Improving the playing surface of your vinyl records

Continuing our series on upgrading. Let’s consider how to upgrade the performance of the record itself. This may sound strange but your record performance can be significantly improved by the way you clean your records and in particular by using a better cleaning fluid. There are fluids recommended by record cleaning machine manufacturers that will clean out debris but do nothing for sound quality – not only this but they actually cause slight damage to your records.

To get a picture of why the surface of your record counts for a lot in terms of performance, take a quick look at the link below of an Olympic skier negotiating his way through a series of severe bumps at high speed. The type of wax used on the underside of skis in these Olympic events can make the difference between winning and losing. In the same way the performance of your cartridge is affected by the record surface itself.

In the past I’ve found cleaning records tedious and unrewarding in terms of any instant performance improvement on most records – OK there may be fewer cracks and pops but no really significant change in the sound unless the record was horrendously dirty. Cleaning records is not the most glamorous subject for this reason. That’s all changed for me since discovering the difference it makes to use a better cleaning machine with a properly formulated cleaning fluid. The advantages are:

  • Immediate performance increase even on brand new records
  • Protecting the longevity of your record collection
  • Massively increasing the life of the cartridge stylus by up to 3 times the norm

This is a subject that not many people are overly familiar with. Being aware of the issues involved, makes it easy to see the pros and cons of various record cleaning methods on the market. For example, are ultra-sonic machines the ultimate solution for cleaning? and if not, why not?

There is a lot to be covered so I’ve put together a video to outline little known facts on this important area.

Most of the information has been contributed by world leading experts in the field and this video has been produced with their approval.

Thanks go to Martina Schroder: 7 times winner of the Absolute Sound Magazine awards for her cleaning fluids. Martina has also lectured around the world on cleaning records not to mention her training in chemistry and work in record cleaning archives libraries.

Terry O’Sullivan: Director of Loricraft, has been building record cleaning machines for around 25 years. Unsurprisingly Terry has an incredible level of experience in this field. John Burns who imports Dynavector cartridges into the UK. John has also worked for Linn and is an expert on stylus care.