hopeless LP's

Ok, now a question about maintaining one's collection.

4 day weekend this weekend, so the wife and I, as a diversion, are going to start to go through our large and varied collection of LP's (garage sale, thrift store, mostly) and pare it down to records actually worth keeping.

Assuming a clean record (we have a nitty gritty) and a properly set up TT, but NOT the "finest" stylus in the world (a Sumiko Black Pearl, which has an elliptical stylus), can it be safely assumed that if a well-cleaned, de-staticized, gruv-glided, etc. record is being played and still either distorts or crackles, or sounds like someone shaved off the high frequencies, that is is, alas, a goner and should be put out for trash?

I'd hate to throw away my found vinyl (some of it very nice performances, mostly the classical stuff) only to find out later that if I had a different TT or cart set-up, in fact the gross and obvious distortion I am hearing now would not be audible.

Thanks again, as always

You'll find that many of the better MC cartridges ($500+) will really minimize surface noise and, to a very limited degree, some of the ticks and pops. Some additional reduction of noise might be obtained by adjusting the VTA (or shimming the cartridge) so that the arm slopes slightly downward toward the bearing end. Results will vary.

I've been using a DBX-3BX expander and find that it helps quiet a record somewhat. The purists out there may object, but, if used in moderation, it does seem to help.

As far as all the clicks and pops, there are a couple of "transient noise" filters that seem to work OK, but they do introduce distortion- more pops equals more distortion. The better filters of this type are from SAE and Burwin. I have the Burwin piece, but haven't had it in the system for years.

I would caution you that analog "signal processing" creates alot more distortion and, on better systems, can tend to distract from sound quality rather than improve it. I remember a very reputable audio dealer telling me years ago that "as your system improves, you'll eventually notice that many switches and extra components have disappeared".

Getting back to the records, why not hang on to them for awhile and see what happens?


I can assure you that if you find these well-cleaned LP less than desirable while playing on your current system, chances for them to sound much better is next to none on a state-of-the-art system. However, if you collect for the sake of performances and artists, then the sound shouldn't matter as much. A lot of eBayer would pay over $2000 for a clean copy of Joanna Martzy in mono while most audiophiles would probably consider the recording low-fi since it suffers from poor high and low frequency extension. You should always identify what draws you into this hobby -- the music itself or the vehicle that takes you there.
percy faith, mitch miller, andy williams, foghat, molly hatchet, barry manilow, chicago, and all the firestone christmas vol's, should deminish the work load without fear of wishing you'd have not disguarded prematurely. hesitate to include john denver,but the john surplus is enough for everyone in the country to own at least two copies.
if in doubt pigeon-hole until later.
i have several lp's that appear to have been sand blasted but play thru without any assistance. won't part with unless i upgrade the copy. kurt
Rdr4b is right on the mark in each sentence of his post. The signal processing mentioned in my previous post is a band-aid and not a cure for a couple of sonic ailments.
I remember that years ago (70's), when radio used vinyl, we used to use a devise called a Burwin Noise Reducer that did a good job of reducing ticks and pops. Don't know where to start looking for one...maybe "Antique Electronic Supplies" in Arizona could help. Tel. 480-820-4643 or www.tubesandmore.com website. Happy Tunes!
I have bought thousands of used LPs and , it sounds to me like you have other problems! you will encounter LPs that are worn out or hav ebeen played on a system that has ruined them but this happens not that often, at least to me. I have a rather expensive LP play back system but I have experience with all levels of LP play back and it sure sounds to me like you problems are in the arm , cartridge, or phono section. Befor you toss the LPs I would do some serious dective work on that chain.
My experiences are the same as Najo.

I have a 20K turntable rig and I frequently buy LP's at used book stores for as little as .50 cents. I rarely have to resort to the trash can, even though I am a picky listener.

With correct cleaning, then careful turntable and cartridge set up you will retrieve information you thought was impossible. Often with very little or no noise. I would not give up on the music you like due to imperfections, unless you never intend to upgrade your playback and cleaning system.
I agree with Najo and Albert. When i changed tables / arms / cartridges, i noticed a DRASTIC reduction in surface noise. Both my brother and girlfriend stated that they had never heard records sound so quiet and "good". Keep in mind that this doesn't cost a LOT either, as the instance that i'm specifically referring to was when i picked up a complete table / arm / cartridge for $150 !!!! I have since acquired much more expensive TT with a vacuum platter, air bearing linear tracking arm, etc... This was strictly for kicks though, as good music reproduction doesn't have to be expensive to sound good or be enjoyable. Check out your vinyl rig itself BEFORE you throw out the vinyl. Sean
There are actually several different, unrelated problems being referred to in this thread. If a record has been really, thoroughly cleaned and rinsed deep down, the remaining "ticks and pops" are surface noise resulting from minute scars in the vinyl itself. This is often tolerable to a surprising degree if it is not too severe, depending on the type of music in question, and how "hot" the record was cut volume-wise, because the noise is not well correlated with the recorded signal. As for "rolled" frequency extremes, this is determined by the recording and/or mastering process, and is not the result of normal degrees of wear or dirtying of the record. The type of distortion that I suspect is being called "gross and obvious" in the original post can be another story. Highly dependent on the level of the recorded signal's peaks, as well as their frequency range, this has little to do with surface contamination. This distorted sound is hard to bear because it is well correlated with the recorded signal, and is the result of the record's having been much played in the past on mistracking, usually old and inexpensive equipment. The subsequent damage to the vinyl is worst on highly modulated peaks, even though the record may appear to have been kept decently clean, and be mostly free of surface noise. On classical music, I myself always get rid of these, but will keep a good record with a little surface noise until a better copy comes along. With older rock and R&B or jazz, somewhat higher levels of noise are acceptable. However, for response roll-off a CD remastering might be the best fix available. (Though I do sometimes find that "old-timey" sound can be ingratiating on certain material, and can even grow to enjoy the "scratchy" sound of some genres of antedeluvian 45's and 78's, which won't skip like an LP - ya gotta love that giant ol' groove!)
zaikesman - I think you named exactly the kind of distortion I am referring to. ticks and pops dont bother me at all, since that kind of noise pretty much always lets the "sound" still ride right along underneath. For example, old 78's are exactly like this: constant sizzle, but NOT correlated with the signal in the groove.

The distortion I'm talking about is correlated with signal, as you said (nice to learn that is what I was noticing!). Crescendoes on both Leider and Orchestra sounds shaved off, or simply distorted, or horribly crackly, etc.

Well, however, I heard enough on this post to convince me to put anything I *think* I still might want to be able to re-check again in a separate pile, and store those rather than simply dispose of them.

BTW, was listening just tonight to the Glenn Gould Mozart piano sonata series, and some Fischer-Dieskau Schubert stuff. Nice. All of those are in fine shape!!! Yay!

as always, thanks for the comments. All of your commetns are really helping me here!
Pcanis, (drool), not the Heine Songs with G Moore on piano? Tell me when & where you throw that one away (I would willingly save you the trouble & throw it for you :).
Your decision to hang on to those vinyls rules!
Gregen -
no, don't have that one. The F-D one's on EMI with G Moore accompanying I have are: Die Schone Mullerin; The Trout and other songs; Death and the Maiden and other songs.

I was most fortunate about 6 years ago when I was working at a CD store, an old fellow from the local University came in and said, you seem to like Classical music, I'm moving and need to get rid of my LP's..... about 500 or so!

Those fischer-dieskau's with g moore ARE wonderful. Last night, listend three times to the Death and the Maiden disc. Just amazing.

Hi P, I have those F-Ds on cd -- strangely, on Universal label! BTW, some of those are mono recordings...