I finally bought a record cleaning machine $

I finally bought a RCM (VPI 16.5). While it most definitely makes for blacker backgrounds and removes a lot of the ticks and pops I seem to be picking up a lot of new noise that wasn't there before (a static sound). I am using Record Research Labs cleaner and (Deep cleaner on the really dirty stuff) followed by Last record preservative. I am trying not to run the vacum any more than I have to, as I read this can cause excessive static. My room is not overly dry or anything............... So what gives. Right now I am kinda bummed; I thought this was going to be the holy grail of those perfectly noise free records I have been dreaming about. Am I missing something? Do I have to spend more $$$ on one of those Zerostat guns?

Please help.


P.S. Sorry if this has already been discussed. I am lazy to search through the myriad of posts on RCM's right now.
If the LP's were damaged by playing them dirty, played with a defective stylus or just worn out, there is no record cleaning machine that will resolve the problem.

Same as a scratched (skipping) DVD or CD, once damaged it is difficult or impossible to repair.

What's important is to clean each LP when you purchase it, regardless if it's new or used. The best copies become completely quiet and the poor copies fall where they may.

It is possible for LP playback to be as quiet as CD, but generally requires more work than most people are willing to put forth, including accurate set up which seems to be a dying art.

I own the Zerostat gun you mention but rarely use it. I don't seem to have any problem with static, but this varies by household and climatic conditions.

Some areas of the country are VERY dry and when combined with synthetic floor coverings, this makes a perfect environment for static clicks and pops. Where I live the weather is seldom ideal, so my family and my stereo live in a year round climate controlled environment.

Try setting the LP on a clean piece of paper and let it rest before playing. If that cures the pops and clicks, you have a static problem, If it does not, it's either set up or damaged LP's. Set up can be improved, damaged LP cannot.

That being said, I have LP's that I bought in 1962 that play as quietly and new. I take very good care of my vinyl because I treasure the music and don't have budget to replace things damaged by my negligence.

Let us know if you resolved this issue. My sincere wishes for good luck with your experiment.
I sort of have the same problem. I recently got the 16.5 thinking it would give me dead quiet vinyl. That has not been the case for me either. I have some new records that are pretty darn quiet, with just the occasional pop, but I also have new LPs that seem to have more than you would think a new one would. Maybe it's just the odd gem that you find that is totally quiet. I've bought some used LPs that look to be really good and sound horrible with constant popping. I have found that quickly rinsing the record and then vacuuming prior to listening helps a lot. I too wonder if it's a static thing or just the record and there's not much I can do about it.

All that said, having just gotten into vinyl after many years of owning high end systems I love it. The sound is immensly better than even the best digital systems that I've owned, and I've been learning to not focus to much on the noise and instead take in the vastly superior sound that the LP has.
I hit the records that I clean with my DIY cleaning machine with the Zerostat every time. A quick carbon brush dust off before playing also helps,..

But, yes, I would suggest that you get a Milty and use it after cleaning with any kind of vacuum. This plus the actual vacuum cleaning has made a tremendous difference for me.
Thanks for your thoughts so far guy's. Albert, I'm sure the records aren't damaged........... the noise isn't a real loud crackle ar anything, more like a background kind of distortion or static (and it happens on new and older stuff that I have owned for some time) and, it's not there before I use the RCM.

I live just down the road in Austin so it doesn't seem like our climates would be too different but, maybe so (it hasn't rained here very much lately).

I wonder; what kind of brush are other people using to scrub with. Could that make a difference?

Check out Justin_time post currently on the forum right now:


He's a real chemistry guru -- and, based on what he said (you should read it for yourself) it souns like what he describes a a classic case of record cleaning fluid residue. Check it out, it's very interesting.
This subject seems to come up with some regularity. It makes me wonder. There is no such thing as an absolutely silent record. For folks whose initial reference is CD they may never be happy. Well pressed records in mint condition can have a remarkably low noise floor but noise there will be. For those of us who grew up with records it is just part of the package. In a quality playback system the noise will stick with the speakers and should not detract from the musicality and soundstaging. It seems counter-intuitive that records would be noiser after cleaning. I've used the VPI 17F for years and years ever having this experience or any problems with static.
Chris, I just read your post again where you say you try not to run the vacuum any more than possible.

That could be part of the problem, leaving wet residue on the LP to dry out and cause noise. I vacuum my LP's six or seven revolutions after each wash (three times total).

First time after Record Research Deep Clean, second time after Record Research Vinyl Wash and third time after Last treatment (and Record Research AGAIN) before play.

Try that and see if it helps. If not, it must be set up. I wish Austin was a bit closer, I would visit and look over the set up. Your welcome to visit here and experience the results for yourself if travel brings you to the D/FW area.
Narrod, no question that for ABSOLUTE 100% of the time quiet, CD is the winner.

That being said, it is possible to have an LP playback system that is as quiet 98% of the time and still have the superior sonics that analog format brings. I guess everyone must decide the importance of that ratio for themselves.

Pat Malone (Lugnut) and others from Audiogon visited me a while back and had this to say.

09-03-05: Lugnut

Just a couple of experiences I've had for you guys to ponder. In my room when I'm doing serious listening the peaks measure 90-93 db. That's where I like to listen. At that volume when I lift the tonearm I first sense the small amount of tube noise that is present. Note that to really hear it I must place my head pretty close to the speaker. It annoys me. Since my dedicated music room is open to the rest of the house through a six foot opening there is ambient noise that masks the tube noise and the surface noise, in plane or out of plane, to some extent. When a number of my audiophile group friends are here and in the sweet spot in control of the volume they almost always listen at a lesser volume, around 85 db. The tube noise and surface noise is imperceptible at this level making me wish that I was satisfied listening alone at this volume setting.

Upon visiting with a friend and listening to his SOTA analog rig with software ranging from very nice generic pressings to the best audiophile pressings AND the uncleaned used record just bought that day the background was so dead silent that I doubt anyone could tell blindfolded between tracks if we were listening to digital or analog. I'm not exaggerating here at all. Sure, there were a few occassions during several days when you could acutally hear a defect but it was exceptionally rare. We also were not generally listening at the volume levels I listen to at home in solitude. This experience was in Dallas at the home of Albert Porter. I'm so glad that I was able to go and experience this. Understand, Albert has about as impressive a collection of viny as I've ever seen and he has been most anal in his approach to system setup, record condition and cleaning. But, once the listening starts he's not anal at all. He's not one to let an uncleaned LP go unplayed if it adds to the enjoyment of the moment.

I respect today's digital players and a lot of the software offerings and I'm glad that many are totally satisfied with it. Sometimes I'm even glad that's the case since it leaves much more software for the rest of us to buy at favorable prices. I embrace buying whatever software is the best be it analog or digital. That's the best of both worlds and I'm really envious of those audiophiles with deep enough pockets that can afford SOTA players of both kinds.

As a follow up on my first paragraph here I just this week had doors installed to isolate the rest of the home from the music room. Big difference for sure with the ambient noise level. Today I'll be installing dedicated circuits for the system. Hopefully these changes will make vinyl surface noise THE issue with my listening. Maybe I'll find happiness with an 85 db level which I think will happen. I'll report my findings.

Enjoy it all my friends!
Albert, I believe you. That's pretty much what I experience in my system. The bottom line is any system that has a mechanical or physical interface and friction is going to produce noise. I don't view it as a problem.
Snip: "I take very good care of my vinyl because I treasure the music and don't have budget to replace things damaged by my negligence."

Well, of course after you've spent a couple of hundred thousand dollars on your equipment and room you don't have enough spare cash to replace some damaged records... You poor, poor man!

Guys, forget the New Orleans tragedy and the Red Cross, our fellow audiophile Albert needs our help... Let's all dig deep into those pockets, shall we!

Frank :)
Hey Guys,

Sorry for my rant. But many of us here have so much to be thankful for... In light of recent events, when someone with so much is concerned that he "can't afford" to replace a few records, well, it just set me off. Perhaps it was just a case of an ill-considered choice of words.

I just think that from time to time we all need to take a look around and recognize all the things, great and small, for which we should be truly grateful.
Plato, I feel your comments about Albert are uncalled for. I suspect he does not abuse his records because he is not wasteful, not because he can't afford them. I respect his attitude and his demeanor on this board. Also, I think we all somewhat understand the magnitude of problems with the Katrina victims, and I am sure we all contribute in our own way. Let's keep it civil. Thanks
Cmo, one additional thought about some of the noise, and this may not be "politically correct" to comment on: my experience has been that turntable systems ('table, arm and cartridge) are very different with respect to the amount of background noise one hears. Some are flat out just better at that deep quiet background than others. Albert's Walker turntable is one of the best there is in this regard, if not the best. All others will have some higher level of residual background noise. For example, with the same care in cleaning, the VPI-19 I used and loved for so many years could never approach the background silence achieved by a SME or the Walker.

And, as Albert suggests in his second post, what you describe also sounds to me exactly like what I hear when a cleaned record has not been thoroughly rinsed.

And Plato: give it a rest.

Rushton, you nailed it. The playback system has much to do with it. I have a TNT6/Wheaton/Helikon, Linn/Ittok/Grado, Oracle/SME/Blackbird and Horizon/Rega/Denon connected in my system at all times. I like them all but the VPI wins handsdown when it comes to music coming from a black background.

Where do you live Cmo? Static at this time of the year is not common. I suggest you rinse your records in distiled water. I would also suggest that you delete the Last treatment and see if that is the problem. I have not used Last in many years just for the reason that my records got noisy after using it.
CMO I have static problems in the winter and humidity problems in the summer. Both of these affect the sound of LPs. DOn't spend a bunch of money, but I wonder if a device for measuring relative humidity would let you get a handle on some of the static problem.

Plato do you have some problem with mental instability? Nothing Albert said deserved the scathing response you let fly. He was simply relating his experience!

Albert struggles to pay the bills and put food on the table just like anyone who posts here. I have known him for a couple of years and visited him twice. I have never observed him looking down on another person, or speaking abusively about their situation. I have seen him go out of his way to help a fellow traveler, and take a financial loss when one of those travelers stole from Albert when he was trying to help.
Rushton and Albert: If you will refer back to my post (the forth one down) you'll notice I said the same thing as regards RCF residue (not that it doesn't bear repeating, of course.) I strongly urge all of you, if you haven't done so already, to read Justin_time's two (rather lengthy but really good) posts on the subject. You can find them by typing RCF in the search field.
It's been my experience that the 16.5 is very critical about the angle of the pick up brush. It seems to leave a lot of gunk behind if not adjusted just so. The gunk ends up on the stylus which is definitely not good. I'd rather run the vacuum too long and then deal with the possibility of static rather than run the risk of having the record half-vacuumed.
Plato and others, I am sorry if my choice of words came off sounding wrong.

The following comments are in no way meant to gain sympathy, I don't need sympathy. What I would like is a little understanding.

When I was a young boy, our family was very poor. I vividly remember one Christmas getting a record of Gene Autry (something I had begged for months earlier).

I was so excited that I accidentally pressed against it with my knee while helping my younger sister. The record broke and I never got another copy.

Typical gifts for Christmas were jeans, socks and underwear for school and one good gift, accompanied by a secondary gift of a stocking filled with fresh fruit, pecans and walnuts.

Lots of people struggled back then, my sister and I had a VERY good life with wonderful loving parents, plenty of good food and my dog.

What I never had were the things that most young boys ask for and dream of. A new boy scout knife or flashlight, a camper tent , a BB Gun. Mostly I did with a surplus green Army blanket as a tent and an old knife my granddad gave me.

Deprived? Hardly, there were kids at my school that begged fellow students for change to come up with the 20 cents necessary to buy a hot lunch. Their parents could not afford the cash outlay.

I had it good, compared to many but it did teach me to not be wasteful.

Later as I grew up and graduated from high school, bought my first motor cycle from proceeds of my paper route (stated at 11 years old) and my way into the "toys" I always wanted.

In college I worked full time at LTV Aerospace, paying my own way through school. I got the job at LTV by working at a grain and feed store for spending money and attending night classes in order to qualify to for the job application at LTV.

What does all that have to do with audio? Not a damn thing, except I love music. It's my only passion other than my family. So when I post a comment that my software is too precious for me to destroy due to my negligence, it's my way of saying I respect how hard a buck is to come by. I don't waste any money and every penny in my audio system was a smart buy and paid for by hard work.

I almost feel I should apologize for this explanation. It's difficult reading words on a page to know if someone is angry, sincere or what emotion is being expressed. I am not angry, not upset. Just hopeful you guys understand.
The fact is, if you are a serious practicing audiophile with a reference level system, you have to have large amounts of disposable income. Additionally, if your software collection is commensurate with your equipment, then you have a small fortune invested vinyl, CDs, etc. There's no getting around it, it cost serious money to play this game at a high level. I truly hope that the people involved in this hobby can really afford some of the equipment that appears in many of the virtual systems listed. By that I mean, they are not stretching to afford a $30,000+ piece of equipment. People who buy new Rolls Royces write checks for the purchase amount. If you have to finance it, haggle over the price, shop dealers for the best deal, then maybe you really can't afford it. Now if you can't afford the best, there's no reason to criticize those who can. As long as someone got their money in a legal and ethical fashion, then more power to them.

Fortunately, for the other 99% of use, it doesn't take that much money to put together a good quality system. If you own a house, can take a family vacation, can lease a new car and aren't over extended on your credit cards, then you can afford a $3,000 to 7,500 system. For that kind of money plus some skill and diligence you should be able to assemble an excellent quality system. But suppose you can't even afford that? Well, my advice would be to get an iPod, a Bose Wave, a Cambridge combo player, a Denon or JVC mini system and spend whatever money you can on building up your music collection. One day you'll be able to afford better equipment, but the music is what's really important and that's why Albertporter takes such good care of his records. When you work hard for something it shouldn't be surprising that you appreciate it and care for it that much more.
Nsgarch, sorry not to give appropriate credit for first mention. I knew I'd seen that comment already, but when I went back looking for it I only spotted it the second time in Albert's post.

I have been reading Justin-time's posts and the ensuing conversation. Very worthwhile thread.
Albert: I see no reason for you to have apologized. When I read "Plato's" posts, my first reaction was, "Geez, where were those sour grapes, Plato?"

It might have been an opportune time to lash out at you, using the Katrina disaster as an excuse.

That's my gut feeling about the matter. If I am wrong .... If Plato gets "set off" this easily, then I strongly reccommend some counciling for his greif, in which he can get help at either his local Red Cross or Catholic Charities.

Best wishes,

Jack Seaton
Thanks everyone for the comments and suggestions. I tried taking the opposite approach and vacuming the records more instead of less and it has made a difference........... Things are as they I thought they should be REALLY QUIET.... Wa Hoo!!! I honestly can't tell the difference with or without the Last preservative. I think I'll stick with it since it was a dealer recommendation.

I have been wondering whether I should address some of the comments that have creeped into this thread (since others have already done so quite eloquently). I guess in the end I feel some responsibility since I started the ball rolling.

Anyway.... Audiogone haas been a really cool thing for me personally. I have made some friends, learned a lot about audio systems and music but, mainly I have been entertained. There are so many things that go on in the world (both good and bad) that "put things in perspective". Of course the smart person learns form these things and grows from them. Albert seems like a person who has learned from his experiences in life. I don't know him but, to me he has always tried to post sincere thoughts and comments in order to help others. The one time I spoke with him in person (on the phone actually)he offered to lend me his Wolcott amps so I could check them out in my system becouse there wasn't a dealer where I live (I doubt he even remembers). He would have been trusting a person who he didn't know and, would have been without his own system for a while.... Just to be nice.........I don't know but that seems like a pretty well adjusted individual to me.

Why is it that I sometimes read offended (or should that be offensive) comments on Audiogone. I think 99.9% of us are in this hobby for the same reasons... It was a simple question and as usual the Audiogone community was very helpful in trying to find a solution to my problem.

Thanks again


Congrat's Cmo on a wise purchase. I think Albert made a key point that needs reinforcing. To have a quiet background and support the long life of a record, not to mention stylus, we all need to have a somewhat fastidious routine of cleaning and a vacuum machine plays a big part. When a record comes into my house (new or used) it gets put next to my VPI record cleaner and doesn’t get played until it has been thoroughly inspected and cleaned by me at least once. A good halogen light helps for seeing everything on the vinyl. This discipline keeps grim from being initially driven deep into the record grooves or even welded (if you will) to the groove by stylus heat and pressure, never to come out. I now have very few new noisy records and actually found a stone molded into one of my new records from Germany recently. That stone, if went unchecked would have torn the cantilever right out of my new Linn Akiva moving coil. Needless to say, I could have missed it with just a quick wipe and play! And if it’s any consolation, I too could not afford to replace my record collection. Cheers!