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.
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
Any other type of laminated record (Lacquer over any kind of metal, etc.) won’t
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.
Commercial 78 RPM releases are very brittle and generally don’t need this
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.
© Corey Bailey Audio Engineering
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