cleaning vinyl records


Everyone knows how important is the quality of the record in order to get good results from our stereo system. Simply put, our hi-zoot stereo systems can do nothing if the record we’re trying to listen to is poorly recorded or damaged.
And while there’s nothing we can do to improve the performance of a poorly recorded disc, there are many things we can do to keep our good records in perfect condition.

How to store those LPs: horizontal or vertical?

Vinyl is a funny material: it is black (normally), flexy and with a very strong memory. What does this mean?
It is very easy to deform it but very hard to make it flat again once it has been tacoed (from tacos, those hot Mexican thingies).
So the best way to store our beloved records is the one that minimizes mechanical stresses: keep them as vertical as possible.
Storing them horizontal will, depending on how many records we have, put excessive load on the first ones in the pile, causing unwanted deformities, tacoings and groove damage.
Once the disc is warped we can only try to make it flat again: put the record under dozens of hi-fi mags, their heavy load will help, at least in this situation.

How to play those tacoed records

This is a problem, dudes. If the deformation is serious there’s nothing we can do.
For example, if the record is bell-shaped, whenever we try to make if flat by pushing down the vertex, it will reverse its shape symmetrically with respect to the standard horizontal plane (ok, I confess: I’m a mathematician).
If the situation isn’t so tragic we can try to flatten the LP using a disc clamp.
This is a device you place over the platter that, either thanks to its weight or to the fact that it can be firmly secured over the spindle, pushes the disc against the platter, flattening it (the LP not the platter :-)).
The clamps that work by gravity do have a shortcoming: they put an unwanted stress over the platter and the spindle, and wrong placement can permanently damage the turntable. You’ve been warned 🙂
The clamps that can be locked over the spindle seem to be harmless.
I use a simple device called The Pig, made by the SEE Company (Revolver TT, for example), a rubbery “nose” that almost glues over the spindle. It does not do wonders, but it works, is light, cheap and cool.
What else ?
Some hi-end turntables use air pumps to glue the record to the platter but the high cost of these devices has had some consequences on their popularity.
Then there are some platters or even record mats that have been designed to work without any clamping device.
The Ringmat is a well-known example. You should know what kind of ideas the designer of your turntable had in mind before using any aftermarket fancy device.

How to clean our vinyl

If you are a clever guy you should try to keep your records as clean as possible i.e. you should try to avoid the dust reaching the grooves.
Some advice: keep the mat of your turntable as clean as possible.
If you have a felt mat it could be a difficult task: dust is everywhere and felt seems to like it a lot. Don’t try to wash a felt mat. Never. Use a vacuum cleaner instead if at all possible. Then try to keep the inner record sleeves (use antistatic sleeves) as dust-free as possible.
Also, playing records with the dust cover on may help keep dust away from our grooves but many feel this is the worst way to use a turntable.
The dust cover acts like a microphone and passes any unwanted air vibration (Music from the speakers, for instance) to the needle, the cantilever and the cartdridge, causing acoustic feedback and a lot of other terrific side-effects :-)]

Some turntables have been designed to work best with the dust cover on, so listen to a record both ways for the possible differences. Choose the solution that sounds better.

cleaning your vinyl-English

schoonmaken van je  vinyl-Nederlands

Reinigung von deine Schallplatten

and another video English about cleaning your vinyl records and at the end the before and after(cleaning) proof, cleaning your records makes a BIG difference.

Now that we know how to avoid dust we should learn the best ways to remove it. The No.1 rule of record cleaning is to avoid that the dust reaching the bottom of the grooves.

In other words we should take extreme care to NOT worsen the situation.

There are poorly cleaned records which are only apparently dust-free. Actually the dust has been moved from the surface to the bottom of the grooves where it is more harmful and difficult to remove.

A lot of devices have been developed to avoid this problem. Among these are the carbon fiber brushes (Decca-style) and some self-adhesive rollers.
Some of these carbon fiber brushes have the handle made out of a conductive material in such a way that static electricity can be easily moved from the record to our body and then grounded. This trick works thanks to the conductive properties of the carbon fibers.

Speaking of rollers, one of the best of them -dunno if it is still available- is the Rolling Cleaner by Nagaoka. It is made of a very strange sticky rubber compound that literally detaches the dust from the surface of the disc. Once the roller gets dirty it can be washed with water et voilà it is ready to stick again as new.
I must say that after 10 years of regular use it still works as efficiently as the first day.
If you can find one, buy it. It’s a bargain (usual disclaimers apply here, eh).
When the dust combines with moisture, fingerprints and other agents it’s time to take a shower.
The market is overcrowded with dozens of magic fluids that promise to be the ultimate solution (pun intended) to our cleaning problems. Normally these magic bottles don’t come cheap. So audiophiles all around the World have started to make their own cleaning fluids at home at a fraction of the cost of the official ones.

How to Clean a Vinyl Record 2

A surfactant is a solvent used to clean the surface of the record. There are surfactants made specifically for cleaning records, and you should pick some up if you are serious about cleaning your records. If you can’t get it, you can make your own by mixing a weak solution of rubbing alcohol with water. Or you can use a weak mixture of soap and water. The problem with the soap and water is that it should be rinsed off afterwards. Also, make sure to use distilled water.
To actually remove the dirt, you will use a brush or microfiber cloth with the surfactant. The record cleaning industry has a couple of different brushes that work well for cleaning a record. It is best to use one of the recommended velvet or carbon fiber brushes or a microfiber cloth to clean vinyl.
The brush works by plowing the dirt off the record. So put the record on the turntable and drop a couple drops of record cleaner on the record. Turn on the turntable and place the brush on the record. Once the record has rotated a couple times, slowly pull the brush away from the center until it is completely off the record. The dirt will keep going towards the edge until the brush is off. Once the brush is off, you will notice some dirt stuck to it. Use a stiff brush to remove that and continue until you believe you have removed all of the dirt. This method works well for relative light cleaning.
For much dirtier situations, you will have to try something a little more intensive. Occasionally you will find an old record with a serious stain or goo stuck to it. These records are usually super cheap, like 50 cents. So, if you can get the stuff off, you will have made a great find. If not, well, at least you are only out 50 cents. You are banking on this stuff being water soluble. If it’s not, you may as well give up. Use room temperature distilled water and soap to try and dissolve the stain/goo.
If you are successful in removing the junk, rinse the record with distilled water and air dry. Once the record is dry, it may be a good idea to give it a once over with a cleaner and brush. Or, if you have it, a record preservative.
It is very apparent to me that the record cleaning machine is by far the best way to clean a record. It is without a doubt the preferred method by record enthusiasts. The machine works so well because it uses suction to remove the dirt. There are several different models available, and they range in price form a couple hundred to a thousand bucks. Most people recommend buying the basic model and getting it used, if you can. If you are really into records and or sell them, this machine is what you want.

Tips for Keeping Your Vinyl Clean

  • 1. Replace dirty sleeves with new ones.
  • 2. Store records in plastic dust jackets.
  • 3. Store records in a closed cabinet.
  • 4. Keep your record player clean.
  • 5. Keep your turntable covered.
  • 6. Keep your stylus clean and replace it when necessary.
  • 7. Don’t touch the record with your fingers.
  • 8. Keep your slip mats clean.
  • 9. Clean your new records frequently to keep them from getting dirty.

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