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How To Play Your Records

Picture of a record player on a dresser with pink floyd record next to it

Playing your records is part and parcel of keeping your record collection in the best possible condition while learning to appreciate the incredible collection that you have accumulated.

Learning to handle your records with care is the primary starting point to looking after them. Whether you’re into 12 Inch or 7 Inch or both, no self respecting collector would ever want to inadvertently damage a record.

Handling Records

Handle the vinyl by the edges or the label only—with clean hands, of course.

Once you’ve finished playing a record, put it back in its sleeve and cover. This will eliminate dust accumulation on the record, as well as unwanted fingerprints or scratches. Remember, the less you touch a record, the cleaner it will be (and if it’s a rare record, the higher its potential value). So hands off!

Dust Cover On Your Record Player: Off or On (Up or Down)?

This is mostly a matter of personal preference. Playing records with the dust cover down may prevent dust from settling on the turntable or the record, but some believe that leaving the cover down ruins the sound of the record. My suggestion is to try it both ways to see which you prefer.

The dust cover pictured above is the extreme of how how far people will go – remember dust is your enemy. Keep them away from it to achieve the best possible playback.

Below is a graphic demonstrating the typical record player setup

How do turntables work?

When a stylus moves through a record’s grooves, an electric signal is created. Compared to signals emitted from CDs and cassettes, though, it’s very weak. Older amplifiers compensated for this by having phono channels that boosted the signal, making it possible to listen to records. Since it’s not needed for CDs and cassette tapes, many modern amplifiers don’t have this channel. As a result, the record’s electric signal is too weak to be audible. By purchasing a pre-amp, though, you can give the signal the extra boost it needs before reaching the amp—and your records will sound great. 

How to avoid scratching records

To limit the risk of scratching your records and LPs during playback, keep your dust cover down or closed. Try also to ensure you use the tone arm when lowering the stylus, don’t just drop that needle!

Alway put your records back in the sleeve with a sleeve insert. Never leave your records lying around.

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