The Impact of Static Charge on Vinyl Records
If you are a frequent listener of vinyl records, you may have noticed that some vinyls do not play very smoothly- you can occasionally hear crackles and disturbances as the record plays in the turntable. One of the most common causes of such crackling noises is static electricity.
For reasons that we will discuss later in the article, static charge can build up on vinyls and then manifest as these audio disturbances when you play them. This happens because all the static charge looks to escape as a small spark from the surface of the record to the stylus of the turntable.
These clicks, pops, and crackles can be quite annoying and take you out of the immersion of listening to your favourite records. They can also cause a lot of concern about the quality of your vinyls and the integrity of your turntable.
We have a related article for you, you can read Best 7 Anti-Static Fabric Softeners For A Perfect, Static-Free laundry.
How Does Static Build Up on Vinyls?
So how exactly does the static charge get on the vinyl records in the first place? First off, the material of vinyls is typically suitable for the build up and storage of static charge. The thicker or purer the material, the more risk it runs of developing a static buildup.
In addition to that, the record players or turntables are also generating a lot of static as the platter spins at the hands of a rubber belt.
There are two main reasons for static buildup on vinyls:
Static From Sleeves
Vinyl records are usually stored in sleeves to protect them from dust and other kinds of damaging exposure. However, these sleeves can cause a lot of damage on their own. Typically made of plastic, when you remove the vinyl from the inner sleeve, the friction between the two surfaces can cause the production of static charge which then stays on the record.
Static From Turntables
The other way static can build up on records and cause damage is when it is put on the turntable. As the stylus of the turntable rubs against the grooves of the record, the friction can cause the buildup of static charge.
Ways to Protect Your Records from Static
Fortunately, you do not have to bear this annoying issue for any longer than you absolutely need to. There are many strategies you can employ to protect your records from static. One approach you can take is to modify the environment around your record player to discourage static generation. For example, use a humidifier in the room to make the air less dry.
Another approach would be to modify the equipment itself- i.e. your vinyls and turntables. There are different types of turntable mats that you can use to prevent static build up and they act as insulators against static electricity.
You can also use anti static sleeves and brushes to keep your vinyls largely static free. Or you can nip the issue at the bud by getting a turntable that is designed to be as anti static as possible.
What Are Anti Static Turntable Mats?
Most turntables today, you will find, come with felt record mats. When this material comes into contact with the vinyls, it produces a great amount of static. As an alternative, there are a lot of turntable mats in the market that are manufactured using material that discourages the production of static charge.
You may not always need an anti static turntable mat. If you have an acrylic platter, it most likely already serves the purpose of preventing static buildup and controlling resonance. However, if you are looking for an upgrade, then definitely go for an anti static solution.
Ahead, you will find some of my personal recommendations for the best anti static turntable mats you can currently find in the market:
List Of 9 Best Anti Static Turntable Mats Review
You will find platter mats made from numerous different kinds of materials that all essentially act as insulators to prevent the generation, build up, and discharge of static electricity. To give you an array of options, I have selected a few of the best options in different materials.
First up, we have carbon fibre turntable mats:
1. Anti-Static Record Mat by Turntable Lab
Turntable Lab offers their own version of a carbon fibre felt turntable mat that is designed to remove static from records. It comes in a custom sleeve which you can continue to reuse.
2. Anti-Static Turntable Mat by Sleeve City USA
This is an affordable option made using a carbon fibre blend to prevent static build up and keep your player and vinyls protected. It offers a good trade off between the quality and the price.
Cork platter mats offer great insulation as well:
3. Pro-Ject Cork It Platter Mat
Pro-Ject’s cork turntable mat is one of the most widely known and used anti static platter mats for good reason. The cork material is extremely effective in preventing static charge and reducing resonance, thus improving the sound quality of vinyl records to noticeable degrees.
4. Thorens Platter Mat
|Package Dimensions||13.3 x 12.3 x 0.4 inches|
|Item Weight||4.6 ounces|
Thorens is another trusted company you can safely turn to for effective cork turntable mats that effectively reduce static load as well as resonance.
5. TazStudio Premium Cork Turntable Mat
|Item Weight||3.34 ounces|
|Package Dimensions||12.24 x 12.24 x 0.28 inches|
If you are looking for something more unique and aesthetically pleasing, then I recommend checking out this cork platter mat with a fascinating geometric design made using organic ink.
You may even find and use anti static turntable mats make from leather:
6. Couvre-Plateau Cuir ANALOGIS Mat 6
This is a French raw leather turntable mat which exerts its natural anti static properties to give you a more transparent listening experience with your records. The material is also resistant to vibrations and reduces resonance without compromising the sound quality.
7. Pro-Ject Leather It Platter Mat
|Item Weight||7 ounces|
|Product Dimensions||13.5 x 0.63 x 12.5 inches|
Pro-Ject also has a leather turntable mat which is equally as good at preventing static charge build up on vinyls as other materials. It presents the crackles and pops that can often disturb your listening experience.
8. Premium Leather Deer Hide Turntable Mat
You can also go for this 2.5mm thick double-sided turntable mat that is made from deer-hide leather and is designed to reduce resonance, improve bass response, and overall prevent static charge buildup.
Some turntable mats are made using a combination of materials for high fidelity sound:
9. PRO SPIN Cork and Rubber Turntable Mat
PRO SPIN manufactures flexible turntable mats made from a combination of rubber and cork to offer high levels of static prevention, sound dampening, and vibration absorption.
Taking Care of Your Records
To ensure your vinyls are retained for a long period of time without any major damage, it is important to keep doing housekeeping regularly. Taking adequate precautions against static is one of the most important steps when it comes to taking care of your records.
In addition to using anti static sleeves and anti static platter mats for your turntables, I would also recommend investing in an anti static vinyl cleaning set. Always be gentle when cleaning your records to prevent scratches and store them within inner sleeves to prevent dust accumulation or unnecessary exposure.
You can also use the likes of anti static sprays and guns to get a quick fix for the static problem. There are a lot of products out there that can help you in this regard.
Also, make sure to check out my post on Best Anti Static Products for Dryers | Make Your Clothing Static Free.