One great aspect of vinyl record collecting is the countless improvements and upgrades you can make to build and improve on any setup. No matter how much you spent on your deck, there are numerous vinyl accessories that can make a significant difference to your Hi-Fi experience.
Some vinyl accessories are essential if you want your records to last a lifetime and beyond. Thankfully, most of the basics won’t break the bank, and you’ll thank yourself in years to come when your records still sound as superb as the day you first sat them down on your turntable.
What are the top vinyl record accessories we deem essential for any collector? Keep scrolling below to see what makes the A-list.
Carbon Fiber Record Brush
We recommend a carbon fiber record cleaning brush in every article on record cleaning we’ve ever published. Why? Because it’s absolutely the first essential step when cleaning a record. Not only should you use the brush before and after each playback on both sides to prevent dust build-up over time. But, you absolutely must use a carbon brush before any wet cleaning process. Proceeding directly to wet cleaning your records will only push all of this loose dust into the grooves, potentially making the cleaning process more difficult, or worse, making otherwise easy to remove surface dust stubborn and challenging to clean.
Stylus Cleaning Kit
The carbon brush mentioned above will minimize dust build-up on your stylus, but it’s inevitable that dust and gunk will occasionally materialize on the stylus tip. Cleaning the stylus regularly with a little cleaning fluid will take off all that nasty stuff. We use the GrooveWasher SC1 Stylus Cleaning Kit.
You can use the ergonomic, angled brush both dry and with a little fluid. If you want to be really disciplined, I recommend using the brush dry after every record side, and then use with a little fluid every few records (or whenever you see dust build-up).
Record Cleaning Kit
All records occasionally benefit from a wet clean, as even the most disciplined of collectors will find their records develop a few pops or clicks here and there. In the case of used records bought from your local record store or online, these will undoubtedly require cleaning before you enjoy them.
Again, GrooveWasher make an essential kit for hand-cleaning vinyl records that is both affordable and highly effective. Their G2 record cleaning fluid and the new, stronger G3 formula are the best record cleaning fluids we’ve tested. Safe on your records, yet highly efficient when it comes to removing oils from fingerprints, stubborn dust and grime.
A few years back, I was sent a new record cleaning concept to review called Cyber Clean Vinyl & Phono Care. If you’ve ever seen the gel-based putty promoted as a way to clean the gaps between your keyboard and other hard-to-reach places, you’ll know the kind of thing I mean.
As a method of cleaning records, I didn’t find it very effective. However, I have used this product to clean my turntable and other Hi-Fi gear. It’s a superb way to remove dust build-up in difficult-to-reach places without spreading dust into the air. It’s also handy for taking off any dust build-up on record cleaning products, such as GrooveWasher’s walnut cleaning handle. A quick (careful) dab of this putty on the microfiber cloth before cleaning can help to stop the spread of dust. Better still, also keep your GrooveWasher kit inside their perspex case to prevent airborne dust from settling on the cleaning pad.
A Record Weight or Clamp
Clamps and weights optimize record playback by improving contact with the turntable platter. Weights also add mass, which can help with speed consistency. In the case of mild warps, they can help mitigate the issue and improve tracking. Weights sit on the record spindle; record clamps are different in that you physically clamp the record to your platter using a screw-based record clamp that also sits on the center spindle.
LED Turntable Light
LED lights are the perfect turntable companion — particularly if your listening space is in a low-light environment, such as a basement.
Besides adding light and atmosphere, the right LED light can also make record inspection much easier. A good quality LED light will highlight the condition of your record surface, including how clean it is or how much surface dust needs removing. Purveyors of collectible original pressings will also enjoy how much easier it is to read the dead-wax markings as key indicators for those on the hunt for a particular copy of a classic album.
I use the Uberlight Flex from Reliable. It’s the best-LED light for turntable use out there.
This vinyl accessory is a must if you live in a very dry climate where static can cause real headaches for record collectors. You can, of course, eliminate static charge from your records by wet cleaning them, but you don’t want to over-clean your records and should use the least abrasive method wherever possible. If the record is fairly clean, but is clinging to the sleeve and turntable matt, you can use the Milty Zerostat anti-static gun to neutralize static.
This anti-static gun incorporates a Piezo Crystal device that produces negative and positive ions that couple with the positive and negative static charges on the record surface to neutralize static. It sounds like back magic, but it works.
7 Inch 45 Adaptor
If you collect older 45 rpm 7-inch singles, there’s a good chance many of them were manufactured to play on the much larger 1.5″ RCA record player spindles. To play these records on a modern turntable, you will need a 45rpm record adapter (otherwise known as a record puck) to adapt the center of the record accordingly.
We recommend this good-quality aluminum adaptor that will last.
Digital Tracking Force Guage
All phono cartridges have a tracking force range and an optimal tracking force for the best performance and low record wear. You could balance your tonearm the old-fashioned way by getting the arm to float above the platter and then using the counter-weight dial to adjust for tracking force, but this isn’t 100% accurate. A better way is to use the first method to get as close as possible and then fine-tune until you get the perfect tracking force using a digital tracking force gauge. We like the Neoteck model.
The accuracy of your turntable setup (particularly the cartridge) is paramount to achieving audiophile sound quality from the vinyl format.
Firstly, you’ll need an alignment protractor to ensure your cartridge will track with the highest precision possible. You could use a basic paper protractor, like the ones that ship with some cartridges, or better still, you could invest in a mirrored alignment protractor, which will make alignment easier thanks to the improved visibility.
Secondly, if your turntable allows for VTA and Azimuth adjustment, it’s worth investing into an acrylic VTA block so that you can make these adjustments with precision accuracy.
Now Playing Vinyl Stand
The aesthetic of vinyl is half of the appeal. Not only do I like to have somewhere safe to put my record sleeves while playing the album, but it’s nice to display the art, or even showcase to friends any family so they know what’s currently spinning on the deck.
This solid wood record holder blends nicely into your living space and is easily compatible with all LPs (or even CDs).
There’s nothing worse than not being able to find the right record. Endlessly hunting through the chaos of artists, genres and eras, you look, and you look again. Then after what feels like the millionth time, you find it right under your nose.
By investing in some record storage dividers, you’ll easily organize your collection and save more time for the important things in life, like, you know… listening to records.
Better Record Sleeves
Most records ship with basic paper inner sleeves. The trouble is, they’re not very effective at protecting your record. They leave paper flakes on the record surface, which can lead to micro scratches. They also do nothing to prevent the build-up of static, which, if left unchecked, leaves your record acting as a giant magnet for every dust particle in the area.
Your best bet is to swap those cheap paper sleeves for an archival quality polyethylene inner sleeve.
Vinyl Wall Displays
Last, but by no means least, are these superb magnetic vinyl wall display adapters from Twelve-Inch. Every listening room needs some vinyl on the wall. After all, many of our favorite album covers are works of art in their own right. The beauty of these magnetic display designs is that you can pop the vinyl on and off the wall without needing to remove it from a frame. The vinyl you display remains accessible and playable.
As a Sound Matters reader, you can enjoy 10% off Twelve Inch products when buying directly from twelve-inch.com. Simply use the code: SOUNDMATTERS10 on checkout.
Got any vinyl record accessories you would recommend to Sound Matters readers? Let us know in the comments below.