Anybody can tell you that — if you want to get onboard the emerging vinyl trend — you’ll need a turntable, a solid set of speakers and/or hi-fi headphones, an amplifier, and a few albums to get you started. But only seasoned audiophiles know the initial investment is only the beginning if you want to get the best of the experience.
Getting the best sound out of your record collection is a game of seemingly small changes. But those tiny improvements to quality can make a big difference when taken in aggregate. Eliminating every vibration, mote of dust, and slight warp makes for a better altogether experience. And getting the right gear is actually a relatively simple affair, so long as you know where to look. Lucky for you, we’ve done the legwork and put together the following list of the ten best vinyl accessories for your listening pleasure. Audiophiles rejoice!
Boundless Audio Vinyl Cleaning Brush
Certainly, one of the most important starter items for any new vinyl collector, especially if you’re getting your vinyl secondhand, a brush will help clean your records of any loose dirt, dust, and grime that might muck up the sound quality or cause skips. This one features anti-static carbon fiber bristles, which have the added benefit of neutralizing any electrical charge your vinyl might have — which will help keep them from attracting more dust after they’ve been cleaned. It’s also super easy to clean between uses and comes with the brand’s 100% satisfaction guarantee, which isn’t a bad vote of confidence.
Original Master Record Sleeves
Most vinyl albums come with a paper sleeve which, while moderately protective, isn’t exactly the best defense against static and dust in the long run. Swap those out for Original Master Recording record sleeves and you’ll be on the right track toward keeping your vinyl collection safe and protected for a good long time. Made from a three-ply material, these sleeves will keep your records static-free and won’t scratch them. They’re also the number one choice of music industry professionals, like reviewers and record labels themselves, which is an added positive critique.
BigBen Record Weight
In order to get a record to produce sound, it has to rotate on the record platter. But, since the vinyl and the platter are two separate things (and vinyl records are quite light), this rotation can sometimes cause vibrations that negatively affect the sound quality. Similarly, some records warp over time (most often due to exposure to heat and/or humidity). Both of these issues can be dealt with very simply with a record weight. This device rests over the center of the record and applies pressure between the vinyl and the platter without negatively affecting the record itself. It can also help flatten out warps, is extremely durable, and works with literally any turntable.
ONZOW ZeroDust Stylus Cleaner
Most folks realize that vinyl can collect dust that negatively impacts the sound quality. But did you know that the same dust can be collected on your stylus? Well, it most certainly can. And, even worse, it can transfer dust back to your clean records, like an ouroboros of bad sound quality. If you’re going to be cleaning your vinyl, you should keep your stylus dust- and static-free, as well. And the best way to do that is with the ONZOW ZeroDust Stylus Cleaner. Simply set it down on top of this device and lift it back up and, boom, you’re done. Not only will this help keep your records sounding great, but it will also extend the life of your cartridge.
Pro-Ject Leather It Platter Mat
Albums are delicate things, as it’s the tiny grooves in their surface that contain the music they produce. And since they’re most often two-sided, some of those grooves are face-down on your record platter while the other side is playing. Protect both sides of your albums with the simple addition of the Pro-Ject Leather It Platter Mat. This gentle surface is far better for your albums to rest upon when spinning and it also serves to dampen ambient vibration, improving the overall quality of the sound produced. It’s a simple addition, but it can make a big difference.
IsoAcoustics Isolation Pucks
In case you’ve not yet noticed a pattern, improving sound quality is often about stopping wayward vibrations from affecting the quality of your records. And that includes those created by the world around your turntable. You can think of the IsoAcoustics Isolation Pucks like impact-absorbing running shoes or performance shocks in an off-road 4×4. Rest your turntable on a set of four of these bad boys and movement and oscillations will be rendered null and void, thusly improving the overall sound quality of your setup.
Spin-Clean Record Washing System
Especially if you’re dealing with old records, a brush is only going to do so much to clean up your records’ grooves. If you really want to give them a thorough once-over, then you’ll need something that goes a little bit deeper. Enter the Spin-Clean Record Washing System. This setup contains everything you need to get your vinyl back to like-new quality — including a washer basin, cleaning fluid, brushes, rollers, and cleaning cloths. It’ll take a bit of elbow grease, but that’s a small price to pay for flawless records.
Kimber Kable Tonik RCA Cable
Having clean vinyl, a static-free stylus, and a turntable free of ambient vibrations will only go so far if the cable you use to move the sound from the turntable to the speakers is a piece of garbage. If you really care enough to take all the other steps on this list, then acquiring a cable should also be on your to-do list. Having a top-quality RCA cable, like this one from Kimber Kable, will give you the most lossless audio possible, whereas cheaper ones could result in static due to signal degradation. It’s not the first thing that comes to most folks’ mind when thinking of how to improve sound quality, but it’s definitely important.
Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine
If you value your record collection, then you’ll want to make sure you keep your vinyl as clean and static-free as possible. And while you could manage that by hand, there’s also another option: the Okki Nokko Record Cleaning Machine. Designed for one specific purpose, you can trust this device to clear every micro-speck of dust from your albums and render them static neutral in the process. It’s definitely on the pricey side of the spectrum, but it’s reliable and a lot easier than the alternative.
HRDL Vinyl Table
Just as every king needs a throne, every vinyl setup needs a table. And they don’t get much better than the HRDL Vinyl Table. Modeled after mid-century designs, this handsome piece of furniture is built from sturdy Valchromat and oak. It also has hideaway storage for your amplifier, a rack that can fit about 200 records, and a cable management system to keep the most unsightly parts of your setup out of the way. As an added bonus, this table is actually built to order, so you can trust that the one you’re getting has some real craftsmanship put into it and isn’t just mass-produced.
50 Albums Every Man Should Own
Whether you’re into hip-hop, country, metal, or some combination of every musical style, there are a few staple albums every record collector should have in their collection. You’ll find all of them and more on our list of the 50 albums every man should own.