Should I play my records on radiograms and stereograms?

Not if you care about sound quality and the life of your vinyl!

Funky Furniture

Radiograms and stereograms, with a handful of exceptions, are not hi-fi equipment, they are furniture pieces that play music. This was their original design intent and in this role, they work well, but don’t expect more of them.

The problems are varied, but generally speaking the turntables in these units range from bad to terrible. They usually use ceramic cartridges that run very high tracking forces and conical styli that don’t treat records well. This combination causes accelerated record wear and will result in noisy, distorted-sounding records after not very many plays.

The electronics and speakers are designed to fill the room with a warm, ‘easy listening’ sound, typical of AM radio stations of the day. There’s nothing high-resolution about systems like these so you’ll never hear most of what’s on your records. If this is your jam, cool, but if you care about your records, there is still a significant problem.

Vinyl Care

But I play all my records on this and I don’t care!

Owner of the worst one-box unit I’ve ever seen

Someone told me this recently and I could only reiterate my general advice on this topic which he didn’t seem to understand: I’m simply providing information that most people who DO care will find useful! Not everyone cares, I get that.

Almost all record owners should avoid playing precious vinyl on radiograms, stereograms and cheap integrated music systems. If you own precious vinyl or even a modest record collection you care about, get yourself a decent hi-fi turntable with an elliptical stylus, or better. The reduced tracking force and better stylus profile will extend the life of your records and produce far superior sound quality when combined with a decent amplifier and speakers.

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