$14,000 turntable won’t wear out your vinyl. What a deal.

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Does this look like an old Betamax player to you? Photo: ELP Japan
Does this look like an old Betamax player to you? Photo: ELP Japan

If you’ve got an extra $14,000 to $18,500 sitting around, you might consider grabbing yourself one of these bad boys from Japanese manufacturer ELP.

The ELP Laser Turntable promises the best in fidelity when playing your precious vinyl records because it uses a laser, not a needle, to decode the music that’s been cut into your LPs.

This, says the company, allows the audio device to read information deep in the grooves of all your old and new records, something a needle alone can’t do. An added bonus is that a laser will never scrape your record like a needle does.

“Audio information read by the laser is 10 microns below the shoulder,” says the ELP website. “Therefore, the laser is picking up audio information which never been touched or possibly damaged by a needle. It plays the virgin audio information on the groove without any digitization.”

So, basically, you’re buying a big CD player. Wow.

There are three models of the ELP Laser turntables, with the low- and mid-range versions running $14,000 and $17,000, respectively. These will play 7-, 10- and 12-inch records. The high-end model supports 8-, 9- and 11-inch records as well. The higher-end models also support 78 RPM speeds, a must if you’re an audiophile record collector of older discs.

The laser only reads from black vinyl records, unfortunately, since lasers are made of light, and transparent or colored discs tend to let light pass through.

However, using a non-needle to listen to old or damaged recordings might be just the ticket. Plus, the laser tech lets you skip tracks, go forward and backward, and shuffle your music off a vinyl disc the same way your CD player does. Only this one costs way more and takes up a ton more space. Hmmm.

There’s more detail at the ELP website, so if you’re seriously into audio geekery, give it a look.

For me, these are seriously interesting to look at, but not to touch. I wouldn’t want to have to buy one.