Vinyl wet play

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by old tech, Nov 27, 2017.
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  1. old tech
    Just wondering what is the science behind playing records wet?

    I've never tried it myself and many wouldn't recommend it while others claim it improves the sound and any risks are well worth it if playing for a high quality needle drop.
  2. 71 dB
    I think the water in the groove means better "fitting" for the needle. The needle weight is equally distributed to the whole groove, kind of what happens with water beds.
  3. Redcarmoose
    First off it’s maybe something only a hobo would do while drunk on Tbird Wine. No one in their right mind would subject their equipment to a damaging effects of water. This is unless they simply had a turntable they were going to throw away soon.

    The fact is it’s easy to simply keep trying to tweak better sound from vinyl. Getting a different cartridge or phono preamp combination is going to far out weight the advantages of adding water. Making sure your vinyl setup is adjusted right, setting the dip switches on your phono pre, or simply finding a better sounding pressing of the record is going to get you better sound. Heck even dropping by the goodwill shop and finding that $35 turntable from the 1970s could be a way better system than adding water.

    But placebo is strong stuff, maybe a nice imported water from a high French mountain-top would tame those vinyl issues. Possibly a groundwater spring mixture could add a touch of speed to the bass?
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
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  4. bigshot
    I agree with Redccarmoose. Playing records wet is asking for trouble. If the water saturates the bond holding the diamond tip in the stylus, you risk having your diamond disattach. The water also acts like oil on a whetstone to make the needle scrape the grooves. It isn't something you'd want to subject a record to repeatedly. It's pretty easy to find multiple copies of an LP at eBay. I would source several copies and edit them into a "best copy" of each song before I'd play them wet.
  5. pinnahertz
  6. ev13wt
    Lenco had a setup you placed on you tt. It would wet the groves in front of the cart, and remove it on the trailing side.

    I've tried it, it does feel different. Subjectively a bit lower surface noise high frequency content - like a low pass on the surface noise.

    Maybe the ticks and pops where a bit quieter. Can't really recall.

    All in all, it was one hell of a hassle and any sq difference can be related to flac vs 320 debates...

    Still subjectively, introducing lubricant is certainly ticking all my "theoretically" triggers.

    Oil. Very thin viscosity. I need to test this.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
  7. bigshot
    I think digital impulse noise reduction would be a lot more effective than wet play.
  8. ev13wt
    But. But... DAC! I will lose all my signals! :) /irony
  9. Don Hills
    Wet play is sometimes the only option if you are having static problems. This usually manifests itself as impulse noise (snap, crackle and pop) that doesn't repeat at the same spot on repeated playings. You can tell if the noise is caused by static by gently "huffing" onto the record near the stylus as it plays, thus causing a momentary mist on the record surface. If the noise stops, you have a static problem.
    For such discs, I usually wet played for ripping then cleaned the disc afterwards. I used the same liquid for playing as some record cleaners use - distilled water with a little isopropyl alcohol to improve the wetting action. I had a Lencoclean brush running ahead of the stylus to spread the liquid.(*) And no, I didn't notice any increase in distortion or surface noise on subsequent dry plays. I found some disc surface treatments such as Permastat helped, but it was expensive so I only used it on the worst afflicted discs where the noise was bad enough to spoil my enjoyment.

    (*) The trick is to not wet the whole surface of the disc at once. Use one of those small brushes on a pivoting arm and place it so it tracks a few grooves ahead of the stylus. Apply drops of liquid with a hypodermic syringe just ahead of the brush. Done right, the grooves where the stylus is tracing should be visibly damp but have no "surface liquid" pools.
  10. Redcarmoose
    Most people don’t know that a regular static brush has enough radioactive plutonium to kill someone of cancer if consumed. Not a well known fact about vinyl but there is truly a wealth of misunderstandings.

    I spent 30 years scrounging Good Will shops like a coke addict looking for vinyl. I never had a nice VPI record cleaning machine but would use beach towels and shampoo. Though I have witnessed great vinyl cleaning set-ups in action. One secret chemical is photo-flow which is maybe impossible to find now. It was made by Kodak and somehow reduced water deposits on photographic negatives. A mixture of distilled water, photo-flow and rubbing alcohol was a secret mixture, though many would not disclose the amounts in percentage, like some elitist BS. !!!!!!

    Most of this stuff is mental perception and the use of that perception is what repells noobs who after spending $1000 can’t get their head around the cracks and pops let alone any simple static. I would guess static would be more of an issue in dry places like Arizona? But again it’s teaching yourself to listen past the pops. I still have a pretty cool vinyl set-up today and most of my favourite sound comes from vinyl, though at the moment I’m exploring digital, dispite the fact I’ve never accepted digital fully as a viable way to go. I have about 50 needle drops in 24/96 and laugh just how rickety and messed up the whole trying to hear vinyl through HD is. But at moments it’s good. That’s the problem with choices. Too many choices remove the listener from what’s important, which is simply getting into the music, like we did at 16 years old at midnight.

    Vinyl is a hassle but the happy ones are the ones who get into the process. The ritual of it all can be relaxing to some. Those folks are into going the extra mile to find the truth in vinyl, and it’s there. I don’t know what it is and I’m not sure many have actually extracted why vinyl sounds the way it does? But that light from within shines bright and offers a vacation from some of the digital data harshness which threatens to dysfunction musical playback.

    Well, with that said, I guess I go on now and cross examine 5 different digital versions of a 1986 W.A.S.P. Compact-disk as none of them come close to parlaying the emotion of the times..........but it’s entertainment none the less.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
  11. bigshot
    Photo-Flo was a wetting agent. It was made from distilled water and detergent. Your shampoo probably was basically the same.

    I use white vinegar and distilled water to clean records. I find the white vinegar does a better job of cutting grease than detergent. Less scrubbing needed. And it's distilled, so once you do a rinse in distilled water, there is no residue at all.
  12. Strangelove424
    (spit take)

    holy moly

    I use dryer sheets to get rid of triboelectric noise. Works surprisingly well, though technically dryer sheets can release formaldehyde. But I guess it's better than plutonium.
  13. bigshot
    Darn! I was going to have roasted record brush for dinner!
  14. Redcarmoose
    Actually it's Polonium 210 which is in the brushes, and yes there is enough to cause cancer in one brush. I often get plutonium and Polonium mixed up.

    I used to spend all day developing pictures in a photographic darkroom. And yes there really was a difference using Photo-flow. It made city water streak less on dry negatives. Literally everyone in the world used Photo-flow as far as my experience.

    Also the same Staticmaster brushes are used both in darkrooms to remove static from negatives before enlargements and used to clean records.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
  15. castleofargh Contributor
    we had fancy filters on the water pipes, and that was it at my photography school. the ultimate secret was using our fingers to remove the excess water before getting to the dryer(or letting stuff dry on their own like real pros without a job or delivery dates). high end stuff ^_^.
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