Tylko popped into Bikini Waxx, one of Berlin’s best destinations for mint and second-hand records, and spoke with co-founder Kim Bruun about caring for your collection.
Everybody who loves vinyl knows it: the thrill from slipping a chunky LP from its sleeve, waiting for the needle to drop and hearing those first few seconds of warm surface noise. Sound is a subjective experience, but record collectors agree: vinyl is still king. Apart from the obvious sonic differences between digital files and analog albums, the matter of storage is worth careful consideration. Whether you’re a casual collector or die-hard devotee, the manner in which you keep your records can affect their sound quality and longevity.
“I think a lot of people are not aware of how sensitive the material is.”
Vinyl is susceptible to warping and scratching. Dust, humidity, exposure to sun - there are a number of ways your records can be affected. Bruun says your best bet to protect your albums is to use a system of sleeves:
“The record needs its protection. The first sleeve - normally a paper sleeve - protects the record from the cardboard of the album cover which is often quite rough. If you put the record directly in the album cover it gets scratched by all those little paper bits and grains. The thick outer plastic sleeve is mostly to protect the album cover - you know, you sometimes get a record with a really nice artwork and you want to make sure it doesn’t get damaged.”
“Sleeves, especially the outer plastic one, also help to protect the records from dust - one of the worst enemies of vinyl. Dust damages the grooves of the records and it gets deep into its structure. If a record isn’t stored properly the record may look clean and unscratched, but will have so much noise due to the tiny particles of dust that are trapped in the record grooves.”
Get On Up
“I’ve never been a fan of stacking records.”
When it comes to preserving your pressings, vertical, upright storage is the rule. Storing records in stacks can cause uneven pressure on the delicate grooves and lead to sound distortion. It also adds up to a lot of weight - 100 records averages about 25kg! Needless to say it’s an unnecessary struggle when you need to find a certain track.
“Looking through records stored in stacks is a nightmare - it gets really messy and you can’t really see what you have in there. And, when you put them in piles the weight of the records will slowly start affecting their surface. It’s impossible to make sure that the pressure is evenly distributed and that none of them are sticking out.”
Vertical storage on specially-built shelves (they need to be strong enough to carry the weight without bending or buckling) solves most of the storage problem - but then there is the issue of spacing, too. Giving your records space is essential for many of the same reasons stacking is a bad idea - the engraved surface of the records should never be crammed together tightly. This preserves their integrity and makes sure they sound as good as the day they were cut.
““I have a lot of nice records - and I hate when something happens to them. When you hear the song starts to loop or jump? That’s the worst!”
Keep ‘Em Separated
“Searching for specific records takes always a lot of time. Especially when I prepare for a gig and need to go through them all, one by one.”
As your collection grows, you might want to consider a system of organization. Though this isn’t a crucial step in maintaining the quality of your records, it does help when you need to find something, and flipping through 3000 albums isn’t time efficient. Custom shelves with built-in sections are always a great option, and there are even dividers you can buy to help you navigate your anthology easily.
While most people sort alphabetically or by genre, you can create a system of your own to add your personal flair - a chronological and autobiographical classification, for example, or a least-to-favorite liked ranking! Though, as Bruun says, there is a certain joy to rummaging through your vault to discover forgotten treasures:
“I try to keep it in sections - ‘house’, ‘weird’, ‘ambient’, but it’s so difficult to keep them organised and maintain the order sometimes. I do like to dig through my own record collection though - you can sometimes find things you totally forgot you have, or discover a great song on the B side that you’ve never played!”
While the technicalities of maintaining a pristine record collection can run deep, by simply observing these three storage guidelines you can help your music to be enjoyed for years to come. And, with a customized shelf from Tylko, you can rely on sturdy and stylish support for your sonic stockpile that will last just as long.