Caring for your vinyl
Vinyl Records have their own unique characteristics that many listeners prefer. However, this also comes with its own set of challenges and some extra maintenance!
On the one hand, well cared for records can last a lifetime and then some... On the other hand, poorly looked after records will quickly become worthless and unlistenable and may even cause damage to your stylus and turntable!
The following are some tips to keep your records in great condition for many years to come:
One of the most important things to do when collecting vinyl records is maintaining proper storage when they’re not in use. We always recomend storing your records vertically and away from extreme temperature or humidity changes to prevent warping. Never store or lay your records flat as this is a sure way to warp them over time.
Dust and dirt are an audiophiles worst enemy, and the best weapon here is prevention! Always store your records in their sleeve and place them inside the cover. The aim of the game is to keep the amount of time that a record is exposed to airborne dust and dirt particles to an absolute minimum. You can also give records an extra layer of protection by storing them in high quality outter sleeve (tip: this will also ensure your covers are protected and kept in the best condition possible!).
Second in the war against damaging dust and dirt is the inner sleeves that hold your record inside the cover. The paper sleeves that typically ship with records tend to degrade over time, are abrasive, and do little to protect the record from the build up of static electricity that can attract dust and dirt. The old plastic sleeves on many used LP's can also trap in moisture (they don't let the record breathe) and some can leak chemicals over time. The safest way to protect your records from dust and possible chemical reactions is to use rice paper or polyethylene lined sleeves. The lining of a poly sleeve is both soft on your records and keeps static to a minimum – good news for keeping the dust at bay and ensuring your records play like new!
It might seem obvious, but handling your records in the correct way is imperative to keeping them clean. If dust and dirt are the vinyl enthusiasts worst enemy and the best tactic is prevention, you’ll want to avoid getting them so dirty in the first place by keeping your mitts off those delicate grooves! The long and short of it is: don’t touch any part of the record which contains information. Instead, handle your record carefully by the edges and the inner label.
Additionally, be sure to use a carbon fibre brush to remove any surface dust carefully both before and after playing your record. If your turntable has a lid, it’s well worth closing it during playback to minimise the risk of airborne dust reaching the record surface.
Even with the utmost of care and the most meticulous of storage solutions, your records will occasionally benefit from a good clean. There are many opinions on how to clean vinyl records in the correct way, to the point where there is almost a pseudoscience surrounding the whole topic. There are, however, a few commonly listed techniques, which can help to restore the sonic quality of your records when dust and or dirt has become problematic!
Cleaning becomes particularly important if you buy your records used; as dirt, oily finger prints and dust will no doubt be present – all of which will cause wear and damage to your stylus over time.
The first method is to use a manual record cleaning machine, such as the Disco Antistat Record Cleaning Kit. Compact machines, such as this require some investment up front, but can also save you a lot of time and effort – particularly if you have a large vinyl collection. They work by literally giving your records a bath using cleaning solution and distilled water. All you have to do is gently spin the record through the cleaning solution for 30 secnds to a minute (then change the direction of rotation and repeat!) while the built-in brushes do the hard work of gently lifting dirt. Be sure to dry the record well, either by using a fan or a microfibre (or other lint free) cloth. DO NOT put a damp record back in it's sleeve as this may cause mould to grow and don't play your record until properly dry!
If you’re on a budget, you can still get great results with manual cleaning methods – albeit more time-consuming. Place your record on a soft, lint-free surface and apply a cleaning spray or solution (this is usually a mixture of record cleaning solution and distilled water- avoid alcohol based cleaners). Tap water should be avoided as it can contain mineral deposits or lime scale that can damage your record. Once the solution is applied, gently clean your record in the direction of the grooves using a micro-fibre cloth or pad. Next, use a separate micro-fibre cloth to dry the record and repeat the process if necessary.
The cleaning methods listed above should be enough to clean your record and improve the audio clarity. Remember, though, a damaged record will remain damaged despite any cleaning process so always handle your records with respect and maintain your turntable to reduce wear!
To make it easy, QR+ have put together a selection of our favourite cleaning products so you can ensure your collection will last!
Check out our ACCESSORIES PAGE for more info or to purchase.
*We'll be offering a Record Cleaning service in store from September 2018, including UltraSonic cleaning machine.
Come in and let us do all the hard work for you!