How To Take Care of Your Record Collection

November 04, 2021

How To Take Care of Your Record Collection

Whether you’re a lifelong record collector or a newcomer to the warm, analog sound of LPs, we’re here to help you make the most of vinyl. In this blog, we’ll walk you through all of the steps for successfully caring for a growing record collection. We’ll also provide you with handy tips for making sure your records don’t end up warped, cracked, and sounding lousy. 

First Off: Why Even Listen to Vinyl?

If you’re skeptical about this whole vinyl record thing, we hear you. However, we think we just might be able to convince you to give record collecting a try.

Below are just a few reasons why we love vinyl—and why we think you will, too:

Listening to Records Helps You Appreciate Music 

Thanks to streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, it’s easier than ever to get on-demand access to just about anything you want to hear. However, that infinite access has definitely had a negative impact on the value that we place in the music we love.

Not to sound preachy, but when you can bounce from song to song on a whim anywhere and anytime, you’re likely to end up losing your appreciation for your music.

To avoid cheapening the listening experience, we highly recommend giving vinyl a try. The format is set up to essentially force you to listen to albums from front to back. You can technically skip songs, but it’s a hassle.

Records make it possible to get your appreciation for music up to the next level. Overall, vinyl gives you an excellent opportunity to hear your favorite albums as they were meant to be heard and savor the experience like a fine wine

Records Have Monetary Value 

If you’re all about the hustle and want to make some extra dollars, collecting and reselling records is a fantastic strategy. Vinyl has been around for over a century now, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

That means that there’s going to continue to be a market for pre-owned records, both locally and online. So, whether you’re dropping off unwanted albums at a local record store or auctioning them off online, you can put some money in your pocket easily.

Not to sound like a broken record (pun intended), but caring for your LPs is more important than ever if you’re planning on reselling them. Damaged albums (records with warping issues, scratches, and cracks) are likely to only make a few dollars when resold, even if they’re “rare.” So, there’s even more reason to take good care of every record you own. There’s gold in that gold.

A e s t h e t i c 

via GIPHY

There’s no denying it... records look damn fine on display. We don’t recommend buying them just to show them off to your friends, but we can’t tell you what to do. 

The aesthetic appeal of vinyl records is nothing new. Collectors have used their albums for decor for ages, and the results are incredible. Think about vinyl record interior design in your free time (preferably while jamming out to your favorite tunes), and you’ll definitely get inspired.

Vinyl Really Can Sound Better. 

While this might sound like the topic for a heated debate between two dudes in fedoras, we really do believe that vinyl records can offer superior soundHowever, the keyword here is can. 

To make the most of your record collection and make each LP sound great, you’ll need a solid set of speakers, a preamp, and a high-quality turntable. All of that gear can set you back several thousand dollars if you go all in, so make sure you’re ready to make the leap.

The question of whether vinyl records objectively sound better than CDs or digital files is still up for debate, with both sides getting pretty intense sometimes. However, while we could write an entirely separate blog about the uniqueness of the vinyl format and the sound it offers—today just isn't the day.

For now, let’s leave it with this: listening to records can give you phenomenal sound, sometimes even better sound than you’d get from streaming or CDs.

Listening To Records Is Immersive 

If you’re tired of feeling distracted and missing the little details in the songs you hear, vinyl is for you. Records are made to be listened to intently, and you can spend hours just sitting by your turntable and absorbing music.

That’s a way different approach to listening to albums than you get when you’re hopping from song to song while driving and eating a sandwich—but no judgment here. 

What Vinyl Records Need

Just like people, your vinyl records need love, care, and affection. Taking good care of your records is a must if you’re serious about collecting. Without routine upkeep, your albums will start deteriorating due to exposure to changing temperatures, dust, and other threats.

Let’s briefly talk about what records need to stay in good shape, then dive into the methods for keeping your LPs good as new.

Records Can’t Be Exposed To Changing Temperatures

One of the biggest issues that record collectors often run into is warping. Warping can occur when weight, pressure, heat, or cold causes the physical shape of the record to change. This change in shape can cause major problems when it comes to listening, leaving records sounding distorted and warbly. Sometimes, this makes them completely unplayable. That sucks.

The best strategy for avoiding warping is to keep your records in a temperature-controlled environment. That means they can’t be up in your uninsulated attic, gathering dust alongside the Christmas decorations and the clothes you wore during your emo phase.

Instead, you’ll need to store your record collection where the LPs won’t be constantly exposed to extreme heat or cold. In other words, just keep them in your house. It’s that simple.

They Can’t Handle Lots of Weight, Either 

Another factor that can cause warping is intense weight or pressure. So, what exposes records to all of that weight? You guessed it: other records.

When albums are piled miles high on top of each other, the records at the top won’t have nearly as much of a load to bear as the ones at the bottom. Those bottom records have it really bad. They’re bearing the collective mass of dozens of other albums, which are crushing them slowly and putting them at risk of warping and other issues. Don’t let your records suffer like that! 

The best way to avoid putting excessive weight and pressure on your albums is to store them horizontally, not vertically. LPs should never be stacked in groups of more than 10. Once you pass this point, the cumulative weight of all of those albums is enough to cause problems in the long run. 

Towards the end of this blog, we’ll talk more about the best methods for properly organizing and storing your record collection. For now, there’s more info to cover about your records’ basic needs!

Records Are Allergic To Dust 

Keeping your albums in a dusty, dirty environment is never, ever a good idea. All of that dust, dirt, and grime can quickly start to build up in the grooves of your records, which can cause a host of problems. 

Dusty records tend to produce more noise when played, disrupting what audiophiles call the “signal-to-noise ratio.” This delicate balance has everything to do with the quality of your listening experience, and it can be majorly impacted by issues like warping, dirt, and dust.

To protect your records from dust and other airborne threats, it’s always wise to store each of them in a protective sleeve. These sleeves, usually made from plastic, cover the surface of both sides of the album while it’s sitting inside of its jacket. The jacket can offer some protection from dust, but a sleeve goes the extra mile and keeps your records much safer.

Your Records Need to Be Handled Carefully 

In the record collecting community, one of the biggest party fouls you can make is grabbing an album by its center. Records are never supposed to be touched more than they need to be, as contact with the surface area of an LP can increase the risk of scratches and cause a buildup of oil and dirt. 

Instead of picking up a record like it’s a donut, try handling them like delicate pieces of stained glass. You wouldn’t want to get your fingers all over the glass, so you’d naturally carry it by its edges. The same goes for records: the safest way to get a record from its jacket onto the turntable is to pick it up with both hands by its edges. 

Furthermore, whenever your albums aren’t being used, it’s best to keep them in their jackets. Think about it this way—an album is essentially naked when it’s out of its jacket. It’s more vulnerable to outside threats, and, more importantly, it’s embarrassed. So, to help your LPs preserve their dignity, keep their clothes on while they’re not in use!

Vinyl Record Care 101 

Now that you know what records need to sound and look their best, it’s time for a crash course on vinyl upkeep!

Here, we’ll cover everything you need to do to maintain a thriving record collection, as well as how often to practice each part of your cleaning routine. 

Records Need To Be Brushed for Dust

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (again), dust is a major threat to the sound quality of your records. They need to be kept clean to sound as good as possible, which means you’ll need to occasionally brush them off.

This doesn’t need to be a daily task (that would honestly be a little intense). It’s just something you do on occasion, particularly when you notice visible dust building up on your albums.

You can’t use just any tools to get rid of the dust on your albums. Because they’re so delicate, your records should be cleaned with a specialized brush, a gentle cleaning solution, and a microfiber cloth— nothing else. We recommend buying a kit that comes with a brush, solution, and a cloth all in one to save yourself some trouble. 

As you can imagine, you don’t need to be particularly forceful when you’re cleaning your records. They’re fragile as can be, and dust and dirt should lift off of their surfaces relatively easily. So, be as gentle as you can.

Your LPs Should be Outfitted With Protective Sleeves 

If an album’s outer jacket is its clothes, the protective sleeve is the underwear. Some people go commando, sure, but it’s generally not recommended. The same goes for records. You’ll find plenty of die-hard collectors and vinyl enthusiasts who don’t use sleeves, but they’re missing out.

Protective sleeves are cheap, and you can buy them in bulk to save money. Once you have them, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to put a sleeve on all of your records; it all depends on the size of your collection. 

Records Should Be Transported Sparingly and Carefully 

Records, like turtles, don’t like moving very much. They tend to feel best when they’re safe, stationary, and...we’ve run out of ways to compare records to turtles. Moving on!

To keep your records safe from heat, cold, and excessive weight and pressure, it’s best to keep them in the same place as much as possible. If you’re moving out in the near future, it’s wise to plan ahead and form a strategy for how to safely and carefully transport your record collection. 

As you know, records are best stored upright in rows, not stacks, and the same goes for when they’re transported. If you need to move records due to relocation, downsizing your collection, or other reasons, pack them into small boxes in rows, not stacks. Keeping the boxes small helps to minimize the amount of horizontal weight placed on the records – even storing your albums in rows can lead to warping if you’re not careful!

Keep Your Audio Setup in Good Shape, Too 

Just like your records need love and care, your audio setup does as well. To make the most of collecting and listening to records, you’ll need to make sure that all of the components of your turntable and speakers are in proper working order. That means keeping an eye out for worn-out belts, missing knobs, issues with your tonearm, and more.

Tips of the Trade

If all of this sounds like a foreign language to you, have no fear. There’s plenty of helpful information online about how to solve just about any issue you might have with your turntable. 

For now, let’s cover a few of the key pieces of record player upkeep to keep an eye on:

  • If you have a belt-powered turntable, keep an extra belt handy. Turntable belts can get lost easily, especially in houses with kids or pets. The belt on a record player is essentially a giant rubber band, which means it’s very easy to lose, but very cheap to replace. We recommend keeping one or two in a drawer just in case your current one gets lost—and keeping them out of reach of your kids.
  • Use a slipmat to protect your records. A slipmat is a small piece of felt or cloth that goes over the baseplate of your turntable. The mat serves to protect the underside of your albums while they spin; it’s essential to keep one on your record player at all times. Slipmats are typically included with even entry-level turntables, but they’re incredibly cheap to purchase separately as well.
  • Turn off your turntable when it’s not in use. This might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget! You might run into issues with your turntable’s motor if you keep it running constantly, and it’s also definitely not good for the record player as a whole.

Are You Obsessed With Collecting Records? 

If you’re always looking for new ways to show your love for record collecting, we’ve got you covered. Our “It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Vinyl” tee is available in sizes from small to 3XL, and it’s as comfortable as it gets. Made from premium materials, it’s a cut above the rest. Show off your passion for all things vinyl by wearing this comfy tee as often as possible.

Want more clever, stylish graphic tees? We’ve got you. At Famous IRL, we fill our store with unique designs tailor-made for what you love. We’ve also got an abundance of accessories, including hats, socks, and more, all inspired by your favorite shows, movies, hobbies, holidays, and more.

Rock on. 

Sources:

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains | Oregon Live

25 Best Vinyl Record Storage Ideas - Ways to Store Vinyl Records | House Beautiful

Most Rare, Valuable, Expensive Vinyl Records Sold Resale: Prince | Business Insider


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