Back To Static!


We had a long discussion on the possible causes of static electrical charges on records in another thread. We just had a real good cold snap in New England dropping the humidity to under 20% so I was able to run a set of qualitative experiments documenting some surprising results that I hope will clear up a lot of the mystery and help people contro static charge and the accumulation of dust on their record. 
Static field meters are expensive.  The cheapest one I could find cost $260. I had to find a more sensitive way to measure static as it became apparent that using your own hair is very insensitive. Studying the Triboelectric series I noted that polypropylene is at the opposite end to PVS.  I have polypropylene in the form of suture material, the blue thread that many of you have seen. I tied a length of 6-0 Prolene  to a wood dowel and it worked beautifully. The PVC attracts it like a magnet and the Label repels it. It will pick up very small charges that otherwise go undetected. I can now define four conditions; No charge, Light charge, Charged and Heavily charged. It turns out that completely discharging a record is not easy. The label will actually donate electrons to the vinyl over time reaching an equilibrium point. Totally discharging a record required using a Pro-Ject conductive record brush wired to ground. If I suspend a discharged record (no thread activity) by it's hole within 30 minutes it will develop a slight charge (vinyl attracts the thread, label repels it). This will appear to us as an uncharged record. 
Does playing a record increase the static charge?  Yes absolutely, and the charge is additive. Playing the record over and over again progressively increases the charge from slightly to heavily charged. 
Does how you store the record effect charge? Yes absolutely. Records stored in MoFi antistatic sleeves come out with the baseline small charge. Records stored in paper come out with a noticeably higher charge. These are records that have been totally discharged prior to storage. A record that is charged when you put it away will come out at least as charged even if you are using anti static sleeves. Do conductive sweep arms work? Sort of. If the sweep arm leads the stylus charge will still accumulate. The brush has to track with the stylus. 
Unfortunately, I could not get hold of a Zerostat to test it's effectiveness. Regardless, a charge will accumulate with play.
The single best way to totally discharge a record is a conductive brush wired to ground. Just holding it will not work as well. The impedance of your tissue is in the megaohms. You want a dead short. Even so, a small charge will accumulate over a short period of time. The safest assumption is that there is always a charge on the record attracting dust. So, don't leave records out for any period of time. In regards to the hot topic of dust covers, a properly designed Dust cover does not affect sound quality. If your dust cover does effect sound quality in a negative way then you have a choice between sound quality and dirtier records. Your records, your choice. 
I would love to be able to stage voltages. If in the future I manage to come up with a static field meter I will repeat all of this in a quantitative way. Humidity is a huge factor. Those living in more humid environments have less trouble with static accumulation. I suspect everything occurs in like fashion just the voltages are lower. Lower to the point that they do not need any device to lower the charge?  I don't know. 

E30bfe46 c951 4f07 8d5f 08b0a596e00dmijostyn
What about the debate on dust covers as it applies to static charge accumulation.  Did you compare the charge on an LP played with dust cover removed vs charge on an LP played with dust cover in place?
If only we can figure out how to play records without removing them from the album cover.
@lewm  I did not measure that but I certainly can. 
I'm not sure but I think Rauliruegas can do that!
FWIW - my DIY record mat cut from a 3-layer ESD mat with the platter/bearing grounded is still keeping static at-bay with humidity into the 20's%; details here - http://www.vpiforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=17186#p65882.  Note that for the platter/ground I use  DIY ground cable from 1/4" tin-coated copper braid (in a expandable cover) back to the house outlet ground.

Otherwise, @mijostyn your testing adds to the knowledge of static.  
I recently upgraded my VPI Classic 3 SE with  SOTA Eclipse package. Part of installing it was to run a ground wire directly from the motor to phono preamplifier. Static disappeared. BTW, I use two MyMats.
@antinn, I have said repeatedly that I did not have a static problem the way I was caring for my records. I was wrong. I did not have a noticeable static problem would have been the more accurate way to describe it. Is that just as good? For all intents and purposes, yes. This is the situation you have. Your records are charged, just not at very high voltages. You are managing to drain enough off to keep things from getting out of hand.
The mat design you are using seems very intelligent. There is one interesting hook in it. Static electricity is a surface phenomenon. The record has two surfaces, PVC and paper. The paper donates electrons to the PVC. Even if you thoroughly discharge the record within minutes a charge differential will develop between the two. At equilibrium the voltage in not high enough to be easily noticed. Your system pulls electrons from the PVC but hands them back to the paper. Will this change the equilibrium voltage? We would need a static field meter to determine that. But if the records seem static free that is enough. If my turntable did not have a vacuum system I would certainly try your mat and method. I bookmarked your link as it is an excellent suggestion for those with a static problem.
And antinn, thank you for the compliment:-)
@slaw , you should try antinn's mat material and let us know what you thinK.
@mijostyn,

The MyMat was developed for SQ. It is offered in one of it's configurations to allow for the record label’ thickness, which the ESD mat doesn’t. Sounds best without a weight or clamp. With all do respect, I’m very happy.
Thanks, I will start using the anti-static sleeves I bought.

wand demagnitiser?

just curious, I have wand demagnitizer for my R2R deck. 

Any advantage relating to static to use on nearby TT, or LP's just placed on the platter?

Avoid anything?
It would be good practice to keep any tape head demagnetizer well away from your phono cartridge, especially a moving magnet design.
@mijostyn,

No arguments that there may always be some static charge under some conditions.  Someone over at the Steve Hoffman site has been doing some cleaning agent comparisons (with some input) and has a static field device, and after full wet cleaning the record surface measures <0.200 kV but his background humidity is in the 30's. Once the background humidity gets above 45F dewpoint (same as 40% at 72F) the moisture layer that naturally forms on the record should be enough to dissipate most static charge; noting that what condenses out of the air is slightly ionic.  So, in you current situation with humidity <20%, the static that is forming is likely just the consequence of the record spinning in the very dry ambient air.  

Not sure how the label that is bonded to the polyvinyl-chloride-acetate (PVCa) transfers electrons the record.  Either way for my application, with the paper in contact with the metal spindle, any charge should be  dissipated.  I also have a reflex clamp that is plastic in contact with the label w/metal top/threads that could help to dissipate the charge from the label.  One thing you have to consider is that when controlling static, the term anti-static includes materials that are conductive and dissipative.  Very often in ESD control, ESD ground straps will have a 1 meg-ohm resistor built-in to control how fast the static charge is dissipated; and the time duration is just a few seconds.  For work surfaces they do not want fast discharge - it can damage a microchip when placed on the mat, so they slow down the discharge to be dissipative. 

So, although by convention the record material is considered an insulator, and static develops on the surface, that does not mean it cannot dissipate charge through the material - but very slowly.  The ESD mat top surface is vinyl - but it is dissipative across its surface and through its surface to the center conductive layer.  But, the heavier ergo thicker record, dissipation through the record will much slower.  Also, the high static charge that forms is not uniform, the articles measured it as islands.  


My reason for posting was to show that proper grounding is a big factor to getting static under control, as @antinn  wrote in the link he provided. My mentioning of my use of MyMats was to show that with proper grounding, I'm having no issue using them.

@mijostyn, asked me to try the ESD mat. Why would I want to when I'm getting excellent results?
Magnetization and static charge are two different things, even though both result in an attractive force between two objects. But don’t expect a demag to have any effect on an existing static charge, except where the charge might jump from the object to the demag-er, just by chance and proximity. (In response to Elliot's post.)

Mijostyn, Besides the fact that paper and vinyl may be at opposite ends of a tribo-electric chart, what is the basis for your hypothesis that the charge is ping-ponging between them? Have you experimented with an LP from which the paper label was carefully removed? That might be useful.

In the white paper on static charge vis LPs, published in the 80s, Shure Corporation scientists pointed out that if you remove the charge from the surface of an LP sitting on a platter, the reverse side, which sits against the platter, will retain whatever charge it had a priori. As soon as you remove the LP from the platter, any residual charge on the non-playing surface will re-distribute itself evenly over both surfaces. I think that rapid process of charge re-distribution is what sometimes one hears when removing an LP from a platter, as a faint tinkly sound.
@lewm The hypothesis is based on the fact the every single record that you neutralize both sides, label and PVC will develop a small charge within 30 minutes, PVC going negative and the label positive. This is with the record hanging on a wooden dowel touching nothing else I did is not coming home and no well but air. The only sure fire donator of electrons is the label. So I think it is a safe assumption that electrons are moving from the label to the PVC. It is however not proof. Removing the label on a record and stabbing what it does after neutralization is an interesting experiment to try. I will see if I can do it by cleaning off the label with the bench plane. Shure's remark about charges redistributing is very compatible with the above finding and I think you are right in assuming that charge redistribution is causing the snapping you hear.  Electrons move!

@slaw , Grounding the platter may be useful but only if there is a path to ground.  This would work better with a conductive mat. I cannot run that experiment because I do not have a conductive mat at this time and with my new turn table the mat is a vital part of the vacuum mechanism.

@Elliotebnewcombjr, Others are giving you good advice! Keep that demagnetizer away from everything but your R2R's heads. The mythology surrounding de-magnetization is dangerous and possibly destructive to certain items like cartridges. 

I will report back about the label removing experiment. I will try to remove the label from both sides of an old record and then I will thoroughly discharge it, hang it from the wound dowel and see if it develops a charge. If no charge develops I think we have safely proven that the electrons are being donated by the label.
@mijostyn,

To be clear, I said I grounded the motor, although I did connect the ground to the cover plate on the bottom which is the only area that VPI connected their ground to. If that is run to the platter, I don’t know.
What may be important to add hear is my belief that connecting back to the mechanical bearing is a no no. This is done by using a spindle clamp. I designed the MyMat in part to avoid this. The MyMat system is designed to decouple from the platter and bearing.

I think @antinn should try my MyMat system.

I’ve been out of selling mode partly because it’s not my favorite thing to do and I’m almost out of final stock.

Just sold two last week, the complete MyMat system. Price increase time?
What @antinn is doing is relying on the bearing and his clamp (in one system) to give the greatest SQ. That’s the wrong approach

What I’m doing with the MyMat system is decoupling the record from the platter/ bearing. So running a ground from the motor to the phono preamplifier is sufficient.

I hope I’m explaining this sufficiently ?
Definitely time for price increase as stock is to a minimum.

$69.99 each.
@slaw,

Remember the mat I am using is 3-layers.  The center layer (the thickest part) is not solid - its porous, and overall the mat stiffness is 85 durometer so the mat acts to damp/isolate the record from the platter.  I use the reflex clamp to make sure the record is in full contact with the mat to get the damping from the stylus as it beats the dickens out of that record with applied pressures >10,000 psi and accelerations >1000-g's.  

Also, I modified my TNT to add a cast AL 1/4" thick constraining layer with viscoelastic layer that is bolted to the plinth with a clamping force of 2000 lbf at four points (5/16"-18 torqued to 10 ft-lbs) symmetrical about the platter (same one you have).   The plate was machined and installed in a manner (on bottom) that it is not in the load-bearing path.  I also use the plate as a ground-plane, the platter bearing is grounded to the plate that measures in sq-ft (covers the entire bottom except the platter bearing nut and the corner posts) and the plate is then grounded to earth.  Before the mod if I tapped the plinth I got a response from the speakers - after -nada.

Is this the wrong approach?   I beg to differ; and am I going to try your mat - no.  What I have is working - just as what you have is working.  There is no "The" way - only a multitude of "A" ways; and as the old saying goes - if its not broke - not reason to fix.  
Thanks for your post @antinn,

I feel strongly the exact same way in my system.

BTW, my sales with no negative feedback is a statement from those who have tried the MyMat.

Probably 30 happy customers, some who came to me with just a resolution to their static issues.

Steve
Thanks @mijostyn

@slaw,

Steve, when discussing your MyMat you should reference the review -   An Experiment with Platter Mats- the MyMat - The Vinyl Press - its a good review of your product by someone who is credible.

Take care,
Neil
@antinn,

Neil, when you engage others, you should act like they are on a similar plane as yourself.

Steve
Is this your way of saying I'm sorry?

I remember my _hit.
@slaw,

Steve,

I was only trying to compliment you and to let others who read this forum that your mat has had a 'formal' review; and a favorable one at that.  If my choice of words/presentation presented it as condescending my apologies that was not my intent.  Otherwise, there are many roads to success in this arena, and I try not to declare one better than the other.  

Take care,
Neil
I hate to be a PITA but this is heading off topic. Mats will never entirely discharge a record as the side that was played last will always have a charge unless you purposely discharge it. Electrons do not like turning sharp corners. I do believe that the charge will equilibrate over both sides eventually. I should try and test for that but it will probably require a more sensitive measuring device.
It is important I think to avoid the worse case scenario which is records stored in paper sleeves and played repeatedly on an improperly grounded turntable in low humidity conditions. The single best way to discharge a record which should be done before and after play is with a conductive brush wired to ground. For this project I used a Pro-Ject brush
drilled a small hole in the metal casing and attached a 24 gauge wire with a sheet metal screw. This is a very simple project (again) and requires only a drill and bit. Another approach is to use a conductive sweep arm wired to ground which is just a miniature version of the above.
Thanks for you compliment @antinn ,

I’d hope members would look through all my posts to see I’ve been a (try for myself before posting) person.

Your mat postings weren’t reviewed, however, because of your history, you are taken more seriously than I am. I understand this, yet in the end, it all comes down to the end users’ sound. This is where we all meet, and this is ultimately the most important thing.

Look forward to another member here posting thoughts on the MyMat system very soon.

Steve
.

Mijo, what happens with the label-less LP?
@lewm , I have not had the chance to deal with it. I am in the process of building  a bar and built in cabinet and am up to my eyeballs in sawdust not to mention I have no turntable at the moment. I will get around to it.