The vinyl resurgence brings back more than old records. For many, it also brings an old turntable out of mothballs, from the attic or from eBay. For both newbies and returning fans, it’s brought back a world of newly relevant accessories, including furniture, that have been largely dormant since the CD era.
The furniture is often an afterthought for the turntable enthusiast, or given last consideration, even though it can have a substantial effect on performance quality and record wear. Too many newbies (and not a few prodigal vinyl heads) give barely a thought to placement and figure a turntable is like any other component; they can put it anywhere it’ll fit and work. Worse, the “entertainment center” options that have dominated the market ever since home theater became a thing rarely, if ever, have a spot for the all-important turntable. What to do?
The answer is a purpose-designed turntable rack. Besides the necessary advantages of stability, proper level and isolation from vibrations and resonance, nothing will bring back the gestalt of analog more vividly than seeing one in your listening room again. A recent exchange of systems between rooms in our home made a new turntable rack a necessity, and for this I turned to the Pangea Audio Vulcan turntable stand.
The Vulcan turntable stand comes in two sizes and several finishes. The base version finished in black ($129) stands 27.5” tall, giving you a platform for the table, a shelf for a component below and enough storage to hold 100 LPs. Another $10 gets you optional finishes in Rosenut or Espresso, or for a tech-forward look, a carbon fiber finish. The Vulcan also comes in a four-shelf version standing 41” tall and holding 200 LPs for $175.95, with optional finishes going for $199.90. All versions offer the same width (23.75”) and depth (18”) designed specifically for turntables and vinyl. In the mainstream A/V furniture market, this simple vertical geometry has been out of style since TVs went widescreen 20 years ago.
The rack came perfectly packed with all parts clearly marked and identifiable. The assembly requires no tools at all – you simply screw the supplied bolts into the tubing, put the shelves in place, then screw in the next section of tubing and shelf until you’re done. Even if you’re Ikea-phobic, putting this this stand together is a snap. The whole process took less than half an hour from start to finish.
Once it’s assembled, the most critical fine tuning comes from the leveling. Proper level is reason #1 why sticking a turntable on top of a book case or end table is not a good solution. A tilted turntable will put extra and uneven stylus wear on delicate vinyl grooves. This can be immediately audible (bad) or permanently audible in the long run, because your LPs were tracked improperly (worse). An inexpensive bubble level will let you set front to back and side by side level properly, and can be had for less than $10 at any hardware store. Consider it your first analog accessory.
Because level is so important, the Vulcan TT stand allows each of the four coupling legs connected to your floor to be individually adjusted for height. If you’re placing your stand against a wall, you can be pretty sure the rear of the rack will be at least slightly higher than front. That’s because floors tend to warp least at the junction of walls and bow more as you move away. The amount of tilt that you’ll need to fix is usually a matter of fractions of an inch, but don’t let that fool you, they really matter. If you live in an older building, the adjustment could be as much as an inch or more.
Making these adjustments on the Vulcan stand is simply a matter of rotating the provided spikes at the bottom of the rack. The spikes will nicely anchor the rack to a carpet; for hard floors, four protective discs are included. In my room, the rack needed about a half an inch of general elevation in front, and a bit more than that on one front post. The spikes are knurled for ease of fine adjustment.
The Vulcan TT stand is impressively rigid and sturdy, particularly in consideration of its modest price. The lower storage shelves are strong enough to hold 80 lbs. without bowing, as is the top shelf where the turntable sits. The sturdiness is evidenced by the density of the MDF used for the shelves – they are more than half an inch thick and rock solid for the knock-knock test. The design uses cool metal cross braces along the side that further contribute to the rigidity and the stand’s ability to attenuate vibration.
When it comes to turntables, the unwanted vibration comes from two sources. First, a nearby speaker or subwoofer easily transfers sound pressure to the surfaces where the turntable sits. In many cases this can be plainly audible as distortion, and in the case of low bass notes, poor isolation can even cause feedback. Then there’s the problem of walking on the floor while the record is playing (never mind dancing), where vibrations can be painfully obvious. This is why it’s hard to take seriously the slew of hipster turntable “solutions” that abound on the web. Not even a professional isolation mat will have a chance against vibrations from the floor. The Vulcan kept the play quiet and isolated even in my 40-year old dwelling.
When it comes to a turntable rack, function is as important as form, and the Vulcan has both of them going for it. It feels and sits rock solid, its aesthetics easily pass the spouse acceptance factor and it’s bargain priced to boot. In less than half an hour my living room was transformed, and the storage shelves give me plenty of space for future LP purchases.
Turntables are back. So are spin-cleaners, stylus gauges and carbon fiber brushes, among other doodads and tweaks. Consider the turntable stand as one of the most important among these. And consider the Vulcan TT as an easy, attractive, effective and economical option that delivers everything you’d hope for from it. Enthusiastically recommended and HRAC-approved.