Your turntable may have cost $200 or $200,000, but if your vinyl is dirty, you may as well be listening to AM radio.
Dust, mould and other muck on your LP records won't just add pops and crackles, they'll clog your stylus and dull your listening experience. While record brushes and cloths are great for removing visible particles, a whole heap of other gunk is sitting in your grooves messing with your music.
So - how to clean vinyl records so they sound like new again? We're glad you asked!
3 tried and tested ways to clean your vinyl
1) The wet bath method
Giving your records a bath will get rid of the 'baked on' grime that brushes and other dry methods can't remove. There are a number of products and cleaning solutions out there that will do a great job of restoring your vinyl to its original state but we can't go past the Knosti Disco Antistat
- a record cleaning kit that's been a favourite of vinyl lovers for 35 years.
The Disco-Antistat fills the gap between cheap brushes and cloths and expensive record cleaning machines and does an amazing job - which is why it has remained virtually unchanged since its release in 1978.
The Knosti system is a quick and cost-effective way of cleaning your records, at a fraction of the price of mechanised record cleaning machines. The recommended retail price is $169, and we have them in stock in our Brisbane store. The video review below gives you a good run-down on how it works:
2) Record cleaning machines
If you're really serious about your vinyl, a purpose-built cleaning machine is the way to go. These can be bought or hired - the latter being the better option for many given that the machines generally range from $1300 - $4000 a pop.
One of our favourites is the VPI HW-16.5
- a machine that's been in production for over 30 years. It's not particularly pretty, it's a bit noisy (not that it matters much) but it does a superb job of cleaning records quickly (about 30 seconds per side including drying) and effectively. It has a high powered vacuum pickup mechanism that removes all residues, and the anti-static cleaning fluid helps prevent build-up of new material.
We can hire out the VPI HW 16.5 for $250 for a weekend, including cleaning fluid, which should give you enough time to clean your whole collection (What?! You have 5,000 LPs?!)
For more info on the different record cleaning machines available, check out this recent article
and for a detailed review of the HW 16.5, watch the video below:
3) Revirginize your records
The folks over at Record Revirginizer
have taken a different approach to record cleaning. Instead of wet baths or dry cloths and brushes, they've come up with a liquid that spreads over your records, dries out, then lifts off, taking all the gunk with it.
It's remarkably effective too - we've used it on dozens of albums and the difference is astounding. Not only do the pops and crackles disappear but the original depth and clarity of the recordings is restored - records quite genuinely sound new again.
The downside is that it's fairly labour intensive as each record needs to be treated one side at a time and it takes 4-12 hours to dry. Record Revirginizer costs $59.95 per bottle, which can clean around 16 LPs, so if you have a huge collection, the cost will add up. If pristine sound with zero fluid residue is important though, it's worth it!
Check out Record Revirginizer on ABC's 'New Inventors' program in the video below: