Before CDs there were the default mainstream medium for listening to high quality music and sound – the vinyl disk also known as the record album. While still in demand by audiophiles who are not digital natives, they are slowly being replaced by digital recordings and are likely to soon follow the Talking Machine into museums. Yet there are those who maintain that vinyl recordings will remain relevant for at least another 20 years. So if you are someone who has vinyl recordings or are thinking of discovering the difference for yourself, take heart that manufacturers are still making phonographs, the needles, and speakers to listen to your vinyl recordings on.
Taking care of vinyl albums requires a good deal of attention. While audio recordings have largely gone digital and cannot be damaged, any damage to your vinyl recordings can make them difficult to listen to or virtually unplayable. So here are some basic tips on how to take care of your investment in memory or in time.
Never store your albums flat down, especially not on top of one another. This often results in the albums warping, so while it is possible to play a vinyl album that is slightly warped, it practically can be seen as the beginning of the end for that recording. Stacking them is likely to warp multiple recordings simultaneously. Instead, store them in their original album cover, on their edge.
If stacking vinyl will warp them, it is a certainty leaving them in a warm room or in the sun will permanently damage them. If you have vinyl seats in your car and sit on them when the sun has been shining on them for a while, you will understand the problem immediately. Though the vinyl in albums has a somewhat different quality, the result will be the same. But vinyl is resistant to moisture and humidity, so a cool, humid area should not cause much problem.
By the way, vinyl was not used in album recordings until the 1920’s. If you have an album around that time or before, the material is likely not vinyl but a combination of shellac and perhaps finely ground up rock. That is why they are so much heavier than vinyl.
Finally, dust and dirt will erode the surface of the vinyl and significantly reduce audio quality. The album covers and inner sleeve are there to keep your vinyl safe from dust and dirt. Dusty rooms or generally dusty environments will play havoc with your vinyl collection. If you see someone in a movie blow the dust off a vinyl album, it is only for dramatic effect.