Vinyl FAQ #02: How does dust affect my records and needle?





Answering all those little questions about records, turntables and everything in between.

While owning music on vinyl is really the only way to experience it, there are countless little questions and issues that arise in the storing and playing of records. Until now, we’ve found no easy, digestible answers to those questions – niggles that may have vexed you from day one, or little things you didn’t even know you were doing wrong. So we decided to do something about it.

Having touched on knowing when it’s time to change your needle, we tackle the annoying reality of dust in the groove.

Words: Paul Rigby

One of the most common side-effects of playing a record, dust is as much part of vinyl play as mosquitos are part of many tropical holidays…both fly towards their intended prey and both are about as damaging.

You can’t ignore it but, unless you live in a vacuum or are resident in a controlled environment, you can’t live without it. In the normal course of day to day life, dust is not a problem but, for analogue fans, it can be a complete pain.

Problems are manifold. Firstly, this stuff easily finds its way into vinyl grooves where it lodges and sometimes, given the ‘right’ circumstances, can become compacted and even ‘sticky’. The result is noise during play as the needle ‘plays’ the dust, a reduction in detail to the ear and even, in worse cases, needle jumps as well as an abrasive effect on the grooves over time.

Dust can also collect, be dragged along and build up on the tip of your stylus or needle during play. Problems here include an increasingly muffled sound in sonic terms then, as the stylus loses traction, jumping which can result in groove damage as well as stylus wear and damage.
Solutions? Firstly, play your vinyl in a relatively dust-free room, clean your records on a regular basis using your favourite method, clean your stylus with a Vinyl Passion Dust Buster (£21) and avoid liquids and brushes, keep records static free (dust loves static electricity) by using anti-static inner sleeves while a Zerostat ‘gun’ can be of great help, if you can afford it (£48). Finally, when storing vinyl, slide the vinyl into the inner sleeve then rotate it 90 degrees before sliding it into the outer sleeve, so that the opening of the inner sleeve does not correspond with the outer. Then slide that into a plastic cover.

Got a question you want answering? Let us know in the comments below.

Music: Kickflip Mike & Julius Conrad – Three Turtles © 2016 Tartelet Records