Vinyl Needs Love Too: A Complete Guide To Caring For Your Records
Listening to vinyl records is an extraordinary experience in how it allows you to immerse yourself in the rich, warm sound that only vinyl can provide. In order for us to enjoy quality sound for decades and even pass down our records as heirlooms, it is of utmost importance to take proper care of them.
Our Precious Sound crew-member Marcus shares several tried and true tips on how to enhance the vinyl experience and keep them fresh and clean. Here’s what you should keep in mind:
Show Your Needle Some Love
Your needle is the most crucial component in connecting your record player to your speakers. It plays a vital role in ensuring the quality of your listening experience. Dust and grime can accumulate on your needle, which not only degrades the sound but also accelerates the wear and tear of the needle itself. To maintain optimal performance, it is recommended to incorporate a regular needle cleaning routine into your listening sessions.
Pro-Ject Carbon Fibre Stylus Cleaning Brush
To clean, start by using a needle brush. This specialized brush is designed to effectively remove dust and grime from the needle without causing any damage. Gently run the brush from the gimbal side towards yourself a couple of times, applying light pressure. This motion helps to dislodge any particles that may have settled on the needle.
You may also consider using a carbon brush which is specifically designed to eliminate static electricity, which can attract dust particles to the needle. Using a carbon brush can further reduce the risk of dust accumulation and maintain the optimal performance of your needle.
For more stubborn grime or dirt that may be resistant to the brush, you can also utilize a gelpad. These gelpads are specially formulated to effectively remove tough grime without causing any harm to the needle. Simply immerse the needle in the gelpad and pull it out again. This will help to loosen and lift the grime, leaving your needle clean and ready for optimal playback. Be careful not to move it in a circular motion as it bears the risk of bending your shank and messing up your azimuth.
Dusty Records Suck
To minimize dust accumulation on your records, they should only ever be in two places: on your record player, or in their sleeves. Even when stored in a clean and dust-free environment, records can still gather dust over time from factors like air circulation or static electricity. Many people use cleaning methods like air compressors or a brush to remove dust, but there are other steps you can take to maintain the quality of your records.
Pro-Ject Vinyl Putty Compound
Another option to consider is the use of vinyl putty. Vinyl putty is a specially formulated cleaning compound that can be applied to the surface of your records. It works by adhering to the dust and dirt particles, allowing you to easily remove them. Although this is a great option, it is important to note that it is not suitable for use on dub plates or records with delicate surfaces, as it may cause damage.
Pro-Ject VC-E2 Vinyl Washing Machine
If you want to go the extra mile, invest in a vinyl washing machine. These machines are specifically designed to deep clean records and remove embedded dirt and dust particles. By using a vinyl washing machine, you can ensure a thorough cleaning of your records, which can help to improve sound quality and prolong their lifespan.
Take the Time to Set Up Right
Setting up a record player properly is crucial for achieving the best possible sound quality. It is important to pay attention to various factors to ensure an optimal setup for your vinyl records, which are an analog medium. These factors include the vertical tracking angle (VTA), azimuth, needle weight, and anti-skate. Each of these elements plays a significant role in the overall sound reproduction.
VTA & Azimuth Gauge
If you happen to notice any degradation in sound quality, even after setting up your system correctly, it might be an indication that it is time to replace the needle. Upgrading the needle can greatly enhance the audio performance and help maintain the fidelity of your records.
Although setting up a record player may seem daunting at first, there is an abundance of resources available to guide you seamlessly through the process. Additionally, you can always seek assistance from the knowledgeable experts at your local hi-fi store. They have the expertise, willingness, and passion to help you overcome any challenges you may encounter.
By taking the necessary steps to properly set up and maintain your record player, you can ensure a satisfying vinyl experience and ensure that your beloved records will stand the test of time.