Just as owning a camera doesn’t make you a professional photographer, owning a few LP’s and a turntable doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to calling yourself a Vinyl Head. Accessories are the name of the game, and these are a few must-haves for anyone starting a vinyl collection.
Dirty records are harsh for listening, but even worse, the crud will cause premature ware to you turntable’s needle and the grooves of the records themselves. Cleaning your records not only saves your ears from annoying pops and crackles, but prevents irreversible damage to your valuable albums and stylus. There are inexpensive hand-cleaning products as well as automatic washing systems that cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars. It’s up to you do decide how much you’d like to spend.
Note: Home grown methods are also available across the net, but please do your homework first as some recommendations you’ll find are simply too harsh on your vinyl.
Anti-Static Carbon Fiber Brush:
Between cleanings, your albums will still need some minor dust removal. Some prefer lint-free, static-free cloths, but the low cost and highly effective carbon fiber brushes are hard to beat. Before each play, a quick once over dusting will make all the difference and keep your LP’s sounding better longer.
Note: Frequent dusting cannot and does not replace deep cleanings.
While we’re on the subject, Much like vinyl Cleaners, there are different types of stylus cleaners on the market. Like the rest of the products listed in this article, I don’t particularly endorse one over another, but since a clean needle is arguable more important than a clean record, it’s imperative that you choose one if you want to maintain quality turntable sound.
Note: I’m sure you’ve noticed a trend by now. Vinyl audio requires cleaning!
A deck that’s not level will cause skating issues that can result in an audible difference between your left and right speakers, and even cause uneven wear issues on your record. Many turntables have anti-skating adjustment abilities, but it’s always best to start with a level deck so that minimal adjustment is needed.
Note: You can use a use a standard level, but you must be sure that your table is level in all directions.
Tracking Force Gauge:
A turntable worth any merit at all will have tracking force adjustment. It’s as simple as that. Many of these come factory reset, but I highly recommend at least double checking the tracking force upon receiving your new table. Also, each cartridge and stylus recommend a very specific range of force, so this adjustment will have to be readdressed any time you swap carts.
Note: Your turntable must be level in order to find proper tracking force.
There’s going to come a time when you’ll want to throw an LP’s 7-inch little cousin on your platter for some single format tunage. But those 1.5 inch holes won’t fit very snugly on your deck’s 1/4 inch post without the aid of an adapter. You can use the cheap plastic ones, provided you can even still find one, but a heavy machined metal adapter makes you feel much more like an adult and they cool too.
These are only a handful of the accessories you can find to help improve your record stockpile, but they are certainly the essentials. So be sure to budget wisely and add these items to your “buy now” list very soon.