DJing has become an increasingly popular profession that many people find great joy in. But there is a lot of equipment that is needed to be able to perform this job well, and when it’s frequently used, it has the possibility of wearing out over time. So, for something like records, will something like DJing ruin them?
DJing can ruin a record over time, mostly because the more a record is played, the more it will wear out. After a while, DJing can damage the sound quality of the record. This is why it’s important to take care of them so that the quality can be maintained for as long as possible.
As for vinyl, this term is often used interchangeably with the term “record,” because most modern records are made out of vinyl now. Throughout the rest of this article, we’ll go through ways that DJing can damage or ruin records, what can be done to help maintain their quality, and some other equipment that DJs often need.
Things That Cause a Record to Wear Out
Sunlight is one thing that can have a negative impact on the quality of vinyl records. Putting vinyl in a place where they are in a lot of sunlight can warp them over time, especially if the heat gets strong enough. This is more of a long-term problem because it won’t happen if they’re only in the sunlight for a little bit. How you treat your vinyl will also impact their lifespan. If you don’t clean them often enough or find a good place to store them, you will probably cause damage to them more quickly.
Where you place your fingers is another thing that can wear them out. The oils from our skin can damage the records easily. Don’t hold the vinyl on the surface. Since music isn’t stored in the edges of the disc, that’s the safest spot to put your fingers. This is the best option and will make it easier not to damage it, though it might make it more tricky to put away.
The needle can also ruin a record. Not having a good needle can make it easier for the record to get damaged over time. One of the elements of a needle that can damage your vinyl faster is the weight of your tonearm. The heavier the weight, the more the needle will dig into your vinyl. The best thing to do would be to find a lighter-weight setting for the tonearm, but make sure it doesn’t impact the quality of your music or your performance. This option won’t protect it overall, but it will minimize damage.
Some other small things that will ruin a record are scratching techniques (we’ll go into this in the following section) and having an endless cue up to the exact same point (meaning that you constantly are repeating the vinyl from a certain point).
What About When Scratching?
First off, what is scratching? It’s a popular technique used where the DJ moves a record back and forth on the turntable, causing a certain rhythmic or percussive sound. It’s not the easiest thing to learn for DJing, but many find it to be a fun thing to learn to add to their personal technique.
Scratching is something that will most definitely ruin your records, no question, but with the right equipment, you might be able to minimize the damage. One way to protect it is with a special mat that you can put under the record so it isn’t damaged by the turntable. This protects the bottom, but not the top, which will be subject to oils from your fingers when scratching. Oils can mess up the sound quality over time, so wash your hands before you handle your records to help minimize that problem.
Damage will still happen, but taking extra precautions like this can make it less of a big problem, and it won’t worsen as quickly.
Ways to Maintain Your Records and Vinyl
You definitely want to keep your records clean and protected; that’s an easy and sure way to make sure they’ll have a long spin life. Just make sure that you don’t clean them too much, which is a possibility because that can harm the record as well. Find a happy medium! Also, find a good, specialized cleaner for it. Don’t just use a general cleaner—find one specifically for records and vinyl that won’t damage it while you clean it. There are many different ways to clean vinyl, such as using a simple brush, a liquid cleaner, or even an actual vinyl cleaner machine, so do more research into the different processes before you start cleaning them.
Have a safe place to store them to keep them out of harm’s way. Keep them standing up (never stack them on top of each other), and preferably in a place that is dark and cool. Pay attention to how you touch and treat your records while DJing and always put them away right after you’re done—never leave them out!
Try not to play your records too much, or too often in a short period of time. As stated earlier, when you play vinyl a lot, you have the possibility of wearing out or losing the sound quality, unlike with CDs or digital files. You will be able to start hearing a difference in how the recording sounds in this case, which will impact the experience for you and your listeners.
One option to consider is just using music digitally, like playing it from your computer, because that is a sure way to make sure that something physical, such as vinyl, won’t get damaged over time. It will probably last longer in general.
And one more reminder: caring for records doesn’t have to be a hard, complicated process if you don’t want it to be. Just make it a part of your regular routine and you’ll be thankful you did.
Other Equipment DJ’s Often Need
- A computer
- The right software
- A mixer
- An input device (such as turntables)
- Monitor speakers/ a sound system