So, You Are a Vinyl Addict! Me too! We love our LPs and even though they may have some surface noise – tics and pops, as long as they don’t scratch it may be OK. Often in the store, I will put on an album cut in the 60’s-70’s like The Beatles or even Buddy Holly and get lost in the music. I am amazed at how good these albums can sound. It is also amazing how proper record care can make these albums sound better and keep them so and you don’t have to break the bank to do it. Here are a few ideas in keeping your vinyl in good shape.
Cleaning: Properly cleaning your vinyl when you first get it is number one in my books, New or Used. Why? New records do sound better as proper cleaning gets out any vinyl release agent that’s left in the bottom of the groove. This agent will trap dust particles etc. but also seems to add rather a muddiness to the sound. After cleaning a new album with a good automatic cleaner or a manual cleaner like Spin-Clean Vinyl Bath, the sound difference is quite amazing. Old albums usually sound quite amazing when properly cleaned as not only does the cleaner get rid of vinyl release agents and the gum that has further collected at the bottom of the groove but it also cleans finger prints, dust, hair and general goo that collects on the LP over time. The great thing about these cleaners is that after an album is cleaned, in most cases, if the album is properly stored, all that is needed to keep the album clean is an anti-static brush. Cleaning is also necessary for your stylus or needle. Dust particles etc can fall on your LP and even during play. As the stylus is the point of contact with the LP, dust particles and fluff can build up on the needle. You will need a small brush with very fine bristle to keep the needle clean. When using the stylus brush, always move the brush from back to front.
Storage: Don’t Stack like this person did! Always make sure that your vinyl LPs are stored Vertically, not horizontally as shown. LPs are not flat, the thickness of the label can force your vinyl to form a small “arch” due to weight. Store them vertically! Don’t store them in a garage or an area blest with high humidity. Moisture will create mildew which will rot the cover and forms mold on the LP. Proper LP sleeves, both inner and outers sleeves are recommended. Mobile Fidelity makes one of the best, it is more costly but completely anti-static which will limit smears and surface wear as the LP is removed from or inserted in the inner sleeve.
Turntable Set-up: Folks, this is truly vital to the health of your LP. A properly set up turntable ensures the stylus is tracking the grooves of the record in the exact spot that it should with the correct tracking force for the stylus. This ensures minimal record wear and simply better sound. Tracking Force is also vital, remember that a stylus tracking in a groove at about 1.5 g has an actual force of about 20 tons per sq. in. If this stylus is too heavy, undue force is put on the record creating wear and will damage the tip/cantilever. A stylus tracking too lightly will not allow the stylus to reach the optimum contact point in the groove and can actually chip the groove walls. You can do it yourself, but it is best to take your turntable to a dealer who has the tools and expertise to properly set it up.
Stylus wear. It is very important to keep track of your needle. Most good stylii will last to about 1500 hours or about 2500 albums, maybe more if good care is taken of turntable set-up, needle cleaning etc. A worn stylus will not just impact on the sound but create wear on your LP. Remember, the stylus is the contact point for your LP music system. If it is not cared for you may damage your record collection. Good habits are essential for caring for your music system. Keeping your albums clean and in low humidity. Storing them vertically, Making sure your turntable is optimal are all good practices in keeping your sound sensational!
Thanks for listening!