Vinyl. Some say it’s had it’s heyday, but we’re seeing an ever increasing surge in vinyl sales which suggests quite the opposite. And it’s not just us – record companies are pushing out more and more new albums on this medium. You can almost guarantee that a new album with any major or medium-sized record label will also be available on LP. Why, you ask? Well, for the purists! You cannot beat the sound of vinyl. A great record with a deck can – in my humble opinion – destroy a similar priced CD system with its sheer quality and warmth. The sound of vinyl is warmer – more natural and more human. But the lure of vinyl doesn’t stop at the sound: the album art may also be key. You feel as though you get more in terms of packaging and presentation from an LP than a CD, and if we consider digital downloads, owning something in a virtual realm can never truly replace the feeling of having something in your hands.
Whatever has caused the surge in demand, we have recognised it’s there. Therefore we at Audio Affair are investing in vinyl and responding to our ever increasing customers demand for better vinyl and pressings that are increasingly difficult to find. Are you a newcomer to vinyl, or do you need some guidance on the care of your collection? We’ve compiled a quick ‘How To’ on vinyl, to help get you going in that all important analogue direction.
You may have a few records floating around – maybe you have inherited some, or were bought a few as gifts. If you’ve taken the plunge and bought a turntable to fit… what do you do next?
- Storage. You should never leave vinyl records lying flat. Ever. They should always be upright. They are prone to warping so ensuring your collection gets a good home is key to longevity and excellent playback. Glorious Records Boxes. If you are collecting to display them loud and proud, then you can’t go wrong with the Rock on wall LP Frames http://www.audioaffair.co.uk/rock-on-wall-record-sleeve-lp-frame-single-pack.
- Somewhere to buy more. For lovers of vintage, a good collection of second hand vinyl can be found at Discogs. Although, you can’t get much better than a freshly pressed and lovingly mastered reissue, especially if you demand the best sound quality. Music On Vinyl offer a huge array of reissues, new releases and classics and everything in between.
- Understanding Addiction. Purchasing vinyl may become a compulsion. A wonderful, wonderful compulsion. Consider yourself warned!
Caring for your vinyl
Care is critical to the performance and longevity of your vinyl. Understanding what it needs to play – and stay – at its optimum is a learning process. But getting the basics right from the offset is pretty important. Records are far more susceptible to external factors when compared to CDs or digital downloads. This said, do you know how long your CD’s will last? I have properly cared for vinyl albums from the 50s which still look and sound great today – could the same be said for properly cared for CDs, six decades from now? Who knows? Watch this space. And as for digital downloads… well, you’re just one major system crash or a particularly nasty virus away from oblivion, no matter how well cared for they are.
The essentials for record collection are inexpensive, and do not require too much time. An investment in the following will mean you’re putting the wheels in motion for a record that will not lose its quality, no matter how many times you play.
- Pro-Ject Brush IT Carbon Fibre Record Brush. Removing surface dust is an excellent way of maintaining both your record collection, and your stylus! Use this effective little brush every time you play and cut back on premature wear.
- Tonar QS Record Cleaning Spray (0.5 Litre). Records have a nasty habit of picking up dirt, grease and grime – no matter how well they’re stored. Use this spray regularly to get them – and keep them – clean. Remember to leave them overnight before playing again!
- Hi-Fi News Test LP – The Producers Cut – 180g LP. Thanks to Len The Cartridge Man, setting up your turntable for optimum performance is not only good for both sound quality and longevity, it’s hours of enjoyment too!
Those serious about getting the most out of their collection should also consider an alignment gauge, to ensure your cartridge is fitted correctly. A correctly fitted cartridge means the correct amount of pressure on the stylus. And correct pressure means your records will play better, for longer.
Storing your vinyl
Vinyl is prone to collecting dust through static, so choosing an anti-static sleeve can mean the difference between annoying and unnecessary pops and clean smooth playback. When it comes to vinyl, it’s all about the finer details.
- Mobile Fidelity MFSL Rice Paper LP Inner Sleeves (50 Pack)
- Tonar Plastipak Anstistatic Record Inner Sleeves (25 Pack)
Cleaning your vinyl
Whether you are purchasing second hand vinyl – which can be extremely dirty – or you take care of your vinyl but understand the importance for playback in keeping as clean as possible, we have already mentioned Tonar fluid but if you want to go a little further, there are options there too. Namely, record cleaning machines! Machines are an excellent investment if you’re serious about your vinyl. They apply to correct amount of pressure and clean in just the right way – perfect.
- Spin Clean Record Washer MkII. The cheapest of the lot, with a manual operation, but incredibly effective.
Moth MkII Pro Vinyl Record Cleaning Machine. Slightly more pricey, but well worth the spend. This is a wet clean and vacuum removal machine which you can rely on. On top of top notch cleaning, a professional maintenance kit of brushes, fluid, sleeves and replacement vacuum tubes are included!
- Audio Desk Vinyl Cleaner LP Cleaning Machine. If you want the absolute best for your records, an investment in this beast would be a wise choice. A fully automatic machine, al you have to do put the record into its vertical slot, press the red button and let the machine take care of the rest. When the button turns green your sparkling clean and bone dry record can be removed and played right away.
It’s far too easy to get caught in the glamour and the ritual that vinyl provides – and it’s far too easy to overlook the simple things that will guarantee that ritual can be performed over and over again without fear or damage and wear. By implementing just a handful of the steps above you will be making a huge difference. By implementing them all? Well, maybe your LPs will last until their six decade. Or even beyond! Treat it as part of the ritual and before you know it, it will be second nature.