The topic of how to store vinyl records may seem like a bore if you don’t own any. But it’s pretty detailed and kind of fun.
A great record shelf can add flair to your living room. Besides, records are making a comeback!
Today, we’re looking at how to store vinyl records properly and hoping to ignite that audiophile in you.
When Did Vinyl Records First Become Popular?
The earliest phonograph records date back to the late 1800s. These early discs were made primarily from shellac, with recordings of about 3-5 minutes per side. The record business was slow until Jazz took off in 1917. The idea that you could hear music without being in front of someone playing it seemed magical.
Record sales dipped again when radios became more accessible in the 20s and 30s. But the invention of Jukeboxes where you could select tracks helped keep records alive. A healthy competition between radios and record players resulted in clever new technology!
The most significant boost for vinyl records came in 1948 when Columbia Records introduced the first long play record. The company switched the speed from 78 rpm to 33 ⅓.
This change and the choice to use microgroove vinyl instead of shellac allowed multiple tracks per side. Stores like Tower Records became a go-to hangout for young people and music nerds.
Vinyl records hit peak popularity from the mid-50s through the late 70s. The record store was the coolest place to mix and mingle. Baby Boomers were coming of age and suddenly had many genres of music at their fingertips. International imports became cherished treasures.
Vinyl record sales began to decline in the 80s with the invention of portable audio players, or The Walkman. Although cassette tapes had been around since the 60s, it was the walkman that let you carry your music everywhere.
Then came CDs, Napster, and the digital world today. Although vinyl record sales took a considerable dip in the early aughts, records are back!
From the Muse: Check out Record Store Day if you’re looking for proof of the vinyl record comeback!
Vinyl Records Versus Digital Recordings
What comes to mind when you hear someone say can you feel the vibes? Vinyl records retain the sound of a song in a completely different way than digital recordings. Digital recordings are made up of zeros and ones.
The recording of each piece of equipment, including the human voice, gets digitally converted. The most popular method of holding the song, the mp3, compresses it to make it take up very little space.
Vinyl recordings, on the other hand, are entirely analog. They’re also in a lossless format. All the detail retained in the master recording is transferred to the vinyl. The additional IRL items needed to play the vinyl – the record player and needle – give the sound more richness and warmth.
If you’ve been blown away by the vibrations you felt at a live gig, think of vinyl as the closest scenario to this.
Some people prefer vinyl over digital because you can hold the artwork in your hand. In addition, most people who buy vinyl records enjoy searching for records almost as much as listening to them.
It’s called flippin’ through the bins. Not only that, but you own your music! Artists can pull songs out of streaming services. But they can’t come into your home and take their records back.
Nevertheless, digital recordings are great too! They’re convenient, portable, and easy to find. The average music listener will probably not notice much difference between vinyl records and digital. Get yourself some great speakers and headphones, and you’ll be set.
What Is the Proper Way to Store Vinyl Records?
The most important thing to remember when storing vinyl records is to stand them vertically. You should be able to read the spine of each album cover, side by side. Never lay them flat, stacked atop one another. Horizontal stacking leads to warps, molding, and other vinyl nightmares.
Most records come with an inner sleeve upon purchase. Make sure they’re plastic, or at least anti-static paper. A strong outer sleeve will protect the cover from wear and spills. You can buy both inner and outer sleeves in bulk on Amazon or specialty stores like Turntable Lab.
Store your records on sturdy shelving, preferably made of wood. Record cubes are great and are easy to find these days. Try Etsy, Wayfare, and Amoeba Records. It’s best to store records in groups of 15 to 30 to avoid unwanted pressure.
The easy solution is to place dividers between your records according to genre or artist name. Get to know your local record store, and you’ll develop some great ideas.
High heat is the death of all vinyl. Humidity can lead to molding. The best climate for records is mid-temperature, which means that the average living room will be fine.
Make sure to store your vinyl records out of direct sunlight. And use climate-controlled storage units for long-term storage. Vinyl flight cases will ensure proper air circulation.
Cleaning and Handling
If you’ve ever watched your favorite DJ closely, you may have noticed how easily they flip their records. They always handle vinyl by the edges. It’s best to keep your paws off the grooves, only touching the inner label when needed.
Clean your records by placing them on your turntable with the power off. The only tools you’ll need are a record cleaning brush and cleaning liquid. Audio-Technica and Vinyl Buddy make great brushes.
Top vinyl cleaning liquids include Groove Washer, Near Mint, and D4. For those on a tight budget, one quart of distilled water with a couple of drops of alcohol works wonders.
Remember to brush the record in the direction of the grooves. And change your record player needles regularly!
Why Are Vinyl Records Making a Comeback?
Honestly, vinyl records never went away. Sure, maybe most of your friends got rid of them when mp3s made it seem like you should. Out with the old and in with the new! But while the normcore world was saying bye-bye to their turntables and hello to Alexa, record nerds kept the dream alive. We never stopped buying records.
While the world was experiencing amnesia about why owning records is so much fun, collectors bought up batches of ultra-cheap records. And now those record collections are so amazing that young kids everywhere are mesmerized.
Record collecting is uncharted territory for the under 30. And guess what? This is the age group that’s buying the most vinyl today.
Record sales surpassed CD sales in 2020 for the first time since 1986. Who needs CDs when you have streaming services, and your phone is your walkman? But more importantly, younger generations are interested intangible items. They want the experience of holding a record and reading the liner notes while listening to it.
If You Own Vinyl Records, Store Them Properly
Our Gen X friends used to moan about the world being filled with passive music listeners. Those who thought of music as a backdrop at a store or in a movie. Only the cool kids were with it enough to be active music listeners. Well, slackers, times have changed once again!
More people are buying albums, slowing down, and actively listening to music than ever before. Storing vinyl records is not a chore: it’s an art form. It’s fun! Your choices can be part of your home decor and will certainly lift your spirits. So store them properly!
Do you own a vinyl record collection? Tell us about it!