more help with vinyl..

I posted on 11/02 and maybe one step closer to understaanding the complexity of tt's and music it produces. I have an old pioneer PL-516 with new belt & cartridge & 50 mostly used lp's. New Yamaha ax-596 amp with Paradigm speakers. 90% of my albums have much surface noise---pops etc.....newer stuff(mid-80's?) pop...that looks unplayed is ok. I bought the diskwasher help. 2 weeks ago bought a great Ellington album.'59...looked great ..did the dw system again & again...only got worse.! I bought 2 new albums...played on my Kenwood system (new-2 years old and Pioneer PL_516) great! The Ellington record sounds bad on both systems...took the record to dealer in Spokane...auditioned Pro-ject 1.2....had seen reviews sounded better but still bad. I bought the pro-ject 1.2 and will add a new cartridge (grado red) in about 6 months after I get this tt thing and vinyl figured out. I don't want to spend the $450 for machine but had hoped to save the 40 plus albums and restore them. It looks like I have to buy virgin or near mint records but most in second hand record stores look ok but still may sound poor (on my system) I right on this..? If this is right then I can only buy on internet or pay big $ for new records but at that cost maybe I should go for the convience of SACD, HDCD, etc. the cost differnce is not much over perfect LP"s. But once you hear great vinyl all your cd's sound so limited. Maybe the problem is I'm trying to do this on the cheap...? How do you get good vinyl sound for only $5-$10 per record...can you do this on my tt's...? HELP! What can I use on my records to restore sound..? anything..or give them to goodwill..? It doesn't seem to be a tt problem..a condition of my vinyl..? How do I keep my new ones from going bad...? I'm starting to get anal about this like you other me before it's too late...!

I have experienced the same problems with disk washers. I have a Nitty Gritty. They do help somewhat, but will not turn a scratchy record into a clean sounding one. Nothing will. Generally speaking, the noise on these records is a result of damage to the surface of the record and not just dirt.

I am into jazz and there is a growing amount of new vinyl releases at reasonable prices. There are also many used records available, but I only buy records touted as M- or NM. Even then I occasionally get burned. It's part of the game. Also, try to establish a good customer relationship with local used record dealers. My dealer will let me return any record for store credit if I'm not satisfied for any reason.

The biggest problem are the few titles which, for some reason, have attracted the attention of collectors. Up until about a year ago, it was impossible to get a decent sounding Sun Ra album for less than $100. Thankfully, most of his albums have been re-released and can be had for under $15 or $20. With some exceptions, re-releases will usually sound better and cleaner than the original and you don't have to pay for the collector value.

You have a perfectly fine turntable. Stick with it.

I'll give you my best attempt at answering this question and I hope it helps. The only thing I have going for me is my personal experience. Okay, my first turntable was a top-of-the-line Thorens. It's been so long that I forget the model number but it was purchased circa 1970, was equipped with Shures best MM cartridge and the best arm from Thorens. So, at the time, it was arguably top drawer stuff. My speakers were very revealing horns being driven by tube amps. Every new album (never considered buying used back then) had surface noise. As soon as the music began the sound was wonderful. The occasional tic or pop was pretty pronounced. By accident I figured out that a wall shelf would eliminate some of the noise. I then moved my speakers into another room leaving the electronics in the original room. The results were much better. All this was discovered by accident and, to be honest, I didn't connect any dots about the science behind the improvements. Remember, vinyl was the only game back then unless you bought reel to reel prerecorded tapes.

Around 1979 I auditioned an LP12 at my dealer. I couldn't believe how black a vinyl background could be until that moment. What I had discovered by accident and didn't care to learn from happened to the designer of the LP12. He went on to build a giant company that we have learned to hate despite his huge contribution to state of the art audio. But I digress.

I got cheap on the cartridge selection when I purchased my first LP12 and was disappointed with the surface noise as compared to the LP12 I auditioned. Yeah, my dealer tried to tell me this but I really thought that he was simply trying to get deeper into my pocket. Within a month I replaced my first purchased cartridge with a very expensive moving coil design and paid the price for a phono stage upgrade to my tube preamp. The result? Nearly dead silence with all my older vinyl that was so noisy before.

Tic and pops are of a very short duration when measured scientifically. A poorly designed turntable/arm will echo these momentary noises and actually amplify them making them seem much bigger than they really are. The case with the cartridge is similar when you talk about surface noise. Cheaper cartridges for whatever reason enhance the noise while the more expensive designs minimize it. I have no science to back this up, only experience.

In 1984 I purchased another LP12 since my first one could not be upgraded totally to the new standards. I own this table today and have no compelling reason to replace it. I know that there are better turntables to be had and if I somehow lost my LP12 I would likely buy one from another manufacturer. The point I would like to make here is that my turntable has proven to be the best audio purchase I have ever made and in the long run it has proven to have the highest value in my system.

If your used vinyl looks good and hasn't been played previously with a damaged stylus or poor alignment, it probably is good and the surface noise demon is likely your table/arm combination. DON'T DONATE THE USED ALBUMS TO GOOD WILL. Someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, you will get a newer, quality table/arm/cartridge that will wake up your entire vinyl library.

This isn't a cheap proposition but whatever you spend is going to be a great investment for the long haul. Don't give up and when in doubt, buy software.

Good Luck!
Disc Doctor (not related to Discwasher) is probably the cheapest cleaning alternative. You buy the fluid and the brushes and you become your own machine. It's time consuming, but it works. That said, there are times when the LP noise isn't related to dirt. Some are bad pressings, or just pressed on cheap noisy vinyl. You'll never know until you clean them.
>>>said above by Lugnut: "Tic and pops are of a very short duration when measured scientifically. A poorly designed turntable/arm will echo these momentary noises and actually amplify them making them seem much bigger than they really are."

This is very true. Not only a short duraton but at a lower level(db). One factor in design is called "ultrasonic overload capability." Clicks can excite the resonance of the vinyl/tip and overload the pre-amp with ultra sonic signals that create IM distortion. The pre does not have the headroom to handle it. In short, many pres ampify the clicks and pops more than the signal.

This is discussed in many places. I'm culling from Morgan Jones, Valve Amplifiers, 2nd ed, pg 353.

I remain,
A few thoughts for the budding vinyl fanatic. First the VTA or angle that the stylus meets the record at may need tweeking. Try taking an old, destroyed, record, remove the turntable mat and place the record directly on the metal platter, now place the turntable mat on top of the record. The VTA has changed in the direction that usually minimizes ticks and pops. If you can find one, RCA Dynagroove records are very thin and good for this purpose. If you like the sound then try it with two records, or cut out a round piece of cardboard. Anything will do. Next, tap the tonearm with the side of a pencil. About 2/3 of the way to the pivot point you will hear the sound change. This is the primary resonance point of the arm. Take a few rubber bands and tightly put them around the arm at this point. This will, again, remove some unwanted high frequency resonance. Now notice that there is a little rubber ring at the back end of the headshell where the collet meets up with the arm. Remove it!. This will actually take you back in the other direction, but the increase in coherence and pace will start to shift the part of the sound that catches your ear. Don't forget to adjust tracking force and fine tune it by ear when you make these changes and removing the rubber ring will actually change alignment. Oh, and play the table with the dust cover off or, at least, open.
I think a bunch of people recommended this to you in your earlier post, but still it's worth saying again--before you spend any more money on new equipment, cartridge, or even albums, BUY A RECORD CLEANING MACHINE. There are a couple of models available and they do turn up used here and on eBay. You will never get the most out of your record collection, new or used, and your equipment, budget or state-of-the-art, until you start vacuum cleaning your LPs! Of course cleaning won't remedy damaged LPs, but much surface noise can be reduced if not eliminated by even one sweep on a VPI 16 cleaning machine. It's worth the expense!!
Some albums will always sound bad, even when new. This is still a very cost effective way to aquire music. Last night I went to my local "Manifest" and picked up four albums for $18. One new "cut-out", two near mint and one $5 loser (good return policy). 18 bucks will buy you one cd at your average chain. On "88 Basie Street" the sound is so good I cant imagine doing better with the new cd, worth $18 alone.
As for surface noise, a used VPI 19jr is about the cheapest way I have heard to get that quiet background without spending a fortune. Easy to mod or upgrade too. Bad pressing will never sound that good but its still the cheapest way and you can find some real gems that make it worthwhile.
Check out gruv glide. It works very well for me on old used vinyl, and I buy a lot of old records.

Sc53 is right on with using a cleaning machine too!

Look under "G" in the manufacture listings here on Audiogon, and it will take you to their web page.

Great stuff, very reasonably priced.
It sounds like you're looking to get the most out of your current set up and are not looking for upgrade advice. With that in mind:
1) I'll second Viridian's suggestion to experiment w/ cheap/free tweaking and Phild's suggestion to get the disk doctor kit (which runs about 70 bucks). After cleaning, you should place the lps in new sleeves (AudioAdvisor sells pretty good sleeves--20$ for 50. Keep your stylus clean with the strike-strip on a book of matches--free! This is a hundred dollar investment that will get your lps _nearly_ as clean as an expensive VPI machine for a fraction of the cost.
2) Consider building some kind of isolation platform for your table. There are plenty of good ideas on the web.
3) Vinyl is a pain. Will your current tt be as quiet as your cdp after you've done the above? No. Will it sound different? Yes. Is the difference important and significant enought to justify the time, energy, and money you're sinking into analog playback? Have fun.
I was in that kitchen swallowing clicks and pops and the surface noise since I couldn't afford a good turntable. In that time I knew nothing about gruv-glide or discwasher. What I knew is to sweep the dust with anti-static brush, not to touch the playback surface(and even lead-in/out areas) with the fingers, keep the records in their sleeves(later-on i always changed them for the plastic ones). My first hello to the CD player was in 1992 and there was my first dissapointment when I said to myself I'd better hear a bunch of clicks and pops than listen the music so limited that even regular audio cassette sounded much better.
Nowdays I have an analogue setup that allowes to play records of early 60's or 50's found somewhere from garage sales or just simply thrown on the street with so minimal surface noise... Clicks are simply not to be heard since the needle digs the groove so deep that it kind-of bypasses scratches.
Call around to any used CD and LP store in your area and ask them if they have a record cleaning machine and if they can clean your record. They may charge a minimal fee. A local shop here in Atlanta cleans LPs for $2. If it still sounds bad, you have groove wear (deterioration) which is not visible to the naked eye.

Good luck and don't give up yet. Vinyl is really a lot of fun.

If you are using a MM cart. loading is critical for reducing surface noise. Capacitance in parallel with the inductance of the cart. results in a high freq. resonance around 19K for typical cart. and 200pf cap. Ultra-sonic noise will excite this resonance and produce ringing decays in the audible band. I removed the shunt capacitance from my Clearaudio Wood cart. and the surface noise was less bothersome. Cleared up the highs too.