Vinyl records are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which typically can’t hold a magnetic charge. Because of this, some vinyl collectors argue that magnets can’t affect plastic at all.
However, others believe that certain components of vinyl records have some magnetic properties. This begs the question: do magnets affect vinyl records?
Read on to learn more about how magnets can affect your vinyl collection.
Although vinyl records have PVC elements, they still contain traces of metal salts from stabilizers. As a result, magnets can affect vinyl records to some extent. That’s why removing the effect of magnets in records can reduce playback noise, produce better sound quality, and reduce static.
Before vinyl records became a thing, manufacturers created phonograph records out of PVC and polyvinyl acetate (PVA). The vinyl polymer in this mix only made up 75 to 96 percent, while the rest consisted of different additives.
Today, producing a record needs components such as heat stabilizers, lubricants, fillers, colorants, and many others. That said, the colorant is the main reason why magnets affect vinyl records.
Many vinyl record manufacturers use carbon black as the main colorant. It comes as 0.25 to 0.50 percent of the overall vinyl formula. Although it’s a small percentage, it still greatly affects the record.
Carbon black serves as a wear-enhancement component. Plus, it can evenly distribute the ever-present electrical charges, resulting in reduced static charge.
What’s interesting about carbon black is that it’s a ferrous material, which means magnets can affect any surface that contains it.
That said, some may argue that this carbon doesn’t have any magnetic properties at all since it’s used for insulation materials. So, there are plenty of skeptics that continuously question whether magnets affect vinyl records.
How this works is that an electric current from a demagnetizer creates a magnetic field. Then, it passes through a power cord and begins introducing magnetic twists into the record.
One reason why demagnetizing a record works is that vinyl records have a lot of static electricity. Sometimes, it may appear as though records stick onto surfaces because of the static. For example, your record may not easily come off the sleeve if there’s too much static.
Demagnetizing can be a pretty neat process because of technology, especially when applied to vinyl records. It only needs a piece of fancy equipment like Furutech to get the job done.
Users also read: How Do Vinyl Records Play Music?
The effect that carbon black has on vinyl records can introduce static and other undesirable noises. That’s why some vinyl collectors prefer to demagnetize their records.
From the name itself, a demagnetizer or degausser deals with magnets. It works by removing undesired magnetism from a piece of equipment or tool.
Demagnetizers introduce an irregular magnetic field to the metal, causing the electrons to misalign. When this process happens, other magnetic fields in the immediate surrounding undergo demagnetization as well.
The effects of demagnetizing a record may be imperceptible to untrained ears. Still, here are some of the benefits of demagnetizing your record.
Although it’s normal to hear a bit of noise from the playback once in a while, it can be annoying. The noise may be audible as a result of the needle moving through the grooves with buildups.
To reduce playback noise, you can use a demagnetizer. It can eliminate the tiniest amount of distortion from the sound.
A pitch-perfect ear can hear the slightest change in a record’s sound quality after demagnetization. So, the better sound quality may be a bit unnoticeable for untrained ears.
Even so, you should notice a generally cleaner sound. You’ll also hear more details and less glare from the recording.
The bass sound can also become more concentrated with an improved pitch.
In terms of voices, you may notice that they’ll sound more open without any layers of haziness or grunginess in the sound.
Over time, you may not notice that records accumulate static as well as dust and small debris. As a result, you can hear frizzling sounds when the stylus goes over the grooves.
Using a demagnetizer removes the buildup and prevents worse issues from occurring.
Because not everyone believes that vinyl records contain materials that are affected by magnets, there’s still some debate on whether demagnetizing has an effect on vinyl records.
For some, purchasing a demagnetizer is a nifty upgrade, especially if they already have an expensive rig, to begin with. Still, some people would rather spend the money on a different upgrade.
The main reason you’d demagnetize a record is to reduce the amount of frizzle noise when playing, which is often caused by static buildup.
So, if you prefer not to shell out money for some grand equipment, here are some alternatives to demagnetizing.
A good fiber cloth paired with a disc washer can solve your record’s static problem pretty quickly. Alternatively, you can lightly dampen the fabric before carefully wiping the record.
You won’t need a lot of moisture for this method. Plus, less amount of liquid will make the drying process faster.
Having dry air in your home is the perfect environment for static electricity to build. Not only will you feel it, but your vinyl records may also suffer.
Adding some moisture to the air with a humidifier can help. This method is great if you don’t want to touch your fragile records.
Try to keep the humidity level between 30 and 40 percent to avoid static.
Instead of cleaning your record with a brush, use a record washer. This washer makes cleaning easier by cleaning both sides at once. The great thing about this washer is that it works well with any vinyl size.
Some kits come in a complete set with a cleaning solution, so you’ll only have to worry about placing the record into the washer.
An anti-static mat does what its name suggests: it’s a mat that prevents static. Many vinyl collectors have this accessory because it’s an easy and affordable way to avoid static buildup and prevent friction.