For true music enthusiasts, nothing beats the warmth, the character and the personality of a vinyl record sound, and there’s even science to back that claim up. Digital recording takes snapshots of the sound signal at a very high rate – that means it’s not capturing the complete sound wave. A vinyl record, on the other hand, is mirroring the sound’s entire waveform, so no information is lost, and the recording is more accurate.
Turntables and vinyl records looked like a thing of the past for a while there, firstly due to CDs and then due to the rise in popularity of digital recordings and music streaming, which are easier and less expensive to access. However, vinyl records are making a pretty strong comeback right now, and it’s not only about the quality of the sound. It’s also about the physicality of it, the ritual of holding your favorite vinyl record, putting it on your turntable, then relaxing and enjoying the music.
One downside with vinyl records is that they are pretty delicate items and easily damaged by improper use or factors in the environment. You need some smart, well-thought-out vinyl record storage solutions to help you keep your albums in tip-top shape. Here are the most important things to pay attention to when using and storing vinyl records.
The Environment Is Essential
Vinyl records are affected by sunlight, extreme temperatures (either very hot or very cold) and high humidity. Find a spot in your home that’s not exposed to direct sunlight, and where humidity isn’t an issue – that’s to say, not in the kitchen or the bathroom, and away from the windows. If you have a large vinyl collection, probably the best solution is to rent a climate-controlled self-storage unit. These lockers provide constant temperature and humidity regardless of the season and are also protecting your records against sunlight.
Always Store Them Upright!
Stacking vinyl records one on top of the other is a big no-no. In time, the records will bend and warp, rendering them unusable. The correct way to store records is vertically – think Harvey Specter’s record collection in Suits. If you’re keeping the records on shelves, make sure that they are not slanting – uneven weight distribution will cause warping in such cases. Use bookshelf ends or other weights to prop them upright. If you’re using vinyl record storage boxes, also get some box dividers that will help you arrange them properly.
Use Inner & Outer Record Sleeves
Dust is another huge enemy of vinyl records, and the best way to protect them is by using inner and outer record sleeves – the antistatic ones are particularly efficient in keeping dust away from your precious disks. Slide the record inside the inner sleeve, then put it in its album jacket. A neat trick is to store them with the open edge of the sleeve facing in. The more insulated from the environment the records are, the better. The outer sleeves are designed to slip over the album jacket, providing a second layer of protection.
Storage Furniture and Boxes for Vinyl Records
There’s a huge variety of storage solutions for your vinyl records, whether you’re keeping them at home or in your storage unit. A turntable stand that also doubles as records organizer is an elegant and practical accessory for your living-room. You can also use shelving units, record holders, or sturdy, vintage-looking wooden crates.
If you’re keeping your records in a climate-controlled storage unit, it’s important to get durable, lidded boxes that are the right size for records. When placing your records into the boxes, make sure that the space is occupied properly, from wall to wall, to avoid slanting. The opposite is important too – don’t try to squeeze too many records into one box, or you might end up damaging them.
The Most Valuable Vinyl Records Ever Sold
As with other collectibles such as comic books, vinyl records can soar in value over time, and storing them properly is essential for reaping the benefits of potential price increases. Keep in mind that autographed copies with an intact jacket, or copies of albums released in limited editions, have the best chance of being valuable or of increasing their value in the future. Here’s a list of the most valuable vinyl records ever sold that will stimulate you to have your own collection appraised:
- Ringo Starr’s personal copy of The Beatles “The White Album,” released in 1968, was sold for $790,000 in December 2015;
- Another Beatles album copy, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” fully signed by all its members, auctioned for $290,000 in 2013;
- The Beatles’ albums were a smart purchase back when they were first released—the third most expensive vinyl record ever sold is a copy of the “Yesterday and Today,” also by the famous Brits. A mint-condition copy of the album sold for $125,000 in February 2016, while unsealed copies usually go for around $15,000.
- Some of the copies of Bob Dylan’s album “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” released in 1963, were made extremely valuable by one small mistake. During the album’s production, four tracks were supposed to be replaced, but someone forgot all about it. As a consequence, a small batch was recorded with those four tracks included. Now, the very few copies probably still in existence, with the serial number ending in -1A, are worth an estimated $35,000. Better go check your Bob Dylan albums – you might be the lucky one with a unique and very valuable copy!
- The debut album by The Velvet Underground, “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” released in 1967 and hailed as being seminal for the punk rock movement, only sold 30,000 copies initially. The album was banned by most radio stations, which certainly didn’t help sales. However, those who purchased the album when it was first released, or later, made a smart financial move. Recently, one copy of it sold for more than $25,000.
Enjoy your music, but make sure that your delicate vinyl records are kept in the best possible conditions – that will make it possible for you to revel in your favorite albums for years to come.