A handler’s guide to handling records

Vinyl may seem like a thing of the past, but it is currently in the process of replacing CDs altogether. Vinyl is expected to outsell CDs for the first time since 1986, with revenue increasing by over 12 percent in the last year, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Since vinyl doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon, music listeners should be cautious with their handling of records to ensure maximum life expectancy and quality.

Overtime, pressure and heat will begin to warp a record. Records are best stored upright in a dry, temperature-controlled environment. Avoid stacking records on top of one another – a cheap milk crate can double as the perfect storage unit.

It’s also best to keep records in their inner sleeves (whether it be paper, polypropylene or a combination of the two) within their jackets. Although records are works of art that should be displayed, refrain from hanging them directly on a wall and opt for an enclosed frame instead – protecting the record from collecting dust or dings, while also preserving its artistic integrity.

When transferring records from their jackets to a record player, be careful to only handle them by their edges or center label. The only thing that should touch a record’s grooves is the player’s needle, as skin transfers oils that could attract dust and increase the risk of getting scratched.

While there are several methods to consider when cleaning records, dry cleaning using a carbon fibre brush or microfiber cloth is tried and true. Regardless of the vessel, be gentle when cleaning records and mindful of chemicals you may be exposing them to. Though a record should be wiped down (at the least) after every play, an easier habit to incorporate is designating a day of the week to care for your records.

In terms of categorizing, preferences are unique to the collector: alphabetical by artist, album title, genre, occasion – perhaps without rhyme or reason. Feel free to experiment and rearrange your records to your liking.

Happy listening!

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