The simple physics of record playback presume that your stylus makes use of the grooves on records and relays the information contained there to your speakers. (very simplified) What are grooves...to put it simply, they are ditches and as we all know, ditches fill up with stuff. Over time, dust, oil and lots of other yucky-type stuff make their way to the grooves of your records. In order for your stylus to accurately relay the information contained there, it would be nice if it didn't come across this "stuff". Like a smooth road rides better than one with pot holes and rocks...a smooth clean record gives you the best chance at a great recording and listening experience.
There are many different solutions available for cleaning records...from a simple cloth and distilled water to multi-hundred dollar automated vacuum machines that deposit a solution on the record to loosen the dirt and then instantly vacuum it off of the surface of the record. Our sister company, Tracer Technologies sells products that range from around $50 to $500 depending on the amount of records you need to clean and the budget you want to spend. Click Here to learn more about Record Cleaning.
After you've cleaned the surface many aficionados suggest plowing the record. This is simply the act of using a smaller stylus (.6 mil for 45s and LPs or 2.3 for many 78s) and playing the record post cleaning to get lower in the grooves and dredge up those remnants of dirt that remain.
After the optional plowing phase, then it is wise to clean the surface yet again.
Do not use
solvents such as alcohol
acetate (transcription) recordings! These
solvents will destroy the recording.
as ethanol, methanol, or isopropyl alcohol diluted with distilled water are
sometimes used to clean vinyl recordings. Never
use benzene, gasoline, naphthalene or any other similar hydrocarbon based
solvent to clean the surface of any type of recording!
Acetate recordings are often covered with a white coating that appears as a
powdery substance on their surface. This
material (hexadecanoic acid) is not soluble in H2O.
It is suggested that records with this problem be played "wet"
using distilled H2O for the best transfer.
Do not attempt to use solvents to remove the acid.