The heart of any music lover’s collection is sometimes the music that got you through tough times, or music that was the so-called “soundtrack” of your youth. Maybe it’s Zeppelin, maybe it’s ‘90s hip hop, or maybe you’re holding on to even older editions of your favorite jazz tunes.
Even for records that have been preserved digitally, many of us just aren’t ready to get rid of the sounds that got us through some rough times. Sure, most of the most popular music is available through a multitude of streaming services, but it’s not the same. Being able to refresh and maintain the sound of your favorites should be easy, so that your records are ready to go whenever you need them. With proper love and care, you can still enjoy classic vinyl records the way they sounded when you first bought them. Read on for tips on how to keep your records sounding fresh.
Start Good Vinyl Habits Early
It’s always easier to prevent damage than to fix it once it’s happened. So to keep your records in top condition, you’ll want to make sure you’re caring for them properly. Not only will this extend the life of a music collection you’ve worked hard to build, it will also help protect the sound quality. Unlike digital music files, which sound the same on every listen, vinyl is prone to changes in sound based on how well the record is cared for over time.
- Store Them Correctly – Nothing has ruined more records than improper storage. Over time, vinyl succumbs to extremes. Pressure, humidity, and temperature can all take their toll and warp your favorite albums. Keep your records stored in a controlled environment away from high heat, high humidity, and wild fluctuations of either. You also want to make sure you store them vertically, as vinyl that’s left laying flat for too long can warp. Keeping your record collection and the room that it lives in clean and tidy will also go a long way.
- Keep It Wrapped – If your vinyl didn’t come with a poly sleeve inside the cover or jacket, invest in some. They don’t cost much, but they can help avoid not only dust, but the static buildup that paper sleeves don’t touch. Static doesn’t hurt the vinyl itself, but it attracts dust from the air, which can scratch and score your record.
- Clean Records Properly – This is not a damp paper towel situation, and don’t trust your vinyl to electronics wipes, baby wides, or similar items that were not designed with records in mind. A record cleaning kit is the best way to remove dirt, dust, and oils from your favorite albums. Made with special chemicals that are vinyl-safe, this lets you clean your album without risking the information stored in those delicate grooves. Once they’re properly dried, they’ll be ready to pop back into their poly sleeves for proper storage.
- Don’t Touch The Grooves – The grooves are the most susceptible part of the record to damage because even the smallest change can affect sound quality. Your hands not only have the dirt and dust they accumulate throughout the day on them but also your own body’s oils as well. This represents a big threat to your album’s long term sound quality. Only handle your album by areas without grooves, use a carbon-fiber brush on it afterward, and minimize your skin’s contact time with the vinyl.
- Maintain Your Turntable – Keeping your turntable functioning properly does more than ensure it’s not the cause of any temporary sound loss, it prevents permanent damage to your albums. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions on keeping the tonearm properly adjusted and make sure the stylus (needle) is in good condition and not worn.
Protect Your Collection
With proper care, your vinyl records can provide decades of enjoyment at better quality than CDs can offer. All it takes is some attention to detail, proactive maintenance, and a dedication to making sure preserving their grooves is a priority. What’s more, by creating a cleaning routine for your music collection, you may end up rediscovering old favorites you maybe forgot you had and allow you to pause and enjoy the album artwork in addition to the music.