In our November 2018 issue, we published an essay, “Record Collecting: Where Do I Begin?” by Terri Bruce. The following is a reader’s response by Kevin Cleary, and it is published with permission. First of all, I do not consider myself an expert but have been collecting records for years and would like to offer you a few suggestions. I strongly urge you to put together a system to fit your needs and budget, consisting of an amplifier, turntable, and speakers. This allows you to upgrade in the future without scrapping the whole thing. The Audio Technica pictured in the article is an excellent choice. I like direct drive turntables and this unit has a built in phono preamp which allows you to connect it to any modern amplifier. This turntable also allows you to easily change cartridges and needles. To me, the most important thing in playing records is to use the proper needle. 78 rpm records require a separate needle. Many older record players had a flip-over needle so you could choose the proper size. I don’t want to confuse you, but it is also very helpful to play monaural records with a cartridge designed for them such as the Grado M+. I use a Shure N78s for 78s with good result. Of course, you also need a stereo cartridge for newer records. It is OK to use a stereo cartridge for mono records but, in my opinion they do not sound as good. Many record collectors prefer mono records and will pay more money for them—especially Beatles collectors. I know this sounds like a lot of trouble, but you need a separate cartridge shell for each cartridge you buy. You also need to re-balance your tonearm each time you change cartridges. This can easily be accomplished with a gauge such as the one Shure has for about $35. You also need to align the cartridge once you install it in the shell. There is much instruction for this on line. The cartridge manufacturer will supply you with the correct number to set the stylus force. This is important to cut down on record wear. A few more suggestions. If you need an amplifier a good choice is the NAD D 3020 V2, about $400. If you get tired of records, you can easily plug in a CD player and get a wonderful sound. Good inexpensive speakers are made by PSB and Wharfedale. A cleaning system offered by Spin-Clean works well. Bags Unlimited is a good source for record sleeves and other products such as stylus cleaner which you will need. If I decide to keep a record I usually put it in a new sleeve. I don’t play any record without first washing it. Also check out The Needle Doctor and Audio Advisor. It is hard to tell how a record will sound before you play it. Some look good and sound terrible, possibly because of being played on bad equipment. Some pressings are just poor. You can’t do anything about scratches. Sometimes scuffs will not make much difference. A good source for old LPs is RecordSmith in Richmond, VA, which offers both auctions and set sales. I realize all of this seems like a lot of trouble but it is a great hobby. When you get a truly magnificent sound from an old recording it is very rewarding, especially if you find a masterpiece in a Goodwill store or at a yard sale. What you come to realize is that the information is on the record. The trick is getting it out. Seasoned record collectors are welcome to chime in and submit their own tips on collecting. A column to run each month on the subject would, in fact, be ideal. If you would like to write one let us know! Everyone has to begin somewhere!