How To: Care For & Protect Your Vinyl Records
- Sep 20, 2016
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In this, our first entry in the Spin Care How To series, we look at the basics of how to care for and get the most out of your vinyl record collection.
So, you've got a turntable, an amp and some speakers, and you're starting to buy some vinyl records. What next?
First of all, you need to look at the condition of the records you are buying - Are you buying New or Second Hand records?
If buying New, then you should expect your record to be clean and ready to play.
There is an argument that cleaning new records is important, due to the release agent used when pressing records, but as a beginner, this isn’t life and death (not yet).
If you are buying Used records, then you will almost certainly need to clean them before they are played. Depending on their age, and how they have been looked after, records can have dust, dirt, mould, paper residue and many other contaminates in the grooves and on the surface.
Anything that interferes with your stylus’ ability to make a good contact with the grooves of your record will not only deteriorate the sound, but also reduce the life of your stylus.
You are essentially asking your stylus to run through mud, or even treacle by asking it to track through dirty records. It can do it, but it won't perform well, and it will get worn out!
We recommend a good quality record cleaning fluid (see as the one below) and cleaning cloth to remove as much dirt out of the grooves as possible and maximise the quality of audio playback.
Once you have clean records, you need to look at how you will store them;
Are you putting your clean and shiny record back into a discoloured paper sleeve that has seen better days?
Is the sleeve clean and free of any dirt or debris?
As vinyl collectors ourselves, we do not use paper or cardboard sleeves for our records. This is for several reasons;
Paper sleeves can disintegrate over time, leaving paper deposits and residue in the grooves of the record.
Paper sleeves can be quite rough to the touch, almost abrasive at times. This can scratch your record when they are taken in and out of the sleeve.
Cardboard sleeves in particular can be very tight, which increase the friction and possibility of damage.
We recommend the use of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) sleeves, such as our Spin Care Premium Series 12” Sleeves or Mobile Fidelity Original Master Sleeves.
When compared to paper sleeves, HDPE is soft to the touch, naturally anti static and won’t scratch your records when you use them.
Vinyl records are a premium product, with a premium price tag, so you would be wise to offer them premium protection.
As the time of writing, the top 10 best selling single Vinyl LPs were offered by Amazon at an average of £17.34 (Source - Amazon.co.uk, 20th September 2016) so an investment of 30-50 pence for a high quality sleeve could well be a wise investment for your vinyl for the future.
If you have clean records, and a suitable means of storing them, you’re almost there.
The last things to consider would be an anti-static record cleaning brush and a stylus cleaner.
Cleaning brushes are used to remove any dust / light debris on your record before you play them, thus keeping your records clean.
They come in velvet pads and carbon fibre brush styles, and can be had for a few pounds so they won’t break the bank. You can also get dual action brushes, which cost a little more, but offer a combined velvet and carbon fibre brush.
Dust is everywhere, all of the time, and these brushes are very effective at removing it. They can also dissipate static on your record, which can reduce those unwanted pops during playback.
A stylus cleaner & preserver will ensure that any remaining dust that builds up on your stylus is removed regularly.
Our personal recommendation, based on years of personal and professional use, is the widely acclaimed Vinyl Passion Dust Buster Stylus Cleaner & Preserver.