Analogue enthusiasts pay a price for their affection, as their collection’s longevity depends on the measures of treatment they take. Learn more about these measures in the article below. As fellow audiophiles, we’d like to share our feelings on this matter and, hopefully, make vinyl record preservation less of a headache for any analogue devotee.
From the 60s to present day: the struggle to preserve vinyl
In the late 40s – early 50s vinyl records became widely available to the average consumer. Old shellac disks (as well as the ones made out of vulcanite and acetate) have been mostly left behind, and thus the vinyl revolution has begun. For a while, the topic of vinyl record preservation wasn’t of great concern, as the technology was relatively new and superior to recording methods of old. In 1959, the subject of deterioration of grooved disks and magnetic tape was investigated in “Preservation of Sound Recordings”, published by the Library of Congress. While this certainly was a move forward in this field, this report mainly focused on the chemicals that make up a record and how it reacts to stress, instead of actually looking into what causes the record’s gradual degradation and how to stop it.
“The Preservation and Restoration of Sound Recording” by Jerry McWilliams was a far more helpful work for record collectors and sound archivists, and basic principles of vinyl record preservation that were relayed in this report (along with information on how disk damage relates to frequency of use and how poorly adjusted equipment affects the quality) are still widely used to this day. This field of study was expanded upon in later works, such as “Audio Preservation, A Planning Study”, which was an incredibly detailed 860 pages-spanning report.
LP record preservation today
The introduction of digital audio has hampered any further research in this field, which is why there are no widely accepted standards of vinyl record preservation. However, there are a few basic principles and guidelines that most audio professionals generally agree upon: records need to be cleaned, appropriately stored and maintained, preferably in a stable environment with no change in temperature and humidity. But these recommendations are very loose and can be interpreted in many ways, so how does one make sure his record collection is kept in good conditions?
Well, let’s look at the basics – proper vinyl record cleaning. Attempting to play a dirty LP isn’t just aesthetically unpleasant, but it is also very harmful to the record. Removing deposits of accumulated foreign substances is imperative, as the biggest contributor to your record’s demise is your ordinary household dust. If dust isn’t regularly removed, it may bury itself into the record beyond the point of extraction, causing all kinds of distortion and sonic artifacts.
That was step one. Step two is anti-static treatment, as the friction cause by the interaction between the stylus of the turntable and the record’s grooves will generate static charges, which will negatively impact the audio quality. This is why acquiring a good static killer is a must for any audiophile.
Step three of your cleaning procedure would be disinfecting the record. Now, this step might seem somewhat unexpected, but large quantities of vinyl disks kept in a closed, stable environment with balanced temperature and humidity (which is how your collection should ideally be stored) creates an ideal habitat for various bacteria, which could be very harmful for your health.
Remember: these are the essentials of old vinyl record preservation, as we can spend countless hours debating proper handling, storing, reformatting, adjusting and taking care of playing equipment – basically all kinds of factors that affect the longevity of your records. Nevertheless, all of the basic cleaning procedures described above are pretty much obligatory, which is why Chisto devised a kit that includes a record cleaning solution for each of these tasks. All of our liquids are very straightforward in their application (one of them is literally called “Spray&Wipe”) and their description on the website has everything you need to know about their special qualities and features – we made every effort to ensure your vinyl record cleaning experience will be as easy and painless as possible.
So whether you require a simple solution for vinyl record cleaning, are looking for an effective record static killer or want to purchase an all-purpose vinyl record cleaning kit, Chisto is here to lend our guidance in order to prolong the lifespan of your audio treasury and help in vinyl record preservation.