Some record players come with a lid, otherwise known as a dust cover, but not many people know how to use one properly, or the dangers that dust can cause.
In this article, we explore how, why and when to use dust covers and what to do if you don’t have one!
So first things first…
What Does a Turntable Dust Cover Do?
A dust cover prevents dust getting in to your record player and protects it from other unwanted objects like pet fur, or even spilled drinks. There are other ways to reduce dust like regular cleaning with a micro-fibre cloth, but this can be tiresome for the average listener.
Can Dust Cause Damage To Your Record Player?
Yes, dust and other unwanted airborne materials like pet fur can damage your record player by getting trapped within the mechanical parts, causing issues such as skipping or even electrical issues due to the static charge build up.
Using The Dust Cover On A Record Player
When Should You Close The Dust Cover On A Record Player?
You should always keep your dust cover closed when it is not in use. If you don’t, it will continue to collect dust, and even pet fur, which can develop quickly depending on the area of your house it is kept. This is especially true if you frequently use your record player because the electricity it generates will attract dust to it.
You should always have the cover open when playing a record however. This is for a variety of reasons such as;
- The risk of moving your stylus or electrical equipment when moving the attached lid up and down
- The tonearm moving, causing your record to skip and potentially scratching your records if it is close enough to vibrate from the bass of your speaker
- There is no real benefit to leaving it down when playing a record, unless you are using it 12 hours a day, every day
Do Record Players Need Dust Covers?
You don’t need a dust cover to keep your record player in tip top shape. In fact, some record players don’t even come with them. Dust covers are fantastic in that they prevent dust and are very easy to use but you can minimise the dust you attract by regularly cleaning your record player with a micro-fibre cloth (or similar feather dusting tool). You can also make your own dust cover, or use fabric to lay over the top.
What If Your Record Player Doesn’t Have A Dust Cover?
Make sure you clean your record player regularly with a micro-fibre cloth or other dust catching cleaner. If using a spray, make sure it is safe to be used near electrical equipment too.
As well as cleaning all around the base, plinth and platter, it is really important to clean the other mechanical and electrical parts as they are the most likely to attract dust, and cause problems. You may find it easier to inspect and clean each part in order. If you aren’t a record player connoisseur, then clean the following parts in turn;
- The Plinth (the main part of your record player)
- The Platter (the disc shaped part that your record rests on)
- The Base
- Tone-arm, head-shell and cartridge. It is especially important to clean the cartridge as dust is highly attracted to this area due to the constant flow of electricity generated when playing a record. Check out our other blog about record skipping to find out more about this before it happens!
- The connection sockets and plugs. Make sure your record player is switched off and unplugged from the wall before doing this.
- The anti-skate wheel and counterweight lever
- In and around all other buttons such as speed and pitch switchers
DIY Dust Cover Alternatives
If you decide you would prefer to use a dust cover still, or simply can’t keep up with cleaning your record player every week, then you can make your own. Below are some cheap, homemade alternatives to dust covers which work well, providing you don’t mind the aesthetic.
- A box or other casing to act as a lid. Simply put this on top of the plinth as you would with a pre-attached dust cover and viola!
- A Pillow case. Most pillow cases are actually the perfect size and shape to drape across the top of your player to prevent dust. Best of all, they are easily washed and come in thousands of colour and pattern options to match your record player, or the room it is in!
- Other fabric. You might have spare fabric around the house you could fashion into a dust cover instead, such as a towel. Just like a pillow case, you can simply drape it over the top as long as it is light enough. If you are using a heavier material, like that of a large bath towel, I would recommend cutting it thinner so the weight of it doesn’t cause damage to your lever or cartridge.
- Weld or Glue Acrylic Glass. It is surprisingly easy to buy acrylic glass and weld it together. Simply purchase 5 sheets (top and four sides) and glue them together. There are lot’s of videos on youtube showing you how to do this in a few easy steps.
Why Do Some Record Players Not Have Lids? (Dust Covers)
Some record players don’t come with dust cover lids, even very high-end ones. This may seem odd but some manufacturers believe there are downsides to dust covers, especially for avid record player users who are more likely to take good care of their record players on a regular basis. The five most common reasons why your record player might not have a dust cover, or why you might not want to use one, are;
Cost. This may seem obvious, because it is, but some manufacturers will simply not include a dust cover to save on manufacturing costs. This is especially true at the low-end of the market, where their customers might not know or care about having one, as well as the high-end of the market, where owners are likely to take strict measures to care for their record players already.
- It looks better! Some people prefer the look of a record player without a big, bulky lid on top. This is especially true with modern, slicker record player, or compact turntables, so they aren’t included as a selling point.
The dustcover attracts dust to it. It seems counterintuitive, but often the material of dust covers being connected and so close to running electrcitiy, develop static charges that attract dust towards it. This shouldn’t be an issue however, as it is simple to wipe off dust on the top in one go and it has no risk of seeping dust through it.
Sound quality and performance impact. Some manufacturers argue that simply having a heavy lid attached to the record player can result in poor performance, as it can shift the weight of the record player and mean it is more likely you will scratch your records. Although this is technically true vs not having a moving lid, we have never noticed a genuine performance issue with any record player we have tested here.
Damage when moving the cover. When your record player is in use, you should never move the dust cover as you will have a high chance of moving the cartridge and risk scratching your record. This isn’t necessarily a reason not to include a dust cover, but you can imagine why some manufacturers of high-end turntables would want to eliminate a potential complaint if someone ignores this advice, and damages a priceless vinyl!
Dust covers, or lids, are highly practical parts of a record player which help protect it from dust, pet fur and long-term damage. However, you don’t need a dust cover to use a record player. In fact, with a good cleaning routine and making sure your record player is kept in a ‘dust friendly’ part of your house, you shouldn’t have any issues.
If you are looking to buy a record player for yourself, or as a gift, you should consider the benefit of having a dust cover vs requiring a regular cleaning routine. There are a few reasons not to have a dust cover as listed above, but ultimately, the main reason not to have a dust cover is because it looks better!