Another (sortof) vinyl fan here
The very first time I heard a record played back i literally could not wipe the smile off my face. I was fascinated that it was possible to get sound like that off of something that is so simple, and requires no electronics to produce.
I cant honestly say that it sounds better than cd's because with the equipment I have it just doesnt. Only my records that i bought new can come close, and I can listen to and be quite content but if they are not kept clean and in pristine condition its just a battle.
Heres a pic of the tables. The real table (the black one) is a Sansui SR-838 from the late 70's I think which weighs something like 35 lbs and has the really nice gloss black finish. I got this table from the lab at my college a couple years ago and just needed to have the strobe sensor in the motor cleaned. Put a grado black on it and away I went! I also replaced those crappy rca cables with something a little better. I had to replace the feet on it with the rubber ones that came with my M80's (thanks axiom! :D) and since the original ones that wore out were a spring contratption I put it all on a custom made African mahogany air mass isolation platform.
To the left is my Record cleaning table. The way it works is you put the record down, There is a small shop vac hooked up to the arm that swings out and I like to vaccume it once, then wash the record with a clean microfiver car wax applicator pad and my mixture of alcohol and water then vacuume the water off and keep spinning the record (by hand) with the vaccume on until its pretty much dry. Then flip over and repeat on the other side. I built the table part for it and salvaged a motor and platter off a cheapo table so I would have something to spin it on then the arm is a vaccume attachment I modified by pluggung the end after cutting part of it off then cutting a slot in the bottom for the air and actually its like it was specifically designed just for that purpose with the curves it has. The mount for the vaccume arm is part off a drill, the part that attaches the removable handle. Its really quite genious
I dont really play records that much and only have about 10 or so that are in good enough shape to really be able to enjoy but I still enjoy the occasion when I play one or two.