How to tell if vinyl is damaged
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jtaylor991

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My dad has a TON of old vinyl from when he was in high school, including all of the Beatles records, and since I am now an audiophile, I am starting to realize that they might be damaged from his turntable, either back in the day or today, or both. Currently, he has an Audio Technica AT-PL50 turntable. I bet this is a cheapn turntable that can damage records, and I want to make sure his records are in as good condition as possible for as long as possible, because I am sure that many are collectors items. I think they have planty of wear and tear because of some pops and hisses and noise when played, but that is expected. He hardly uses that turntable I mentioned above, by the way. How can I check to see if the records are damaged, and i doubt it, but would there be a way to kinda fix them?
 
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JadeEast

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I've had records that have looked mint sound bad and ones that looked pretty beat sound alright. A good clean and a listen can tell you the shape that they are in. A good cleaning can get rid of a surprising amount of surface noise.
 
Some damage is just unescapable (big scrapes, divots, or cracks) and has to be listened around. One thing that may help is using a fine-line stylus as this can ride lower in the groove avoiding some of the damaged areas that happen on the walls of the grooves. Some DJ based cartridges can also be very forgiving to damaged vinyl.
 
 
 
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LFF

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You just have to listen to them. No way around that.
 
A good cleaning on a VPI or Nitty Gritty helps a ton. A fine line stylus, as suggested above, also helps. I have heard mint vinyl sound horrid and have had horrid vintage vinyl sound amazing after some restoration.
 
Bottom line is that you won't know until you clean and play the vinyl.
 
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The best way to avoid record wear is to make sure your cartridge is properly aligned and your stylus isn't worn. Odds are, your dad's turntable isn't the problem, the old cartridge is.
 
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jtaylor991

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I don't even know where the cartridge is, and I have only just learned what a stylus is, and I don't know how to tell if it is worn. Any websites with images about these things would be greatly appreciated.
 
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bigshot

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The stylus is the needle. The cartridge is the little box the needle is attached to and is wired into the headshell. The headshell is attached to the tonearm.

Cartridges have rubber gaskets that cushion the stylus as it rides in the groove. Over time the rubber hardens and the stylus bounces around damaging therecord. You should replace the whole cartridge if it is old.

http://www.garage-a-records.com

They can install a new cartridge into your headshell and make sure it's set up properly. Give them a call and they'll walk you through it.
 
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Redcarmoose

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At times the scratchy sound and pops are just dirt. Other times a warped record will also effect the sound but you will see that right away. If there was too much weight on the needle used to play the albums it can hurt them. The great thing is that some albums look damaged but the grooves run so deep that they play well. It seems the damage is just on the surface.
 
If you have a warped record some people place them outside on a sunny day under a piece of glass. There is no way to repair scratches other than to record it digital and use software to remove the noise.
 
The more you play damaged records the more your mind can learn to filter out the noise. There is nothing wrong with a couple of pops as that is just part of the experience. Everyone has their level where an album is just shot. A bad album can also put unwanted wear on a new needle. Some folks have a turntable and needle for clean good records and another setup for the playable but damaged records.
 
 
The scrrrr scrrrr scrrrrr sounds are for many a romantic part of the whole deal!
 
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How were they stored? Sitting on top of each other or on their side? Were they stored in a humid environment or hot like the attic? The environment can cause dirt build-up or warp them.
If the tonearm is not set-up properly for anti-skating, tracking weight and azimuth, the vinyl's groove will be damaged in time from friction. I used a stylus brush and a vinyl brush for cleaning.
 
If you really want to clean them, you would need a really good vinyl cleaner with a vacuum like the VPI and an anti-static gun. I used to clean vinyl that I bought used with some liquid spray
and the VPI vacuum cleaner. I would do this twice and then use the anti-static gun. This was back when I was into vinyl and I had a really good turntable, a tonearm with a moving coil cartridge.
 
And the only way to know how badly damaged they are is through playback.
 
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As far as collectability, collectors also value not just the condition of the vinyl but also the condition of the cover. Their is also pressing. This maybe stamped on the vinyl. The vinyl is stamped using a stamper. And the stampers are labeled too and that label is stamped on the vinyl. So the earlier vinyls are more collectable. Also, it depends where they were made. For example, some of the UK pressed Beatles are more collectable.
 
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