either sides. Place these speakers in a position where you get the best possible sound by turning them from side to side. Then sit down and enjoy the result. It is best that you get an experienced expert to set this up properly.

Today, there are various options available for enthusiasts and I feel you should visit some showrooms and see what is affordable for you.

I hope this little bit of pointing in the right direction helps.  Well set, this system is truly excellent. One last tip – when you order your stylus for 78s, please make sure that you order at least two extra sizes which make a considerable difference in listening pleasure. They are for standard play 0.0025” and 0.0035”. Also remember that a variable speed record player is essential since our records play anything between 68 and 70, right upto 86 rpm, and it is truly horrible to hear the voice distorted to almost rejecting it completely on the basis of having heard it on a 78 rpm machine!

The great tenor, Fernando De Lucia, is a fine example. We think that most of his records were meant to be played around 72 rpm not 78 rpm, but experts differ. However, I urge you to hear the warm quality and technique of this great artiste played at the right speed.

Next time, I will recommend the names of artists and performances you could truly begin with, to enjoy the magical experience of Western Classical Music.

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