Coming Clean

I’ve written before about how I love to put music on my iPod. I obtain the music in many ways: digital downloads (usually from Amazon), ripping CDs, and recording vinyl LPs directly into the iPod. I typically do the latter via a process I call “slurp, split, spit” (try saying that fast!). Basically, what I do is play the LP on my turntable with my normal Phono amplifier, and run that into my sound card’s LINE IN. Using Roxio Media Creator (I’m using Roxio 10), I slurp that in as a single WAV file, using the Roxio sound editor capabilities to clean the tracks, repair skips, and such. I then split the file into distinct tracks, and then spit it out in MP3 format (or WAV, if I’m burning to CD).

I mention this all because of (spoiler alert) something I saw in this week’s CSI (“It Was a Very Good Year“). In the story, a vinyl LP is cleaned using wood glue. I looked up the technique… and guess what… it is real. There’s a full and long discussion about the approach at AudioKarma, with a good updated followup as post #507 and #508, although much of what is on page 34 is good (starting at #507).   I’ve even see the technique mentioned on some hip-hop sites. You need to make sure you only do it on vinyl records, and experiment with it first.

To me, this is intriguing. I used to record wet (i.e., cover the record with distilled water), but that sometimes left odd background noises (thumps), although it did reduce skips (I’ll note I’ve never had the problem of “once wet, always wet”). Later, I took to cleaning the records with a mixture of distilled water and 97% isopropyl alcohol. Yes, this can damage things, but once I get a single clean recording, I rarely go back to the vinyl unless there is a problem. Of course, this is just my approach. There are lots of different techniques out there (here’s another discussion). This wood glue technique is something I might try for some of the worst cases — I have some mid-1970s vinyl with almost unrecoverable skips or incredible scratchiness. If they are that bad, what do I have to lose by giving this a try.