battling the pops and clicks

I recently put together an vinyl rig (Nottingham Horizon w/Dynavector 10x5 and Whest phono stage) I am really liking the sound, and I see what all the talk is about for sure. This setup really gives my Ayre D1xe digital setup a run for the money, and if it weren't for the pops and clicks I think I would certainly prefer the sound overall. This is saying a lot considering the price gap between my digital and analog setup.

I have the VPI 16.5 and disc doctor brushes and cleaning fluids and have spent some time and effort to fully clean my records in an effort to eliminate all noise. I bought quite a few new 180 gram records so I would have a good idea of what sound vinyl has to offer. I also have plenty of dusty old records from years back, which is the real reason I wanted a turntable to begin with. As much as I work at cleaning the records, it seems no amount of work will eliminate the pops and clicks. The more I focus on trying to get rid of them the more it bugs me. It seems to happen just as much with the new records as the old ones.

What I'm wondering is, do I need a better table and cartridge if I expect to listen to records with total silence? Or what am I doing wrong with my current setup? I've followed the cleaning instructions very closely and even taken it a step further by adding additional rinsing cycles with distilled water. I've used stylus cleaner and of course always used the carbon fibre dry brush before playing, and clean sleeves too.

The cleaning has reduced the noise, pops and clicks greatly, but in my opinion, more is still there than I would consider acceptable. Is this something that you just learn to tune out from or is there a way to fix it completely?

thanks, -Ryan
I've not had any problems with surface noise on new 180 gram vinyl as long as it is kept clean. Keep in mind that if a record is played dirty a few times that it can be nearly impossible to get rid of the all of the noise because the stylus can push the micro-dust so far into the groove that it probably can't be removed. I have also heard that the friction of the stylus passing through the groove can cause the dust to 'fuse' to the interior of the groove. Sometimes noise such as pops and clicks can be reduced by using an ion blaster on the record, because they can be caused by static discharges. I have found that the one that Mapleshade sells works the best. Also, since the the surface noise is within the audio band, different equipment and cables can make the noise more or less noticable depending on whether or not they tend to bring forward or push back that particular frequency. Hope that this helps.
If you're getting pops and clicks on your new vinyl as well, I think it might be static, not dirt. Do you live in a dry environment or have air conditioning? An inexpensive carbon fiber record brush like the Audioquest, Recotron, or Decca (they all look the same) is available from Music Direct, AA, Acoustic Sounds, etc.

They're very effective, but here's a little tip to improve their performance: with the record spinning on the TT, lick the tip of both index fingers. Touch one finger to the preamp cabinet or some other ground potential (like a metal TT shelf bolted into a masonry wall!) and the other touching the metal handle of the brush as you swipe the record. This will provide enough ground "drain" to get rid of the static. If you don't feel comfortable licking your fingers before each record (curious guests want to know!) then actually ground the brush to the ground lug on the back of the phono preamp or preamp, with a length of flexible wire or keychain.

There are usually a few pops and clicks on even the most pristine LPs, yet very few of the 3,000-odd records in my collection ever bother me in this regard. Obviously they bother you and will probably continue to do so until you (1) stop focusing on them or (2) return to CDs. To me, LPs sound so much better than digital media (including SACDs) that I listen to vinyl at least 75% of the time, and the better my system gets, the less I hear the pops and clicks. But this is an individual thing.

You may have a system (what are your components and speakers, by the way?) that emphasizes the frequencies where pops and clicks are most audible. You may have a "ruthlessly revealing" SS system of the kind that drives ME up the wall. But it doesn't sound like there's anything wrong with your record cleaning regimen. Good luck, Dave

Mobile Fidelity originally wrote in there sleeve information that they didn't "dehorn" the cutter and as a result you often may get pops. These would disappear as you played the LP a few times and your needle wears down those edges. (In truth, I have no idea what "dehorn" means, but I understood the overall concept.) I've found this in a lot of the higher quality new LP's.

If the pops remain after a few plays it may be tiny bubbles in the vinyl.
Surface noise if a fact of life with vinyl, although you can minimize it by various expensive and labor-intensive methods. At some point you must learn to "listen through" the surface noise. Some people have no problem doing this, while others can't. Digital media was invented for these folk. (I admit to being one). I still have LP play capability, but mostly for the sake of nostalgia.
In my experience, "pops and clicks" as you say, occur only when there are defects or damage on your vinyl, and no amount of expensive equipment will take those away. The sound quality you get out, is only as good and the source material that is input.
Some phono stages can emphasize surface noise- maybe try something on an audition like the Aestheitx Rhea.
Other than that I would say audition a better turntable.
I use a Linn Sondek, and I get very little obnoxious noise and I have some records that just look beat- and they do not make much noise. New records are virtually silent.

Pops and clicks are an intrinsic part of that type of playback system unless you live in another universe. As you gain experience with those black discs you will realize that they are not all created equal and even if they started out good many many bad things can happen to them along the way. Better start enjoying housework now! And hang on and take good care of the vinyl that is more silent. Good luck.
Many things affect surface noise in general and some aspects of the selected components can enhance clicks, pops and surface noise. I doubt that your phono stage is the culprit and your cartridge is probably not causing it either unless it's not properly installed or adjusted in one of its many parameters. Then again some cartridges are by nature very quiet in the groove. I am not familiar with your turntable or arm but that is where my suspicions lie. Others with experience here may correct me and I'll accept that.

I'm hoping that you can connect with another person in your area that has been successful with analog. You will then have an opportunity to evaluate every aspect that affects your complaints and find a solution. Contrary to Eldartford's tiresome commentary on this issue, and never offering any help at all, vinyl playback can rival CD's in its silence and it needn't break the bank. Remember that this is a man that in these very forums admitted he has never really cleaned a record. How can he possibly have anything to contribute other than a lame attempt at making you question the benefits you are hearing in spite of these solvable issues.

Feel free to contact me offline and we can arrange a phone call to discuss the possible culprit(s).
You might want to try an HRS Analog Disk. I noticed a significant decrease in surface noise using the Disk versus the record weight that came with my Amazon Model 1 TT.

Here's a review from Enjoy the Music:
Check out vinylzyme. Great stuff!
I have been listening to vinyl for 40 years now. The imperfections u describe are real. Your cleaning regimen is anal-nothing more needs to be done. I dare say you're going too far! Records simply sound better than Cds. That's the beginning, and end, of the story. You can either dig it or decide it's not 4 u.
And don't forget, both old and new records (especially old) which have popitis (not the ones that don't) can benefit from an application of Last Record Preservative. You'll have to play the record a couple of times to get rid of the excess Last (no amount of buffing will get it all out, and remember to clean your stylus) but after that you should notice a significant improvement.

I still think it's static though.
Dear Ryan: +++++ " What I'm wondering is, do I need a better table and cartridge if I expect to listen to records with total silence? " +++++

+++++ " . Is this something that you just learn to tune out from or is there a way to fix it completely? " +++++

The answers to these questions are: NO, you can't expect to listen with total silence and NO there is no way to fix it completely.

Here, there are people that are more sensitive ( like you ) to the LP noises, Eldartford is right about.

These LP " noises " are part og the analog reproduction and you have to learn ( with time ) " to work " with it.

+++++ " . This setup really gives my Ayre D1xe digital setup a run for the money, and if it weren't for the pops and clicks I think I would certainly prefer the sound overall. " +++++

That is all about. Forget the LP " noises " and enjoy the music. Try to do an effort for not " see " those LP noises.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Though a few posters have commented on your cleaning regimen, and though I'm not entirely clear if your phrase "disc doctor brushes and cleaning fluids" implies that your cleaning fluids are DD brand as well, I'd focus on that as a possible culprit. Hopefully I won't turn this thread into another referendum on the virtues/problems of various fluids, but I would suggest trying a few other brands.

When I bought my used VPI 16.5 on this site, the seller included some DD brushes and DD fluids with the sale. I diluted the DD fluid as specified and also used a distilled water rinse (sometimes up to three such rinses) after using the fluid. I found that I had some improvement, though I also often had pops and clicks, and often this was the case on fairly new LPs that had played much better before I cleaned them. Like you, I was frustrated that the cleaning wasn't doing as much as I expected it to, so I began using two other varieties of cleaning fluids quite popular in this forum. Both of these fluids are much less "sudsy" than I found the DD fluids, and neither requires the use of distilled water as a rinse. No offense to those who prefer the DD fluids, but my vinyl has never sounded better to me. (There are plenty of past threads about various cleaning fluids and theories about distilled water, etc., if you check the archives.)

Hope this helps.
my $0.02 is that as my analog rig has improved, enjoyment of the music overshadows any transient noises. they simply fade into insignificance in the midst of overwhelmingly beautiful music. life has background noise, but that shouldn't preclude your enjoyment of it.
I am a born again vinyl guy ...I mean really new like days, but the little clicks and pops are for me kinda like watching fox news, the scroll is at the bottom but I dont pay attention to it, or when you watch a letter box movie, you see the bars at first then you forget about them once you get pulled in.....perhaps you are not getting lost in the music?
Anyone who can tune out clicks ans pops is either blessed or lying!
As a newbie getting into vinyl (just picked up a Rega P5 and a Dyna 20XH), I think that all the posting on this site and AA are very misleading regarding how "dead-quiet" everyone's vinyl is after using their RCMs (I also have a VPI 16.5) and special cleaning sauce.

Many posters set up the expectation for us newbies that all vinyl can sound as quiet as a CD, if only we spent enough $ on a rig and time cleaning. Maybe these posters have achieved great results buying brand new 200 gram vinyl sourced from recently discovered WW2 caves beneath Japan, stored and played in a semiconductor manufacturer's clean room, with a stylus cut from the Hope Diamond, ....

I buy and play alot of used vinyl. This stuff will never be dead quiet and I accept that. Let's be real. We're taking a plastic disc, jamming the hardest substance in the universe through a groove as wide as a hair, and not expecting environmental "contaminants" like dust, dirt, sweat, clothing fibers, etc. not to build up or in the case of used vinyl all those scuffs and surface scratches not to be audible? I doubt it.

I prefer the sound of vinyl to CD. But let's call it like it is and live with the fact vinyl and CD/digital have inherent advantages and disadvantages.

Every minute I spend cleaning records with that loud as hell vacuum is one less minute I have to listen music.

And that is the real tradeoff.
I have once wondered that if we were to introduce "snaps, crackles and pops" to a CD would we prefer the "bettersounding" CD to a pristine CD? Oh, and also add the interchannel phase error prevelant on vinyl that is so attractive to vinylphiles, making it sound "so much more real".
I love my vinyl music, but I do not think that, except for some extremely well done recordings, vinyl is superior to digital - certainly not from a noise point of view.

Bob P.
Dsockel makes a very valid point about cleaning records with the exception of the quiet operation of Loricraft machines. Also, newbies often have their price point set too low to enjoy a quieter presentation. Anyone that doesn't believe vinyl playback can be extremely quiet hasn't listened to a quality linear tracking tonearm hung with a great cartridge. I tire of explaining this so let me move on to the more common pivot arms. Many turntables, arms, cartridges (previous items amplify through mechancical shortcomings) and even phono stages actually magnify these noises electronically based on my experience. With a properly adjusted VTA the surface noise associated with generic vinyl seems outside the room and in my case isn't as loud as my homes ambient noise level. I've spent over 40 years collecting vinyl during which time I've always had a turntable where the tonearm and cartridges are bought separately. I've been able to replace defective software with better ones so I rarely am playing a record with scratches. I sometimes scratch my head when reading replies to this kind of question. Man, Raul has more stuff than you can shake a stick at. I'm surprised that he is accepting of anything more than a very occassional click or pop of reduced volume. Of course, among his many cartridges he doesn't own one by my manufacturer of choice which is the quietest in the groove I've ever heard as well as the most pleasing presentation I've yet to experience except moving up the food chain in the ZYX lineup, and he states that he doesn't like them too! Then again Raul doesn't like tubes. I'm sure however that because there is more than one way to skin a cat his system sounds marvelous and I'm not offering any criticism against him. We make our choices for ourselves and not others. I guess that if my music room were soundproof I would actually hear more noise since certainly with a pivot arm it will not be as dead quiet as CD's. In the real world of heating, air conditioning, cooking and other people living with you not to mention traffic, lawn mowing from neighbors and such there is little and infrequent noise differences between CD's and my analog front end, lead in and out grooves excepting. Synergy with every aspect of the analog front end cannot be over emphasized at all. Stand, table, arm, cartridge, mat, clamp, cables, lighting, dediciated lines, phono stage and cleaning of records and cartridge must work in harmony. I've always advised newbies to spend around $2500 used for long term happiness and have been raked over the coals for doing so. I still stand behind this as the sweet spot for price/preformance.
Ejlif, a few ideas...

Try RRL solutions instead of DD. With RRL a distilled water rinse is unnecessary and in fact counterproductive. RRL is actually purer than most distilled water, and it never foams or leaves any residue. On my Loricraft RRL gets about 70% of the records clean enough so that no further wet cleaning is necessary.

For the stubborn 30%, I try Buggtussel's Vinyl-zyme or Paul Frumkin's AIVS. Enzymes will remove stuff that surfactant-based cleaners can't.

Still, vinyl is rarely perfect. Of our 3,000+ LPs only a minority is "totally" quiet. But as Raul said, once the number of extraneous noises is reduced to just a few per side you learn to listen through them. And yes, it is possible to get the noise down to that level.

I agree with all that Lugnut said regarding better equipment. Loricrafts and Keith Monks clean better than VPIs. Better tables are quieter. Better arms and arm wire are quieter. Better phono stages are much quieter. Better cartridges are quieter and I second his vote for ZYX, which are the quietest I've heard and also the most neutral and natural.

Visitors who hear our system with a CD/SACD/DVDA (rare unless they ask) are more or less impressed, depending on what other systems they've heard. When we switch to vinyl they are invariably overwhelmed. No one has ever asked us to lift the tonearm and go back to digital. When I ask if they'd like to hear another format comparison the answer is predictable, "Shut up and play another record!" The only visitors who aren't genuinely shocked have top quality vinyl setups of their own.

If done well, vinyl can provide an enthralling musical experience that no digital source can match at any price. A good vinyl rig will stomp an Ayre. It will stomp a dcs. It will stomp a Meitner. It will even stomp my Denon. ;-) Will it cost more money than you've spent to get there? Yes. Does it take significant effort and constant TLC? Absolutely. Is it worth all that? Only you can decide.

If you live near someone with a topnotch rig it would be worth a visit. Hearing what's possible, and what it costs in dollars and time, might help you decide whether to pursue this nuttiness or go back to the remote control.


I am with Doug and Bob, if you invest some money and time, you can find yourself in an amazing place.

My previous tt was a Rega 9/1000 and a Dynavector XX-2. It was pretty damn quiet. Very few pops and ticks.

My new main rig is a used Amazon 1, used Schroeder 1 and an zyx uni.

I do not do a great job of cleaning my records and tire of the ordeal of using my Moth machine (I do plan to get a Loricraft soon, even thogh I wear ear protection.

Nevertheless, the pops and ticks are rare and the music truly magical. The scary thing, however, is the black, black silence between tracks and quiet passages. At night, when the ambiant noise is down, the quiet between tracks is actually breathtaking. You can sometimes hear the stylus gently scaping (I assume thats what it is) the side of the groove between tracks, then the next song starts and you realize that you were hearing a sound so quiet and so far back in the background that the first note, no matter how soft, completly wipes out that gentle sound. Then you are off again on a trip.

I know it's true, but I've never heard anyone explain WHY some cartridges seem to transmit (or reproduce?) "pops and clicks" while other don't. Or could it be static discharge from the record surface that some cartridges add to the signal while other don't?

I know my Transfiguration W is way less poppy-clicky than my vdH Frog, yet more revealing, signalwise. And we've all read similar attributions about their cartridges from the ZYX evangelists.

So what's the deal? Anybody really know?
can spraying anti static spray around the table before a record is placced on it help? (the cheap Endust electronics spray comes to mind?
I use the Hunt brush before each playing, and allow the record to turn at least 5 full revolutions. This seems to reduce pops and clicks to a minimum. But, I still get SOME.
Rather than spraying something (anything) near my table or rig I prefer to zap the LP with a Zerodust. No residue to worry about.

Good question. I'm sure stylus profile has something to do with it. The Lyra Olympus I heard was also very quiet in the groove. I believe it has a micro-ridge or line contact stylus like a ZYX. Does your Transfiguration have that sort of stylus? What about the VdH?

The way the generator reacts to VERY sharp transients probably also plays into it. A contaminant can present a transient that's sharper and/or larger than any groove modulation. Some cartridges might "overload" worse than others in response, but I'm no electrical engineer so I couldn't say why.
what is this ZERODUST you speak of grasshopper?
Sorry, typo. I meant ZEROSTAT.

Available from nearly everywhere, Acoustic Sounds, Music Direct, etc.
Nsgarch wrote "I know it's true, but I've never heard anyone explain WHY some cartridges seem to transmit (or reproduce?) "pops and clicks" while other don't."

The only explanation I've ever run across is related to stylus tip profile, i.e. some cartridges ride differently in the groove and in some cases this means tracking in areas less damaged by other cartridges or less likely to collect contaminants.
Willster wrote about the stylus shape contributing to the (lack of) pops and clicks. I can't recall where I saw it, perhaps in one of these threads, that stylus size determines to a great extent the amount of noise heard in any given recording. Again, I can't recall where, but I also read that Zyx styli are much smaller than their competition.
That being said, my Airy 3 is the quietest cartridge I've heard in 45 years. Even my oldest vinyl (late 1950's) is quieter than it ever has sounded. Based on my own experience and if this Zyx information is factual, I would assume that stylus size for certain and perhaps shape affects the background noise we hear. I know without question that my Airy 3 tracks difficult passages better than anything I've used. I'd be interested in others' thoughts.
"Anyone who can tune out clicks ans pops is either blessed or lying!"

Before CDs came out, nobody really seemed to have any problem with it. Sure, the audiophiles did their best, but a touch of surface noise here and there was not fussed over.
I agree with Willster, and with Wc65mustang regarding ZYX's in particular being very quiet in the groove. They're quieter than my Shelter 901 for example.

The ZYX stylus is indeed incredibly tiny. A friend of mine took 200x photos of the styli on a Grado, a Denon 103, a Shelter 901 and a ZYX Airy 2. The Grado looks like a war club, the Denon like an axe, the Shelter like a chef's knife, the ZYX like a surgeon's fine scalpel. Seeing those photos side by side brought home one reason for their differences in performance.

Some other cartridges have similar styli. The Lyra Olympos was as quiet as the ZYX UNIverse when I heard them side by side. The Lyra stylus was longer, but it looked equally tiny in cross-section. They probably both ride deep in the groove, below much surface damage. I believe most VdH's and top Dynavectors are similarly equipped.

One downside of styli like this is that records must be kept scupulously clean. They will scour anything out of the grooves, and the tiniest fleck of dust will impair their otherwise remarkable tracing of HF groove modulations.
Larkyparka...Without getting into the arguement about whether vinyl surface noise exists, I must correct your statement that before CDs came along no one was bothered by surface noise. Most preamps had "scrach" filters, and many outboard electronic devices, dynamic filters (some like the Carver Autocorrelator were very sophisticated), and pop and click eliminators were marketed. So someone must have been bothered. DBX-processed LPs were the only approach that was really effective. I lived through this period, and tried most everything.

You may have lived through that period but didn't achieve success and admittedly never cleaned a record. Anyone blessed with a sense of reason will make a conclusion that instead of properly caring for you records and making informed choices about cartridge/tonearm/table and phono stage bits that work together in harmony without enhancing the noise you complain about you chose instead to go the electonic route. You may have spent a lot of money but you spent it in the wrong directions and you have nothing to contribute except negatives. I guess the best you have to offer Ryan is to just accept it. Your ignorance about the current status of analog is staggering and obviously you missed your chance to have it right long ago. I enjoy my digital as well as my analog and take no issue with your media of choice BUT you are doing a dis-service with your postings and I for one wish you would stop it. You have nothing to offer that resembles help. Your posts probably leave too many with a gut feeling they wasted their money and that's not the case at all. You should be ashamed. Again, I've confronted you. I only hope someone else takes over where I leave off when the time comes.
Vinyl is not perfect, but it sure beats the @#%^$& out of 'perfect sound forever.' Ticks, pops, and surface noise are not inherent in LPs. Humidity, dust, dry air, and dozens of other issues can affect the sound of an LP, but none of them are impossible to cure.

I have heard very few vinyl rigs that run in "total silence" as you described, but darn close is not an unreasonable expectation. Albert Porter's system is darn quite, and I tried to get him to turn it up : ) Vinyl is work, but it is worth the effort.

There are nay-sayers who complain about virtually every aspect of this hobby, but don't let them get you down. Vinyl can sound anywhere from very good to great. The reward is there, just like in any good relationship.
As I posted earlier my vinyl collection dates back to the 1950's. That being said, I've been very careful with my records since the very beginning. There are a couple principles that have guided me. First, not a single album has ever been played on any equipment other than my own. Selfish? OK I plead guilty to that. Second, I've made a dedicated effort to keep the records clean. With the advent of record cleaning equipment, it is much easier today than let's say, 30 years ago.
To address the points made by Lugnut and Elartford, there is surface noise in all vinyl. That comes with the territory. However all vinyl is not created equal. I have some spectacularly quiet vinyl from the 1960's and some noisy vinyl from the 1990's. In closing I don't find normal surface noise in any way, shape, or form detrimental to the listening experience. Actually I get a kick out of hearing "Another Side of Bob Dylan" (this is an entirely acoustic album BTW) sound so sweet with minimal surface noise after 40 years. All of course IMO.
Well Lugnut, I also lived through the LP period and took good care (and still do) of my records. Ticks and pops were a fact of life then and to mitigate I also used compensating devices, the Phase Linear Auto correlator being the primary one, which BTW, also adds another 10db of dynamic range to the dynamic range challenged LPs of that time and also, dare I say, to LPs of today.
I don't think that the "current status of analog" is any different than yesteryear, except for some improvements in cartridges and, vinyls of today are not any better made than those of 30 years ago (probably worse, in fact) and they still suffer from the same limitations of surface noise and dynamic range. I would also wager that most of the vinyl being produced these days are from a digital source and probably, at least, are quieter due to no tape noise - but the tics and pops are still there and the dynamic compression.
Bob P.
I have sat and listened through so many LP sides in my time with nary a pop or a click, and this goes way back to when my hearing was better than my equipment :~) So I just cannot accept the "we just have to live with it" suggestion; I'll admit there are records, even new pressings, that make noises that nothing will remove. The flip side (n.p.i.) is that I have managed to clean and condition some rather dirty and un-promising looking vinyl back to a state of silence! And I think we've all seen LPs with surface or other scratches, that can't be heard (whew!) when they're played.

Except in the case of wear due to (usually a combination of) bad stylus and/or excessive VTF, or simply played-to-death, I've concluded that the majority of the time, the pops and clicks are due to static. And if you want to prove this to yourself, listen for a bad one and then make a quick mental note of where (in the music) it occurs, then repeat. If it happens again exactly as before, it's a groove artifact. If not, it's static.

Having come to this conclusion (some will say "assumption") I'm again looking at the matter of why certain cartridges allow/transmit/pick up/produce(?) static discharge and introduce it to the music signal, while others don't.

Looking at the ZYX (three top models), Lyra Helikon and Titan, and the Transfiguration Temper, Temper V and W, they all have well-known reputations for quiet groove tracing. So let's examine their similarities/differences. They have, for all practical purposes, similar stylus shape (i.e. microridge with small profile.) The ZYXs have an acrylic body, while the other two have conductive (titanium or aluminum) bodies. The ZYX has a conventional motor design, while the other two have unconventional motor designs. The ZYX has an unconventional coil topology while the other two have conventional coil winding layouts.

I can't find a single common physical characteristic amongst all three that I could point out (maybe) and say, "That's why they're so quiet."

Well. . . . . there is one thing. The diamonds. I've looked at the Lyra (in a photo under a scope) and my own Tranny under high power. They're gorgeous! And I'll bet the same is true of the ZYX (Doug?) These stylii are not the dull rough chip that van den Hul uses, and glues onto the end of the cantilever with (a rather large blob of) epoxy. These are truly gemstones. Fully polished, large, and in the case of the Tranny, inserted right through the cantilever like a dagger (I don't know how the other two attach the stylus.) And I'm beginning to think (no proof yet) that certain cartridges may actually produce static buildup as they play, while others don't?

Anyway, no more of this "you'll just have to get used to it." It's not true.
As hard as the men who master LPs for us try, they will never be able to match the dynamic compression of CDs!

Ticks and pops in my system are rare. I still do not like them when they appear, but when I take into consideration the give and take between digital and vinyl, I will settle for vinyl anyday over the flat lifeless sound typically found on CD.

I've not seen a VdH stylus magnified. I'd expect better for the kind of prices they command.

The photo of the ZYX showed a clear gemstone, perfectly sculpted and cleanly affixed to the cantilever. No visible blobs of glue! It truly looked like a finely made instrument, even @ 200x. The micro-ridge edges were clearly visible.

The cantilever's top side wasn't shown, but eyeballing mine with a loupe reveals a slight projection above the top of the cantilever. Presumably the top end of the diamond(?). Interestingly, the stylus end of the cantilever has something like a tiny, cylindrical cap slip-fitted over it, extending a mm or so past the stylus. Something to secure the stylus I presume.

Damn, that stylus and cantilever cap are tiny! How DO they make these things? I'll bet it's the same micro-elves that assembled 921,600 pivoting mirrors on the postage-stamp-sized DLP chip that runs my TV. Amazing stuff.
Doug, you wanna go to Japan and watch them make one? C'mon, it'll be fun!


If the dynamic range, clicks, pops and general surface noise are so prevalent with current analog devices then why in the world isn't audiophiledom filled with opportunities to purchase these electronic correction products in today's market, now only new and improved? It seems every high end manufacturer must being missing a golden opportunity here. Never has an audiophile been in the sweet spot in my room and ever offered any criticism about dynamic range while listening to vinyl. In a scientific sense, yes there is some surface noise. But just like having to put my head close to a speaker to hear circuit noise, one would have to go to similiar extremes to hear surface noise from a seated listening postion. Yes, there are exceptions with some badly recycled vinyl or the occassional record that suffered some sort of permanent damage. Those are the exception however. You might also note that I was not attacking digital and have no problem with digital master tapes except records mastered from a digital source early on, say 1982-1989. If that recording sampling rate was put on a disk then the debate as to the superior format would be over.
thanks for all the info, I am finding that I am learning how to clean my records in a way that is improving the noises I was getting before. I would be interested to hear what methods Nrchy and Lugnut are using to clean their records. I have a strong feeling much of what I hear is static, and it seems that since the AC has been running less it has improved, a quick rinse with distilled water seems to improve things a lot too.

I fully agree with the amazing superiority of vinyl. I am comparing a rather entry level vinyl system to a top notch digital source, and it is just a huge letdown when I go back to CD after playing some vinyl. I can warm back up to it and have to since I can't get everything I want on vinyl, but I've been making a point of playing CDs first and then listening to vinyl, or just skipping the CDs altogether.

I am looking into upgrading my table/arm/cart to a Nottingham Spacedeck/Spacearm and a Shelter 90x.

thanks, -Ryan
Skip the 90x and buy a Zyx.
I recently bought a XYZ RS20 and am amazed at how little i hear the clicks and pops that drove me nuts with my Clearaudio Arum Beta S,,soooo much quieter now!

I've sent you a private email about record cleaning since I didn't want to start any more controvery in this thread. Cleaning of vinyl is a pretty divisive topic in these threads. I urge you to try several products, label what you used on the outter sleeve and monitor how well they do over a period of time.

Good luck,
I also own the 16.5
Maybe you have already tried these suggestions, but here goes:

1. Inspect the vacuum tube for contamination. If the felt is dirty wash with a dishwashing detergent and rinse with distilled water.

2. I discovered that using the vacuum cycle for more than 3-4 rotations causes static charges to build up on the LP which in turn attracts dust partiles
Lugnut...Pop and Click eliminators are no longer marketed for the simple reason that those who are annoyed by surface noise, have switched to digital media. Also, they don't work all that well, except for really bad discs, and I quit using mine long ago.

However, several brands of computer software are marketed to "clean up" vinyl-derived programs before transfer to CD.
You missed my point. Analog playback is an incredibly vibrant part of the audiophile marketplace. That's a fact. Lots of new customers to market to. Couple that with yesterday's knowledge about noise eliminators and today's top drawer designers eager to make a buck. Then why aren't they doing it? My position is that it's not an issue and it's not because people can listen around it beyond something very minor. Honestly, you should give a listen to a good to great vinyl front end. I think you would find it more than satisfying and not at all like you remember it.