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How to care for my turntable (Crackling and cleaning?)

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hey guys,

Simple question(s):

1. In one particular place in my newly-purchased "Yes" album, I hear a crackling noise on only the left channel. Is this a record cleaning thing, or something of the record? Or is it more likely that it is an issue with my turntable or stylus?

2. How the hell do I clean records? I hate to be frank, but I got some stuff to clean from Todd, and I have been a bit concerned about things. I received Vinyl Zyme from Todd, and it came with two brushes, (I payed for one), one is a very thin brush (looks like it is meant for spreading the vinyl zyme around). The other is a thick one, looks like it's a sort of magnet for dust. I assume this is to be used after the vinyl zyme has disolved from the LP, and it is meant to remove the substance and clean off exess dirt and such? I feel that I am doing something wrong! In addition, can somebody inform me on how to use the drybrush? Will simply pushing down on the record while it spins do the job? Is there some sort of technique I must use?

3. I have been trying to clean my stylus without having to buy a cleaner. I have been using a toothbrush and rubbing alcohol, brushing from the back of the stylus to me. Is there any stylus cleaner out there (for under fourty dollars) that is better at doing this than my method now? I don't want to do the Mr. Clean thing yet (the one on Audiogon).

4. My new "Yes" album and my Beethoven 9th album both skip (at least once) where there is absolutely no sign of scratches. I try cleaning some of the dust off the record (just in case - just with the dry brush) and it just seems to add more dust to the record (refer to question #2 ).

Any help regarding answers to these questions will be greatly appreciated, and it would make me a less troubled man Thanks in advance!
-Andrew
post #2 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aman
1. In one particular place in my newly-purchased "Yes" album, I hear a crackling noise on only the left channel. Is this a record cleaning thing, or something of the record? Or is it more likely that it is an issue with my turntable or stylus?
It is more likely an issue with the cartridge set-up. If you only hear the sound out of one channel, the cartridge alignment may need to be adjusted. Here is a very good article on the proper set-up of a cartridge.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aman
2. How the hell do I clean records? I hate to be frank, but I got some stuff to clean from Todd, and I have been a bit concerned about things. I received Vinyl Zyme from Todd, and it came with two brushes, (I payed for one), one is a very thin brush (looks like it is meant for spreading the vinyl zyme around). The other is a thick one, looks like it's a sort of magnet for dust. I assume this is to be used after the vinyl zyme has disolved from the LP, and it is meant to remove the substance and clean off exess dirt and such? I feel that I am doing something wrong! In addition, can somebody inform me on how to use the drybrush? Will simply pushing down on the record while it spins do the job? Is there some sort of technique I must use?
One of the brushes should be for a "dry" clean. Meaning that you allow the album to rotate under the brush to pick up stray particles of dust and debris prior to dropping the stylus on the surface. The other is probably an applicator brush to spread the Vinyl Zime onto the surface of the album to "wet" clean the vinyl. The issue you may have, without having a vacuum system, is drying the album after a wet clean. You do not want to set the stylus down on any album that is even slightly damp.
[quote=Aman]
3. I have been trying to clean my stylus without having to buy a cleaner. I have been using a toothbrush and rubbing alcohol, brushing from the back of the stylus to me. Is there any stylus cleaner out there (for under fourty dollars) that is better at doing this than my method now? I don't want to do the Mr. Clean thing yet (the one on Audiogon).I would highly recommend investing in a stylus brush if you do not want to purchase something like the Zerodust Stylus Cleaner. A toothbrush may be too abrasive for the delicate tip of the stylus.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aman
4. My new "Yes" album and my Beethoven 9th album both skip (at least once) where there is absolutely no sign of scratches. I try cleaning some of the dust off the record (just in case - just with the dry brush) and it just seems to add more dust to the record (refer to question #2 ).
There may be some debris or bacteria in the groove. A thorough cleaning might help. If not, I think you may be out of luck. I don't know of any way to repair a "skip" or a "stick" if it is not a surface issue.

Have you thought of investing in an inexpensive wet clean system? Perhaps something like the Orbitrac 2 from Allsop?
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
I appreciate the very detailed response!

My cartridge is alligned. I had that checked a month ago. I guess that can't be the issue.

As far as cleaning goes, might it be worth looking into investing in one of these? http://www.toddthevinyljunkie.com/pr...uct.php?id=258

I usually wait until I cannot see the liquid on the record anymore before I do anything else as far as playing or cleaning goes. However, after I apply the vinyl zyme and wait for it to dissapear, I use the dry cleaning brush afterwards, just to be safe.

Does this mean that even that is not the greatest of ideas?
Thanks again for the help!
-Andrew
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Would this be a nice investment? I guess I could be using a more professional cleaning method on my stylus, no?

I figured I'd get it, since I'm getting a 5 dollar cartridge allignment protractor anyway from the same site. Might as well make the shipping costs worthwhile.
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aman
Would this be a nice investment? I guess I could be using a more professional cleaning method on my stylus, no?

I figured I'd get it, since I'm getting a 5 dollar cartridge allignment protractor anyway from the same site. Might as well make the shipping costs worthwhile.
Would might be a nice investment? I think you forgot to include the link.

Also, if you're referring to $5 protractor from Needle Doctor they seem to be out of it. When I ordered it last week (in addition to some other stuff) they refunded me for it and changed it's description on my invoice to "FREE PHOTOCOPY." They didn't even punch out the center hole (which was the main reason I purchased it in the first place, to get a protractor with a pre-punched center hole). Also, they took forever to ship my order (I ordered on a Tuesday night and they didn't ship until Friday, after I'd called them about when my order was going to ship). In addition, I think the free EnjoyTheMusic.com protractor is better anyways because you don't need to rotate it to align both points (or at least you shouldn't if your overhang is properly setup) and does just as good a job. If you want to buy an alignment protractor you shoud either get the $20 one from www.turntablebasics.com or the Wally Tractor (from various vendors).
post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aman
As far as cleaning goes, might it be worth looking into investing in one of these? http://www.toddthevinyljunkie.com/pr...uct.php?id=258
That is what I use. Yes, it would be a worthwhile investment if you are serious about vinyl and start to amass a "collection." Since much of the vinyl that I purchase is used the VPI is a must for me.
Quote:
However, after I apply the vinyl zyme and wait for it to dissapear, I use the dry cleaning brush afterwards, just to be safe.

Does this mean that even that is not the greatest of ideas?
I personally wouldn't just let the solution evaporate, I would much prefer an active removal. Evaporation is bound to leave a film on the record which, over time, may be harmful to your vinyl and your stylus.
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aman
1. In one particular place in my newly-purchased "Yes" album, I hear a crackling noise on only the left channel. Is this a record cleaning thing, or something of the record? Or is it more likely that it is an issue with my turntable or stylus?

-Andrew
To me this sounds like antiskate. The cart is not ideally positioned in the groove (even if it is otherwise well aligned), it is riding up against the left channel wall too much.

Channel noise can also happen in the record cutting stage. I got a new pressing of Grace by jeff buckley that seems to have a right channel noise problem (but no other albums sound like this). Sometimes it can be luck of the draw...

Anyway, here's a really good explanation of how to dial in antiskate for yourself from the vinyl asylum..

(the 'expected value' should be 70-80% of the tracking force)

---------------
Adjust the skating force to zero and prepare yourself for a mean
experience.

The right channel will not show dynamics at all; it will sit in the corner totally bored and ignoring you. The left channel will sit in its corner like an evil ghost, considering to attack you in the next moment. It will sound very dynamic in a way that numbs the left half of your body. However, the dynamics will be nightmare-like artificial.

Now you increase the skating force to a quarter and then to a half of the expected value.
You will sense that the right channel comes more-and-more alive and the left channel sounds less dynamic, intimidating and artificial. This reduction is less than the increase of dynamics in the right channel; the while system becomes more dynamic.

You increase now the skating compensation by *very* small steps until you reach a point where left and right channel sound equally dynamic. Then you increase further in very small steps; both channels will grow more dynamic. One step too far and both channels loose their dynamics completely and sound dead. So you go back to the position where dymics and microdynamics were maximum.
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aman
I have been using a toothbrush and rubbing alcohol, brushing from the back of the stylus to me. Is there any stylus cleaner out there (for under fourty dollars) that is better at doing this than my method now?


You might want to be careful using alcohol near that stylus suspension (usually made from special rubber). Better try this or one of these.

If that crackling noise came only from specific albums then it's LP related. Even with expensive VPI stuff, those pops and clicks are hidden feature of LP playing.
post #9 of 18
Check both your VTF (vertical tracking force) is within manufacturers recommendation and that your anti skate is set accordingly. Discontinue the use of rubbing alcohol on your stylus. A good way to destroy the suspension of your cartridge. Stylus only require periodic dry cleaning and every once and a while wet cleaning with something like LAST stylus cleaner.

As for cleaning your records with the Vinyl Zyme, the instructions are pretty clear on Todd's site on how to use it.

"Just spray 6-10 squirts on your album, spread it around your album evenly with a soft brush (no scrubbing needed) and let it sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute. 2-3 revolutions with the record cleaners brush 3 rotations with the vacuum on and your record is as good as it is ever going to be. "

Even if you don't have the vacuum, you should use the second brush to remove most of the liquid and loosened dirt. Its the same method used by the Disc Doctor system. I've used that system manually for many years succesfully before buying my VPI 16.5 vacum cleaner. And clean your records off your turntable.

If you are using the concentrate make sure you are reducing it with distilled water again as per manufacturer's recommendations.

Instructions

To prepare Regular strength Vinyl-Zyme Gold from concentrate, add 3 drops of concentrate to 2 oz. of distilled water. The Extra strength is prepared by adding 12 drops of concentrate to 2 oz. of distilled water. A 2 oz. bottle of concentrated Vinyl-Zyme Gold will make from 1 gallon of Extra strength to 4 gallons of Regular strength Vinyl-Zyme Gold.

Once your records have been cleaned, by the way you should also clean new records to remove the release agent, a quick dry clean with a microfibre brush before playing is all that is required.

And finally, playing records on a turntable that is improperly set-up or with worn stylus can lead to damaged records. The damage is sometimes hard to see but will result in excess noise, pops and clicks or skipping at a particular spot on the record. If the defect is physical, no amount of cleaning will restore it.
post #10 of 18
I use the Zerodust stylus cleaner, available through Sorasound on AGon, good price and reputable dealer. Re: LAST stylus cleaner, there have been pro and con articles.
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by djbnh
I use the Zerodust stylus cleaner, available through Sorasound on AGon, good price and reputable dealer. Re: LAST stylus cleaner, there have been pro and con articles.

There as been pro and cons articles for all stylus cleaners, including Zerodust. They should all be used sparingly.
post #12 of 18
Personally, I think it'd be silly to buy a VPI or other expensive record cleaner already. I mean, if I'm not mistaken, you jumped directly up to a $400 turntable as your very first one, right? And you didn't install the cartridge yourself, so while you think it's aligned, you don't really have the experience to confirm that. And you already own a wet-cleaning system, which you're not sure you're using properly.

Basically what I'm saying is that vinyl is a lot more dependant on ability to do set-up properly than you might imagine. That's why I don't understand why people become interested in vinyl all of a sudden and immediately buy an expensive record player. You could have bought a $4000 player, it wouldn't sound good if not set up right. And throwing more money at it certainly won't solve the problem.

I can say from experience that the problems you're having don't occur on a properly aligned turntable, and also that even the most perfunctory cleaning ought to solve the problems with your records. I use a $60 turntable and a DIY cleaning solution, and it works wonderfully. So something is not being done correctly, and the answer is not to spend more money. I hope that doesn't sound condescending, but I hate to see people spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars (to me that's a lot, anyway) and not get good results. So I recommend putting a lot of time and effort into understanding the basics of setup -- making sure that tracking force, antiskate, and azimuth are all set right, that the table is perfectly level, etc. -- before buying anything else. Buy a $20 turntable on eBay you can practice on, trust me it'll be worth the experience so you don't ruin your nice one.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
What I don't understand is that my parents had turntables from the sixties/seventies, and they never did any work at all. They cleaned their album with a cheap 20 dollar brush that attached to the turntable. They never had to do this cartridge alignment stuff, cleaning stylii, or anything like that... And the turntables are still in working order, as are all their albums that I now have. (By the way, most of the albums I have I bought myself from musicstack.com)

Could it be that I'm worrying about nothing?

I think that all of the problems I've been mentioning accept for things regarding record cleaning are RECORD related, and not anything to do with my turntable. The simple fact is that specific problems happen on specific records.

I have concluded that I will buy an allignment protractor, and that's it. I think that if I can check my cartridge allignment and fix that, I'll feel and be safer.

In regards to cleaning, however, I searched around needledoctor.com and todd's site, and I have found a few things:

First of all, here are the two brushes that I received from todd. The first one is exactly the same thing, and the other one is the exact same build and concept:

http://www.needledoctor.com/s.nl/sc....it.A/id.649/.f
http://www.needledoctor.com/s.nl/sc....it.A/id.428/.f

I followed Todd's instructions exactly accept for the vacuum part, since I do not have one.

I think that I may call Todd about this, but I think that if I can get a straight answer here that I could skip that

Am I using these brushes as I'm supposed to be? Am I cleaning my records correctly?

Thanks for all the helpful responses guys!
-Andrew
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Interesting...

I found a print-out one from enjoythemusic.com !!

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/protract.htm

enjoy
post #15 of 18
Try "The Vinyl Engine", lots of free downloads including protractors and manuals.
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