Vinyl Flat: An Affordable Record Flattener?

Do you own any warped records? I do, unfortunately. It’s always a major disappointment to find that a promising new record is warped. You could take it back to the store, of course, but who’s got time for that? Most often, I wind up keeping those sad, warped records, but I rarely play them. No fun, no fun.

I’ve often wondered about the Furutech Disc Flattener, recommended by Mikey Fremer, but $2000 is a lot of money to spend on what is, essentially, an accessory.

So, I’m anxious to learn more about the new Vinyl Flat Record Flattener ($129.95). From the website: “With Vinyl Flat, a precise amount of gravitational force is combined with a simple, low-heat approach that is proven safe for practically all vinyl records.”

Vinyl Flat’s John Martindale says the unit can be used with a kitchen oven or with the Vinyl Flat Heating Pouch ($99.95 with heavy-duty DC power supply, available in July). According to Martindale, the Heating Pouch would be safer than the oven: “It operates at a low, precision-regulated temperature, and it is also much more energy efficient.”

Customers who would rather use their kitchen oven can also purchase the pouch, minus heating element and power supply, as a simple storage case for $19.95.

Vinyl Flat will be sold direct and through “most of the major audio retailers.” For more info, visit the Vinyl Flat website. Units should be shipping soon.

volvic's picture

I did this experiment a few years back where I took two pieces of scrupulously cleaned glass and placed a warped disc in the oven for a few mins to straigthen it out.  The result was trapped dust lodged on the delicate vinyl for ever.  I would be interested to see if that can be avoided with this accessory.  The best thing i found for dealing with warped records was a table with a good spindle and record clamp and an amp with a decent subsonic filter, other than that would hate to perform surgery on my priceless collection.  


dbowker's picture

I will definitely get this thing. I have several albums that were warped as new, and it kills me to not be able to play them. But as SM said, no way is the Furutech thing worth it to the vast majority of collectors. This device, if you can save 10 records in a lifetime, it pays for itself. Im sure I have at least five right away I'd use it for, not to mention anothe five that play, but still could be flatter for better playback.

Nick_ I see what you mean about the dust issue though. It'd be a good idea to run any LPs through a vacuum record cleaning machine first I guess. Luckily I have one, though maybe some other cleaning methods would work too. Or--- how about a can of Dust Off? Blast the dust outof the grooves first before heating.

dbowker's picture

I just read their PDF instrcutions and damn, they really went the extra mile and give you times based on specific record labels and various gram weights. This definitely is a big step forward, and in hindsight SO obvious! Why didn't it get invented years and years ago!?

Daverz's picture

If dust bonded to the vinyl, perhaps too much heat was used?

Brown Sound's picture

Sounds like a great product, Stephen. Are you gonna test / review it?

Stephen Mejias's picture

Yes, I think so.

volvic's picture

I probably did use too much heat, although I remember I put the min temp setting on the oven.  I think placing vinyl in between two glass pieces and expecting no dust to get trapped was wishful thinking on my part and I don't have a vacuum record cleaning machine to try and clean it off afterwards.  I am interested to hear how this tool will work.  But I have to say even with my old LP12 and my Shure V-15 MK V cartridge warped records were never a serious issue.  Nowdays with a record clamp and subsonic filter they are not much of an issue - unless I change cartridge. 

ScullComm's picture

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the DF-2, the second gen LP Flattener, as was the first, was always a limited-production product. It was for industry people and dealers, perhaps LP clubs who could all pitch in and use it at meetings. By the nature of the way they do business in Japan these limited-edition type of products are sometimes made by others who distribute through, say, Furutech as an OEM. Sometimes those contracts wind up elsewhere, as is the way of the world. Let's say it was a perfectionist product at a perfectionist price point. But I applaud your efforts to find more reasonable-costing ways of doing things. Sounds oddly... familiar!  (-"

Stephen Mejias's picture

Excellent points, Mr. Scull.

But I applaud your efforts to find more reasonable-costing ways of doing things. Sounds oddly... familiar!

Ha! You are, and will continue to be, an inspiration.

: )

botquizon's picture

Dear Stereophile readers/reviewers,


About 15-20 years ago, my employer rented a few LaserDiscs.  He forgot them inside his car trunk and parked under the sun.  When he went home,  what he found were super warped LaserDiscs beyond use and they wanted him to pay for them at the Brand new price. So he called me if I have any idea on how to ''un-warped'' them.  Actually I cannot remember how I came up with the following idea/solution>>>>  What I did was to buy two pieces of 1/4'' thick clear furniture glass about 14 inches square (length and width).  Then I put the LaserDiscs between the two glasses and placed under the sun.  After about a half hour, I took them inside the house and checked them the next day.  MAGIC!  They were as FLAT as brand new.  I own a lot of Vinyl Records but so far not one needs flattening!  Hope this helps!

randar66's picture

I'm John's guina pig on unwarping records.  At first I gave him crap records and yes he did flatten them, most not perfect, but making them all playable.  As he experimented with different weights and times etc, at the end of a month of experimentation, by jingo I think he's got it.  I gave him a pretty rare soul record that would not track, next week, wala, I sold it the next day and no complaints.  I gave him some very very rare 7" singles that were all bowed beyond playability and today he brought back the first one, played perfect.  This thing is gonna pay for itself in short order. I will be selling them at my on line store. 

Like someone else here said, for the money this thing can't be beat, looks weird, but hey it works.  Flatten 10-15 records and it's paid for itself.



BugsyPal's picture

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on this gizmo - given that I have several LPs that are sufficiently warped that I don't dare play them, it should pay for itself straight away.

According to the instructions for the Vinyl Flat, an oven temperature no greater than 65C should be used. Unfortunately, following my own testing, I have found that my gas oven will go no lower than around 80C before it extinguishes itself.

As a result, I will also need the heating pouch, and I trust this will soon be available. Hopefully the accompanying DC power supply will accept 100-240V input voltage, as this will allow for it to be used worldwide without the need for an inverter or replacement power supply.

randomrecordfan's picture

What is the best way to flatten a dish-warped record that is still sealed? I wish to keep it sealed for the time being. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.