While there are few things better than coming home with a fat stack of old records after a day spent scouring garage sales and antique shops, sometimes your ‘black gold’ sounds more like a piece of plastic. Don’t throw out your vinyl just yet though, the tips in this blog can help you make them sound fresh again!
#1 – Clean, Don’t Clean Out
So, unlike any unsuspecting sellers of used vinyl, you’ve decided to keep, clean or expand your collection. Unfortunately, vinyl records are notoriously skilled at collecting dust, and essentially function as a magnet every time you take one out of its protective, anti-static sleeve. You can use a carbon-fibre brush or anti-static cloth to wipe most of the dust off the surface, then apply a little special cleaning fluid or a little dishwashing soap mixed with distilled water before carefully wiping each one down again. Don’t forget to move with the direction of the groove and let the record dry for half an hour before taking it for a spin.
#2 – Off the Record
So, since dust is an absolute killjoy for any music lover, you don’t want to forget to give you record player a good clean once in a while. Better yet, consider a dust cover! As the name suggests, these covers keep any dust from getting to your record player, and come in fabric form as a cheaper alternative.
#3 – Stacking Needles
One of the key components of the cartridge inside your player is the stylus (or, needle). It reads the grooves and is the starting point for the sound reproduction, picking up the music from the sides of the groove rather than the bottom. Take a look at the image included below and you’ll see that when zoomed in, the groove actually looks like a physical waveform. The average lifespan of a needle is roughly 500 hours, with higher-quality needles lasting up to two or even four times as long. Either way, if you were lucky enough to find your dad’s old record player in the attic, sure enough you’re going to have to replace the stylus. If you don’t, you might ruin your records, especially because it can be difficult to tell that it’s a worn-out needle right away.
#4 – Cut Out
During your quest to find the holy grail of needles, you’ll quickly have to go down one of two paths: spherical needles or elliptical needles. The way you use your turntable is pretty important for this mere half centimetre long protrusion, as casual listeners probably won’t use their turntables for scratching. Basically, it comes down to two shapes: spherical and elliptical. The first is mainly suited for DJs, the second option is better for casual listeners.
A high-quality speaker system, amplifier and turntable can go a long way when you want to boost the sound quality of your player. But looking after your collection and giving it a bit of extra love in the form of a good clean never hurts. Also, don’t forget to wipe any dust off the platter before you put a record on!
Ok, that’s enough for now. Go enjoy your music! And if you know other vinyl-cleaning tips, please share any in a comment!