How to care for your portable music players

July 29, 2015

Just because a music system is portable, it doesn't mean it's maintenance-free. Most personal and portable music devices (except for MP3 players) receive more steady use than their on-the-shelf counterparts and need more frequent cleaning.

How to care for your portable music players

Clean portable CD players

  • Portable CD players can be dusted off with a can of compressed air, and then cleaned with a chamois swab moistened with denatured alcohol; use a dry swab to wipe off any excess fluid.
  • Be sure to clean units with the power switched off or with batteries removed.

Use rechargeable batteries in personal players

  • When it comes to battery usage, all portable music systems are not created equally.
  • The lack of moving parts in MP3 players, for example, helps many models achieve impressive battery lives.
  • Other devices, such as portable audiocassette players, can go through their weight in AA or AAA batteries every other month or so. If your music player will accept rechargeable batteries — and most will — pick up some nickel metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries.
  • These rechargeable batteries, which come in all standard battery sizes, are a vast improvement over the old nickel cadmium (NiCd) types.
  • They're easier to charge, hold their charges for longer periods of time, and provide more power than alkaline batteries. In short, they can save you plenty of money over the long haul.
  • Remember that you will need to buy a small charger unit in which to recharge your batteries — and that's a good idea even if you have a player that is designed to recharge batteries.

Clean battery leads

  • Keep the juices flowing in your portable music players by occasionally cleaning oxidation or residue, and especially any corrosion that accumulates on the internal battery contacts, with a few gentle strokes from a pencil's rubber eraser.
  • Don't clean spring contacts, however, they can easily get bent out of shape or break off, and don't let any eraser rubbings fall onto the player's circuitry.

Rescue a soggy portable player

  • There's nothing like enjoying some tunes at the pool or the beach — that is, until your boom box or personal stereo decides to take a dip in the water, or winds up buried in the sand.
  • In many cases, this will not only bring an abrupt end to the music, but the player as well; salt water can be especially corrosive to small metal parts.
  • There is some emergency first aid you can perform, although the chances of survival vary greatly from player to player and depend on the extent of the water damage.

    1. Immediately remove the batteries or disconnect the plug (toss all wet batteries; they will leak if reused).

    2. Remove any housing screws and disassemble the player as best as you can. If the unit fell into fresh water, just dry the sections with a hair dryer or gently towel them off and let them air-dry for at least 48 hours before restoring power. If the unit landed in salt water, soak the disassembled pieces in fresh (preferably distilled) water for at least 20 minutes before drying them with the hair blower.

    3. Did sand get in there? The procedures above will remove some of it, but you should also thoroughly sweep out any remaining sand with a soft brush.

    4. Clean off any belts and other moving parts with some denatured alcohol and add a bit of lubrication.

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