Whether I'm hunting for used LP's or buying virgin vinyl, I always clean my records to reduce surface noise and enjoy maximum fidelity. These three methods for cleaning your vinyl and stylus needle will bring you closer to the music and help preserve your albums for years to come. 1. Dry brush method - The easiest way to remove dust particles manually is to use a carbon fiber record brush. These brushes are common and can be found at HiFi stores online for between $15 and $30. I use an Audioquest Carbon Fiber Brush, which will set you back $25.
Gently hold the brush fibers in the grooves as the record spins, this way you can collect dust particles and also reduce static build-up. After the record makes a full rotation, you can angle the fibers toward the outside of the LP and carefully sweep the particles off the vinyl surface.
2. Wet brush method - While a dry brush is fine for everyday cleaning, a wet brush will help when removing dirt and fingerprints. Last All-Purpose record cleaner is a vinyl cleaning solution that is safe to use and environmentally friendly (about $27, but it will last a long while). A microfiber hand brush is included for spreading the cleaning solution around your LP record.
Apply several drops of cleaning fluid across the microfiber brush. Then, use the nozel to evenly distrubute the solution.
Use a flat table and place your record on a non-scratching LP sleeve. Hold the record in place while you rotate the wet brush around the vinyl surface. Continue to rotate around the record while absorbing the cleaning solution, or use a separate dry brush to remove any excess fluid. After drying the vinyl surface, place your record in an archival sleeve to ensure it stays dust free.
After cleaning, it is important to replace those white paper sleeves with non-scratching archival sleeves. This will stop that white paper dust from getting on your LPs and also ensure your cleaning efforts are preserved.
3. Stylus cleaner - The record needle or stylus, picks up fine debris as it follows the grooves of a LP. Cleaning the stylus between record playing will remove these particles and allow greater detail retrevial during playback. Last Stylus Cleaner looks like a bottle of nailpolish, and includes a built in applicator. Make sure to turn your phono amp off or mute your speakers when cleaning the stylus tip.
Apply the brush across the stylus once or twice to remove any debris build up.
For large record collections, I recommend the Clearaudio Double Matrix professional record cleaner. This ingenious German design cleans both sides and vacuums dry - all in one minute per LP. Serious vinyl junkies wish come true.
This post was written by Vahan Baladouni of HIFIQC (High-Fidelity Quality Control) as part of a guest post series focusing upon audiophile tips and techniques.
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(Images: Vahan Baladouni)