Concerning turntables and LPs. Simple things your father knew, probably.

 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1405
Registered: Dec-03
It is a pleasure to see renewed interest, here, in playing LPs, new vinyl pressings, and a range of excellent new turntables, tone arms, and so on.

CDs are read optically (there are some optical LP turntables, too), with no mechanical contact. The CD-reading laser/photodiode tracks from inside to outside of the compact disc, from underneath, and at a fixed linear velocity, so the CD speed of rotation decreases continually as playback proceeds. LPs are quite different. They track mechanically, from outside to inside, and at a fixed speed of rotation (usually 33? r.p.m), so the linear tracking velocity decreases as playback proceeds. The tracking is from the top; and gravity is the force holding the stylus in place. Read the manual and adjust the tracking weight to the correct value for the arm and cartridge, also the "bias adjustment" or, "anti-skating" value.

Here are some things everyone once knew, before the era of the CD. I see there are many audio "orphans" here. Older and wiser men, please comment, or disagree. "Men" includes "women", or course.

Turntables

The thing you put the LP record on is a platter, or platen. No-one here old enough to remember "The Platters"? Smoke gets in you Eyes? Ah well...

Drive belts, if present (not found with "direct drive" turntables) are mostly rubber bands or rubber rings. As long it is roughly the right diameter, stays on, and couples the drive wheels it is OK. Also it should not be so tight it puts a horizontal load on the bearing. The speed of rotation of the platter is fixed by the sizes of the wheels, not what couples them. A good hardware shop should have some sort of suitable elastic band or rubber "o" ring. Vacuum cleaners have something the same, but much stronger of course. The belt should be clean, dry. Never lubricate a belt, except maybe very lightly with talcum powder, to prevent build up of grease from fingerprints etc. Clean and dry hands before messing with belts etc.

Speed problems (equals "wow" and "flutter") that are audible as pitch changes usually mean some part of the drive needs cleaning and lubricating. (Unless the motor or bearing is is knackered). Clean before lubricating. If the problem is sticky oil/ grease residues or hairs or whatever stuck in the grease then you will only make it worse with more oil/grease. Industrial machine oil is too viscous, usually. It depends. A light bicycle or even sewing machine oil can be better. The bearing itself should usually be packed with grease and stuff sold for bicycle wheels can be OK. But take care, don't do anything irreversible and read the manual with your particular turntable, if it still exists.

Re electrical hum you should "ground" (UK: "earth") the tonearm/turntable to the amp/receiver. Most good amps have a spade connector for that, adjacent to the phono input. If not, take the earth/ground lead and screw it on to make electrical contect with the amp chassis somewhere.

A worn or dried-out main bearing will generate rumble. This sounds like horses galloping in the background. All cheap turntables had rumble. The main bearing of a good turntable was often the most expensive part, the tolerances to get the rumble down to inaudible required precision engineering. Even a good one (e.g. Linn, Thorens, Rega, Dual, yes Technics too I think) will start to rumble if the bearing is worn or not lubricated. A bit of grease will often cut rumble completely and of course stop subsequent wear.

Stroboscopes allowed people to see pitch changes they could not hear. Some LPs (for example from Hyperion) had dots printed on the label which worked as a stroboscope under a desk lamp at line frequency. Quartz-locking kept playing speed from drifting as the motor warmed up, but that was inaudible, too, usually.

LPs

Pops are on the LP and will sound with any turntable. They can be scratches or bits of debris stuck in the grooves (in extreme cases they will make the stylus and arm jump to another groove). You can simply wash an LP in lukewarm soapy water, rinse off with clean water, and allow to dry. It is even OK to use a soft nylon or other non-abrasive brush. It is grit and abrasive cleaners (sink cleaner; "Vim" etc.) that are death to LPs. There used to be lots of proprietory anti-static fluids and things called dust-bugs, which tracked the groove parallel to the stylus, giving various acoustical problems, but a good mild wash in soapy water then a rinse and dry will usually do it.

After playing an LP side, blow any dust off the stylus. Lots of dust on the stylus prevents it getting docked properly in the groove and you get a degraded signal. By the time it is audible you can always see a little ball of fluff or trailing dust hairs on the stylus as it tracks the groove. Just lift the tone arm and gently (and dryly) blow off the fluff.

Vinyl is easy to get full of static charge, like a comb or hairbrush. The main problem is that the charge attracts dust. Scratches are always visible on the surface and make regular pops or fizzes, one per revolution. There is not much you can do except avoid making them in the first place. There are also bubbles in the vinyl. These are also nothing you can fix, and were a fault in manufacture of the LP. They sound like scratches except they are low-frequency, more of a regular "thump", also you usually can't usually see them.

Keep LPs dust-free at all times. Having the lid down on the turntable during playback sounds like a good idea, but can be a great way of picking up acoustic feedback (thanks to J. Vigne for pointing this out to me, very recently). Try it and see. Keep the LP in the sleeve, with the inner sleeve opening inside the outer "dust jacket", to seal off the LP. House dust is abrasive if rubbed in. Take great care with any cloths that they are completely clean and do not shed fluff or lint. Soft brushes e.g. old soft nylon toothbrush is the best way to get out dust and crap. You can very gently press the bristles on the LP surface as it rotates. Serious bits of crud that will jump the stylus out of the groove can be felt as a twitch through the toothbrush handle; increase the pressure till the stuff get prised out. If that doesn't work, have close look at the surface of the LP at that point and see if a toothpick or similar will do the job.

Very bad thing to do; play the LP with a damaged stylus. Digs in and widens the groove. End of LP. Throw it away. Get a new stylus. Some record stores used to destroy LPs in this way, before selling them to you. "Virg*n Records" took its name from the fact that Branson's LPs had never been played. The rest is history.

Other LP faults you cannot do anything about include pre-echo and post-echo. It means the record company tried to get too much on one side, and the grooves are so close together that you hear what is on the next, or previous, groove, sometimes the one after (or before) that, in worst cases. Wow can also be caused by the hole not being in the middle. It is surprising how often LP manufacturers could not get even that right. Observe the pickup as it tracks the groove. If it moves twitches horizontally or vertically, the record is warped. Most new vinyl pressings are excellent.

If the record industry had not become complacent and churned out faulty LPs by the million, CD would have had a tougher time, but probably would have won in the end, anyway. Now CD is exposed by DVD-Audio as a convenience format it always was, and is being blown away, even for convenience, by MP3 players and especially iPod, it is worth looking after LPs, and even buying new ones. Old LPs in good condition are worth many times their original purchase price.

Even better, they sound good.
 

Silver Member
Username: Ghiacabriolet

NC

Post Number: 299
Registered: Apr-04
Excellent, John! Reading through this reminded me of some things I'd forgotten from my lp days. Things like grounding, anti-skating, etc. Reading through this introduced me to some ideas I had not grasped before, such as gravity being the force that holds the stylus in place.

Now, the question is, why am I visiting the Phono thread for the first time. Stay tuned.... :-)
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest
Ghia, oh, Ghia ... think Rega Planar whatever number you can afford.
 

Silver Member
Username: Ghiacabriolet

NC

Post Number: 303
Registered: Apr-04
Jan

--------YEP--------

Hoping for 3.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 2046
Registered: Dec-03
Thanks for responding, Ghia. I thought my single post on this thread had floated like a lead balloon.

I have told the tale of my Rega Planar 3 before. It is the best single piece of audio kit I ever bought. I bought mine in 1979. Rega started making and fitting its own tonearm in about 1984, the RB 300 on the Planar 3. There is also a better motor, I read, and I can get and "upgrade" kit to add the new one. The sound quality leaves me with nothing to be desired. Get a Planar 3 and you will never need to upgrade. It is a classic piece of design.

I am just back from Quebec with 6 hours's-worth of jet lag. I see hundreds of posts in the last two weeks. Perhaps there are new developments. I will check.

BTW any dealer that sells a Rega is likely to be a good one, and you should consider seriously their advice about pick-up cartridges. But for the best advice available anywhere, ask the generous and truculent audio polymath, Jan Vigne.

It is amazing how good LP is. One of the complaints was you need a "high-end" turntable to experience the best sound quality. But, when you have something in the class of the Planar 3, I am sure you will hear, I as I did, how much better the sound is than that on any CD.

Also, LPs and turntables need a little extra tender loving care etc. which is why I wrote the first post, here.
 

Silver Member
Username: Ghiacabriolet

NC

Post Number: 316
Registered: Apr-04
JohnA,

It's good to see you posting again! Hope your trip went well. I've been to Toronto before but Quebec is on the wish to visit list.

The pics of your setup and your previous comments plus Jan's recommendations had put the Rega Planar P3 at the top of my list. I'm also considering the Nottingham Analogue Horizon.

Alas, I'm having problems locating local dealers (within 150 miles) for Rega or Nottingham for audition purposes so this may end up being another leap of faith purchase based on feedback of others.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to spinning lp's again and am grateful to have this thread with the tips you provided.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Ojophile

Toronto, ON

Post Number: 51
Registered: Jun-04
John A,

Good to see you back! I hope Montreal was kind to you. Thanks for your reply re: my query on the Rega P3.

The other good thing about LP's, and one that I will always treasure, is the cover art. No CD jewel case insert can replace, let alone reproduce, the detail and the rich colours and hues of the artwork that by itself was enough reason to buy the LP in the first place. The "Santana" album, for example, featuring a lion's head made up of a collage of hidden faces and figures, IMHO, is one of the most innovative LP covers of all time. Even the jazz fusion movement of the 70's produced some of the best LP covers (sample cover). Details, details! See this Led Zeppelin album. If you have the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band LP and bought the CD reissue, you know what I mean. Of course, there were the cheesy ones; nevertheless, some of them were eye candy.

There's hope, I believe, that lies with DVD-A releases. The original artwork can be restored as JPEG images and can be viewed on the TV while listening to the music. Why not?

Cheers! Enjoy the Labor Day weekend.

Don
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 2049
Registered: Dec-03
Don,

Quite right. Well said. I recently bought the www.simplyvinyl.com Blonde on Blonde. The "gatefold" sleeve seems to me to be exactly as it was in the mid-60s.

Sgt Pepper is a good case. The artist was a man called Peter Blake. The CD tries hard, but the size and format forbids the original intention. Good point about the JPEG images.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 2050
Registered: Dec-03
Ghia,

Thanks, too! Sorry if I do not reply to all posts. I think you have some new threads. This is a swift reaction to your last post.

Turntables are a whole topic. All we have here is the category "Phono". Well, that's something.

The NAD 533 seems to be a Rega Planar 2 in all but name; NAD acknowledge it is OEM from Rega. Your NAD dealer should have one.

Also, there are clearly excellent turntables around that are not from Rega. The Pro-Ject range are getting excellent reviews and are in the "affordable" category.
 

Matt L.
Unregistered guest
This thread might be dead, but as a young person just getting into audio, I thank you for the information you provided. I am trying to learn and do research to buy my first turntable, and now at least I understand the basics.

P.S. are there any dealers anymore that deal with turntables, most of them here in Michigan don't carry in product or have in interest in discussing the product they have.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 2558
Registered: Dec-03
It is a pleasure to read that, Matt. Thanks for taking the time.

I cannot direct you to dealers in Michigan, but I am quite sure they are there. HiFi-audio magazines such as HiFi News (UK mostly) and Stereophile (US), amongst others, carry ads to dealers and distributors. You could also go to a manufacturer's web site (try "Google" or another search engine) and click on "dealers" or similar.

There are some more threads under this category "Phono" where people discuss makes of turntable. People here are usually generous with advice and views. I also see whole-page ads for Pro-Ject turntables in music magazines such as "Gramophone" so there has to be a growing market out there.
 

New member
Username: Matt_l

Michigan USA

Post Number: 1
Registered: Dec-04
Thanks,

I will keep looking, I might just have to order online. But with all the info learning here I will trust my gamble a little bit more.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 231
Registered: Sep-04
Here are some turntable manufacturers that you might like to consider. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it's a good one!

Pro-ject, Rega (of course), Michell Engineering (my favourite), Nottingham Analogue, SME, Audio Note (formerly Systemdek and Voyd), VPI, Basis, Well Tempered, Clearaudio, Marantz (actually a Clearaudio with a Marantz tag on it!), Roksan, Linn, NAD (actually a lesser spec Rega Planar 2), AVID, Townshend, Thorens (yes, still around), Technics (mainly a DJ deck called the 1200), Garrard (owned by Loricraft who refurbish old transcriptors as well as introduced a new model last year), Origin Live, Brinkmann, DPS, Verdier.

I've just noticed the vast majority of this list are a) European and b) expensive - sorry! The inexpensive makes are Rega and Pro-ject (although Thorens might still make their entry level decks too). Of those I'd choose a Rega - any Rega - any day. VPI, Basis and Well Tempered are US based. I believe VPI starts in the mid-price category there, whereas over here in the UK they're more expensive.

There are two main designs of turntable - one with a suspended subchassis and one without. The ones that aren't suspended are simply composed of a plinth with legs, a bearing in the plinth to hold the platter, a motor (which may or may not be attached to the plinth) and a mounting plate for the arm. Suspended turntables are much more complicated. Typically, these use springs to decouple the platter and arm from the rest of the world (including the motor). They require a lot more setting up than non-suspended decks and they definitely sound different, although this is very much down to the design of the deck.

Many (most?) higher end decks do not come with their own tonearm so you can put your own choice in there. Not all arms have the same mounting arrangement, so you need to contact the deck manufacturer for new mounting plates (or armboards as they're called). The inexpensive models usually come with an arm, mainly because the entry level buyer typically doesn't want to have the hassle of working out which arm to go for. Some models (e.g. Pro-ject) also include cartridge which is usually a good start, but not necessarily the best solution. Being able to change arm or cartridge or, indeed, armwire, motor or power supply allows you more freedom in extracting the best from the deck, but you've got to start somewhere and there's something to be said for the holistic approach to turntable design that Rega have for example.

Some of you'll be glad to know there is a not-insignificant growing vinyl market with new music and reissues of famous recordings becoming available. Recommendations would include Diverse Vinyl, Vivante (www.vivante.co.uk) and Simply Vinyl. There's a massive 2nd hand market too and most of the dealers are fairly straightforward in their assessment of the vinyl they keep so you'll know what to expect in terms of pops nd crackles. They're usually easier to return stuff to than the majors as well.

I hope this helps!

Regards,
Frank.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 232
Registered: Sep-04
By the way, I like the 'Phono' appellation since it allows us to talk about phono stages without wading through all the other preamp or amp threads that phono stages would otherwise fall into...

Regards,
Frank.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 233
Registered: Sep-04
I just re-read John's initial post and must make a few comments (sorry John):

Drive belts are ground quite accurately to fine tolerances. Any old belt won't do. Try to get the correct belt specified by the manufacturer. It's surprising how much of an effect a drive belt can have when it's worn out (meaning not quite up to manufacturer spec). I've heard the talcum powder idea before but I've never subscribed to it.

Please do not wash your records in lukewarm soapy water. This may leave as much gunk in the grooves as you remove. If they really need cleaning and you feel you need a wet method, then use Permaclean (available from Milty). This does a great job. If you suffer from static on your records, you can get around this with Permostat. I have used both systems and they do not seem to affect the sound afterwords. Most wet systems do affect the sound. If you simply wish to keep records clean with a dry system, buy a Goldring Exstatic brush. It's an excellent item which will last years and won't damage records.

On the subject of lid up or down generally, decks sound better with the lid up, with one important exception - Rega! Most decks sound closed in and can even have a strange back echo or hum caused by the lid acting like a sound chamber. Regas usually benefit by being played with the lid down giving a tighter faster presentation, but it's not a huge difference and if you suffer feedack then there's no option but to play it with the lid up. Feedback is down to the cartridge...

Sorry John, had to put my oar in...

Regards,
Frank.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 2578
Registered: Dec-03
Frank,

Thank you. Actually, I am rewarded by your disagreement.

I wrote what I did because there is a certain amount to know about how turntables and LPs work that used to be common knowledge, but is no longer.

The original post was also written on the premise that replacement drive belts etc are getting difficult, if not impossible, to find, and that anything is better than nothing. This is true for certain makes, as we see from this forum. My Rega Planar 3 has a large "O" ring as the drive belt, and I am fairly sure any "O" ring with the correct diameters (of the whole "O" and roughly of the belt itself) will do just as well. Rega is still in business so there should be no problem in getting an approved one from the maker. Not so Dual, for example, as far as I can see - Dual were as well regarded as Rega at the time I bought my Planar 3.

My deck's acoustic feedback with the lid down is not a result of the cartridge, but of the wall on which the stand is mounted, which is flimsy, and acts like a soundboard.

Washing an LP is OK - I did write "rinse off with clean water, and allow to dry" - that is essential. A meticulous person might use distilled water for the rinse. Certainly there are other ways to do it.

I have been listening to LPs more of late, some new, some old, and I am fairly sure there is something there that is missing from CD.

The other fallacy (CD hype addressed this with the slogan "perfect sound that lasts forever") is that LPs wear out quickly. I have some LPs I have played dozens of times over several decades, with no audible deterioration of sound quality. I have always taken care with stylus condition and tracking weight; also kept them dust-free.

Anyone interested, I endorse Frank's list of recommended turntables. It may not be exclusive. I also note that major hi-fi makers such as Denon and Marantz are re-introducing turntables. This is not to recommend those models, but their market researchers are fairly astute, so here is evidence for a renaissance of LPs and turntables.

Good thing, too.
 

New member
Username: Mickman

Post Number: 1
Registered: Dec-04
Hi guys,

This is a great thread. It's great to see so much interest in vinyl and so much knowledge as well. I have always loved records but I must confess that I know very little about turntables. All I really know is the that one I had until very recently was kinda crappy (a low end Technics). On that note, I was hoping you guys could give me some advice on how to get the best from my new acquisition - a Marantz 6150 from the 70s. Here's a link if you want the specs: http://www.classicaudio.com/marantz/6150.html (copy and paste)
It is an absolute beauty but it has a few new features that I have never used before. So, hopefully you guys can answer the following questions:
1. How should I set the weight on the back of the arm? (I don't want it to be too heavy because I'm afraid it will dig into to my LPs)
2. What is anti-skating and how do I set it? (It goes from zero to four)

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,

Mike
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 2588
Registered: Dec-03
Mike,

Thanks. Set the tracking weight according to the cartridge. The anti-skating value should be the same; both will be in units of grams. If you do not have manuals, try to get them. Google etc. turns up vendors.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 235
Registered: Sep-04
John

I admit I have *never* heard acoustic feedback on a Rega. I have been using them in different rooms with different cartridges for several years now without any problem of this sort, so I find it surprising that you have this problem, even though you have the deck on a flimsy wall. I wonder what stand you're using. Is it Rega's own wallmount rack? This is a very light item with just 3 cups for the feet, rather than the more usual mdf board. If it's not the Rega item, I suggest taking off the board if possible, or decoupling the legs from the board (but not with anything squidgy which would introduce suspension). If you are using the Rega item, try getting some 19mm MDF and placing the deck on that. It's just that playing the deck with the lid down has a slight improvement in pace and cohesiveness which suits the Rega tremendously.

As to washing the LPs, the detergent will leave residue in the grooves, even if it's mild and you rinse thoroughly - and the only rinsing agent to use is distilled water. But even then, I still maintain it's not a good idea. The best wet system is something like a Nitty Gritty, VPI or Garrard cleaner (we use a Keith Monks in the shop - the best, but not made any more). These use vacuum suction to suck up the dirt with the water. The records come off the machine clean and dry. The water sucked up from the record is usually a light brown colour (!) if the record was truly dirty. The usual cleaning agent is a very diluted isopropyl alcohol. The problem with these machines is they're expensive.

I agree that there is an intangible 'rightness' about LP as against CD, although I have heard CDs sound as good or better than LP on a very small number of occasions. The incidence of this is increasing and I find myself wondering whether it's simply a matter of the digital mastering processes being understood better than they used to be, and so less mistakes being made nowadays. Generally, however, vinyl remains more organic and less mechanical than CD - although there are some decks that try to be as mechanical as possible!

Mike, 404 - file not found! I managed to find the details eventually, but it's not detailed enough for me to see the adjustments that can be made. Here's a stab at doing it:

If the counterweight has a graduated weight indicator (typically between 0 and 5 grams), then set it up so that the arm is perfectly balanced (stays horizontal when you let go of it). Now check the graduations. Sometimes the graduations are on a separate disc. If they are you should be able to turn it independantly of the counterweight. Turn the '0' setting to the 12 oclock position. Now turn the counterweight with the weight indicator wheeluntil it reads the supposed tracking force of the cartridge at the 12 oclock position (e.g. 1.75grams). That's the tracking force set.

Anti-skate: By default, an arm experiences an acceleration towards the centre of the record due to the geometry of the arm and the force acting on the cartridge when tracking a record. This is called 'skate' and so you have to apply an anti-skate force for the cartridge to track properly. There is a rule of thumb that the anti-skate should be the same as the tracking force, but I'm skeptical about this because I've seen too much variance between cartridges on this score.

I set anti-skate as follows. I find a record with a large lead-out area. Spin up the deck and lower the cartridge into the lead-out area in between the grooves. With no anti-skate set, the arm should catch up with the groove toward the centre spindle. With too much anti-skate set, the arm will pull back to the outer edge of the record (until caught by the groove). The optimum is when you sit the cartridge between the grooves and it sits there until the groove picks it up. Setting the anti-skate is done in various ways on different arms. Many use a simple thread and weight with a cantilever on the arm base. Others use a spring inside the arm (Rega does this for example).

Regards,
Frank.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 2592
Registered: Dec-03
Frank,

Thanks for your comments.

Yes, I have Rega's own three-cup wall-mounted bracket. The problem is that the wall is not so much a wall as a plasterboard partition, which even flexes when someone opens or closes a door. The space within the closed dustcover clearly pick up feedback from the wall; open the dustcover, or take it off completely, and things are fine. I am returning to a land of solid masonry, soon. Hope that is what I will find there, anyway. I may have to do without LPs for a few months, during the transition, for reasons of space. I still have my original packaging from 1979, complete with the piece of stout card to take any load off the bearing; the turntable has been in storage before. When things stabilise, then I will investigate the motor upgrade and the RB 300 tonearm.
 

Unregistered guest
I recently bought a Marantz 6100 on eBay and the anti-skate thingy is missing. Is there some easy way to cobble together some sort of a substitute weight or does anyone know were to buy a proper replacement? I'd like to ask your opinions on cartridges and needles, but I expect that would get too much off topic.
 

New member
Username: Dvautier

Bellevue, Wa Usa

Post Number: 9
Registered: Feb-05
Well I would like to add a few ideas to the original intent of this thread which has perhaps gone on way, way too long. My father didn't know squat about LPs (only 78s) because I'm the war baby around here and began to blossom in the late 50s into stereo, 45s and 33s (as we called them). Anyway here are some of my thoughts on LPs since I have been collecting them for 45 years (drives my wife crazy). Give it a click if you dare.

http://dvautier.home.comcast.net/lp/lp.htm

good luck to all!!!!

 

New member
Username: Velodoom

Bethlehem, PA USA

Post Number: 4
Registered: Apr-05
excellent post covering some good basics for people like myself. I do have a few additional questions that I'm sure people here will be able to help me with:

1) how do you know the stylus needs to be replaced? is this based on a certain # of hours? I am currently running a ortofon red dot which was newly installed when I bought my rega planar2 used about 5 years ago. I think it is time to replace but I haven't noticed any decrease in audio response.

2) I currently have a discwasher (visible in the photos of my turntable in my other post), is this going to force dust and grit into the grooves? I use it with a little of the D4 to pick up the loose dust.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 2965
Registered: Dec-03
Nice web page, Dominic! I, too, remember 78 r.p.m records. "Vinyl" is definitely increasing in popularity, today. There are newly-pressed LPs, mostly rock and jazz. Hang on to your collection. Specialist dealers charge a small fortune for old LPs in good condition.

A stylus can be inspected, for wear, with a low-power binocular microscope, brian. Dealers used to have these. If you buy a new stylus and everything sounds the same, the chances are there was nothing wrong with the old one, and you can keep it as a spare. I am not 100% sure; any one else care to comment? Frank?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Dvautier

Bellevue, Wa Usa

Post Number: 11
Registered: Feb-05
I have used a lot of styluses (pl?) but never experienced the good fortune to have one actually ware out on me. They usually get destroyed long before that, especially around kids, dogs, cats, wives, drunks, strangers, and troglidites. When I was in the army I had to keep them strictly under lock and key. Once I had a diamond tip come off. Seems to me you can get a lots and lots of miles out of the needle--after all, it's way way tougher than the vinyl.
 

Clogartist
Unregistered guest
On the subject of cleaning, I got a Goldring Super Exstatic brush but I am not entirely sure how to use it. The instructions say to brush off the dust while the record is turning on the table. But is this safe to do on a simple belt-drive (Project Debut) turntable? It seems very easy to slow down the table as it turns. Not sure if this is a problem.

Not the most exciting question, but would appreciate any answers.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 3580
Registered: May-04


With a carbon fiber brush you do not have to extert more force than to merely hold the brush on the record surface. This brush is meant for daily cleaning and not for deep groove cleaning. If you force the bristles into the groove you will actually defeat the purpose of the brush.

Hold the brush straight across the record and perpendicular to the record surface. Let the record make a few spins while holding the brush just lightly enough to remove the surface dust and to destat the record. Sweep the brush upward and outward to remove the dust. There should be no line of dust particles remaining or you have incorrectly done the procedure.

Make certain the platter mat is clean or you will be forcing dirt into the groove from the bottom. This is particularly true if you have a felt mat or use a record weight or clamp.

For deep groove cleaning you can and should use a wet cleaner.


 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 3046
Registered: Dec-03
The best solution is just to keep the LP clean at all times. When not being played, it should be in the inner record sleeve, sealed off by the outer sleeve.

The stylus will remove surface dust as the record plays. At the end of the side, or before if there is audible distortion, just inspect the stylus by eye, and gently blow off any dust that has gathered there.
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 589
Registered: Feb-04
Brushing the stylus with a short-bristled artist-painter's brush also helps keep it clean. Make sure you brush from back to front.
 

Gold Member
Username: Myrantz

The Land Dow...

Post Number: 1807
Registered: Aug-04
Swab your records with milk and place kitty beside the platter as the records spins. Kitty's rough (but soft) tongue will lap up the dust with the milk and will also give the groove in the record a thorough clean. Don't let kitty touch the disc with claws extended or the recording may be audible in multi-channel which, on an lp, is not a good thing.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 3585
Registered: May-04


Awwww, guys, come on! Get some cajones! Use a stylus cleaner with a fluid solution. Or do what Linn recommends and take the flint off a book of matches and scrape it across the stylus. It does a better job than any stylus cleaning solution I've ever tried.

And don't believe John about the stylus removing dust. He's been listening to Roy Gandy too long. Next he'll be telling you to play the table with the dustcover down. (I know John, you know better now!) The stylus moves things that you can see. You want to get the micro particles that come flying onto the record when you pull it out of the jacket and set up a static charge. Destating the record with a gun or brush helps remove these smallest of particles.




 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 591
Registered: Feb-04
MR and JV--Very funny stuff(!) even though you poke fun at my sacred ritual to the analog gods and shall be duly rewarded by getting stuck in an elevator and having to listen to Air Supply for days on end. Oh yeah, Ozzy Osbourne and his family will be in the elevator with you.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 3588
Registered: May-04


2c - The bit about the matchbook flint is for real.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 3048
Registered: Dec-03
My Rantz,

There use to be a thing called a "Watt's Dust Bug" which worked continuously, tracking the record, but otherwise a bit like your cat. Yes, the nylon bristles played the music, alright. They were followed by another head, with a velvet pad, which slowed the rotation quite well. The bristles only gave surround sound if you had the turntable behind you. The sound had as many channel delays and advances as anyone could want, all at the same time.

The demo, which I never forgot, of Quad ESL 57 speakers was supposed to be illustrating the effect of some antistatic LP treatment. I think I bought some, called Parazone or similar.It was cheaper than the speakers. I religeously stuck little, red "P" labels on the corner of the sleeves of my treated LPs. After a few months I decided I could not hear any difference, and never bought a refill. After 25 years I bought the ESL 63s. That did make a difference.

Jan,

Yes, "blow of the dust" was the gospel according to Rega. Not recommended when you are salivating in expectation of dinner etc. I no longer adhere strictly to the Gandy code of practise as regards dust covers, and never did for certain other things, and thank you, again, for pointing out that a closed cover can be a source of feedback.

I think destating a disc with a gun is a bit extreme, but there are certain records which sound better after being shot to pieces. I think I have owned two red destat pistols, in my time. I have no idea where they went.

Matchbook flint? Strike a light!

Two Cents,

I use a small nylon brush in the way you describe, but only if blowing is not enough.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 3590
Registered: May-04


John - Remove the stylus assembly and take a look under the microscope at all the crud that is built up on the stylus. You'll think twice about how to use a matchbook.
 

Clogartist
Unregistered guest
I had no idea that such an insipid question could generate such an inspired flurry of responses. I will be trying all of the techniques discussed.

How essential is "deep cleaning"? Should all LPs be given some kind of "treatment" and be stored in special anti-static sleeves etc.?
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 3592
Registered: May-04


That is somewhat like asking how important is it to wash the windows in your home or the vegetables you eat.

Deep cleaning when done properly will remove many of the mold release agents and "dirt" that are left in the record groove. These are what will most often be the gunk that accumulates on the stylus. The stylus in the record groove will cause friction which will in turn create heat. This softens the gunk and the vinyl which will cause both to cling to the stylus like young cheese to a knife. Removing this crud with an achohol based cleaner will remove an impediment to the stylus touching the groove correctly. The net result should be lower surface noise and more detail and dynamics. The only way to deep clean a record is through a vacuum type record cleaner.

Any wet cleaner that tries to remove the agents and dirt without a vacuum to suck the record groove completely clean is more likely to only loosen the material for the stylus to then grind into the groove permanently.

If you have a vacuum record cleaner of your own, you should do every record. If you are using a shop's service or borrowing a cleaner, select the records that are most important to you for deep cleaning. Keep in mind that once the crud is imbedded in the vinyl it will create noise that will be there permanently even if you clean the record at a later date.




 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 3593
Registered: May-04


As to how extreme is destating a record; this is matter of the conditions that could create static. When the furnace is on the air is going to be less humid than at other times (unless you still use steam radiators). Pulling the record out of a paper sleeve is similar to rubbing a plastic comb on your shirt. A static charge is built up by the two surfaces rubbing against one another. If you need proof, just lay a record on a clump of cat hair after pulling the disc from a paper sleeve when the air is dry.

Trying to clean a record that has grabbed hold of the dirt by static electricity is not going to remove the majority of the dirt. A destat gun or brush (or both) will be needed to get the bulk of the dirt out of the groove when the static charge is high.

I believe it has been mentioned; but always store your records vertically. As little as a 5 degree tilt can lead to warping.




 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 594
Registered: Feb-04
Jan, I thought you might be serious about the matchbook flint. My version of it is the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, which I have used sparingly to clean the stylus, followed by brushing.

Clogartist, if you plan on buying and listening to a lot of used records, a vacuum record cleaner is definitely worth the expense. It will remove a lot of the unwanted noise on the vinyl and also help keep your stylus clean by not exposing it to the nasty stuff.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 496
Registered: Sep-04
John A,

You're thinking of Permostat. Excellent product which pretty much permanently removed static from discs. I used to use it because I had loads of static problems where I lived. The records would come out of the sleeves crackling with static! Permostat removed it all with no discernible change in sound.

Permaclean is a wet system but of course, it uses a simple brush and you can have the problem of just moving the gunk around in the grooves. Permostat and Permaclean are available through Milty I believe.

Any cleaning system (including vacuum cleaning machines) can inflict damage on your precious vinyl. If a vacuum record cleaner isn't kept in tiptop condition, it can scour the surface of the record. Another thing is that it can just move particulates that are in the groove - particulates that your stylus will have to move out of the way subsequently! I have seen a cantilever with the tip literally ripped out because it found a particle which didn't want to budge. That was a Dynavector 17D2, not just a shoddy little cartridge.

The eXstatic brush is an excellent piece of equipment for basic cleaning. Just use it every time you play a side and that's a good place to start. Keep the stylus clean by dragging a soft brush back-to-front. Alternatively, Lyra makean excellent stylus cleaner called SPT. Be careful when cleaning the stylus - most breakages are caused when cleaning is in process.

Linn advocated the use of a thin green abrasive paper made by 3M. I believe it's still available. Personally, I wouldn't use it as I don't believe in filing down the tip of my £2000 cartridge! Excellent way to increase cartridge sales though, don't you think? :-)

Moving Magnet cartridges suffer more wear that Moving Coil cartridges. I think this is because of the way they work, the MM stylus constantly trying to control the movement of the relatively heavy magnet at the other end of the see-saw that is the cantilever. The MC cartridges have a much shorter fixed cantilever which also doesn't have a huge weight moving around on the opposite side of the fulcrum from the stylus, so it tracks more easily and suffers less wear. Good dealers can check the stylus wear under a microscope, and should be willing to show you what they've found if they recommend a change.

I've never used a static gun, but I'm told by those who should know that they work.

Regards,
Frank.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 3680
Registered: May-04


"Linn advocated the use of a thin green abrasive paper made by 3M. I believe it's still available. Personally, I wouldn't use it as I don't believe in filing down the tip of my £2000 cartridge!"



Frank - I'm sure others on the thread can give more specific information, but your concept of the Linn abrasive paper is a common misconception that occurred when Linn began advocating and then handing out free samples of the abrasive material. Everyone screamed they were not going to file down the profile of their cartridge with "sandpaper". Linn politely reminded them it requires a substance harder than what you are "sanding" to remove any material. Diamond is the hardest material known. A high quality stylus is made of diamond. The user was left to draw their own conclusion as to how much material could be "sanded" from their stylus. You're closer to the market than I am now, but I doubt any of those facts have changed.

The warning was made not to use the abrasive material on bonded styli, only on n-u-d-e mounted tips. And not to try sanding a saphire stylus. Though not mentioned by Linn, I assume the same warning would apply to cactus needles for 78 R.P.M.

I've used the linn abrasive and the striking paper from the cover off book matches to clean my stylus for many years and have yet to see any detrimental effects. Under a microscope, the stylus is obviously cleaner after its use. Using the paper is a bit of a leap of faith however. With the volume set at a very low level, the sound from your speakers would make you think you are ripping the roof off a garage. I use the abrasive at the end of a listening session and use a DiscWasher stylus brush with a proprietary stylus cleaning solution in between records. I am just about out of the fluid, though the amount required will last me another few years. Then I shall have to find a suitable fluid to replace this batch.



 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 3098
Registered: Dec-03
Frank,

"You're thinking of Permostat."

Exactly. Thank you. It was many years ago. Some of my old LPs still have the labels on the sleeves. It had a distinctive smell, I recall. And came with a special cloth with which to apply it.

I bought a SimplyVinyl LP from HMV Shop last year and the whole thing, including sleeve, came in a large transparent plastic wallet. When I finally got the LP itself out of the inner sleeve, which was gripping it tight, dust rushed at the LP from across the room, I could feel the pull on my hair, and could see the LP attracting, and raising, the hairs on my hand.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 503
Registered: Sep-04
You...need...permostat!
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 504
Registered: Sep-04
Jan,

I have used the 3M paper and it is a very fine sandpaper. My argument would be that if soft vinyl can wear down a nice hard diamond stylus over a period of 3 - 5 years, then an abrasive paper is bound to accelerate the process. I've looked under the microscope at styli that have been cleaned with the paper and those that haven't. Their cleanliness varies, but I guess, their wear doesn't so that blows my theory out the water! Hey I just *fear* the green sandpaper ok? :-)

Regards,
Frank.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 3694
Registered: May-04


Not to belabor the point (no pun), but you have to remember it is the combination of friction generated heat and the amount of pressure per square centimeter that wears the stylus profile. You are not alone in your avoidance of the green paper.

 

New member
Username: Scalemodeler

Winder, Georgia USA

Post Number: 2
Registered: Jul-05
John,

You mentioned "pre-echo" & "post-echo"....

Remember 8-track cartridges? That's the equivalent of "crosstalk"....
 

New member
Username: Scalemodeler

Winder, Georgia USA

Post Number: 3
Registered: Jul-05
"Permaclean"? How 'bout regular ol' rubbing alcohol and a soft rag?
Jump to: Home Audio Forum | Home Video Forum | Home Theater Forum | Car Audio Forum