Thursday, November 26, 2009
Lotsa people write and ask about technical things relating to how I present the songs for this blog, typically complimenting how good the records sound (even the ones that looked thrashed).
Here's the process.
1) Start with a clean record: The first thing I do before I listen to any record is deep clean it. Most of these things have years of dust and filth caked in the grooves so a deep cleaning will bring out MORE sound that is, well, cleaner. Sure, there are fancy machines on the market that cost hundreds of dollars but I do it the old fashioned way (as demonstrated by Joe Bussard in "Desperate Man Blues"). I use the kitchen sink, mild dish soap and a sponge. First wet the record, then scrub it groove-ways with a soapy sponge then rinse. I then place it on a dish drying rag as seen in the picture. If a label is porous paper, you may suffer label damage. As for me, I'd rather have a clean record and I don't worry so much about possible water damage to a label.
2) Playback: Grado makes an EXCELLENT mono stylus; the mono stylus is wider which covers more of the groove and brings out more sound, as well as removing lots of surface noise.
3) Preamp: Hi fi receivers from the 60's and 70's tend to have excellent quality phono preamps, the likes of which would cost well over a thousand bucks for a modern equivalent! These vintage receivers (mine is circa 1966 and tube powered) tend to be found for CHEAP and they will help make your records sound better. 60's tube gear is more for maniacs like myself who don't mind maintenance; 70's solid state amps are very reliable and cheaper yet. I have a backup 70's Scott that i bought for $25 that sounds almost as good as the tube unit.
4) digitizing: I've used a bunch of different methods, but for the last 2 years I've stuck with a Zoom H2 digital recorder. The analog to digital converters have improved drastically and these units have surprisingly good sound.
Hopefully this will help make YOUR records sound better!