Starting a Classical Vinyl Music Collection

Don't have much so I'm wondering where to begin.



i assume you know something about classical music and know what you like?


I would start by perusing the catalog like on Music Direct. Identify an audiophile recording that appeals to you, and a couple regular recordings. Buy these. This can help set the bar for a great sounding album (there is variation in audiophile record but this is likely to be great). This will give you some idea of what recordings should sound like. This should also tell you if you should be collecting audiophile recordings or regular.

Ultimately, it is fun to buy used from record stores, but that requires the ability to look at an album and assess its condition. Classical is the hardest to buy used because of the ever present quiet passages and huge dynamic range. If you get into used, then you are probably going to need to buy a record cleaning machine. This is where things get more expensive, complicated, and fun.


I also recommend research with AllMusic. That will help you choose and understand different recordings,  composers, and conductors.



Well, it really depends on your budget. My first was a VPI. It layed down the cleaning fluid and vacuumed it up. It does a good job, and is relatively inexpensive, but it sounds like a 747 landing, and is quite large. I now own a German Nelly… elegant, effective, quiet, and small, and cost… two or three times the VPI. But there are many on the market. It will depend on your budget. My VPI lasted for twenty years… so it is a long termed investment, worth choosing wisely. Ultrasonic are a mixed bag, more complex.

I would ask Bard (Google AI), given your constraints and then research those on Stereophile and The Absolute Sound. Also, both these mags evaluate lots of classical albums for performance and Sonic’s.. I think they both have done the hundred most important classical albums somewhere. I would research the hundred most important classical recordings online to find the right albums to start with

Classical Vinyls seems to be everywhere and cheap, thrift stores


if you cant afford a RCM then get a nice carbon fiber brush

I've actually have a ton of old classical vinyl, but the're pretty beaten up. Lots of static and pops.

I've got a local HI FI shop and they have a klaudio record cleaner.

They charge $4.00 a disc.

Going to give it a try.

Anyone familiar with the Klaudio?

Well, at $4 / album it’ll take a while to amortize the $6,500 for the cleaner.

I think it is a great idea to try their cleaning. Some albums are “cleanable”… as in it makes a huge difference… some not. With experience you can learn to tell by looking at them (well, most of the time).


One of the major variables involved in what used vinyl sounds like is your turntable / cartridge. There is an huge drop in noise with an audiophile table. Part from the table and part from the cartridge… the stylist most older records were played on old record players with big stylists… so a high end cartridge drops down into the groves further and they can sound much better as long as they are clean(ed).


What is your system? There is a place under your ID to put photos. Very helpful for us to understand your system and where you are coming from.


I'm kind of in the same boat, although I just started with some Mahler, not for any particular reason other than I had liked what I'd heard at some point. I also have quite a few modern (avant garde?) composers that I've never really listened to so I just put them all through the VPI cleaner - it is indeed loud, but it does a pretty fantastic job. I just use earplugs when I am in cleaning mode. Looking forward to some headphone listening tonight.

Where to start?  Apply the same as CDs.

Classical music?  Gosh.  Sooo much to choose.  Genre.  Composers, Orchestras, Conductors, solo artist, style,,,,,, Movies!  Honestly, I don't like ALL of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven... scores.  I have favorites amongst them. Older record labels.   EMI. Dusch Gramaphone.  Older Living Stereo.  RCA  ??? red label?

Search Classical Music Classics on the web.  Get familiar with some names.

Stream or Youtube  those selections to see if they are to your liking.

Listen to classicals on National Public Radio. 

Search record labels like Mobile Fidelity, Sheffield, Telarc..  They probably cherry pick their selection due to their investment into remastering, recoding techniques...

Look for Compilations.  One disk with different composers or selections.  Best Of _______.


Where? Thrift stores. garage sales, auctions.  Here, Agon!!!  Visually inspect them if you can.

Sit while doing auction searches.  Lessen the chance of injuring yourself when you fall by the prices.


Just another opinion but here are a few absolutely must haves, as long as they are quality recordings on quality pressings.  Keep in mind that there are many different interpretations of these and most classical pieces.  Hunt around and find the performances you like best.

Beethoven's 9th and 5th

Korsakov's Scheherazade

Pachelbel's Canon in D (lots of many versions & interpretations of this one but London Symphony Orchestra is a good one)

Debussy's La Mer

Mozart (anything by Mozart)

Rossini's Overture to William Tell

Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture

Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries




Do you know anything about Classical Music?  Your OP specifically mentions vinyl.

To me this implies that you know something about Classical Music, that this knowledge was acquired by other means (digital, radio, or performing it), and that you are wondering what is available specifically on vinyl.


  However, I suspect that what you meant to say was: 1) I only listen to vinyl 2) I know nothing about Classical Music, and what should I try?


  I suggest spending some time listening to a Classical Music Radio station to see what strikes your fancy.  Then perhaps stream a few different versions of the music you like, after identifying which recordings are available on vinyl.

  I could sit here all day and make specific composer recommendations, but it is a wide genre, and I am clueless as to what might light your fire

I see lots and lots of classical records for sale all the time for really low prices so it should be easy to do.

Half price book stores is where I built most of my used classical vinyl collection. Usually $3.50 each. Also got quite a few expensive reissues online. After a good cleaning I usually enjoy the originals more. 

I would start another way. There are mammoth collections of CD editions of Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven on Amazon. I mean dozens of discs for pennies a disc. Give them a listen, decide what you like and start your LP collections from there. 

Like this. Get them used on ebay even cheaper. You could rip them to digital too...


There are books on the subject, and lots of advice online regarding orchestras, conductors, their interpretations of the composers, tempo choices, and the sound quality of the recording.  The Penguin Guide is very useful.  But only you can say what moves you emotionally and intellectually.  Do you like the music of Vivaldi?  Of the Baroque masters, Bach is  supreme in my opinion, but maybe you will find Handel compelling, or Monteverdi?  One must reckon with Mozart, but pay attention to Haydn too.  Beethoven is the universally acknowledged Titan of the Western musical canon, but Schubert and Chopin are not to be ignored.  Some people flip for Wagner.  I love Brahms and Mahler, but Bruckner, I don’t get…etc.

Here are a few starter suggestions:

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons; JS Bach: The Musical Offering, Mass in Bm. Mozart: Clarinet Quartet, Gran Partita Serenade K.361, Piano Sonata K.331, Symphony #40 in Gm.  Beethoven: Symphony #3, 5, 9, Quartets Op.59, Piano Concerto #4, Waldstein Sonata, Moonlight Sonata. Schubert: The String Quintet in C, some Lieder sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, a  late Piano Sonata.  Chopin: Piano Sonata #3 by Emil Gilels on DG. Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, Symphony #4. Brahms: both Piano Concertos, Symphony #1, Violin Concerto.  Mahler: Symphony #2, for starters, #6 if you like that, and the rest if you are still enjoying.  Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra;  Stravinsky: The Rite Of Spring; Bartok: Concerto For Orchestra; Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; Varese: Ionisation, Equitorial on Nonesuch.

Don’t start

Get a streamer that has access BBC 3 and a Qobuz and Presto Music account.

On your death bed your not going to have to worry about your family having to get ride of a giant collection.

@jjbeason14   In the words of the The Highlander "There can be only one"  🤣

If you want to own some physical media, as I do, here is a great place to start your classical collection. In fact, with +/- 120 hours of playing time, you may never need to buy another classical cd/LP in your lifetime.  Fantastic addition to any music collection.


If you have satellite radio, listen to the classical station. They play a wide variety of composers and eras. Classical music ranges from sonatas to huge Mahler symphony’s and everything in between. And baroque to ultra modern. The great thing is you can find quality used vinyl at very affordable prices. If you buy something you don’t like you are only out a few dollars. 

I probably have 1,000 classical LPs.  I almost never listen to them.  I do have, and listen to classical CDs ripped to a streamer.  I MUCH prefer listening to classical digitally— no awkward breaks in programming, easy to find place in libretti when listening to opera, no ticks and pops during quiet passages, and most significantly, VASTLY greater selection of composers and performances (most legacy performances have been reissued digitally, very few new recordings have been issued on LPs since the early 1990s).  

I would never start out collecting classical music on LP.  Jazz, bluegrass, and other genres might be a different matter.  

Take a look at the Deutsche Grammophon Classical label; website and app:

Deutsche G Classical

There is a free app that allows you to explore the world of classical music through videos and recordings of performances.  This label is know for high quality vinyl and the top classical artists.

@larryi     +1  Collecting Classical/Romantic/Baroque or Opera recordings on vinyl can be challenging. Due to the quiet passages where ticks/pops, tape hiss and noise floor might become overtly distracting. My best advice is find as many sealed recordings as possible even with the slight risk of record warps. When considering used look for Columbia 6/Eye due to being very durable, many having Audiophile SQ and most important the legendary performances.

Thanks guys!

My system currently consists of a pair of B&W 630's, an old Denon 50 watt reciever (DRA-550) from the mid 80's,  and a Marantz 5004 cd player.  And a technics 1500c Turntable.

I honestly don't know much about classical music. I will say however that Bach is my favorite composer.


If you are going to get into used classical then you will need a way to clean them. Also, A lot of people do not know when you restore a record with a KLAudio or a Kirmus which is $1000 for the total kit or 250 records cleaned to you you can remove so many of those pops and clicks. If you have a fine line stylus it’s even better because you are playing in the area of the groove that has probably never been played. The cheapest is probably the Ortofon 2m bronze for $400. Try it in the store with the KLAudio. After cleaning play it on an elliptical and then a fine line. Most of those scratches or defects will not play anymore. I hope this helped

Thanks max and hsounds...

I'm using an Ortofon 2m blue cartridge...Will the bronze make a major difference?


Larryi I both like sacd , xrcd on classical. I know someone who prefer digital on classsical, I do like both equally. OP I listen on YouTube before I buy my records. Music Direct   Elusive disc , and Acoustic Sounds are my choices. They go on sale.

Live anywhere near me in Plainfield, NJ, 07062?

I have a lot of classical I will be parting with for very low price just to make shelf space. Lots in excellent shape. 4 store owners came, bought Jazz, Rock, didn’t even look at the classical.

It would be nice to move them to someone who wants them.

Anyone else nearby wanting classical?


ps, no matter where you live, I would encourage starting with inexpensive used. There is so much to learn, find what truly appeals to you, then collect, continue to learn, no use filling your shelves with 'great' music you will never listen to. 

which composer, era, symphony, conductor, small chamber, big orchestra, monster organ, .... which engineers, which labels, get a feel for it.

I learned about Jazz from a batch of around 50 mixed Jazz LP's my friend gave me. Knowing I liked Trombone, Red Garland, Earl Hines, Trios, Oscar Peterson, .... then with that start, every payday I went to Record Hunter, NYC a block from my office, buying new LPs at great prices, CD players had dropped in price, goodbye LPs.

Best recorded Bach choral music on vinyl is conducted by Helmuth Rilling. His cantatas, Passions, etc are the best recorded on vinyl.
Otherwise, in addition to Bach, just go through the alphabet: Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin for starters…for Chopin, I like Arrau and Francois as performers.
The above are probably the best: no need to even go to D

If you are interested in history ; it may be interesting to read about the era of those composers. This adds to the joy of classical music

For instance Friedrich the Great was a king and passionated by music.
He played flute and has composed concertos.


Lully was the music superintendent of the king Louis XIV


Minnesota Public Radio has an excellent classical music channel that you can stream from anywhere on the planet. They also have a web site with some free downloads, and an orchestra, chamber, and opera live stream schedule. You may have a local/regional classical station... There are a lot of compilations, box sets, etc.out there. Maybe try some playlists on your streaming? Browse on Discogs, and in local record stores, then stream to audition before buying. Prices for used classical music are low right now so there's not much risk in experimenting. There was a recent discussion on this forum how an individual could liquidate his collection. Deutsche Grammophon celebrated Beethoven's bi-centenial with an impressive list of box sets. Sebelius is a favorite, and Rossini, and Bizet (it took 60 yrs, but I'm coming around to opera). Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Mahler... You should identify your likes and dislikes, like you would with different styles of Rock or Jazz. It's not uncommon to own several versions of a composition, different conductors, different orchestras, even different venues. I have found classical lots on ebay that turned out ok, but there's always risk of duplication and clinkers (but I think most classical releases lead a better life...). Maybe you like Baroque, maybe Romantic, maybe 20th Century, maybe you like avant-garde... Maybe Finnish/Scandinavian, Pipe Organ (?). It might be a particular conductor, or record label.  I'm always on the look out for Deutsche Grammophon "tulip labels". Classical is a small part of my collection, but still bigger than my Polka section (I was a garage Band/ Punk Rock drummer), I enjoy the experiment and the journey, hopefully you will, too. There's no right or wrong, only that which appeals... and that which doesn't

I’d start with a few older pressings of preferred content, a few in good shape, and see how they strike you. Much different from CD/digital stream on your setup? If it seems promising, then find a new pressing / “audiophile” pressing of the same performance and see which you prefer, again, if difference is discernible to you. On a given system it might not be such a remarkable difference. Or to a given listener. Older stuff wouldn’t have been remastered, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your taste.

Record cleaner - they now have an acrylic disc for each side of the record label that both tighten together with screw knobs - it’s like a compressed dough-rolling pin you hold on either side of your record through the spindle hole. Silicone discs attached to each facing acrylic disc to keep water off the labels. Like corn-on-the-cob spike holders that waterproof the labels. Make sense? Anyway, it makes it so you can blast both sides / all grooves with high water pressure - the way they do it at pressing plants. The secret to clean grooves without paying much is permitting high water pressure. I prefer that route to a $4.50-per-record fee, but I’d also wager more than $4.50 that @ghdprentice machine gets less water on your countertop while in use.

Those Ortofon 2M cartridges are fun, and money well-spent IMO. Again, if your system lets you hear difference between models enough to justify the price hike between them.

x2 on the Half Price Books option. I bought many classical albums there for $1, many new sealed in the shrink, never opened by the person who’d bought them. That comment about family having to resell vinyl at a loss someday is potentially very real. I bought many a shrink wrapped record with a $2-5 “great deal” original promo sticker price tag, with Half Price’s little yellow $1 rectangle stuck on over it!

@larryi +1


  I had hundreds of classical lps in the mid eighties.  I was so tired of surface noise, static, dust, poorly judged side breaks , etc, that I thought CDs were a godsend.  I still prefer digital, but there are just a few lps from back in the day that aren’t available digitally and this is what I limit my lp purchases to.  My original collection was destroyed in a house flood at the dawn of the CD era

I like what I like, but hate to be stuck in a rut.  I'll buy mixed classical album sets from Ebay and try to get titles/composers I've never heard of.  Sometimes it's obvious why they are not widely known, and other times I am pleasantly surprised to find a new favorite.  For $3-$4 per album it's a worthwhile gamble. 

I have enjoyed Classical LPs for many years, and I am glad to hear from someone who is starting-out on this journey.  Around 1,000 years of music, and some of it is just fantastic (I also like rock, jazz, folk).  Welcome to the adventure...

Lately, I decided to thin-the-herd.  Send me a PM, and I am happy to send you a few for free (no strings attached).  Perhaps I have something that you want.  I will send them media-mail, so expect one to two weeks for delivery.  


Classical is the arguably the best genre to  collect used LP's.

Typically cared for, less in demand. Depending where you're at, Goodwill and record stores that bother with Classical will have gems for cheap.

50's and early 60's are the peak of the LP production.

Do your Classical music history homework. Learn about the genres and eras which will help you understand what it's all about.

Find/discover your top 5 composers and their "must have compositions."

Endless choices.

Brought 6 Classical and Sinatra Vinyl discs to the HI FI shop.

They used Klaudio cleaning machine

Cost me $24 no big deal, but there was almost no difference in sound quality.

Same static and pops.


Get an ultrasonic LP cleaner for sure.  Even when I clean new records, there is a bunch of vinly chips and dirt at the bottom of the bath when I clean them ultrasonically.

Especially you will need one if you expect to buy any used LPs (which has sometimes worked out great for me, sometimes not).

I don't use a mutl-thousand $$ unit.  I use a generic ultrasonic cleaner and an included LP mount that rotates the LPs through the claning bath.  Chinese units for about $250 incluiding everything.  Works great!

I still cannot believe how quiet the LPs play now. I would say eliminates 99% of snap/crackle/pop.

Check out vintage RCA Living Stereo classical (shaded dog and white dog) and Mercury Living Presence albums.  Recorded by great engineers like Lewis Layton and Robert Fine.  Recent SACDs of these records sound terrific.  Favorites of mine include Saint-Saens SYMPHONY No. 3 by the Boston Symphony/Charles Munch and Rimsky-Korsakov SCHEHERAZADE by Chicago Symphony/Fritz Reiner.  Enjoy!

In my adolescence when I caught the Classical Music bug I listened to the radio a lot and then would explore stuff that struck my fancy.  It should be easier to do this now with streaming, and much harder if one is sticking purely to vinyl as a playback medium. 
  The Music ought to be the first priority, and the playback medium second.  Once. You discover what you like,you can then seek out vinyl editions 

"I used the Ultra Sonic $6,499.99 Klaudio Cleaner with poor results"

No RCM will eliminate prior groove damage. If you can't "test play" a used LP, then it's simply  luck of the draw. There are used LP's that can look awful/superficial scuffs  but play fine or LP's that appear perfect and sound terrible. YMMV.

Depending on the stylus  profile, an LP may be noisy on a generic elliptical,yet silent on more advanced. Not always the case, but possible. 

I often find 50-60 year old Classical LP's, use the VERY LOW TECH Spin Clean and they play quite nice. I get those US cleaned and..close to absolute silence. 


jjbeason14 OP

348 posts


I used the Ultra Sonic $6,499.99 Klaudio Cleaner with poor results.



What @tablejockey stated is accurate. Buying used can = buying abused.

If the disc is not sealed in shrink wrap you can’t blame even the cheapest disc cleaner. 😉

If the disc is sealed in the shrink wrap, could still just as easily be poor pressing QC.

One other way to get rid of much surface noise is to put WD-40 spray on a non-abrasive cloth, then rub-transfer it onto the records.

I’ve seen it work amazingly well. I’ve never used that strategy, however. A hollow cantilever and a cartridge motor seem like a bad combo for spray, but I can’t confirm that.

Would be a disastrous approach in a house that particularly dusty or prone to pet hairs.

+1 for the Deutsche Grammophon LPs.  They did a Beethoven Bicentennial Collection around 1970.  I think it's 17 boxed sets.  You can find the whole set or various pieces for sale used on the internet.  They also show up used at half-price book stores.  I have the two sets of the string quartets.  High level performance and possibly the best sound available.  Unbelievable value.  You can find lots of fine artists on this label.