Cape Town Vinyl

Since a couple of people have asked me questions related to vinyl in Cape Town now, I thought I’d write up the things that I think Cape Town collectors should know.

Hi-fi Setup

If money is no object, then The Listening Room in Cape Quarter is definitely your best option. If, however, you’re working on a budget, then my recommendation would be to keep your eye on Gumtree for people selling vintage audiophile equipment. That’s how I picked up my Technics SL-1300. Just read some reviews before you buy your turntable.

You may need to refurbish your newly acquired turntable (like I did) before it’s able to produce good sound. I have the phone number for two people who apparently do this well, although I haven’t used them. I got one of these numbers from someone at Radio Discotheque, so I can recommend taking your turntable there if it’s totally busted. After taking apart my turntable and doing some simple continuity tests with a good friend of mine who is an electrical engineer, we determined that it was simply the cartridge that needed to be replaced.

The Listening Room stocks great audiophile carts and also offer an installation and alignment service, so I decided to take my turntable there. Once the cart was installed, we realized that there was something else wrong. Anyway, after leaving my turntable with Rodney from The Listening Room overnight, he managed to figure out that there was a continuity issue in the headstock (the one place I didn’t look). Luckily I had a spare one, so he swapped it out for me and now it works perfectly!

If Gumtree doesn’t work out, you can always check second hand shops, although it’s much more labour intensive. The one shop that I have seen that sells already refurbished vintage hardware is Revolution Records. They have some really cool turntables, amps and speakers right there in the shop (not to mention a massive record collection).

Of course, any turntable is going to need it’s cartridge replaced at some point. Radio Discotheque offer some decent cost effective options, but if you’re looking for an audiophile cart, The Listening Room is where you want to look.

I was fortunate enough to receive a hand-me-down amplifier with a phono input (Sansui RZ-2300). It has an awesome 90’s look and feel and sounds fantastic. I’ve seen some great amps for sale on Gumtree and at Revolution Records. Remember, if you’re going to buy an amp without a phono input, you’ll need to get yourself a phono stage to convert the signal from your turntable to one that your amplifier can accept. The Listening Room sells phono stages, but they’re not cheap. I recommend getting a vintage audiophile amp from Gumtree or at least buying your phono stage from Gumtree.

I’ve yet to purchase a decent set of speakers, but they aren’t too tricky to find. Since I’m into vintage equipment at the moment I’ll probably buy from Gumtree or Revolution Records, but The Listening Room has some great entry level sets. Rodney has played me some albums through the speakers he’s got set up in the shop and I’m very close to being convinced to fork out for some new speakers :).

New Records

Brick and mortar shops that sell new vinyl in Cape Town are few and far between. I’ve been told that astoreisgood has a few records for sale, but I’ve never been there. Mabu Vinyl has a small collection of new records mounted on the wall behind the counter. The Listening Room has a modest collection in the shop, but they have a great mail order catalogue (September 2012 Edition) from which you can order all sorts of cool stuff and collect from the shop. What’s really awesome though is the vinyl catalogue (September 2012 Edition) which has 100s of albums to choose from.

Unfortunately you’re probably still not going to be able to find what you’re looking for in a shop. I’ve heard that people have successfully ordered from Insound, although I haven’t tried them. Apparently their shipping to South Africa is expensive. I’ve used WOW HD who offer free delivery (yes, even to South Africa) and my order arrived in great condition. It did take almost a month to arrive but the email support I received was fantastic.

Previously Owned Records

As mentioned above, Revolution Records has a great collection of second hand vinyl. Mabu also has an awesome selection. Those are pretty much the only two shops that I’m aware of that’ll give you a decent crate digging experience. UPDATE: I haven’t checked them out yet, but I’ve recently heard about Roots Vinyl, Recreation Records and Roastin’ Records.

I’ve heard that some markets, particularly Milnerton market have vinyl on sale. The best way that I’ve found to find second hand vinyl at a good price is to find people selling their (or their relatives’) collections on Gumtree. I’ve been into a few houses and had some fun crate digging and have even found some cool albums. I’ve also bought a whole collection and it actually had some really cool stuff in it.

Online Resources

I’ve used These three sites before to get some info I was looking for. This is a pretty cool site for info on general audio topics. My favourite vinyl-related site has got to be Vinyle Engine - I even downloaded the manuals for my turntable there. Lastly, Reddit’s vinyl subreddit is a fantastic source of information on anything vinyl.

Disclaimer: I am extremely new to collecting vinyl, so some of this information might be erroneous. If you’d like to correct me, or just give me some more info to share on this page, please leave a comment or tweet at me or something.

I hope some of this is useful to one or two of you :).

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