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taking good care of your DJ music

Updated on August 5, 2011

You can have the best DJ equipment in the world, with the best turntables, the best needles, the best amplifier, the best mixer, the best effects units and all of that, but if your records and CDs are dirty and scratched, then you really have nothing. A DJ's ammunition in their battle to overcome the forces of bad mixing is the music they have. The sound of your music will reflect your reputation as a DJ.

Storing records safely

Storing your records when you are not playing them is very important for keeping them clean and protecting them from any dirt or getting any accidental scratches. Make sure that you put your records straight back in the inner and outer sleeves, when you have finished with them. A great tip is to turn the inner sleeve 90 degrees so that dirt doesn't easily fall into the records. When you store your records too, you will have to make sure that the opening is not facing up, since any bits of dirt floating around will fall straight down into the gap.

Cleaning CDs

If you can prevent damage on your cd's then they will last longer than you. You should clean your cd's before and after you use them. CDs are very easy to clean, with a soft, lint-free cloth, and you just have to wipe in a straight line from the centre out. This ensures that you dont rub any dirt into the acutal groove of the CD. If there are any sticky marks, or stuck dirt marks on the CD, you can easily wipe with weak soapy water, and then wipe it with some clean water to rinse everything off, and finally gently dab it dry with a soft cloth.

Avoid using a cd cleaning machine. These things are terrible. They have two methods to clean your cd, the first method is they actually remove a layer of plastic from the cd. This way is the best but its very expensive, and you will be able to buy the cd brand new again for cheaper than this process. The second way is a combination of buffering and adding a special solution glow, to even out the flatness of the cd. This is the type that you can buy for a few bucks, and turn it with your hand. This equipment should not at any cost be an a DJ's arsenal.

Cleaning records

Cleaning your records is much more delicate and time consuming than a CD. There are a number of various cleaning products that you can buy that will keep your records sparkling and perfect for scratching and mixing. There are some house hold products that some people will use instead of a quality record cleaning product. This includes lighter fluid, or alcohol or sometimes even soapy water.

You should always keep a carbon fibre brush handy, and clean the records in a circular motion round the record before and also after playing. This is really the best type of product to help keep the basic dust particles, at bay. If you take care of your records in the way i mentioned earlier. you shouldn't need anything extra.

Cleaning needles

The reason you need to be careful to keep your records as clean as possible, is that when you are playing there is friction created by the needle as it travels through the record grooves.This can actually reach temperatures of up to 150 degrees. This heat then softens the vinyl, and any bits of dirt or dust will get embedded into the grooves. This is what happens when you hear crackles from your records. Take some time to clean any fluff anytime you can from your needles, and preferably, always just replace them with a fresh one, and put the one you were using to the side, to clean it after.

Repairing vinyl

If one of your records does have a scratch that makes the needle jump, your fastest and easiest way to get it sorted will be just to buy a new record. If you want to rescue the the record, then some people will recommend a technique with a small sewing needle. You will also need a magnifying glass. You shouldn't try this if your hands are unsteady. Play the record through get the exact position of where the scratch happens and then look closely at whether the needle jumps forward or jumps backward. You might have to repeat this a few times, to really help focus your vision. If the needle is jumping to a previous part of the track, then the scratch runs from right to left. If the skip happens on a part in the future, then the scratch goes from left to right across the record.

Now, place the record on a soft protective surface, and using the magnifying glass, start to drag the needle through the specific groove, starting a few centimeters before the scratch, and then through the scratch and past. You have to make sure that the pressure you apply is varied very gently. This will make a smooth sounding repair, rather than an obvious jump in the sound quality. Light pressure as you come up to the scratch area, more pressure when you are there, and then light again afterwards for a centimeter.

You also have to drag the needle in the opposite direction from the scratch. Repeat the process a couple of times, and then play the record again,and check the difference.

Fixing warped records and CDs

Your records and CDs can easily become pliable and bendable under the heat, which can cause them to warp. Vinyl can also warp through stress or mishandling and dropping. Your records are more likely to warp when you leave them at a strange angle with a weight on them. If you do have a slight bend then here is a good trick to help straighten them out.

Make sure that the record or the cd is clean. Place them between two sheets of clean glass also. Get a hairdryer, all good dj's should have one! Heat the record through the glass. Its recommended that you probably try this on a record as a practise first before you try to fix your silver rare label Beatles classic. Once you know that the record has enough heat,and is slightly warm, then place a heavy item on the glass to weigh it down, and force the bend out. You will have to repeat this a number of times to make sure that its done, as the plastics have a memory of the shape they where in, so it won't work instantly.

Repairing scratched/cracked CDs

The simple advice here is bin them, and get a new one. Forget buying a cd cleaning product. They are terrible.

Backing up digital libraries

Even now with the age of invisible digital music, you still need to protect your mp3's by taking regular backups. You should keep them either in the cloud with google, or you can just back them up onto an external hard drive.


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