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Let me go on the record... player for the first time

Hi, I'm looking at getting into the record player game. Thank you for your time in advance, I know this is a long read. Anyways... I have some Massdrop x AKG M220 Blues and a Little Dot Mk 3 220v tube amp from the Mega Mystery Box from way back when, and I've really only used the AKGs a few times, but enough that I can tell they're WAY beyond the quality of music I can push to them. I need some recommendations on some speakers, a record player, and maybe an amp if what I'm working with is totally inappropriate. I'm really new to the audiophile game, so if there's another piece of kit I'd need to get the most out of a setup, please don't hesitate to let me know. I'm giving rough budgets, but if you know of something that's a little outside the range but is a much larger leap in performance and features than the leap in budget, I'm game. If anyone knows of a good place to get new and old records for good prices, I'd like to know that too! The intent is to have a nice place to sit and listen to music I enjoy and have it sound better than my Sony WH XM3 cans streaming from Pandora. The three priorities are: quality of sound without getting absurd, upgradeability, and relatively small footprint. I live in an apartment and probably will for the next several years at least, so I don't wanna shake the walls... too much. On top of that, while I am in the process of upgrading my entertainment stand to a rather large and storage-rich Ikea Fjallbo, I still have a cable box, Xbox, Playstation, Switch, Gamecube, and a decent stack of physical games that have to all share space in this entertainment furniture. I just want somewhere to sit and decompress my ADHD soul after a long day working as an EMT. I've gotten into some practices to deal with the stress that are pretty meditative, but as it stands, music isn't really one of them, and this is a way to give it that space. Right now music for me is something to occupy the part of my mind that isn't engaged by mundane stuff like chores juuuust enough that it doesn't go looking for something else to engage in that's more fun than dishes. Too many times I've found myself painting DnD miniatures when I meant to be rounding up dirty laundry for the wash, but this is the next evolution. I want to just sit and marinate in music that is the fine wine to my bluetooth Sony WH XM3 (Five) Buck Chuck. PS: Here's the entertainment stand thingy: My TV isn't quite as big, so I'd have space on the right side for a bookshelf speaker, and I'd probably put the record player top left shelf with record storage and left speaker (perhaps with modifications to the furniture) under that. Record Player: I don't even know what I'd be looking at here, but I am pretty sure I'd want something better than Crosley. It'd be really neat if I could find something that I could use to record my records into a lossless digital format, but heck, I can probably just hook up an audio recorder to the output and do it that way, right? So that'd be a bonus, but I would go for one with higher quality audio without the recording hardware over one that did if we're talking same money. Budget on this is probably in the $200-$400 range I think? I think I'd prefer something that doesn't have an amp because this is one area I don't see myself wanting to upgrade soon. Amp: I have no idea if my Little Dot Mk3 amp is any good, but if it's not horrible, I'll probably be using that unless I somehow have plenty of money lying around and/or one of y'all wants to trade something that'd work better for my purpose. It's still sitting in the original box it came in. Messed around with it when the Mystery Box thing happened, it's really cool and warms up audio, but I was just coming off my phone via 3.5mm. This is one area where I could see myself upgrading at some point, so I don't really know what sort of budget to set for this, and don't mind going basic to start. It doesn't have to be something I can run my entire home theater through, but it would be nice if I could hook up a Fiio DAP to listen to other music, either wirelessly or through a looooong cable. Speakers: I want to go with two bookshelf speakers, I was looking at some Elac units, and also some B&W ones, but ultimately I just want something that's well-balanced for listening to different types of music. Is that a thing, speakers that are better for one type of genre than another? Anyways, two speakers, looking to spend $500 or less on the pair. It'd be nice if they came in a simple black or would match the Ikea Fjallbo aesthetic. Headphones: I'm probably not going to upgrade the headphones very soon, but when I do, I was looking at going planar magnetic or with those Drop x Meze 99 cans. This one I know something about, so I'm more including this as information than anything, but if y'all know of something better for record-listening for around the $200-$300 mark, I'm all... EARS! Other bits and bobs: Look, I'm not in the market to spend hundreds of bucks for fraction-of-a-percent improvements, but if you know of something that doesn't even appear to be on my radar, I'm here to learn and start creating a shopping list, so let's hear it! Thank you for your time, and your advice! Thomas

Aug 12, 2022
Records and record players produce low quality audio. High noise floor, lossy, low bit depth, and they degrade over time. If you want high quality audio, avoid records, and avoid the advice of anyone who says they produce high quality audio. If you want the expensive hobby and the ritual of records and don't care about audio quality, go for it (and keep using your tube amp while you're at it if you don't care about audio quality). The Mezes are garbage headphones, avoid, nightmare bass cannons. Avoid the the HE4xx too, lifeless cans. I can't vouch for the 5xx. Avoid the Dekoni Blue even if you want planars, also nightmare bass cannons. Your AKGs are good, Sennheisers are also good and the open back models fit your price range. Audiotechnica makes good headphones within that price range, they're low quality and you'll want to replace the uncomfortable pads, but it doesn't matter since they are at a good price point.
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