Do Records Sound Better Without A Dust Cover?


Do Records Sound Better Without A Dust Cover?

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A phonograph record (also known as a gramophone record, especially in British English), or simply a record, is an analog sound storage medium in the form of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove. The groove usually starts near the edge of the vinyl and ends near the center of the disc. At first, the discs were commonly made from shellac. Starting in the 1940s though, polyvinyl chloride became common, hence the name vinyl. In the mid-2000s, gradually, records made of any material began to be called vinyl records, or simply vinyl.

So do records sound better without a dust cover? 

Having a dust cover on when the record is playing can affect sound quality due to the fact that dust covers are normally large hollow boxes, with stiff sides. When the turntable is not in use, you will want to keep the dust cover down. When you are playing that sweet vinyl, you will not want the dust cover on as the sound quality is better without the dust cover.

If you would like to know more about if records sound better without a dust cover, please keep reading. If you want some ideas on how to clean your record you can click here

You can also check out the video below if you prefer. 

Sound Preferences

The question whether records sound better with or without a dust cover is no longer new and has generated debate among several record collectors over the years. It has always resulted in the decision that it is up to a person’s preferences when playing records. To some record collectors, the dust cover causes vibrations, while others are concerned about protecting their vinyl from dust and dirt.

However, there are some sound pressure levels which can very much rattle plastic dust covers and which are more likely to have a possible effect on the ultra-sensitive electromechanical transducer interface that is, the removal of the cartridge and stylus cover compared to when it is left closed. 

Under these sound levels, the space below the dust cover is calm and quiet. This means sound pressure which you can feel on your skin can actually vibrate sensitively balanced cartridges and stylus.

Actually, expensive turntables are not designed with dust covers and this makes many record collectors buy highly expensive dust covers to protect their decks while also using isolation platforms. If you are looking for a good dust cover, this is the best place to get one! 

Dust Covers

If you notice that your dust cover rattles, it is very possible it may be as a result of the vibrations that are transmitted through the surfaces instead of the air. A resonating dust cover only signifies a problem that can’t be rectified by lifting the cover when it is in motion. Isolating the turntable can result in problems.

If you have a dampened platter, there is every possibility that there will be increased vibrations. Hence, the dust cover is a passive radiator. This means it is one of the lightest things on the turntable which will actually vibrate. If you turn your volume up to the highest setting, though, the dust cover might not actually affect the sound. If your turntable is placed on a light table, a light surface or a slight stand, then it may vibrate the table as well. This is always something to pay close attention to. 

The best thing though is to simply listen repeatedly to the sound so as to know whether having the dust cover on may produce a better sound or a worse sound.

Record Vibration

A dust cover is one of the things that causes vibrations. Due to the unavailability of space in our homes, we simply create a small space for our turntables and other stereo systems. The resulting issue will be vibration. A turntable’s stylus produces electrical current when it goes across the grooves of the record. Frankly, the stylus doesn’t want to know where the vibration that causes it to move comes from, be it from the grooves or something else.

Record players work through the measurement of vibrations. The vinyl grooves make the stylus vibrate and this is transformed into a small amplified electrical signal which is then transformed by the speakers into sound. Which means that for a turntable to perform optimally as expected, it must read the vibrations coming directly from the grooves instead of vibrations derived from something else.

This is the major difference that exists between turntables is their ability to maintain external vibrations.  None of them will perform optimally if placed on the wrong stand or surface though. Ideally, the best place would be placing the turntable on an object like a table that will not vibrate with the music instead of a sideboard. Ideally, when the speakers are in use, furniture often vibrates. You can feel this by placing your hands on any large piece of furniture and you will feel it vibrating. Therefore, getting something that is light and stiff will minimize vibrations.

In addition, distancing the turntable from the speakers will help to reduce vibration and you should never place the two of them together on the same surface or stand. This is why all record players with built-in speakers in the box produce awful sound. You will always want to place the turntable on a level surface or you can also get an upgraded base for your turntable.

Set Up Matters

A wrongfully installed cartridge will produce a poor sound and can damage vinyl records as well. Set up matters a lot in sound experience. Set up the cartridge and stylus in the right angle and arm. Some turntables come with an already fixed cartridge and are properly set up in the right angle and right place. You may want to check the cartridge alignment and be sure that that tracking force is placed rightly. If there is 10p at the end of the arm then, the tracking force is not right.

To correct this mistake, you will want to check for marks on the counterweight. A lump may be at the other side of the tonearm to the cartridge to balance it. Put the weight to zero and adjust the tonearm to level without allowing the stylus to touch the platter. If the arm is on the platter, adjust the weight and be sure it’s parallel to the turntable. When the tonearm is floating, dial the recommended tracking weight of the cartridge. It is usually around 1.5 to 2 grams. Confirm this is correct because excess force can destroy the cartridge and little force can lead to mist racking which can also destroy the vinyl record.

Best Sound

The key to maintaining a great sound is perfect alignment of the cartridge. A perfect alignment is important as it can affect how the stylus is placed in the grooves. If the alignment is not right, it can make the stylus apply too much force on the grooves wall which will eventually damage the record. You can align your cartridge with the use of an alignment protractor. This is why the best option is to follow the given instructions for your specific turntable.

Conclusion

Now that you know having a dust cover on when the record is playing can affect sound quality you may want to have it raised up. This is due to the fact that dust covers are large and hollow boxes, with stiff sides. Dust covers are like resonators and when left open while the record plays, will cause vibrations and unwanted sound thereby making the record sound awful. When the turntable is not in use though, you will want to keep the dust cover down and when the turntable is in use, keep it up. 

Matt Robbs

There is nothing quite so enjoyable as bringing back memories from your childhood. We used to spend hours playing pinball in my friends basement and that really got me involved in everything retro!

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