Having a turntable, receiver, pre-amp, and speakers are only just the beginning of owning a vinyl setup. There are many vinyl accessories you can buy for your setup or your records to prolong the life of your system.
Audioquest Carbon Fiber Brush
Records get dust on them from casual storage, and static from a multitude of things from the record spinning on the platter to the fact that vinyl itself just attracts buildups of static. These two variables can be audibly heard when the needle glides over it. This brush can actually solve both of these issues. First, spin the record on the platter and glide the brush on top of the record. This should be done gently with the bristles having slight contact with the record. You can pick it up from $15 here on Amazon.
Pfanstiehl SCK Stylus Cleaner
The records should be clean, but the stylus should also be clean. Now, this will not prolong the life of your needle forever, but it does get rid of dust and dirt buildup, extending it for probably a couple more spins. The stylus cleaner comes with a tiny brush and tiny bottle of fluid. I dip the brush into the fluid and then gently clean the needle and get rid of the dirt buildup. You can buy it from KABusa here for $11.95.
Anti-Static Polyethylene Sleeves
Records generally come in a rice paper sleeve 8/10. These are super cheap and easy to make in bulk. Unfortunately, it is paper and bits and pieces tend to shed onto the records they house over time. PVC sleeves for picture disks are also a huge no-no since they can gas the record up during the hot seasons and really discolor and effect the playback of the record. Anti-static sleeves are a great, but still cheap alternative to these. Many companies make them such as Sleeve City (who create the great Diskeeper 2.0 sleeves) and Mobile Fidelity sleeves that even the U.S. Library of Congress recommends. The sleeves not only remove most, if not all of the static on a record, but it also keeps them safe and easy to access within the record jacket. Diskeeper 2.0 has sleeves here on Amazon, and Mobile Fidelity has them here!
Record Cleaning Machines (RCM)
Now we’re entering the expensive territory. RCM’s come in all shapes and sizes and more importantly, various price points. They can cost anywhere from $80-$1000. There are a lot of options and different types, but for someone on a budget, looking for something sub $200, I like the Squeaky Clean MK III. You need to get a shop vac(I got one from Home Depot for $25), but the MK III is about $120 including shipping. It works really well, has a tiny footprint and is easy to assemble, disassemble. Takes me more than a minute to put it all together. You will need to buy or create your own solutions to clean the vinyl, but more on that another time. The Squeaky Clean MK-III can be bought here.