The essential vinyl accessories guide
This is a guide by Chad Plamondon. "If I’m not digging through the bins of my local record store I’m probably writing new music with my band, Alleviate."
So you just bought your first record player and picked up your first couple of records, now what? It is important to learn about the vinyl accessories that are crucial for the best listening and care for your records.
Let's start with the player itself; yours probably came with a basic felt mat. Believe it or not, the choice of mat really makes a difference in the sound. So start with the felt mat but know that there are tons of different kinds, cork, rubber & leather to name a few alternatives. Each one has slightly different characteristics that will alter your listening experience. Rubber mats tend to dampen the vibration, while cork opens up the sound a bit more. Be sure to keep your mat clean from dust to prevent it from getting in the grooves of your vinyl. Dust is not your friend.
The 7" adapter or 45-RPM adapter is another vital piece for your record player. It allows you to play your singles precisely instead of just placing them randomly on the mat. Now some more modern day release single don't have the larger hole in the middle, but back in the late 40's when the 7" single was introduced the large hole served the purpose of being exclusive to the RCA Victor brand. Companies soon realized it was perfect for singles and then drop player machines and jukeboxes came along. In the 50's the most common 45-RPM adapter, The Hutchison, was released, designed to reduce slip on RCA's drop players. In today's record craze there are so many options, primarily falling into plastic or metal, most prefer the sleeker metal ones as they are typically dome-shaped which makes it easier to slide the single on and off of the turntable.
Record weights or clamps
Turntable weights or stabilizers are popular among audiophiles because they help ensure stability and keep needle motion to a minimum. Those archiving their collection digitally often use this as well to get the purest sound of the record. The three primary styles are unthreaded, threaded and collet style. Unthreaded simply slips over your spindle while the threaded, as you've probably gathered, threads onto a threaded spindle. The collet style typically contains a knob to secure tension to the spindle.
Finally, let's get into the records themselves; you'll want to keep those in good shape even when not in use. To protect the vinyl itself you'll need inner sleeves, and once again, like almost everything vinyl related there's more than just one option for us consumers. The three most common are standard paper sleeves, there are also the poly sleeves, the poly-lined paper sleeves and finally, a hybrid, so to speak, the MoFi Original Master Sleeves. The basic, standard paper sleeve, is typically your cheapest option and like all other sleeves prevents dust and whatever else might be floating in between the inner walls of your albums, these however tend to tear over time from the record falling to the bottom and contain a center hole to view the label where dust can get in. The poly sleeves are a clear thin sleeve that hugs your whole record but loses shape easily due to its thin material and usually wrinkle after inserting into your album several times. Lastly are the poly-lined paper sleeves, which are a combination of both; it gives you the stiffness and shape of the paper and the protection of the poly sleeve. For protecting the beautiful album art you can also find outer sleeves for the album jacket. Most are pretty similar though you can get different thicknesses for double and triple gatefold albums.
Record cleaning solutions
Examining record cleaners you will find many different mechanisms and choices, which can be split into two groups; anti-static brushes and record cleaning kits. Anti-static brushes are a must for anyone who listens to their vinyl; it just takes a quick brush while the record spins before and after each listen. This prevents dust build-up in your grooves and reduces static build-up. The other method for deeper cleaning are record cleaning kits, which include both wet and dry brush options that include cleaning solutions. This is the much more effective way to clean your collection and is also recommended to be done regularly. If you want an even simpler method there is a great product called "The Spin-Clean", which is a product most record stores and avid listeners use worldwide. It is a quick and affordable all-inclusive solution for those with large collections and does a fantastic job cleaning your garage sale finds! If you still aren't satisfied with that there are also vacuum clean options, they are much pricier but can save you from replacing your dearest records. There are many different styles that all work slightly different than their competitors, each having their pros and cons. The "Okki Nokki", a common standard for record cleaning machines (RCM), vacuums the dust from inside the grooves. It works and looks like a record player but instead of playing the record, it cleans. One of the biggest pros to the Okki Nokki is the fact that the motor works in both directions and not to mention that it is relatively quiet and small. Before investing your next paycheck on one of these record cleaning machines be sure to look into all the options and find the best system for you!
Now that you've got the rundown on the basics and a breakdown of the accessories that every record owner should know, go get spinning!
Writing and music, it doesn’t get much better than that. I find myself most at peace while writing; be it lyrics, stories or articles, I always feel fulfilled as I get it all out. I’ve got young bones with an old soul, always eager to try new things. If I’m not digging through the bins of my local record store I’m probably writing new music with my band, Alleviate.