Corey Bailey
Audio Engineering
Record Flattening This article is a work in progress because I'm still experimenting. You need to know the composition of the record because it will affect the flatting process. Is the record laminated? Assess the record carefully before trying this process. Here's what I've learned so far; Place the record between two sheets of plate glass, at least, ¼” thick or any two completely flat surfaces. The flattening sheets should be, at least,1’ larger in all directions, than the disk to be flattened. I use various sizes of ceramic tiles that I obtained from a ‘big box’ store and place the smooth sides towards the record. If you use glass sheets, put an angle on the corners and edges of the glass for safety. Cut a couple pieces of soft material the same size as the flattening plates to protect the grooves. I’ve used the thin cardboard that I obtained from the boxes that are used for clothing presents on larger records and felt on anything less than 12” in diameter. Use anything that will protect the grooves. If you use an old piece of cloth or felt, make sure that there no seams or folds and know that the material will add some insulation. Clamp the sides using hand operated spring clamps, one or two to each side. The strength of the spring clamps will be a factor in determining how long the process will take. Be patient! This process usually takes weeks or months and check the progress often. I sometimes place the whole assembly in the sun for about 10 minutes (or less) and watch the process carefully. When I place the assembly in the sunlight, I will turn it around halfway through the process to warm the other side. If you plan to place the assembly in the sun, or use any kind of heat, be careful!! Heat can cause the composition of the record to soften. Vinyl wants to return to it's original shape (or state) when heated and can cause all sorts of problems. If you are flattening an LP or Single that has styrene in it, the effect can worsen. Records that are very thin will, undoubtedly, cause problems. Putting additional weight or heat on the record can cause the peaks between the grooves to flatten out somewhat and cause distortion during playback. CREASES If you have a crease in the record, it can be ‘game over’ for that record because, the crease and the resulting cracks look like a skate board ramp to the stylus. If the record is vinyl over a fiber center, then the flattening process may improve things somewhat. Any other type of laminated record (Lacquer over any kind of metal, etc.) won’t work. If you have editing software, try and play the record slower than normal. This may help the stylus stay in the groove. Try recording a mono record in stereo, then use the best track or both. However, the stereo method may result in a lot of editing. Record everything! Commercial 78 RPM releases are very brittle and generally don’t need this process. I’m of the 'less is more' school when it involves flattening record. If a record is unplayable, then all bets are off. If you have any suggestions or questions, please contact me. Return to TOP of page © Corey Bailey Audio Engineering
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