Be a Show Off: Album Cover Display Options

Album cover display products, while very inexpensive, are vital to a task many vinyl aficionados feel strongly about: Displaying covers with which they have an emotional attachment.

Think about it for a moment: Today, a person’s entire music universe can fit in his or her pocket. The ability to squeeze transistors so closely together that functionality fits into devices that can fit in your ear. Delivery networks use the same advances to send music wirelessly in more or less real time. It’s almost as if Prokofiev, Getz and Zydeco (that would be Buckwheat) are materializing out of thin air.

Click here to skip ahead to information on album cover display products from Album Mount, Femeli, MCS, Smashed Banana and KAIU
That’s great, especially for folks who travel a lot or have small homes. Something is lost whenever technology explodes, however. Compare a beautiful early radio console to an AM/FM radio from Best Buy. We’ve gained functionality, lower prices (even when adjusted for the era) and portability. We’ve lost the romance. Moving from records to CDs and then to streaming eliminated the objects that connected us to who and where we were decades ago.

In my opinion, one of the reasons that vinyl has made a comeback is that people want to recapture these things. Of course, there also are younger people discovering the beauty of vinyl for the first time.

It’s unique: Where else is the retro concept–taking an old looking container and stuffing it with the latest gadgetry–a thing? And, while there is a quality-based justification for the popularity of tube-based equipment, an acknowledged dimension of tubes’ enduring popularity is that they look cool in an old-fashioned way. Much of what is attractive about vinyl today is due to its close ties to the past. It’s poignant as the generation grows old and declines. 

And then there are the album covers.

Album covers – especially in the rock era – are a world onto themselves. There was an explosion of graphic creativity in the 1960s and 1970s that paralleled the explosion of musical creativity. Some of the work still is striking. These albums–music and art–were the last gasp before the marketing departments won the war.

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I bet anyone raised on rock (and other genres, but perhaps to a lesser extent) can name 20 album covers that impacted them without much trouble. Think about “Cheap Thrills,” “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “After the Gold Rush,” “Brothers and Sisters,” “Born to Run,” “In the Court of the Crimson King,” “Let it Bleed,” “Tapestry,” “Wednesday Morning, 3 AM,” “Music from Big Pink” and on and on. They stand on their own as art. For people who grew up at the time, the covers are as much markers of memory as the songs that were on them.

5 Tips on Album Cover Displays
Wood and glass are more substantial than plastic, but add weight and shatter risk
– Do you want to hide the frame as much as possible or feature it?
– There is a thin line between lightweight and flimsy. Shop carefully
– Clips that hold record in place must be gentle, especially if the cover is valuable
– The plastic covering the album is vital. Check comments to see if it’s hazy, scratches easily or has other problems
The other element of album covers is that they provide huge amounts of information. A source of continuing income for music writers during the heyday of LPs was liner notes. This was a genre, and much of the writing was great. (It’s funny to see those notes repurposed on CDs because of the size of the print. A person really must want to know what the writer had to say to read liner notes on a CD–especially considering the likely advancing age and fading eyesight of the consumer involved.)

Album art clearly came into its own during the rock era. The lack of truly iconic jazz album covers – ones that are instantly recognizable – probably says more about jazz and rock fans and the times in general than about the records. The importance of liner notes, however, is true across both genres. If anything, liner notes are of greater importance in the more intellectual world of jazz.

HiFi and Vinyl Now is based on the interrelated premises. One is that vinyl includes everything: Equipment, the furniture to put it on, records and artists and their music. It’s all part of the same world. The other is that people who love vinyl are not all audiophiles who obsess over impedance and total harmonic distortion like baseball fans obsess over slugging percentage and wins over replacement. This broad view includes album covers. They are art, after all.

Below are five options for album cover display. Prices are pretty negligible. The key is focusing on keeping these valued keepsakes safe and using a display that more broadly fits in with the room’s decor.


Album Cover Display Tools from Album Mount, Femeli, MCS, Smashed Banana and KAIU

Note: All images are courtesy of the manufacturer. Hover over images for a closer view (in most cases). Vendors have unique short hands for specifications. I’ve more or less left these unchanged, so the capsules are a bit inconsistent.  The paraphrased comments are subjective (and, indeed, sometimes contradictory). Folks sometimes use equipment incorrectly and then complain. Problems mentioned may have been addressed by the manufacturer. Amazon has a tremendous amount of information and feedback on the what it sells and is a recommended element of your shopping research. If you do shop and potentially buy from Amazon, please link to there from HiFi and Vinyl Now. If you are kind enough to do so we’ll get a small commission. The price you pay will remain the same. (Thanks!)

Album Mount Record Album Frame Display

The Album Mount Vinyl Record Frame is both wall mounted and shelf standing. It is designed to be as unobtrusive as possible. The item measures 14.25″ x 3″ x 0.3″ and weighs less than a half ounce. It is adjustable from 8.75″ to 14.25″.

The product, from CollectorMount, works in two ways. It can hang records on the wall or display them on a shelf.

What People are Saying about Album Mount's Record Album Frame Display
Pros
+ Easy to install, lightweight
+ Simple construction, easily adjusted
+ Highlights records, unobtrusive
Cons
– Lips holding records in place too small
– Locking mechanism that holds albums doesn’t work
– Cheaply made

The Femeli Vinyl Record Shelf Wall Mount

The Femeli Vinyl Record Shelf Wall Mount comes in 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 pack options. Each comes with two brackets with dimensions of 1.3” x 3” x 7.14”. Wall mount hardware is not included. The wall mounts are transparent and unobtrusive, according to the company.

The goal is to make it seem that the albums are hovering on the wall. The company says that the wall mounts also have been used for matchbox cars or other packaged toys, children’s artwork, books, vinyl records, album covers, graphic novels, magazines, playbills, award certificates, home decor items, and framed products.

What People are Saying about the Femeli Vinyl Record Shelf Wall Mount
Pros
+ Easy to assemble and hang
+ Sturdy
+ Good size, looks good
Cons
– Tightening screws too much can break plastic

MCS Record Album Display Frame

MCS’s Record Album Display Frame comes in a six pack. It is anodized black and measures 12.5″ x 12.5″. square. The item weighs 11.2 ounces and features a transparent back to enable viewing of the back side of the album.

The MCS Industries product comes with two sheets of styrene to protect the album that is on display.

What People are Saying about MCS's Record Album Display Frame
Pros
+ Lightweight, yet sturdy
+ Solid aluminum construction
+ Assembly fast and easy
Cons
– Cheaply
– Acrylic scratches easily
– Clips badly manufactured and faulty

Smashed Banana’s Black Music Album Frame

Smashed Banana’s Black Music Album Frame measures 12.5″ x 12.5″. It is easy to hang and supports any 12″ record. It has a brushed aluminum finish. Front protection is provided by plexiglass.

The product, which is from Smashed Banana, includes hanging hardware. The units can support double and, depending on thickness, triple albums. The dimensions are 13.1″ x 13.1″ x 1.1″. The frames weigh in at 1.25 lbs.

What People are Saying about Smashed Banana's Black Music Album Frame
Pros
+ The frames look good
+ Easy to clean
+ Superior hardware
Cons
– Plastic difficult to remove from albums
– Plastic is cheap and hazy
– Poorly manufactured

KAIU Vinyl Record Frame

KAIU Vinyl Record Frame is made of FSC certified New Zealand pine wood. The album is covered by a clear acrylic that the company says is shatterproof.

The frame is black and weighs 1.68 lbs. It measures 13.8″ x 13.6″ x 2 “.

What People are Saying about KAIU's Vinyl Record Frame
Pros
+ Quick installation
+ Looks good
+ Strong magnetic closure
Cons
– Difficult to assemble
– Slot records slide into too narrow
– Poor quality

 

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