Keeping your records in premium condition can be a stressful and daunting task. Every time you play them, there is the chance of damage – pops and tics developing from dust and grime, a too heavy or too light tone arm causing the stylus to scrape sound detail away – all of these things make vinyl a very delicate commodity! The US Library of Congress has provided some detailed guidelines to make sure you can minimize this damage and keep your LPs pristine for decades (or even centuries) to come.
After you buy records online from VLU, these are the best ways to extend the life of your collection.
Whenever you handle your records, make sure you only touch the outer edge of the record itself, or the paper label. Any oils from your hands could transfer to the grooves, attracting dust and developing mold over a long period of time.
Never stack your records on top of one another! Most audio formats need to be stored vertically, vinyl is no exception. Vinyl is malleable, so the excessive weight caused by stacking can make your LPs warp, thus making skips and variable speeds an inevitable problem.
Make sure your shelving is strong enough to hold all of your records, and if you really want to go the extra mile, place dividers between your records every 6 inches to completely deaden the chance of warping.
While there are many different containers that could work for your record collection, try to avoid any crate or container that has diagonal posts in the corners – these make your records bow over time. Other than that, anything sturdy and well-built will do finely. Containers with lids can also keep dust away from your LPs.
The Library of Congress recommends replacing your paper inner sleeves with high density polyethylene (HDPE) sleeves. Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab makes inner vinyl record sleeves that match these specifications, as do a few other manufacturers.
You can also keep your original inner sleeves in the jacket beside the archival sleeve if you want to keep it!
Temperature and Humidity
This is for those of you who are willing to go above and beyond for your collection. The Library of Congress recommends institutional collectors keep their storage space above 65-70° Fahrenheit, with as few fluctuations in temperature as possible. The suggested relative humidity (RH) of your space should be between 45-50%.
Aside from that, keep them out of intense light of any kind, and away from all other kinds of light. Keep them away from sources of vibration or vents and radiators.
In order to minimize damage during playback, make sure you clean all dust from your turntable and stylus, and keep your equipment well maintained. Compressed air is an awesome tool to keep dust off records and your turntable.
Always play your records at the correct RPM. Don’t let your tone arm track too heavily as that can damage the grooves. Also don’t let it track too lightly as the stylus will skip and bounce, damaging the LP similarly. Make sure everything is calibrated to manufacturer requirements.
Always clean your records before playback, and before you put them back in the sleeve. There are multiple methods available, and both wet solutions, spin systems and brushes are all awesome.
How do you keep your record collection pristine? Let us know in the comments below!
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