Top Five Accessories Every Vinyl Enthusiast Should Own That Won’t Break the Bank
As a new (again) vinyl collector, it’s pretty easy to get swept up in the enthusiasm to upgrade your setup continually. I know; I have had numerous accessories in my Amazon cart, just to hit cancel at the last minute as common sense swept over me. But are there some must-have accessories that every vinyl enthusiast should have in their setup? And do they have to cost a lot of money? Spoiler Alert: Nope! Here are my Top Five accessories every vinyl enthusiast should own!
1) A Light
So this seems like a no-brainer since we have lights in our room. But I often find that the position of the overhead lights is not correct or bright enough. And trust me when I say you want some extra light when you are fumbling with your lift arm or attempting to position your stylus correctly over the LP.
I prefer this light from Ikea. It is a small, flexible USB LED light that is just bright enough to light yo your area. The brick comes in the box, but you can also power it off any standard USB plug.
If you don’t have an IKEA close to you or don’t like the design, a standard desk light with a clip will also work in a pinch, and you can choose the bulb you want.
You could also use some cool under-cabinet LED lighting to add light from the top. The world is your oyster here. So you can go as practical or as extravagant as you wish, but it’s one of the top five accessories every vinyl enthusiast should own.
2) A Spare Stylus
So no, I am not talking about upgrading cartridges. Imagine this scenario. You have invited some friends over for drinks and a little listening sesh on the ole turntable. One of your buddies had just a wee bit too much and decided that he wanted to spin the next record. And then he proceeds to drop your tonearm and stylus off the side of the LP and bend it. This scenario sounds horrific and has happened to me. And while it was not a costly endeavor, and it didn’t damage my vinyl, it ended the vinyl listening session on the spot, and we had to move to (shudder) streaming!
All joking aside, a bent or broken stylus can sideline you, especially if you don’t have a store that has turntable accessories nearby. Having the second one on-hand means that you can pop it on, handcuff your buddy to the sofa, and keep going!
3) Record / Stylus Cleaning Brushes
I have often joked that vinyl is the most inconvenient way to listen to music, but it truly is. Not only does the vinyl and stylus wear down over time, prompting replacement, but a dirty record or stylus can also hasten this. If you want to make your stuff last, you need to clean before and after the listening session. The reason is simple, dirt and dust accumulate in the grooves and on the stylus. This acts like sandpaper, wearing both down.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to cost a whole lot. So I picked up this Big Fudge 4-in-1 record care kit on Amazon for $23. It comes with the cleaning brush and solution, a stylus and small cleaning brush, and a bag to hold it all in.
And honestly, it doesn’t take long. A quick squirt of solution on the brush, a couple of swipes, and presto done! Same with the stylus. A little swipe from back to front, with the angle of the stylus, and it’s good to go. And as I have often said, vinyl is very ritualized, and cleaning is a part of it.
If you want to go a bit higher-end, you could invest in a spin record cleaner like this Spin Clean from Amazon. It is more expensive, but if you have an extensive collection or clean your records regularly, this could be a perfect solution, and it can save you some time. If you want to keep your collection in tip-top shape, a cleaning kit is one of the top five accessories every vinyl enthusiast should own
4) A Static Brush
Wow – yet another step you need to do before playing an LP! No wonder vinyl is coming back! One of the byproducts of vinyl and felt slipmats is static electricity buildup. This is something that you can hear as your stylus spins over the record’s surface, usually in the sound of static and crackling. Plus, static attracts dust, and we just discussed how that could wear down your records and stylus.
The good news is that the brush doesn’t have to be super expensive. I live in Canada, so I picked up the Fluance 2-in-1 static and stylus cleaning brushes from my local record store. It was on sale and didn’t break the bank.
I know that audiophiles are probably thumbing their noses at me because I didn’t recommend the Zerostat Anti-Static Gun. But at $99, it does the same thing as my $20 Fluance brush, plus I got a stylus cleaning brush. Mama didn’t raise any fool!
5. LP Jacket Covers/Liners
Ok, so this might not be for everyone, but hear me out. Vinyl is not cheap, and it takes a lot of care to keep it pristine. Handling your records puts wear and tear on the jackets, and the standard paper inner-liners could create static or scratch the surface of your LPs.
I have taken steps to protect my collection. I purchased 3-mil outer jacket covers from Amazon. They are tough and durable, and they keep the oils from your fingers off your LP jackets. At a quarter per sleeve, that’s a pretty small outlay to protect your collection. Good news, if you purchase an LP from your local record store, it will come with a jacket cover, but I always have some on hand for used records I buy online.
I also replace all my inner liners with new ones. My favorite is the Big Fudge archival album sleeves. They are a bit more expensive at fifty cents a sleeve. But they are archival-grade rice paper that is both anti-static (see above) and acid-free. So they will keep your records in excellent condition for years to come.
If you have ever picked up an older LP from a thrift store, you will have probably smelled the mouldiness from an LP stored in a basement. If it is a vintage record with a printed liner, I will try and save it in a bag separately. But I always swap out my liners.
So there you have it. Those are my top five accessories every vinyl enthusiast should own. You will notice that my choices are decidedly practical and don’t break the bank. Record collecting is an expensive hobby, so do yourself a favor, spend your money wisely, and don’t waste it on frivolous accessories.
What about you? What are your must-have accessories? Tell us in the comments below!