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How much surface noise is normal?


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I've just set up my first vinyl rig. I have a Rega RP3 with an Ortofon Blue 2M (both lightly used). All of my records are brand new. I have not cleaned any of my records, just given them a few revolutions underneath a carbon fibre brush before play. There is definitely some surface noise on all of my records.. what I'm wondering is whether it is outside the normal amount of noise to expect from vinyl. Sometimes there is a light pop or crackle every 5-15 seconds, other times the album will be silent for a track or two. The pops and crackles don't bother me too much, but of course I'd like to minimise them. I have aligned the cartridge using a Rega Stevenson arc protractor, adjusted the counterweight so that the tonearm floats, tracking force measured at 1.82g on digital scales, anti-skate set to around 1 (a lot of people feel that the bias for the Rega arms should be under adjusted). I have tried a range of different values for the anti-skate, but this position seemed to work best.


I have experimented with a few different settings but this is where the pops and crackles seem to be minimised. Is it a case of fine-tuning these adjustments until the surface noises go away completely? Or do I just need to accept a certain amount of noise on vinyl? If so, what level of surface noise should I be aiming for? A few pops per track? 


There are also a few other things I could address.. the turntable is currently on a glass shelving unit (though it is the bottom shelf which is in contact with carpet). I am trying to find a piece of slate or wood that the turntable can sit on. The phono leads are too short for it to sit on the Ikea Lack table next to the TV unit. I know a lot of you clean your vinyl religiously, but I'm not that keen on cleaning my vinyl unless it's absolutely necessary.


Would it be worth getting the cartridge and turntable adjusted at a hi-fi shop? I'm 99% sure that I have everything roughly the way it should be.

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New is no guarantee of being quiet.

I found vacuum Record Cleaning Machine (RCM) to be effective.

Can be overly expensive if you don't have a great many records.

I have a PHK from Brazil.

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Vinyl is a physical storage medium so subject to a host of variables which will affect the amount of surface noise.

Things such as formulation of the vinyl, pressing practices, mould release materials, inner sleeve etc.

if you can, a pre play cleaning of your new discs will give the best long term outcome. Then a prepay brush each and every time.

I have a few albums from the sixties, such as a beautiful pressing of John Mayalls " Bare Wires" that, after hundreds of plays, remain almost silent.

I have recent pressings, that are noisy as hell, again with a range of causative factors.

Whatever you do, get your TT away from the carpeted floor. The static generated as you walk to the TT , and it's air current vortex, act as a great dust magnet. Cleaning will not attenuate the problem if this is repeated numerous time.

The trade off for having a bit of surface noise, is access to dynamic range that most usefully unleashes the music, in a ' naturalistic manner'.


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oh yeah, I missed that bit about being on the carpet.

Get that TT up, up, and away.

Also if you're not keen on cleaning your records maybe vinyl's not the thing for you.

You're going to have to clean the stylus frequently too.  It's not a hard task but your sound will soon be buggered if you don't.

Edited by E.Man
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You certainly have to get it off the floor !

You might also want to consider something like Permastat..........use once on each record

At one time,I used it on all my records but lately have only used it on LPs that exhibit a tendency to be "noisy"......and I find it helps.

ps..I have records that were treated in the mid '70s.....no damage and the effect (no static) is permanent (go figure !).........you can still clean the treated LPs with an RCM or brush as required.


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Some cartridges pickup a lot more noise than the others. If I remember right I thought my Ortofon Red was a quite bit noiser than a Audio Technicia I had at the time on my Rega.

Edited by rocky500
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In order to get the turntable off the bottom shelf near the floor I would need to use RCA extension cabling.


RCA extension cables - with their associated plug & socket connections - are a baaaad idea for the cable from arm to phono stage/preamp with inbuilt phono module - as the signals are so small.  1.2m is the 'normal' length - this is a compromise between the degree of signal degradation produced by a longer length of cable ... and the placement convenience which a 600mm length would not provide.  It's worth noting that Linn mount their latest phono stage (I think it's called the 'Urika') directly under the plinth, so the cable from the arm is only 150-200mm long! :eek:


And you really should have your TT on the top shelf - not down near the floor.  If you do this, the phono stage/preamp would generally sit either to one side, on the same level, or on the next shelf down, directly under the TT.  What is stopping you doing this? :confused:






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I think a couple of pictures might help to illustrate this a little better.






As you can see, the turntable is on the bottom shelf. It is unable to reach from the amp to the Ikea table on the far right-hand side. If it were to go on the same shelf as the amp I would be unable to use the turntable lid. What are my options??

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If you are handy with some simple hand tools do the following. Construct a box slightly larger than the turntable base with four sides and a base. Fill it with sand and level the sand off to the same height as the sides of the box. Now get a shelf that the turntable can sit on, place it on top of the sand but make sure that it does not touch the sides of the box. Now the turntable is isolated by the sand in the box. This will not stop the airborne vibration problems from the speakers. But it will transform the sound for you.

Option 2 is look at the Rega TT wall shelf, they work a treat. You would need to rewire the arm and have longer cables fitted to enable this though not too expensive these days.

Good luck with it.


P.S how good is the Brio R 😄

Edited by Toma Audio
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Those speakers look pretty close to each other.


Not sure how back your chair is, but could you move the lack table so that it is sitting directly next to the main unit... and move the right speaker (as we look at the set up) outside of it? 

It may free up some cable length.


Or lose the lid, and put it on same shelf as amp. Some of us here don't use lids on our turntables.

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I've been using a Zerostat gun for a while and it works well in reducing static noise. I treated some of my records with Permastat back in the 70's. Even placed the little red and white sticker on the label to ID the records treated. Most of those records now are as noisy as poo. Not too bad after a good clean with the VPI but I reckon the Permastat left some gunk on the LP's that the dust embedded itself into...





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I've been using a Zerostat gun for a while and it works well in reducing static noise. I treated some of my records with Permastat back in the 70's. Even placed the little red and white sticker on the label to ID the records treated. Most of those records now are as noisy as poo. Not too bad after a good clean with the VPI but I reckon the Permastat left some gunk on the LP's that the dust embedded itself into...






Interesting.......I put my records into storage after the kids came along and I moved to CD for a while.........15 years later, records that "had the little red and white sticker on" were spotless and ready to play and I had to put every other LP through the RCM a couple of times.

There you go..........


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Hi I am also fairly new to the world of vinvyl. I have mostly second hand records, but I also had pops and noise problems even with some, but not all new records. I am seriously considering a vpi record cleaner at around $999.00. At the momement , I get by with the Knosti cleaning kit $149, comes with 1 L of the Disco-Antistat mixture which is an ethanol prepration.

It makes a HUGE difference to the level of surface noice! Down side? Time consuming, labour intensive and expensive solution. 1L refill is $45 plus postage from audiofix, decibel etc. That makes almost $1 per record. But they may last longer if you use them for new lps. Some of mine are from charity stores and are quite dirty.

Has anyone tried the kit by ' spin clean'? Seems to be more troublesome because the mixture has to be mixed up everytime. But the consumables is far more economical. The kit does not come with a drying rack like knosti.

I also have the tt on the floor :(. Four vibrapods made a big difference for me. They are inexpensive and lift the gear for only few cms, so there should still be sufficient room for the lid.

Hope this is helpful.

Edited by The Kel form Hell
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I reckon the problem could be the needle. Clean needle, clean sound. I have a soft needle cleaning brush that I dip in medical grade isopropyl & gently wipe the stylus back to front a few times & that makes playback much quieter. Also have some Lenco stylus cleaning fluid that I use occasionally.


Static can been an issue too. Anti static brushes are useful

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Variety of threads archived here on record cleaning and home brew mixes

Yes it's all time consuming

u can wash by hand in a sink and get good results

A RCM will do it better

If you don't mind a bit of hand turning there are a variety of affordable compact RCMs

The KAB EV-1 costs $200 delivered and comes in a shoe box

I have 1 and it's almost best value component I own


25-50% Isopropyl

Rest distilled water

Leave room for 3 drops household dish washing liquid per 250ml

On no account use vinegar

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I have found that stylus type greatly influences the amount of noise picked up from the record groove,


I have an AT95e which can be quite noisy, when switching to the Goldring 1042 with a Gyger S profile on the same arm, same TT and same record the background noise is greatly reduced.  On my main TT I have the $350 Soundsmith Ruby cantilever and "Optimized Contour Nude Contact Line Diamond" This is the quietest stylus I have heard on my TT.


I have also found that with the better profile not only is there less noise but there is a great more detail retrieval too.


1 stone 2 birds.

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Plenty of good suggestions regarding cleaning so I will leave that alone.

Regarding the placement of your turntable, I would suggest moving the Ikea Lack table to the other side of your entertainment unit. Put the turntable on that and if necessary move the Rega Brio to where the Sony PS3 is.

You might want to try moving your speakers a little further apart and further forward.

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