It doesn’t matter what age you are or whether you love rock, metal, prog or punk – there’s something magical about listening to music on vinyl. Maybe it’s the anticipation as the needle hits the groove; perhaps it’s being able to properly admire the cover art; or it could be you just like looking cool when your friends come over.
Whatever your reasons for loving vinyl records, you’ll want to ensure that the experience is as fabulous as it can be. Obviously, your first concern should be getting your hands on a brilliant turntable – and you’ll find some top choices in our list of the best record players. But getting something decent to play your collection on is just the start, and there are a number of other accessories you might want to consider, to ensure that your vinyl journey goes as smoothly as possible, including cool vinyl storage ideas.
Here, then, are nine great ways you can upgrade your record-spinning rig without breaking the bank.
Paul has spent the past eight years testing and writing about gadgets and technology for the likes of Louder, T3 and TechRadar. He might not have the wealth or the looks of Tony Stark, but when it comes to knowing about the latest cool kit, Paul would surely give Iron-Man a run for his money. As for his musical leanings, Paul likes everything from Weyes Blood to Nirvana. If it's got a good melody, he's on board with it.
Cheap vinyl setup upgrades: Product guide
Best weight for vinyl
+ Weight is ideal
+ Reduces vibrations
+ Soft base pad
+ Comes in three colours
If you can get past the dubious-sounding name, then you’ll be thankful to have this little gadget in your setup. Made from high-quality aluminium, this 280g record weight will dock onto your turntable’s spindle, keeping needle vibration to a minimum. That, in turn, will mean less distortion, ensuring that your favourite tunes sound as clean as a whistle. Oh, and the weight is available in black, silver or gold, meaning you can get one to match your rig.
Best all in one cleaning kit
+ Solution and drying rack included
+ Easy to use
+ No mess
Keeping your all your discs in tip-top condition is essential if you want them to stay sounding and looking great – and this all-in-one kit from the team at Spincare will do the job nicely. Comprising a record-cleaning machine, enough quick-dry cleaning solution to scrub around 500 singles or albums, plus a rack for drying out up to 10 discs once they’ve taken their dip, this one-stop washing system will let you enjoy those all-time classics without any of the nasty crackle and pop.
+ Made from sustainable bamboo
+ Holds 50 albums
+ Simple design
When you’re planning on having a long music-listening session or have friends over on a Saturday night, the last thing you want to be doing is spending ages hunting for a particular record from your stash. Containing enough slats to hold more than 50 albums, this stylish display rack will enable you to browse through a chunk of your collection quickly and easily. And, since it’s made from sustainable bamboo, it’s also eco-friendly, meaning you can file your favourite music with a clear conscience.
Best for no-frills dampening
+ No-fills design
+ Reduces vinyl vibrations
+ High gloss finish
It may look drab, but this Pro-Ject Ground-IT E hi-fi support platform serves a very important purpose. Made of heavy-duty MDF – finished in a high-gloss lacquer – and featuring four conical spiked feet with special damping rings, it’ll provide robust isolation for your turntable, keeping those unwanted vibrations at bay. The fact it’s manufactured by Austrian audio experts Pro-Ject just makes it all the more appealing.
Get the most from your stylus
+ Brings more from the grooves
+ Handy size
+ Easy to read
The amount of force your stylus applies when placed on top of a vinyl record can determine the quality of your listening experience. But you don’t have to leave it to guesswork – attach this little DigitNow gauge to your cartridge and it’ll give you a clear digital readout of your stylus force to the nearest 0.01g, enabling you to make the necessary adjustments. Afterwards, you can just pop the gadget in its protective case, ready for the next time you need it.
Best mino phono preamp
+ Great size
+ No hiss
+ Top price
If your turntable doesn’t come with a phono preamp built in, then you’re going to need to buy one in order to play your music through external speakers. Made by Swiss audio experts Behringer, this miniature interface features stereo RCA inputs and outputs along with a ¼” TRS output jack. It's about as silent as phono preamps get, and - more importantly - it’ll let you enjoy your wide range of music without any nasty hiss or hum - and all for a great price.
Protect your sleeves
+ Keeps dust away
We’d totally understand if you wanted to keep your records in their original inner sleeves – after all, it adds to the authenticity of the experience. However, replacing your inners with anti-static sheaths will help your discs to sound better. Spincare’s archival-quality 12" sleeves are triple-layered, with a piece of rice paper sandwiched between two layers of anti-static, anti-dust and anti-scratch plastic. Your music will have never felt more mollycoddled.
Best for playing singles
+ Perfect for 7" singles
+ Robust design
+ Simple to use
The majority of 7” singles can be played simply by dropping the record on the spindle. However, some – especially ex-jukebox discs – feature a bigger hole in the centre that’ll require you to have an adapter. If your turntable doesn’t come with one – or you’ve lost it – don’t worry as you can pick them up for next to nothing. Vinyl Guru 45rpm record adapter is our pick, since it’s fashioned from a single piece of aluminium, making it both stylish and durable.
Clean the grooves
+ Does the job nicely
+ Protects vinyl & stylus
Taking vinyl in and out of its sleeve or - look away record fans - leaving your discs on the carpet, will lead to dust, fluff and other gunk gathering in the grooves. But help is at hand with this neat little cleaning brush from kwmobile. The soft bristles are made from nylon and will gently remove grunge from your treasured vinyl and it'll also help keep your stylus in tip-top condition too. It’s also washable - just make sure you leave it to dry before swiping your wax.
Cheap vinyl setup upgrades: Buying advice
Buying vinyl records is not a cheap hobby, especially when you add in deluxe box sets, limited edition coloured vinyl editions and rare and valuable vinyl. The costs soon mount up and that's why I've put together this list of nine cheap products that will enhance your vinyl set up.
We all want to keep our record collections in tip-top shape after all, and get the most out from the music, so items such as phono pre-amps, vinyl storage solutions, cleaning products and widgets that help you to play 7-inch singles are pretty much essential. Decide which products would make your vinyl listening more enjoyable, check your budget and explore the options - there are a ton of knick-knacks out there.
Don't forget that the Louder team have put together a bunch of sweet-sounding guides to help you with your purchasing decisions, so whether you're after a new Bluetooth turntable, a portable record player, one of the best turntables on the market or a pair of headphones for vinyl, then we have you covered.
- The best budget turntables: Spin your sounds for less
- Best record players for beginners: Get up to speed with our top picks
- How to properly set up a record player: Get the most from your wax
- Direct-drive vs belt-drive turntables: What exactly is the difference?
- Best vinyl record cleaners: Keep your vinyl collection in tip-top condition
- 7 ways to make your vinyl sound better: Get the most from your set-up