Monday, 16 March 2015

In The Groove 2 ~ Stereo

In The Groove – Stereo

In 1957 Audio Fidelity Records pressed 500 copies of what was to be the first mass produced stereo record. Unfortunately the cartridge (that houses the stylus) cost $250, what today in the UK would be around £3000. That’s without all the separate amplification and extra speaker you would require.
Stereophonic Sound would be demonstrated at industry fairs and later in shops.

This 1958 LP was one of the first stereo lp’s available in the UK, it features many sound effects and musical extracts to demonstrate the power of stereo! Eighties kids may remember Beat Dis by Bomb The Bass “This is a journey into Stereophonic Sound”, that sample came from this LP. 

In 1959, the album “Persuasive Percussion” was released in the USA, an album performed by the “Terry Snyder All Stars” was the first single album to come in a gatefold sleeve, enabling Command Label owner and engineer Enoch Light plenty of room to include copious meticulous notes on this stereo recording. Despite virtually no airplay, this album would sell half a million discs over the next two years, it became the standard industry album for showcasing stereo hifi systems. Indeed this album was hugely responsible for sales stereo record players in the US.

Monday, 9 March 2015

In The Groove 1 ~ Mono

In The Groove - Mono

Al Jolson 10" micro groove record 1949
June 18th 1948, The Columbia Record Company announced their new consumer playback system. Whilst the 12” vinyl 33 ⅓ RPM had been used since the thirties for use on radio, it was the microgroove that improved audio quality and quantity.

The Mono microgroove records needed a 1mm conical shaped stylus for playback. Later Stereo records were cut with a .7mm V shape that needed a corresponding stylus to enjoy them. Once you upgraded your cartridge, not only could you enjoy music in all its wonderful lefty & rightyness, you would still be able to play your old mono albums in all their centrally placed audioTry playing a stereo record with a mono stylus though and the effect is similar to a glacier cutting through a narrow valley.  Most UK mono cutting lathes were gone by the end of the sixties and anyone using a modern modern stylus on records cut after 1968 should be very wary. If in doubt, consult your dealer.

Some records like this one were sometimes mixed in mono for use by radio. Singles would be sent to DJ's that had a stereo version on one side and mono on the flip. 

Paul McCartney ~ Ram (mono reissue)
The original pressing was a very limited one that was intended just for radio and it contains some different mixes (albeit quite subtle ones), for this reason it became very collectable and naturally, very expensive! Modern mono reissues like this are cut with the stereo type groove but both channels have exactly the same information.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Beginners Guide To Record Cleaning

Beginners Guide To Record Cleaning

There are many different ways to clean vinyl records, first I'm going to show you how I clean mine, then I'll show you a way to clean yours for pence. Then you can Google  how others clean their records, all I will say is if anyone came near my collection with wood-glue, he'd be picking his teeth out of his ass.

 First up liquids, I'm currently using the Mofo One Cleaning solution, this is great for general cleaning, it does seem to leave some greasy fingermarks behind. In the past I've found the Vinyl Guru liquid (not pictured) good at getting these off. Mofi do an anti-enzyme for organics so I may try this in the future. I'm also using a Mofi Brush to apply the solution, these are around £20 and are one of two items that I deem essential for cleaning, there are however cheaper alternatives. I also have a selection of microfibre cloths to lay the records on whilst cleaning, but stay away from nylon based static inducing ones.

Time to get stuck in! First use a cloth or brush to get the dust of the record, then apply the liquid to the surface, try and avoid getting it on the label.

Use the Mofi brush to wipe the liquid over the record, moving it around in the direction of the grooves. There is no need to press too hard, you're not scrubbing gum off the street.

Once you've cleaned both sides, stand the record in a rack and clean the next one. I tend to work in batches of ten.

OK, now the records are clean, but despite what any of these labels say about cleaning fluid evaporating, it's still on the record and will appear on your stylus as unpleasant white sticky fluff.

Next I use a Knosti Disco Antistat record cleaner and some distilled water. The Knosti is around £40-50, it is the cheapest and often voted the best manual cleaners out there, distilled water can be purchased at your local garage for 50p a litre.

I fill the Knosti with distilled water.

Screw on the clamps that go on either side to protect the label and to rotate the disc.

Then I rotate the record at least three times. Inside the Knosti are soft brushes that with the distilled water gently caress the dirt and fluid from your record.

Then I place the record back in the rack and repeat until all ten are done. After about an hour and a half, they are dry and ready for the turntable.

In case you are wondering, there are machines that will do this whole process for you, the bad news is they start at around £545 - fear not worshipers of the clean groove! For the price of a Mofi Brush and a bottle of distilled water you too can have shiny vinyl.

I personally believe that you can achieve 80% of the results of most types of cleaning with just a brush & distilled water.
Just apply the distilled water to the record and wipe around with the Mofi brush, moving it in the direction if the grooves.
Then place your record in a rack to dry.
Replacement pads are available for the Mofi brush.

And Finally...
One last tip for brushing 7" singles.

I found the Mofi Brush would catch of the cloth the single was laying on, so I bought an 8" circular chopping board and covered it with sticky back felt for under a fiver.

Happy Cleaning!

Notes for the curious:-

There are an incredible amount of liquid cleaning options out there, from the basic record cleaner pictured on the right hand side of the first photo to the exotic and naturally expensive. There are some who claim they can tell by the sound of the record what solution has been used, if this is true than first of all they haven't cleaned the solution from the record properly and secondly they require a special bus to transport them to David Icke seminars.

I'd avoid using tap water to wash off records. Our water mineral of choice is Chalk and that would not be a great friend to your beloved wax. Similarly other naturally occurring ingredients (aluminum, copper, lead) are not welcome at the Vinyl Inn.  There are distilled water options for record cleaning, quadruple distilled it may be, it's also quadruple expensive. But I guess you get what you pay for, right Hipsters?

To get some idea of further cleaning products, take a look at Deco Audio