There is nothing better than coming home with a pile of new vinyl after a day of browsing in second-hand record stores. But once on your record player, the black gold sometimes sounds more like a piece of plastic. But don’t throw your vinyl right away; with the tips below your record collection could sound like new again!
# 1 Brush the plate
Simple but often forgotten, take some time and do it properly: polish your plates! Vinyl is a dust collector which means that every time outside of its protective cover your plate is like a magnet for dust. With a carbon fiber brush or antistatic cloth, you can easily remove superficial dust. After that, you can carefully clean your records with some special cleaning fluid or soapy (distilled) water. If you want to know more about how to clean your records the correct way you can read this great article. Or watch the video below:
Note: always follow the direction of the groove! Allow it to dry for half an hour and you can use it again.
# 2 Dust to dust
In any case, dust is an absolute killer for every vinyl lover. So besides your records you should also clean your record player. Or even better: get a dust cover! As the name suggests, this hood prevents dust from coming onto your turntable. A cheaper alternative would a fabric cover. Our top recommendation for a turntable with dustcover is what we recommend as the best overall turntable for the average user, the Denon DP 400 which we reviewed in-depth here. It has a removable dust cover that also suits as a record stand and is quite fashionable instead of the transparent plastic cases you see most often.
# 3 The needle in the haystack
A fairly essential part of your pickup is the needle. It registers the grooves and therefore ensures the sound in the first place. By the way, the stylus does not pick the sound from the bottom of the groove, but on the sides. You would see this really well if you would enlarge the view on a record: the groove is actually a physical waveform. The average lifespan of a needle is around five hundred operating hours, but a higher quality needle can last two to four times as long. So if you take your father’s old record player from the attic, you can almost be certain you will have to replace the needle. If you leave it on, you could potentially damage your vinyl collection without hearing a difference in the first instance.
In your quest for the holy grail among the needles, you will probably come across two species: the spherical and elliptical. For a component that is less than half an inch high, it is rather important. It basically comes down to the shape: round and oval. The first is therefore especially suitable for DJs, the second for the music listener. Never save money on the needle as it is important for not only sound quality but also to maintain the quality of your records.
If you would like to have more in-depth information you can read this extensive Wikihow article or watch the video below which only takes you 3 minutes.
# 4 Adjusting your turntable setup
This article is all about preventing damage to your vinyl setup and records. An essential part of this can be the adjustments you can make to your setup. Most simple beginner turntables come with all the components and settings already in place, however, you might need to set up certain parts or adjust them.
For example, setting the tonearm height and its counterweight can make a big difference to how your needle and records. Too heavy and both can be damaged. Too light and your music might start skipping. If you want to read more we have an article about how to set up and adjust your record player setup.