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by • June 9, 2014 • Adventures in AnalogComments (0)2283

Static Free Playback

Static buildup on the surface of records creates audible noise during playback. Unfortunately for Phoenicians, our arid environment means wax hardly stands a chance of ever being completely static free. Heat being a major contributor to the problem, collectors after a clear listening experience have options ranging from simple environmental changes to significant equipment investments.

Anti-Static Record Brushes

Previously mentioned, a record brush is both an essential and affordable tool for static free playback. Made from different types of material, brushes are gently swept over each face of a disk, dissipating the static buildup an removing loose debris. Local stores usually carry these items and if not ask if they can be ordered. If you find yourself unable to make it to a store, the follow two recommendations are both excellent choices.

Sleeve City Carbon Fiber Record Brush

The most common brush seen, it’s compact design allows the bristles to be folded into the handle for storage. Fairly durable with filaments of roughly a half-inch in length.

Thunderdon Conductive Record Brush

While more expensive, the bristles are twice as long, providing extra distance between your fingers and the surface of the record. Overall, it feels more substantial in your hand but does the exact same job as the above.

Slip Mats

Turntable platters are covered with a slip mat of one type or another, but some are in fact prone to static buildup more so than others. Rubber mats are popular but leather and cork are favored alternatives among audiophiles. The worst choices include felt or mats printed with graphics as they may scuff your record.

It’s important to note that some higher-end tables are engineered with a platter that is of sufficient quality or by design not to be covered with a slip mat.

Anti Static Guns

These are interesting, they look like toys and shoot invisible rays of ions at a records negating the static charge. Somewhat expensive and only good for a predetermined number of zaps, most people have to see one work several times before they even consider purchasing.

Record Cleaning

One sure fire way to remove any static from a record is to clean it, preferably with a machine. This option can be expensive. Consider a VPI, an industry standard, with a beginning price of around $650 with more robust models around $2,500. Competing manufacturers have machines that fall above and below the price point of a VPI and the Spin Clean is the most affordable wet-cleaning solution.

Environmental Considerations

Heat increases the buildup of static. Keeping your turntable isolated from any direct sources of heat, such as being placed in direct sunlight or too close to other equipment, reduces the opportunity for ambient temperatures to interfere with playback as long as they are regulated. Further contributing to the problem is the infamous dry heat of Phoenix, so think about introducing a humidifier into the room. Depending on the size of the space, increasing the amount of moisture in the air can be both a comfortable and quick solution.

Defeating static completely may be impossible but adopting any of the methods above can provide a cleaner listening experience most of the time. Combining good storage with a record brush and routine cleaning provides the best results which are immediately appreciable.

Photo Credit: m.gifford via Compfight cc

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