In the first of a monthly vinyl and audio column from the peeps at Henley Audio we look at the basics of keeping those precious records clean
So, were you lucky enough to add to your vinyl collection on Record Store Day? Nice one. Now it’s time to look after your records, new and old.
Top 10 tips to keep your vinyl sounding great
- Handle with care. To remove the record from its sleeve, slip it out touching only the record’s label and its outer edges. Dust is vinyl’s kryptonite, so dodge anything – including your hands’ natural oil – that encourages dust to stick around.
- Put it away, man! Once you’ve finished listening to a record, carefully remove it from the platter and put it back in the inner sleeve, and return the sleeve to the album cover. Do not, on pain of death metal, leave naked vinyl lying around – not good.
- Transform your inner self. On the subject of sleeves, consider buying dedicated inner record sleeves – look for sleeves that offer anti-static, anti-dust, and anti-scratch protection. Go on, ditch those 25-year-old, coffee-stained, yellowed inner sleeves now.
- Good day sunshine? Quick, find a shady tree. Direct sunlight and heat add up to warped vinyl – the record bends out of shape and becomes unplayable. Store your records in a dry spot, away from direct rays, and avoid humidity.
- Stand to attention. No, not you – you can have a lie-down. But first, make sure that you only store your vinyl in an upright position. Stack it flat and you risk more warping. So, Horizontal the underrated Bee Gees’ album, yes, horizontal, the record storing technique, no.
- Call in a specialist unit. How many good record stores keep their vinyl leaning against the skirting board? Exactly. Invest in storage units, such as the Glorious Record Box 55, to help keep your records sitting upright and well away from dusty floors.
- A trip to the dry cleaners. A build-up of dust inside the record groove is almost inevitable – your task is to protect the needle of your deck’s pick-up cartridge. Invest in the likes of the Brush-IT, the Clean-IT, and the Sweep-IT E and you minimise the gunk getting into the groove.
- Treat your vinyl like you treat your dog. Regularly brushing is fine, but, every now and then give it a nice bath. Specialist “wet cleaners”, such as the Spin Clean Record Washing System II (the subscriber prize draw booty for issue #117), help loosen dirt on the vinyl surface, going even deeper than “dry” gear.
- Now we’re sucking diesel – not literally, mind, that’d be unwise. When it comes to vinyl cleaning, a vacuum cleaning machine is The Boss. Place your vinyl on the “platter”, the machine covers your record in special cleaning fluid, and then sucks the fluid – and dirt – away in seconds.
- Cover me! Talking of The Boss, once you’re done playing and you’ve stored your albums in a very sensible manner, close the lid on your turntable – remember, records and record players hate dust. But don’t leave the cover on when spinning vinyl – it can cause your sound system to pick up bad vibrations, oom bop bop.
All of the gear mentioned is distributed by Henley Audio.
Thanks to Murdo from Ginger Dog Comms for the sage words.