How to Care For Your Vinyl: Tips for the Best Listening Experience
March 14, 2023
The GRV Interns
If you're a vinyl collector, you know how special the listening experience is... and how frustrating it can be if your record is not cooperating with your turntable.
Luckily, most playback issues with vinyl can be easily remedied at home! Before you report a damaged unit, try these best practices (recommended by our quality control team, who listen to vinyl for a living!).
Before you listen…
- Give the vinyl a good cleaning. Records love to collect dust and dirt in their grooves. See our cleaning tool recommendations below
- Be sure to calibrate your turntable. Not all record players are created equal out of the box. Calibration helps make sure the dynamics of your record are supported by the set up of your turntable to get the best sound possible out of your player. See our instructional blog recommendations on how to calibrate below
- Check the movement of your tonearm. Whether you have a suitcase-style turntable (with no tonearm calibration) or an audiophile-quality turntable, the weight and pressure of your tonearm matter and can help minimize the likelihood of skipping, distortion, and damage to your records. Make sure it’s not too heavy or light on your vinyl. The folks at The Vinyl Factory have a great guide on how to balance your tonearm: https://thevinylfactory.com/features/how-to-balance-your-tonearm-a-step-by-step-guide
- Make sure your surface is steady. Ensuring your turntable is on a sturdy console and a good distance from large speakers reduces the risk of unnecessary movement when listening to your record
- Ensure your needle is free of debris. The needle on your tonearm will pick up any dust or dirt in the grooves of your vinyl, so be sure to clean it before and after playing a record to preserve the quality. See our recommendation for removing stylus debris below
After you listen…
- Store your records upright and out of the sun. Vinyl is very prone to warping, so don’t leave it in the car or with other vinyl stacked on top. Make sure there is a good inner sleeve on the record, too, to protect it from scratches.
- Combat static. Especially in a cold, dry environment, you may notice static on your records. Try investing in a microfiber cloth, carbon fiber brush, antistatic spray or a cork vinyl mat to help remove or minimize static attraction.
- Give your record needle a cleaning. Uncomfortable using a stylus brush to clean your needle? Try using stylus cleaning gel to remove dust and residue.
Still hearing something strange? Vinyl is a physical medium, so of course it sometimes has flaws. If you’ve followed all the steps above and are still having playback issues on a new record, contact the store you bought the record from for help.