How to store your record collection in 8 steps

How to store your record collection in 8 steps

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VRS

Despite being one of the most durable physical music formats around, neglect your records and you risk introducing surface noise, scratches, even warping. With these perils in mind, our tech guru Paul Rigby outlines how to store a record collection properly. 


Words: Paul Rigby


For many years now, the top issue brought up by the anti-vinyl brigade is the noise that vinyl makes when it is playing. The snap, crackle, pops, the background hiss, the clicks and more. People who dislike vinyl point their fingers at this issue as if its a design flaw.

It’s also an old chestnut that ignores many factors which largely result from a lack of basic cleaning and proper storage. If you don’t store your vinyl properly, then it will affect playback sound quality very quickly. Its easy to prove the point yourself. Just buy yourself a clean, new vinyl record, hear the silence from the first few plays then leave the record, out of its sleeve, open to the elements, pick it up with dirty fingers, use it as a frisbee and a beer mat and, well blow me down, you’ve got yourself one noisy record. It’s not rocket science, is it?

That’s not all, of course, if you don’t store your records properly, you also open up the possibility of excessive wear, warping and abrasion. The record itself is not the only target. Part of the joy of buying vinyl is the sleeve, often holding beautiful artwork plus readable and informative sleeve notes. Without correct storage, your sleeves can be bent, creased, affected by scuffing, water damaged and more.

You pay a lot of money for a new piece of vinyl. Take care of it and it will reward you with a lifetime of pleasurable use. So how should you store your vinyl?




inner

Step One: Inner Sleeves


Recommended product: Analogue Studio 12″ Inner Sleeves
Price: £15.99 [50 pack]
Buy: www.analogueseduction.net

The inner sleeve is the only item listed here that will regularly come into contact with your precious vinyl. Hence, it is absolutely essential as a storage medium. The worst kind is made from pure paper. Move your record in and out of a paper inner and, over the years, it will act like a fine grain piece of sandpaper, adding surface noise to your record. Recommended inners arrive in two flavours, either as a delicate plastic liner within a paper inner or as a round-bottomed plastic-only variant. The latter is useful because you don’t have to struggle to get the corners of a paper inner into the card sleeve, which causes folding and creasing.


Sleeve

Step Two: Outer Sleeves


Recommended product: PVC Outer Sleeves
Price: £17.50 [50 pack]
Buy: www.covers33.co.uk

You will need an outer covering to accompany the inner. This will protect your vinyl’s card sleeve but will also prevent dust finding the record (and abrading it over time). Be careful here. Don’t buy the heavy gauge plastic samples and feel smug about it. When compressed, these thick plastic covers can eventually stick to the record sleeve and pull the artwork right off. Stick to the soft, roomy and much cheaper sleeves. You can find outers for both 10” records and 7” singles too.


Vinyl Bags

Step Three: Vinyl Bags


Recommended product: Mylar Sleeves
Price: £32.99 [pack of 100]
Buy: www.snvinyl.co.uk

While we have talked about the outer plastic sleeve for your record protection, we have yet to mention a new variant on that theme. The vinyl bag. Made from high quality 2mm thick Myler, it fits snuggly like a standard outer sleeve but the top of the bag has a large flap and an adhesive strip on the outside. So, while a standard plastic sleeve remains open on one side, the Mylar bag protects the record but also keeps the air and any airborne rubbish out.


shelf

Step Four: Shelving


Recommended product: IKEA KALLAX
Price: £85
Buy: www.ikea.com

Now that your record is encased, where do you put it? A shelving system is essential. One of the best, in budget terms and flexibility, is the IKEA KALLAX. It can be bought in varying sizes – the illustrated example seen here is the largest model available – while variants have insets to hold baskets and boxes or space for a TV. This model holds around 2,300 LPs. Great value for money. One thing, though, if you buy this model and pack it full of records, the accumulated weight will make it lean to one side and collapse like a pack of cards. You need to add strength so invest in metal brackets of some sort to firm up the overall structure. For example, L-shaped brackets to strengthen each shelf which can cost a couple of pound for a pack of two or even fit metal cross bars on the rear.


Dividers

Step Five: Record Dividers


Recommended product: Kate Koeppel Record Dividers
Price: from £150
Buy: www.soundfowndations.co.uk

Once you have stuffed your IKEA shelving with records, you probably won’t have a clue where anything is. The classic solution to that is a set of cheap plastic record dividers on which you can scribble the alphabet or music genres, to provide a sense of cataloging. Cheap but messy and definitely tacky. Kate Koeppel is a US-based designer who has launched a collection of restrained, high quality, laser cut wood record dividers as an alternative. The collection of typographic wood panels include: two tab styles, horizontal tabs for shelving and vertical tabs for record boxes; two sizes for 12” and 7” records; two typographical versions, a full twenty-six panel A–Z set for large record collections and an abbreviated six panel set (A-D, E-H, I-L, M-P, Q-T, U-Z) for smaller collections and two lettering styles: engraved or stencilled.


6

Step Six: Archive Storage


Recommended product: Really Useful Plastic Storage Box 19 Litre
Price: £12
Buy: www.amazon.co.uk

If you are looking to store your vinyl in an archive for long term storage and stacking where quick access is not a priority then a top down box (as opposed to a side storing shelf) is the answer. Cardboard boxes are not strong enough. Heavy duty plastic is the answer. The Really Useful Box range is ideal. This illustrated 19 litre model stores around 50 records, making easy transport possible. Vinyl can become too heavy for safe lifting beyond that. The handles are strong with a pattern on the lid that allows for sturdy and stable stacking with other boxes of this type.


Box


Step Seven: Mobile Vinyl Box

Recommended product: Citronic CVA50
Price: £40
Buy: www.juno.co.uk

Storage doesn’t have to be for static purposes. You can store records for mobile reasons. What happens if you want to transport vinyl? How do you protect them? This Citronic box is just one of many ‘flight cases’ out there. You may have your own favourite. This example is a strong, aluminium variant that holds up to 50 LPs. It arrives with internal padding while, on the outside of the case, there are chrome plated steel corners giving additional strength and protection. You also get a padded carry handle and lockable lid catch.


8


Step Eight: Vinyl Bag

Recommended product: UDG Bag
Price: £35
Buy: www.decks.co.uk

The record bag is another type of mobile storage but is distinct from the flight case type. This example offers a main compartment that can handle 40 vinyl albums. It’s useful for vinyl fans or DJs who might want to keep their precious or valuable discs close to them at all times or for transporting discs to a friend’s house, for example. More expensive models feature additional pocket and storage options, while their larger wheelie bags for DJs with more time to fill are also a solid choice.


Illustrations: Abigail Carlin

  • Roman Orlov

    I’m gonna spend my money on records instead.

    • Paul Rigby

      You’re a rebel, Roman.

    • Here4AHS

      True! Especially since I love the sound of an old vinyl before and after the song! Rather get myself more 2nd hand 33s

  • Any Australian shop recommendation for the outer sleeves? Shipping from UK would cost me an arm and a leg

    • Paul Rigby
      • Thanks but no, thanks. More than $1 a sleeve? This is just insane.

        • Paul Rigby

          I’m sure you would have more luck in finding more competitive prices if you looked for local outlets using Google, Thibaut.

          • I’m sure I wouldn’t lose my time asking for advice to humans if a robot could give me a better solution, quicker.

          • Renata Zelazna

            Have you checked eBay?

          • andm369

            amazon.

  • Guest

    You’re a rebel, Roman.

  • Guest
  • Kate Koeppel

    Thanks for sharing this Paul, cool round up, and I love the illustrations! I have one addition to this list: Simple Wood Goods makes some very minimal, modular record crates for storing vinyl. They ship internationally as well! https://www.simplewoodgoods.com/product/lp-record-storage-cube

    • Paul Rigby

      Lovely – thanks Kate

  • Drbryant

    Please do not buy PVC outer sleeves. PVC leaches gas as the plasticizer used to make it flexible degrades. This can happen very quickly or take years. Once it begins degrading the gas penetrates outer sleeves and causes permanent damage to vinyl.

    • Paul Rigby

      Are you referring to those very thick sleeves, Drbryant?I find that they also stick to your sleeve art too which is promptly ripped off when you take the sleeve out after long term storage. I prefer the very soft plastic sleeves myself.

  • Maj

    Hello.

    I have some sort of an advice to ask for. I have bought outer poly thick sleeves for my vinyls, and have them stored in inner paper/poly sleeves and their original artwork. I also have a Magma 100 trolley.

    Because of the vinyl’s being in their inner sleeve, original sleeve and outer poly sleeve.. this takes up a lot of space. So i was thinking of just storing them in inner paper/poly sleeves and outer poly sleeves. Would this provide a good enough protection? Or is it better to also keep them in their original artwork cover.

    Any tips and explanation would be of great use.

    Peace!

    • Maj

      I would leave the one’s with special artwork also in their original sleeves. But for those which have a plain black original sleeve i would store inner poly/paper and outer poly only.
      If! this doesn’t impede the protection in a large way.

      tips please :)!

      • Paul Rigby

        No, that sounds fine, you might want to store the card sleeves carefully, for future use or sale, though. How will you tell which is which? New labels on the outside of the plastic sleeve?

  • Rudy™

    The mylar sleeves with the resealable flap are terrible. I’ve had more than one flap stick to the record jacket while using it. I’ll stick to standard sleeves which don’t destroy my collection, thank you.

  • Arno

    Filotrax make great record dividers too.

  • Adrian Luvdup

    The discussion about the thick plastic outer sleeves has got me running scared! My entire LP collection was stored in them and I’ve now just taken all 2000+ off my records! Is the general consensus that this is the wise thing to do? I didn’t have any problems although some were quite difficult ro remove… There’s a lot more room on the shelves which has made me realise just how tightly packed they all were. If I’m careful with my beloved vinyl are outer sleeves of any sort really necessary at all do you think?

    • Paul Rigby

      Outer sleeves protect the artwork, Adrian, and restrict dust entry into the sleeve. I would go for polythene sleeves. You can buy different gauges but I would go for the heavier type.

  • Horace Morris

    Give me some sturdy file boxes any time…