I thought this question was pretty obviously not on topic, but opinions seem to differ.



The answer you'd give someone wanting to be a turntablist, and to someone who just wants to listen to music, are completely different. For creative DJing you want variable speed, bidirectional needles, rapid start and stop, etc. For listening to records you need none of this.

This question is explicitly only about listening to music. Hence if you have an answer aimed at musicianship, you wouldn't be answering the question.

Hence, for me, it's off topic.

You might argue that a Hi-Fi is a tool for musical appreciation, and that musical appreciation is part of being a musician. But even in that case, this question is analogous to "my local library stocks musical scores -- how do I apply for a library card".

I'm surprised not to see a "home entertainment" SE, where this would fit fine.

  • However I have updated the question and suggest it could be re-opened.
    – slim
    Jul 8 '14 at 11:38

Clearly, the questioner is only going to listen to vinyl records. It's also very basic, a quick google should turn up answers enough. Just as questions about how to use your microwave (cryptic enough to warrant a question) probably isn't going to fly on Stack Overflow, I don't think this have is on topic here (if we are looking to build a build a community of musicians, rather than a place where all music related questions are welcome).

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    a quick google should turn up answers enough I don't think that's a very good argument to use here, in a SE Q&A site. We are supposed to be what google returns as result! Jul 6 '14 at 21:28
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    I think we should be able to see through the wording and unimportant specifications. The questioner tells us that he wants to listen to vinyl records as a hobby, so his final intention is not related to musical practice or performance BUT the question is relevant to the site, it's just that his situation is not. That question can be useful to DJs, people wanting to sample vinyls, people that want to include a turntable in their performance (not necessarily as a DJ) or practice (play alongs come to my mind). Jul 6 '14 at 21:39
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    In other words, I think the question is on-topic, but the extra information the asker provides camouflages it as off-topic. Listening to music is not musical practice or performance, right? But turntables have more uses than "listening to music as a hobby". They can be part of both musical performance and practice. The question is not only relevant, but has the potential to be very useful to a wide array of musicians. Jul 6 '14 at 21:42
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    @JCPedroza: I see that "How do I connect my DVD to my stereo" could be made to fit too, but I don't see us becoming a consumer audio product site will do us any good. Also, wouldn't this mindset make all questions on Music Fans SE fit here too? I am for widening the scope, but going outside of it will just scatter focus, in my mind. People who ask these types of questions will likely not be an active part of the community, and the inclusion of such questions will drag the "wrong" crowd. Hooking up a stereo is something a musician will do, but I don't see it as part of making music. Jul 7 '14 at 9:05
  • When I say "useful to musicians" I'm saying "useful to musicians in the music creation or practice process". Your DVD example (which for the record I think is a straw man and a false equivalence) might be too localized, but a question regarding routing options to use a stereo as a speaker (which indirectly would include the DVD!) would be a good fit. Answers would include Mics (XLR), Guitar/Bass (TRS), samplers/cdplayers/some keyboards (RCA), etc. I don't think all consumer audio questions are a fit, but some certainly are. Jul 7 '14 at 15:28
  • @JCPedroza: Not a straw man, I might use the DVD to watch instructional videos. This might be useful to other musicians. Jul 7 '14 at 16:24
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    It's also different setting up your vinyl player as a consumer, or in another setting. I'd have no problem with e.g. "How do I wire my DJ setup (2 turntables and a microphone, yo)?" Jul 7 '14 at 16:28
  • It's a straw man and a false equivalence because it's not even similar to the question you are comparing it to. One is about building blocks of a system, the other is about routing and connections. As I said, we can share scope with other activities, it doesn't mean that all "consumer electronic" questions are on-topic, but some of them will. As I said in the other comment, the DVD example has its place here, just not as a "DVD example" because it would be too localized. Routing methods to use the stereo as a speaker, in the other hand, is on-topic and indirectly covers DVDs (and much more) Jul 7 '14 at 17:21
  • And that's another way you are building a false equivalence and a straw man: you are carving a localized and heavily particular example to compare it to a general one. A more accurate comparison would be the routing stereo as a speaker/amp. Jul 7 '14 at 17:25
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    @JCPedroza: The question originally was about what constitutes a turntable, then Bob edited it, but just the title. Why is a vinyl player less localized than a DVD player (remember, the original question was only about the vinyl player. Not that it matters that much to me. Connecting your stereo equipment isn't, and shouldn't be on topic, in my opinion.) Jul 7 '14 at 19:36
  • The edit was to make the title more explicit, and the edit to the content was just about typos and minor wording: the concept and idea remains untouched. (That's why I must insist, you guys should be able to see past those unimportant details, you give way too much weight and credit to them). Jul 7 '14 at 20:08
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    This discussion extended more than enough for us to explain our points. We'll have to agree to disagree on this. Jul 7 '14 at 20:10
  • The question as originally posted essentially was the same as asking how to hook up a CD player to your home stereo. Jul 16 '14 at 3:58
  • @BraddSzonye: I agree, hence my DVD comparison. Which was apparently a straw man. Anyway, consensus is pretty clear as far as this type of questions is concerned. Jul 16 '14 at 7:12

Although I have voted to close off-topic posts in the past, I voted to leave-open and reopen this question. Yes, it may be rather straightforward, but I think it is valid, and think that we're being a little mean-spirited closing it. Leaving it open wouldn't create undue noise on the site.

Although the OP may only be trying to find out about record-players, I still think the question has merit for several reasons:

  • The specific equipment used for a good record player and audio setup has similarities to equipment used for live performance with other instruments or audio equipment.
  • Although the OP may not be interested in using a turntable as a live performance instrument, many musicians do, whether as DJs or in many styles of popular or contemporary (art) music.
  • Why not let somebody ask a question related to the process of listening to music? I spend about half my time as a musician listening to music. (Okay, I haven't used a record player for years, but hey…) I doubt we would close questions related to reading about music...
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    Anyone that has a little more than a superficial interest will find these things out by him/herself. I don't think "How do I connect my iPhone to an external sound source?" is a good question either. It's beside the topic, and it invites lazy questions. Jul 6 '14 at 19:50
  • Don't get me wrong @MeaningfulUsername, I'm not saying that I like this kind of question, but I don't see that it does any harm to be asked here. Even if it is a simple (or even lazy) question, it might produce some thought-provoking answers. I generally agree with the close votes made by regular users; I just thought this could have been given a chance…! Jul 6 '14 at 19:54
  • I very rarely vote to close these days, but here I thought it was quite clean cut to close. But it wasn't, and I was interested in the motivations to keep it, and if we should make some scope change to open up for these type of questions. I agree that not-so-great questions might still generate very great answers. Jul 6 '14 at 19:57
  • Yes, I'm glad you raised it as a meta-question (if you hadn't, I was going to later). +1 for the question, BTW. Jul 6 '14 at 19:58
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    @MeaningfulUsername Anyone that has a little more than a superficial interest will find these things out by him/herself It bothers me so much that you and some other people keep using this or similar arguments. People, we are supposed to be the site where people find out things by themselves! We are that site where people will go when doing research. We are what should appear in the search engine's results! We are THE database of answers If you have that question about vinyls (and you can as a musician), you google it, and you find the answer here. Jul 6 '14 at 21:46
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    @MeaningfulUsername I agree with your view. The OP didn't have the intention of using the turntable in a way that is relevant to this site, but that doesn't mean that the question is off-topic. That's just him! The question is relevant to both musical practice and performance, and could be very useful to many musicians. The intentions of the OP shouldn't matter, but that's what got the question closed. Jul 6 '14 at 21:51
  • @JCPedroza: So there is no limit in scope, or laziness? A reasonable effort should be made for the question to be useful. This seems to be so basic as to not warrant a question. Check out one single vinyl player and you basically have the answers. I even answered the quesion in one of the comments, so dude got what he was after anyway. Being elitist is not the answer to building a community, but come-any-and-all won't serve us the best either. Jul 7 '14 at 9:11
  • @MeaningfulUsername Limit in scope: Yes, of course there should be a limit in scope. I see where you are coming, drawing that limit is not simple, since a musician can make music with anything! The vinyl question seems to be on the limits for some people, I just disagree with that perception. Jul 7 '14 at 15:32
  • @MeaningfulUsername Limit in laziness: 1) Equipment needed for vinyl playback is not a trivial dynamic. It was not a simple question. There are many things that can go wrong if you don't know what you are doing. 2) As long as the question is clear, I don't see why you should judge the questioner. 3) We are the site where people come to get answers, a "non lazy" person would have investigated first, right? And guess where he could have gotten the answer? HERE! In that context, there is no such thing as a "lazy question" in a site like this. Jul 7 '14 at 15:37
  • @JCPedroza: A non-audiophile vinyl player is not rocked science. The audiophile stuff will eliminate itself due to price tags. Checking out even one consumer grade turntable should answer all questions. I don't think we should provide all answers, some things should be read in a manual. There is a limit in scope, and a limit to useful questions. We draw the lines at different places. Luckily, we don't have a big problem with these type of questions, so regardless of this debate, from my viewpoint we're safe... Jul 7 '14 at 16:22
  • @MeaningfulUsername It's not rocket science, but it's not trivial either. You need to know about stylus, needles, how earth connection can get rid of noises, speeds, handling, types (belt, direct-drive), and much more. None of that is answered by "checking out even one consumer grade turntable". Also, not all those things come in the manual, and manuals are not always available (old model, second hand, etc). Again, I don't know what you think of SE sites or why you get so defensive about being informative from the roots, but we are supposed to be the manual. Jul 7 '14 at 17:32
  • @JCPedroza: You might need info on those things, but most often not. Then those issues will give rise to specific questions, even further off topic here. I don't think expert sites should be to explain the basics of the basics ("How do I produce sound with a piano?"), and here we disagree, obviously. I believe that if you are interested in something, you make at least some effort to gather information, instead of going to an SE page and waste people's time. I have no problem with alienating people who do not make this minor effort. Jul 7 '14 at 19:31
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    @MeaningfulUsername You keep building straw men and false equivalences to refute my points (turntable and vinyl system dynamics are in no way as trivial as "how do I produce sound with a piano" ), and I can only handle a handful of those before my patience ends. Judging from your comments, you either didn't really got my point or built absurd examples just to refute on their base. I think we already had more than enough space to give our ideas, and in general, we'll have to agree to disagree. Jul 7 '14 at 20:13

If the question and answers can be useful to create, perform, or practice music, then I think the intentions of the asker are not important.

Imagine someone comes and asks about the harmonic content of different types of keyboard and pianos, and how materials, shapes, and acoustics in general affect the tone of it. Then he specifies that he wants to know because he plans to eat a piano with a very rich harmonic content.

His intentions are gourmet and not relevant to this site but the question and potential answers are on-topic (as on-topic as it gets) and can be very useful to musicians.

We can share scope with other professions, hobbies, activities; and it is not a bad thing.

If the off-topic specifications still bother you, I think a better approach would be to edit out the irrelevant or not important parts.

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    Imagine someone comes and asks about drainage pipes. Someone votes to close, but someone else objects: "drainage pipes can be used as a percussion instrument". I think that's closer to the situation here. You could answer with info about using a drainpipe as a percussion instrument -- but it's not answering the question asked, and the question asked is not on topic.
    – slim
    Jul 8 '14 at 10:00
  • @Slim The example was to illustrate that intentions can be unimportant, and we should be able to see through them. Regarding scope, I don't think pipes are really comparable to vinyl turntables, as the later are already widely considered an instrument and are very commonly used to create, produce, perform, and practice music every day. I'm not saying that everything is on-topic (which I clarified several times on this thread already), I'm saying that we share scope with other activities, and that's not a bad thing. Jul 8 '14 at 15:53
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    @JCPedroza A better example is a computer. A computer can be used to make music, but just because a computer can make music does not mean all questions about a computer are on topic here. The item itself should not deiced if something is on or off topic, but the question itself.
    – Dom Mod
    Jul 8 '14 at 23:06
  • @Dom And there is nothing in my answer suggesting otherwise. My example is about independence between scope and intentions, not about scope definition. Not sure what you and slim smoked ;) Please read the very first line, the one just before the example. Your example is not better because it has absolutely nothing to do with what I'm saying (and neither the "pipes" example of slim). Using it on this context doesn't even make sense. You guys are lost. Jul 8 '14 at 23:24
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    @JCPedroza The question is about listening to a record and what is need to do it based on the content. That is as on topic as asking about listening to a cd and what is need to do it. The content tells what the question is about. Just because some DJs use it to preform does not mean this question is relevant at all.
    – Dom Mod
    Jul 8 '14 at 23:29
  • @Dom You keep talking about things I'm not talking about. It's funny that you guys are trying to define the scope of this site, but you can't even identify the scope of one simple argument. I give up. Jul 8 '14 at 23:33
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    The problem is that the linked question doesn't lead to something that can be used to create music. An entry-level turntable is not a musical instrument. If the linked question were even remotely about live performance or composition or DJing or something on-topic I could see making an argument in support of it. But I don't think this argument is a reasonable response to a question about consumer stereo equipment. Jul 16 '14 at 4:04

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