Record cleaning – what’s all the noise about?

Sound quality and cleanliness isn’t only about those annoying clicks and pops interfering to spoil your music experience. Anything on the record surface is a contaminant that may be damaging your record and stylus, and spoiling the proper interaction between disc and tracker, as well as shortening their useful life. Then there’s static electrical charge on the disc surface that attracts dust and other small particles of saliva, chocolate, talc, fingerprint oil, dead skin, etc., and alters the performance of the pickup cartridge and the ability of the stylus to properly follow the three-dimensional twists and turns and undulations of the groove.

The viel that contaminants, including mould release oil on new discs, puts over the cartridge output is graininess and loss of dynamics, and unrealistic musical texture. Ensuring a scrupiously clean vinyl disc lifts this mask, improving clarity, bass depth, resolution and definition, and quieting the background of the disc-stylus interaction.

I’ve used several methods in trying to rejuvenate dirty discs.

My homemade vacuuming process, as featured on TNT-Audio, a GEM Dandy hydraulic washing apparatus (also reviewed for TNT-Audio), and Gold Note Kymyas detergent cleaner. All are very effective in enhancing the musicality of record playback, as well as reducing if not removing the crackles. I’m about to start using a low-cost ultrasonic bath cleaning machine, and will report my findings in a TNT-Audio.com review soon.

If you have to keep cleaning your stylus, then your records are dirty and need thorough cleaning. It may seem time-consuming and a bit messy, but think of the cost of impaired sound quality and damaged stylus and records. Cleanliness is a virtue and an investment.

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