Is it possible to have vinyl nearly noise free?


I’ve been cleaning my vinyl starting with spin clean then using Orbitrac cleaning then do a vacuum with record dr. And finally putting on gruv glide..and I still hear some ticks and pops. Is it impossible to get it nearly completely quiet? Would like to ask all the analog audiophiles out there. Please share what is the best method and sequence to clean vinyl..thx everyone.
tubelvr1
Yes it is impossible. Waste of time. Worse than a waste. We don't clean records for the satisfaction of having them play quiet, or to make the stylus last longer, but to make the music sound better. I suggest you follow BetterRecords.com advice and use the Walker enzyme cleaning process, clean the stylus every side, and nothing else. Better still, buy one of their Hot Stampers. You can have quiet or you can have music, and when you hear how good the music can be I bet you agree its worth the noise.

Not that I can't relate. For years- decades- I was in the records are great except for the noise camp. I bought all the newest, quietest vinyl, cleaned and vacuumed incessantly, all the usual BS. Then I realized almost all of the newer/quieter vinyl sounds nowhere near as good as a lot of the older/noisier records. Now I pay a hell of a lot more for USED records that sound a whole lot better. Now my VPI vacuum sits virtually unused. I only even brush a record when I see something on it, not reflexively out of habit like before. And my records probably play with less noise doing this than when I was slaving away, although best I can say is probably because honestly unless and until they get a whole lot noisier I could hardly care less. Its just not a factor.

Yes, but there are many qualifiers; some records are inherently noisy due to manufacture; some may have been damaged by kludgey record players in the past. Some noise may be exacerbated by the cartridge and phono stage. 
I'd be hard pressed to summarize record cleaning best practices in a post reply. There are a million ways to clean a record. I guess my observations would be as follows:
1. Do no harm.
2. Get the fluid and contaminants off the record once that job is done. Vacuum can be very effective, but has other issues, including the potential for static and cross contamination, which can be addressed.
3. I advocate a pure water rinse- purity will vary depending on what country you are in and how compulsive you are. This gives you another shot at removing the residue of fluid, which is itself a contaminant. 
4. I know nothing about Gruv-Glide. I don't use any post-cleaning additives; others may have different views.
5. Ultrasonic cleaning brings a lot to the table but for me, is not a compete solution for old records so I rely on multiple methods and steps, including ultrasonic and vacuum.
6. Fluids- pick your flavor. If you are wet cleaning, keep your brushes, vacuum lips, and anything that comes in contact with the record clean during a cleaning session and afterwards. 
7. I resleeve- pick your flavor. Some shed.
8. Static is the devil and I try and minimize it through how I handle a record post-cleaning. I've found it unnecessary to rely on 'zappers' to charge/discharge.
9. I largely avoid dry brushing because I think it creates more issues than it solves. I did find one dry brush I like, but in many cases, you can do touch up (post cleaning, before or after play) using an air puffer, like the Giottos Rocket Blaster. It's around 12 dollars US on Amazon in the States for the large one.

I'm sure there are things others will add. My baseline is how it plays and long term conservation. I have found with some challenged records that multiple cleanings using both vacuum and ultrasonic are necessary. I'm sure you'll get a lot more input. I'm pretty agnostic when it comes to machines and products. That's why I didn't mention any....(except for the cheap air puffer.)
Use a genuine vintage Discwasher if you can find one in good condition with D4+ fluid as maintenance. Vinyl of uncertain history should first be cleaned in the Spinclean, rinsed in distilled water and vacuumed to remove residual water. If you have problems with static, use a little more fluid on the Discwasher and use the ZeroStat from Milty-Pro before playing a side. Also make sure you have relative humidity no less than 30% in your listening room. 
You are just going to drive yourself crazy trying to eliminate every single snap, crackle and pop.

Might not even be on the vinyl, not all phono stages are created equal....

I gave up worrying long ago and just enjoy.

You would not believe how many $1 records I have that received mostly a cursory first clean at best.

Listening to one right now and enjoying every groove.
Yes, if your amp has a mute button, use it.

Your record experience will be noise free, even without the Orbitrac procedure.
Continue with gruv glide to ensure maximum quietness.

Rock on!
 @whart what Bill said...
all of the various formats have merits and drawbacks. Given an existing collection and limited funds, taking good care of what you have is a best practice IMO....

Like Uber, I really enjoy the one buck minty find or a disc that can be rescued with enzyme cleaners....miracle stuff !!!!

but I also spend for new vinyl which has an amazing range of quality, like the normal distribution, only worse due to the number of masters, stampers, pressing plants.  The key is are YOU happy ?

enjoy the music!!!!
Yes it is possible. Vinyl is like wine. There are good ones and bad ones.
You usually get a near silent pressing with Decca, EMI, Erato, and Hamonia Mundi. Phillips and DGG about 1/2 the time. I'm sure there are other small European labels that do a good job. The worse pressings are from Rhino. I sent back 8 copies of Joy Division's Closer. Finally they ran out of copies and I picked a different record. And do not fall for that 180 gm thing. It does not get you a clean pressing. Analog Productions is the only American company you can count on. Mobile Fidelity occasionally. 

Once a record is noisy it is noisy for life. The secret to having clean records is don't let them get dirty in the first place. Use a dust cover and a grounded sweep arm (Sleeve City sells one for $20). Do not put stuff on your record. The placebo effect is rampant here. Either it all evaporates (the Freon in Last) or it gums up your stylus and glues dust to the record so the next time your stylus passes by it can be ground right in. 
The only reason to buy a record cleaner is if you buy used records. An ultrasonic machine using distill water is the best. I use a Spin Clean with distilled water only, usually to clean other peoples records. I rarely use a stylus brush because I do not put gunk on my records and the grounded sweep arm kills static and sweeps any incidental dust out of the way. Once a month or so I clean the stylus and the sweep arm with an artist's brush and 91% iso propyl alcohol. Mix it with 25% distilled water and you have the worlds greatest windshield cleaner!

There are numerous very quiet phono stages out there. Compared to the noise on the record their noise is inconsequential. Even the quietest record has a blowing sound to it. 
Is it possible to have vinyl nearly noise free? 

Kinda sorta maybe.

I don't have a vac cleaner right now.

I've owned them 4-5 times now. I miss them. I don't miss them. I want to get one. I can't be bothered to get one.

@mijostyn-the issue I mentioned about phono stages  has less to do with 'self-noise' of the phono stage and more about how it behaves in response to surface noise, tics, etc. Ralph Karsten of @atmasphere has written at length about that here. 
For stylus cleaning, Ortofon advises against using any solvents that can damage the cement used to bind the stylus to the cantilever. Other cartridges- I think it is worth checking with the manufacturer-- I know Lyra promote a liquid that is safe with their cartridges which I used when I was running Lyra cartridges, but I've only dry brushed (or on occasion, used Magic Eraser or Blu-Stuff, per Peter Ledermann) with my Airtights. My Koetsu is brand new and I've only been dry brushing so far, using a longer bristle brush than the normal 'pad' type. 

Yes.
I am very used to playing entire album sides without ticks and pops.

I don't use record cleaners either.

What most people don't know, including phono preamp designers, is that the phono preamp itself is often responsible for about 90% of the ticks and pops often heard. I know this sound outrageous but I've seen this play out quite often.


How it works is like this: The cartridge and tone arm interconnect cable form a tuned resonant circuit (called a 'tank circuit' on account of the fact that the circuit can store energy at a certain frequency) due to the inductance of the cartridge and the capacitance of the cable. The resonant peak is outside of the audio band- in the case of LOMC cartridges might be over 100KHz up to several MHz. It can be as much as a 30 dB peak!

If your phono section has poor overload margin this can cause ticks and pops. And to illustrate what is meant by '30dB', this is a peak that is 1000 times higher than that of the signal itself. If you have a moving magnet high output cartridge, this peak exists at a lower frequency (in some cases might even be at the extreme upper region of the audio band) and less profound, but it can still be 20dB which is 100 times more powerful than the signal. Either way the cartridge energy sends the tank circuit into 'excitation' (oscillation) and you can get a tick or pop when the phono section briefly overloads.


There is more- some phono sections have stability problems. What many phono preamp designers don't get is that a good phono section is more than just enough gain, proper EQ and low noise. It must also resist RFI (Radio Frequency Interference, which is generated by the the tank circuit) and to do that, devices known as 'stopping resistors' (and sometimes 'RF beads') must be employed in the design. These resistors are placed at the input of a tube or other active device to prevent oscillation. If not there, it is possible for the active device to ring (oscillate) but only slightly- not oscillating all the time (if it did the design would not have gotten past quality control); just on certain input signals.


So if your phono section is stable and has good overload margin you will experience a lot less ticks and pops. I've seen this be pretty dramatic- upon hearing such ticks and pops it might seem as if the vinyl is noisy, but on a good phono preamp the same record is silent. A side benefit is that if this is so, its highly likely that if you are running a LOMC cartridge you won't have to engage in the 'cartridge loading' exercise, since that loading is all about detuning the tank circuit at the input of the preamp and thus preventing it from generating RFI.


Further, when you load a LOMC cartridge (100 ohms is common) you are making it do more work than when it drives the standard 47,000 ohms. The energy to do that work has to come somewhere and the result is that the cantilever of the cartridge and be stiffer and less able to trace higher frequencies.


Unfortunately most of the phono sections in many vintage solid state receivers were unstable and so an entire generation of audiophiles has grown up thinking LPs are loaded with ticks and pops. Usually they aren't- when an LP is mastered, the lathe cut is sent to a pressing plant and a 'test pressing' is made in order to find out if the mastering and subsequent stampers worked out properly. The artist or producer has to sign off on this test pressing and that means the test pressing had no ticks and pops so neither did the stamper. As a result, most LPs are silent when purchased but you will see many audiophiles upset about ticks and pops in vinyl and even going digital to get away from them, when quite commonly its just a poor phono section that's causing it.
Still, one has to admit, the way the phono stage knows to make the tick happen every time the record comes around, is pretty impressive.
Still, one has to admit, the way the phono stage knows to make the tick happen every time the record comes around, is pretty impressive.
@millercarbon,

If you have a scratch, that's a different matter. I'm not talking about that but as a general rule, don't scratch your LPs :)
Another source of "noise" in LP playback is of course groove echo resulting from the pressing of the LP itself. What's so insidious about this is that it's worst in the quietest passages -- because here the mastering engineer probably thought they could pack the grooves and one leaks into the next. On an original Berglund Sibelius ASD3216 the continuous foreshadowing through long quiet passages rendered the disc almost unlistenable -- maybe late 70s quad pressings make this phenomena worse but in a highly resolving system you'll begin to notice it all over the place

@millercarbon,

 "Still, one has to admit, the way the phono stage knows to make the tick happen every time the record comes around, is pretty impressive."

Cruel, but funny. I guess you just couldn't resist popping that particular balloon.

Joking aside, this can be a big issue for some audiophiles.

There's no question that certain turntable/arm/cartridge combinations can handle vinyl imperfections in a far less intrusive way than others, eg the new Technics decks are said to be good in this regard.

If this is a side effect of tracking it should be expected that better decks will perform better in this regard. Lower rumble and noise should help too by improving the music to noise ratio.

There's also the question of siting as I've found that  certain platforms such as glass seem to enhance those pesky clicks and pops instead of reducing them.

Finally, its worrying that with such high prices for 180 gram vinyl here in the UK hardly a single LP is blemish free. We were surprised to find, during one vinyl playing session, that 1970s records seemed to be quieter and less click infested than most brand new records.

Not encouraging. I know its a pain but I would urge anyone affected to demand a swap or their money back. Probably the only way consumers can get the manufacturers to tighten up quality control.


On an original Berglund Sibelius ASD3216 the continuous foreshadowing through long quiet passages rendered the disc almost unlistenable -- maybe late 70s quad pressings make this phenomena worse but in a highly resolving system you'll begin to notice it all over the place
@folkfreak , this is called 'print-thru' and its an artifact of the master tape. Its not endemic to LPs.
Sorry @atmasphere I know what Print Through is, and thats another problem but if its in the master tape it’ll be on every version -- this is groove echo caused by modulation bleeding through from the adjacent track -- you can hear it both pre and post (one on the left, the other on the right) and it disappears completely on loud passages where the grooves are widely spaced -- luckily it’s rarely this bad. The 2 second lag (one revolution at 33RPM) is also a give away


I’m on the “no” side, but I still love my vinyl.  I play mostly vinyl. Sometimes I feel like hearing music, usually classical, without any noise at all.  I go to cds at times like that.  

this is groove echo caused by modulation bleeding through from the adjacent track -- you can hear it both pre and post (one on the left, the other on the right) and it disappears completely on loud passages where the grooves are widely spaced -- luckily it’s rarely this bad. The 2 second lag (one revolution at 33RPM) is also a give away
@folkfreak I've cut a few records and not experienced this. My lathe is a bit older- so it only has fixed groove spacing. We modified it so we can run variable groove spacing but either way never get print-though issues. When you look under a microscope at the grooves you can see why- unless you over cut the record the grooves are spaced from each other. Overcuts (grooves too close) often results in distortion. If you really are getting print thru from an LP, its poorly mastered!
Absolutely a mastering issue!

I suspect its a combination of
a) late 70s poor quality vinyl,
b) quad and
c) trying to cram too much on a side -- each side is running a good 25 min + with most of the loud music at the end of the side (esp on side 1 which is where the problem is worse)
I'll look to see if I have that record- i have a bunch of ASDs, most go unplayed. Was it only released as a 'quad' record? 
Yes -- six of the seven Berglund symphonies were recorded in Quad, they’re a great set but I cannot recommend #1 in this original pressing. 

https://www.discogs.com/Sibelius-Paavo-Berglund-Bournemouth-Symphony-Orchestra-Symphony-No-1-Scènes-...

Side 1 is >27 minutes which is pushing it for heavily modulated classical
I took a quick look and didn't find it, but that doesn't mean much- partly due to how the classical stuff isn't completely organized here. When I moved a couple years ago, I kind of back-binned several thousand records in one room and I go 'shopping' there periodically.
 I also have a 4th dimension problem- you ever experience that? You know you own a particular record, but you search repeatedly and can't find it. Sometimes, you buy another copy if it isn't crazy money. And then, one day, when looking for something else, the thing just pops into your hand?  I really think there is this dimension where records go sometimes.... 
Go ahead, make fun of me. 
:)
Yeah, I remember the SQ/QS stuff from back in the early-mid '70s, whenever that was. I started buying EMI ASDs first for Jacqueline Du Pre, then kinda bought 'em whenever I found them. 
Haven't listened to the Sibelius symphonies in quite a while. Somebody mentioned a Barbirolli of Mahler's 9th here.  I did find that, as a German Odeon. I'm not sure how old it is, it came from a collection that stopped in '91 when the owner passed away. Man, I should get back to listening to classical more. Time waits for no one. 
Mobile Fidelity UltraDisc One-Step with the new Super Vinyl is dead quiet. There are only 2 out right now that have the SuperVinyl. Marvin Gaye, What's Going on, and Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood.
The dynamic range on Vaughan's Stratocaster on Texas Flood on SuperVinyl is very impressive. Dead quiet.
@whart maybe it’s a black hole they fall into and then pop out again somewhere else? Before I went to the effort of cataloging everything I own on Discogs I used to do that all the time - I only have 1300 LPs however so can’t imagine having to go through many more, and Discogs classical coverage still has gaps. 

Anyway the main thing is that I’m listening to them now - might have to get the CD set of that Berglund series anyway just so I can get the most out of the performances! 
I would be perpetually trapped in 4th dimension without Discogs

not cleaning a new record ? They are loaded w trash
even and sometime especially QRP

i ran space grade clean rooms, I know trash !
Lyra is very happy with Last


I have and can listen to vinyl noise free. 
First you want to have a good quiet system from power cords and connects to turntable and components. Second, a good new vinyl record helps. But it doesn’t have to be new. Also whether the vinyl is new or not, clean it in an ultrasonic system. I use the Cleaner Vinyl system using distilled water and a little Kodak Photoflo. For the damaged used records I buy I play them through the SweetVinyl SugarCube SC-2. That removes pops and clicks. They are coming out with an update that will remove surface noise. But you can listen to vinyl noise free. 
Yes, it is certainly possible. But it’s not for the lazy or the gullible.

Whart and atmasphere discuss the issues and, characteristically, stick to the science. See the US cleaning threads for details on record cleaning. For what it’s worth, I agree about rinsing - pure water, and lots of it.
Agree with Captain_Winters. The   Mobile Fidelity Stevie Ray album on the new Super Vinyl is dead quiet with reduced  (eg absolutely no) groove noise. Up until that purchase, I had believed that other great Mobile Fidelity , Analogue Productions, etc albums were dead quiet. As in all things audio, you can never know what you are missing until you experience  there actually was another step to be taken. 
I was at AXPONA this past weekend. I heard several talks about vinyl cleaning by some experts, The folks from Kirmuss record cleaning systems have done a lot of research into how to best clean a record and backed up their information with detailed microscopic photos of the results. Perfect Vinyl professional record cleaning service also spoke about how they clean records. They get very good results too.Check out their websites for more complete information. In addition I spoke with the folks at Sweet Vinyl Sugar Cube digital pop and click remover. These units are work great and have gotten many endorsements including Mike Fermer. They have a lower priced unit coming out soon, at $1500 it is a little pricey but then lots of gear in this hobby is.As for my system I keep my records clean but I also have an internal pop and click remover in my brain, I just tune out the odd bits of noise, works pretty good.
Whart, If iso propyl alcohol removed the cement from your stylus you need to buy a different cartridge from a different manufacturer. That is just a liability statement from Ortofon of which I have had several and have never damaged one yet. A lot of the stuff stuck to styli will not be removed by simple brushing especially just back to front. If some phono stages accentuate tics and noise then they have a frequency response/correction curve issue.
Just because one copy of a disc is quiet does not mean the whole run will be. They always get noisier towards the end of the run.
Tomic, Last is just freon. Freon is a group of halogenated hydrocarbons used usually as refrigerants and propellants. Freon is a great solvent 
Whoops, hit the green button by accident!

for poler molecules like oils and it evaporates very quickly. If you use the evaporation test you will notice that there is absolutely nothing in last that will not evaporate. 
Theo, the Sugar Cube is like having sex with a rubber on. It may be useful if the record has AIDs but it is not needed at all for a virgin record.
mijostyn
... the Sugar Cube is like having sex with a rubber on. It may be useful if the record has AIDs but it is not needed at all for a virgin record
Actually, no, using the Sugar Cube component is not at all like having sex, with or without a prophylactic. Not even remotely.
@mijostyn- I haven’t used an Ortofon since the mid-70s. I will use a bit of alcohol applied to a pad type stylus brush, e.g. the "brush" type Ortofon and many others sell, but I usually only do it sparingly, not regularly, and more in cases of extremis-- for example, I had purchased an old, somewhat valuable record that, despite deep cleaning on the Monks and on an ultrasonic machine (I forget which one, an Audio Desk or KL- I’ve had both), yielded this nasty yellow gunk from the grooves. I immediately cued up; the record was returned to the vendor but the stylus needed to be degunked. That was an extreme situation.
I have in the past periodically used Magic Eraser or the Blu-stuff that Soundsmith recommends, but again, don’t do that constantly- and am always mindful of the forces applied to the cantilever in doing so.
I guess the cautionary note about alcohol could be read as lawyer boilerplate, but for the uninitiated, I’m not sure I’d throw caution to the wind.
I don’t disagree with pressing run variations in quality. There can be considerable variability sometimes among copies of the "same" record with the same deadwax indicia.
On phono stage and cartridge interactions accentuating noise, yes, taken to an extreme, you could conclude that the phono stage isn’t doing its job if it is not handling record tics--that was precisely why I referenced Ralph’s @atmasphere ’s views on this. I do load cartridges for best sound by ear and sometimes it isn’t at 47k.
I was sent some samples of needle drops done on a Sugar Cube. They sounded pretty good. I actually own copies of the early pressings of the records from which they were drawn, so I guess when I have the time and inclination, I could make a comparison, but that might show more about the difference between my more elaborate vinyl front end and the modest digital front end than the effect of the needle dropping software.
For what that’s worth, I have heard archival restorations in studio of very old transcriptions and acetates and despite the effects of digital processing, the sound was vastly improved by the work done by the archivist- the original was a noisy, tinny sounding record ( in one case it was Les Paul acetates cut direct to disc before he got his hands on a tape machine and in another case it was the original transcription discs that Benny Goodman had paid someone to cut for his personal use of that famous Carnegie Hall show back in the ’30s). The digitally processed signal, with painstaking adjustments made by the archivist in tiny time increments yielded a dynamic, very open and vivid sound that was no longer masked in noise. Perhaps extreme cases.
One last note of interest beyond your post- after spending the better part of the day with the one archivist who had the Benny Goodman transcriptions, I returned home to a large dinner party. I mentioned the Benny Goodman concert and one of our guests-- a man of age-- had actually attended it! (He was a youngster and his older brother, who was a big band fiend, had dragged him to that historic show).
regards,
bill hart

I've always hated vinyl noise and I've been on a quest for the last 30 years to minimize it. There are quite a few of my precious albums that are in pretty rough shape. I have tried various cleaning methods with mixed results but nothing has been successful in removing those ticks and pops that show up in the same place each time I play a record. I have a Burwen TNE 7000 (Transient Noise Eliminator) that does a pretty good job of removing the light ticks and some of the surface noise. I also have a Phase Linear 1000 Series II Noise Reduction system that lowers the steady noise level. These two units work reasonably well but at best they are a 50% solution. This gear show up on eBay regularly and they are not very expensive. Another option is an SAE 5000 Impulse Noise Reducer that is better at removing the bigger ticks and pops. There are lots of these available at modest cost and this is a low risk way to see if you like the effect.

I have read enough positive press about the Kirmuss system that I think I will take the plunge and get one. The biggest problem that I see is how time consuming their process is. There's no way I'm going to clean over a thousand records with this thing. That means I'm down to a Sweet Vinyl processor. I head one of these last year at AXPONA and I was blown away. They played a couple records that were in the same shape as some of my college vinyl and it was just short of a miracle. I'm going to get one of these as my next gear purchase. As for running my wholesome analog through a digital processor, all I can say is whatever digital nasties crop up are way less annoying than clicks, pops, and surface noise.
The elephant in the room, of course, is even if you eliminate all of the surface noise or can play vinyl that’s noise free, there is still the sticky wicket of the Signal to Noise Ratio for analog systems being much lower than the SRN for digital systems. In theory, anyway. 
Geoff, I think that the S/N thing is sometimes overstated, or at the very least not looked at in all of its parts. In LP replay systems one can hear information well below the noise floor. It’s not as if everything ends at the noise floor as it does with undithered digital where there is simply silence below the least significant bit.
Whart,
I use the alcohol only about once a month and it is iso propyl not denatured. If denatured alcohol got back to the coils it could really screw things up. As a solvent iso propyl is just one click stronger than water. On a regular basis I just use a standard stylus brush which I use maybe once every third listening session. Because I use a grounded sweep arm and a dust cover my stylus does not collect much dust. What I really need to get is one of those USB microscopes. The monthly alcohol cleaning is based more on tradition then whether or not the stylus and cantilever are really dirty. It would be nice to be able to see it more clearly.
Post removed 
Mijostyn- those digital microscopes- at least the cheap ones- are a little tricky. The 'frame' of view with high magnification is very limited- obviously, and care must be taken to mount the microscope in a way that it is aimed properly and doesn't move or get jarred. I use a lab stand and lab type clamps- but I didn't go all spendy on a $400 US one-- they were under 50 dollars US. Maybe the expensive ones are better. You can definitely see a lot more. 
For routine cleaning, i use various loupes- i did a little research on them, most of them are pretty bad, optically, and the claims of 20x-60x are kind of a joke. From what I gather, a jeweler's loupe should only be 10x and have triplet lenses-- I have several. One I use-- i'm getting old-- is a set of magnifying eyeglasses with illumination. It's only 3x, but sufficient for me to see the stylus and brush- i've been using a longer bristle than the pad type, as I mentioned. 
I guess this is all obsessive but I think we agree that keeping that stylus clean as well as the records is pretty essential. One thing I found on my Airtight Supreme, which is now out for rebuild, is that a lot of stuff collected on the top of the cantilever. This, even though I'm pretty fanatical about record cleaning and stylus cleaning (the latter within reason). I also think there's a lot of stuff-- dust, human skin shed, whathaveyou-floating around in our rooms. I have a dedicated room, no pets allowed, no smoking, etc. and decent central air con and heat with good filters. There's still an endless amount of 'housecleaning' to do in that room, which just adds to the stuff that can collect on a record during handling and play. 
regards,

Dear @tubelvr1 : " Noise " is an inherent part of the LP alternative and we have to learn to live with because try to fighth against it is a true losted battle way before just start it. After $$$$$ against it we still has it.

I clean my LP's and cartridge stylus in an old fashion way even that I own a VPI cleaning machine.

I just learned about and my " brain " was or is educated by it self to let the LP " noise " out of the listening sessions to the level that today I don't care about but this does not means I don't make a cleaning routine with the LP surface and cartridge stylus.

Why to spend $$$ and time testing this or that cleaning machines/systems if at the end just can't disappears for ever.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
OK, let me put it a different way. Digital has the potential for much greater Signal to Noise Ratio and Dynamic Range than analog. I really don’t foresee analog system getting any better than 70 dB. But digital systems can achieve 90+ dB (potentially). Obviously, the intentional overly aggressive dynamic range compression for digital and analog doesn’t help in terms of dynamic range. Of course, there are many sources of noise and distortion in any audio system, so a lot depends on the desire and ability of the person to achieve his system’s true potential.
Mint good pressing records are very quiet in my system, you can only hear master tape noise. I clean the stylus with Lyra before each play and never look at it under magnification. Okki Nokki machine with Audio Intelligent fluids cleans quite good, soak the records before vacuuming off. This takes some work but very simple and easy really.
Unfortunately, best pressings that I have are mostly far from Mint but I listen to them as opposed to inferior pressings in better condition.
As I've upgraded my analog system I've gotten a lot closer to "nearly completely quiet".  Most new and well cared for used records are pretty quiet on my system.  There's noise between tracks, which of course is there during the music as well, but there usually isn't a lot to distract me from the music.

I became complacent about cleaning records because most of them I either buy new or from a record store that cleans their records with a VPI.  I always cleaned records that I bought anywhere else but not the ones that were new or already cleaned.

I was listening with my girlfriend one night and the record I put on was really noisy.  She suggested that I clean it.  I told her it wouldn't do anything because I bought it from the record store that cleans the records, but I'd do it for giggles.  I was quite surprised when it sounded dramatically better.  I don't know if they missed cleaning that one or if the fluid I use worked better or what, but I've started cleaning all my records again with my VPI. 

I use a soft dry brush on the stylus (usually for every side) and then every few sides I use some fluid.   
I really don’t foresee analog system getting any better than 70 dB. But digital systems can achieve 90+ dB (potentially).
16 bit is -96 dB, but analog can and does get to -85 dB down. The reason this is so is not because all LPs are that quiet (people often mistake personal anecdote for all the media).

When the LP is mastered, the resulting lacquer can be so quiet that the phono preamp is the noise floor, regardless of the phono cartridge or preamp. That's pretty quiet and -85dB is being conservative. Most of the surface noise occurs in the plating/pressing process. QRP (which is the pressing plant set up by Acoustic Sounds in Salinas, Kansas) has modified pressing machines that are mechanically damped to eliminate any vibration as the vinyl cools. As a result, they can make pressings that are so quiet that their noise floor is also lower than the playback electronics.


Most digital releases are compressed in the digital domain using DSP. This is because there is an expectation it will be played in a car where there is a higher background noise. As a result, LP often has greater dynamic range.
@atmasphere great write up! 

I guess since mainstream music ( I just cant bring myself to call it Pop) is still the biggest seller digital compression will remain a serious factor.

At least until the mainstream listener invests in wide bandwidth audio equipment and starts driving quieter cars. Far too difficult to ask them to employ the loudness/ EQ button let alone adjust Bass and Treble controls - that's if there are any. 


Atmosphere, obviously some uncompressed LP can have have more dynamic range than overly compressed CDs. However, a lot of LPs are overly compressed, too. It’s difficult to make generalizations. Even SACDs and hi res downloads are being aggressively compressed.

It’s difficult to compare apples to oranges because of all the variables that affect the real S/N ratio in the room in a real system, including what domain the recording was made, vibration isolation, room treatments, RFI/EMI protection and all the rest. Optimizing S/N ratio is an art.

No matter how much you have in the end you would have had even more if you had started out with more.
Yes, you can listen to vinyl that is nearly noise-free.

Playback system influences and record condition aside, some vinyl does play black quiet. I clean and play 2-30 records a week before listing, mostly classical and jazz and I have noticed some patterns with regard to certain labels and unwanted noise. A lot of DGG/DG pressings from the 60-s-70’s play black quiet. Most Japanese pressings I have listened to are also CD quiet. Some UK pressings. It’s mostly the quality of the vinyl. I can spot a record that will play quiet- it has a certain type of shine- like a sheet of silky black glass.

There are a lot of factors that go into making a quiet vinyl surface. Vinyl pellet quality, processing variables, cleanliness of the vinyl (dirt and regrind) and the amount and type of plasticizer used to keep the vinyl soft. I believe, in general, that the Germans and the Japanese are better at formulating a quiet vinyl compound than most. Plasticizer has a half-life and some formulations age poorly. I have opened many sealed RCA Living Stereos and a large proportion play with surface noise- even after a good cleaning. I am convinced it is the way the vinyl compound ages with RCA pressings. DGG pressings of the same age and quality generally play CD quiet.

I also believe that cleaning is a worthwhile pursuit. I have tried many methods, chemistries, and machines over the years and removing unwanted noise and cleaning up the original signal is possible through a good cleaning. I don’t believe that a very expensive RCM is necessary. Most I have tried are not addressing the real issue- they only provide more convenience.

I am getting impressive results cleaning with just a mild surfactant/detergent and very pure water. No vacuums and no ultrasonics. I do it by hand with a material I found that provides the right amount of agitation without harming the vinyl surface. Enough said.

I can’t make damaged, deformed or worn groove walls magically come back to their original shape, but if there is something hiding in the groove, I can get it out. And it’s worth it to me. I am sometimes shocked that 50-60-year-old records that look hopeless and would only get a Fair to Good visual grade can be cleaned to play quietly. I’ve had friends ask me if I used an ultrasonic cleaning machine.

So, if unwanted noise bothers you, I would say, yes- quiet is possible.