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How To Care For Your Records And Record Player

A whole new generation is being exposed to records and record players. Whether you're new to the format or an old school fan, Abt offers some pro tips to keep your collection in good condition.
Record player, records, amplifier, and headphones

Right Round Like A Record, Baby

While some may argue that they never went away, records and turntables are back in fashion once again. But with this resurgence comes a whole generation of people who may not know the proper way to care for vinyl. Luckily, we have Bill McMartin at our disposal. Our Audio Sales Manager (and self-admitted vinylphile) has imparted some of his vast knowledge on this topic in an effort to help you keep your record collection and player in tip-top shape.
Record player next to desk

Step 1: Where to Position a Record Player

A turntable is a delicate piece of machinery. Even the slightest tweak to your set up can affect the sound it emits. Keeping that in mind, there are a few tips to remember as you care for your record player. For starters, ensure that your unit is sitting on a level surface. Playing a record at a slight angle could cause the tracking force (or the weight of the stylus cartridge that is applied to the record) to fluctuate, which could potentially damage the disc. Most record players are equipped with adjustable legs to avoid this problem.
Person cleaning a record needle

Step 2: Keeping Your Record Player Clean and Essential Needle Care

You should also remember to keep the stylus clean. Dirt, dust, and other contaminants will significantly shorten the lifespan of your needle and damage your records. In between plays, use a stylus brush to wipe the needle from front to the back. Brushing from side to side could bend it. For a deeper clean, a number of specialized stylus cleaners are also available. Though the degradation process can take a while, Bill recommends that you should replace the needle between 500 - 1000 hours of play as a good rule of thumb.
Person cleaning a record

Step 3: Record Care

Though he may be a bit biased, Bill says that a relatively well-kept record will sound better than anything (other than a reel-to-reel tape). But "well-kept" is key. Excessive surface noise, clicks, and pops are generally a sign that a record has seen a lot of use, but little or no care. And in some more dire cases, they cannot be fixed no matter how hard you try.
That's why Bill stresses that keeping records clean is critical to both the immediate enjoyment as well as long term preservation. Although there are many ways to clean a record, the best method would be a vacuum machine. These innovative devices clean by applying ultrasonic vibration to a record as it rotates. A basic record cleaning machine can be found for as little as $300, while the high-end models can run as high as $1000 or more.
For a more cost-effective option, cleaning fluids or cleaning solutions are affordable and can clean hundreds of records with a single bottle. After applying the solution to a record, wipe it down with a microfiber or lint-free cotton cloth. Once the record is clean, Bill suggests that you store it in a new record sleeve. Instead of using a sleeve made of paper, which can create small scratches each time you remove and return the disc, a sleeve made of special archival material is very kind to vinyl.
Records in storage cabinet

Step 4: Best Record Storage Tips

Now that your records have been cleaned properly, they should be stored properly as well. Always store your records perfectly upright. Stacking them horizontally or letting them lean will lead to warping over time, especially in a warm environment. Cool, dry storage is best, so don't keep your record collection where it will be subjected to the heat of direct sunlight.
With these tips, you're ready to dive right into playing and collecting vinyl records. But if you have any additional questions, you can contact Bill and our other experts in Abt's Custom Audio and Video Department by phone at 847.544.2307 or send an email to [email protected].
Last updated: September 14, 2020

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