For the record: How to take care of your vinyl collection [Magazine Featured]

Vinyl is the holy grail of the most puristic music lovers. This circular disc available in 7, 10, and 12 inches is the ultimate object of desire for true music enthusiasts, a passion that does not look at musical genres or beats per minute.

Vinyl records were once the primary way to consume music, but those who think it is a format that belongs to the past are wrong. In the US, vinyl sales soared 22% in the first half of the last year and many vintage albums have gone back up in sales. It is safe to say that vinyl is trendy and that it has gained more and more fans across generations.

A vinyl record is a singular object, but it is not. It is impossible to have just one and the challenges of building a good collection are not only in the hunt for the most desired items but also in how to take care of these relics. We’ll give you a hand.

A little bit of history

You know what a vinyl record is, but do you really know? Vinyl is actually the raw material from which records are made. This material replaced the shellac in use in the late 80s, a sign of the times brought about by the plastic revolution in 1990. Vinyl is a synthetic plastic called polyvinyl chloride or more commonly PVC (yes, just like plumbing pipes, but they certainly sound better). The popularization of this format was due to Peter Goldmark, the Hungarian-American engineer at Columbia Records who developed a way to incorporate more or longer music on one disc. It was 1948 and the 33 1/3 rpm phonograph disc was born. Goldmark was the father of long-playing records, the much-desired LPs, increasing the length of the groove and decreasing its width. Despite the speed war and record players still being sold with an rpm setting with three switches (33, 45, and 78), the true format that endures through time is the 33 1/3 rpm. In 1979 the Sony Walkman killed vinyl. At least that’s what was thought for a few years but the truth is that vinyl is back in great shape.

How does the music get in there?

Once created, the music needs to be mastered in a very specific way, adapted to the format that will receive it. The primary recording is done on a lacquer disc using a sapphire-tipped cutter which etches the sound onto the disc. The recording is done in real-time and uninterruptedly, resulting in a continuous groove in the lacquer.


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Image credit: Jurian Kersten on Unsplash