I don’t know anything about using a DBX expander but reading the manual it seems like a sophisticated tone control. You may be able to reduce the volume level of the frequencies associated with "noise" but you’re also reducing the output of music within that same frequency range. Not sure about the DNF 1201A either; it does look interesting but there’s probably a reason why you don’t see this type of gear sold anymore. The only true (optimal) vinyl noise reduction system that I’m aware of is the Sweet Vinyl SugarCube, but it’s a spendy piece of gear.
I’m not sure that records inherently have a lot of noise because of how they’re recorded; at least not the records I listen to. You didn’t mention if the noisiest records were purchased used or have had a fair amount of record play; perhaps with a lower quality tonearm and cartridge or before you began cleaning them with an RCM? Groove wear is permanent so once damaged will always sound damaged. Just throwing out possibilities.
I found that using a Herbie’s Way Excellent platter mat with my Music Hall turntables (Pro-Ject tonearms) helped to reduce background noise. That and certain cartridges can either highlight or downplay groove noise, especially cartridges with a micro-line stylus, which tend to trace sections of the groove that haven’t been abraded as much. The drawback with a micro-linear stylus is that it may take a bit more finesse in setup to get it tracking right. And it’s not a universal solution for worn, noisy records.
The other thing to consider is the phono preamp you’re using. Certain preamps can highlight the frequencies and dynamic contrasts associated with groove noise. While the phono stage in your Yamaha integrated may be fine, that amp appears to be designed more for home theater than vinyl playback. Vinyl was all but forgotten when that amp was popular. If you have a way to compare your phono preamp to another phono preamp you might find a different phono stage helps to reduce background noise. Speculation only.
Other than the Herbie’s mat I don’t have a definite solution to reducing groove noise, just a few things to consider. Perhaps someone with direct experience with your DBX expander, 2M blue cartridge, and Yamaha amp will chime in.
The DBX dynamic range expander is exactly what it sounds like. It increases the perception of dynamic range. The 3BX does so with separate dynamic range controls for treble, midrange and bass.
Since you have an acrylic platter, you may want to try Herbie's Audio Lab's "grungebuster mat". The "way excellent" is for aluminum platters.
Check your cartridge alignment. I can attest, from personal experience, that it does make a HUGE difference in the quality of your sound and the tracking ability of your cartridge. Try calling local audio establishments to see if they have "a guy of gal" who is an expert at set-up.
Your records are not noisy because of how they were recorded, unless there is something very unusual about these specific records. Are you playing only picture disks?
Records can be noisy for a few reasons:
Excessive wear, playing on a junk record player, or playing when dirty can cause damage making them noisy.
Bad cartridge setup can emphasize surface noise, and some phono preamplifiers can also exaggerate noise.
Bad recording or vinyl, especially on picture disks.
I'll add to what JPerry said. Some pressings are just noisy, even some audiophile pressings can come out noisy, I've returned or exchanged a few. That just comes with the territory. For example I just received a Diana krall record that sounds nice and quiet except for one spot where some foreign debris was pressed into the vinyl, so I will return it. I have a Mazzy Star record purchased New that is noisy all over.
About your table and cart, both have good reputations for the price as far as music reproduction goes but may not be the best reducing surface noise. I went from a technics 1700 (using shure, audio Technica, and ortofon carts) to a clearaudio concept (using concept MC and maestro v1 and v2 carts) to a Nottingham 294 (concept MC cart currently). Each step up has moved noise lower and lower. Phono preamps are the same way, some will be noisier than others.
I have the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB with a Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge. I believe it is the same as your setup, with the exception of a built-in speedboat speed control. I don't hear any unusual surface noise from the TT. I do hear a bit of what I consider to be motor noise, but it is minimal and does not affect my enjoyment of listening to LPs on this TT.
If the noise in emanating from the TT, I think you may have a setup problem. Since your Yamaha DSP-1A is an early digital HT Processor/Amp, is it possible that the noise you are hearing is not coming from the TT, but is emanating from another location in the processor/amp? How does it sound with other sources, especially analog sources?
I'll tell you what...You can spend a lot of money on more electronics that add un wanted color to your sound, or you can buy a cheap can of Gruv Glide this spray will kill all static and lowers back round noise greatly. This stuff also protects your stylus from wear. It works!
I have also used Gruveglide, and it seems to work as advertised. The biggest improvement though, came with building my own Ultrasonic Record Cleaning machine. Fairly easy to build, and inexpensive, at $200 including the Ultrasonic cleaner.
If you are interested, look up the design by BBtx at DIY Audio. A complete list of parts and photos are available for free. You really can't go wrong. Best of luck,
islandmandan and terry9 have it right.
If you have a TT you`ll eventually/inevitably end up with an US cleaner....period
Has anybody else noticed how many VPI RCMs seem to be popping up on the 'bay ??
Yeah...there`s a reason for that, so either buy one outright or have fun and save a few dollars and put one together yourself.
You`ll be listening to records that you thought were hopelessly noisy/unlistenable and you`ll be hearing so much more in records you thought you knew so well.
Hello all. Thanks for all your suggestions, there is a lot to consider here. And three noise issue is just with certain recordings which could be how they were recorded/pressed or they are worn.
Does anyone think a device like the Burwen DNF 1201A is redundant with my DBX 3BX-DS?
Interesting suggestion about the Gruv Glide. When I first collected records 30 years ago, I used a record preservative called Soundguard (similar to another product called Last). There were mixed reviews if it affected music quality. It was more to make records last longer.
How many of us have left these pages?
Reading these responses has left me scratching my head.
Azimuth adjustment is the most important of all the cartridge tweaks. Until your azimuth is perfect, everything else is meaningless.
cspiegs, start reading past threads about azimuth. Even if you don't have the adjustment on your tonearm, there are numerous 'tricks' you can use.
islandmandan and terry9 have it right.I don't know if it's inevitable, but I agree that the best path to good LP sound includes an ultrasonic cleaner. No amount of GroovGlide or other goop can substitute for the results you can get from a truly clean record.
Your records are not noisy because of how they were recorded, unless there is something very unusual about these specific records.
I agree. Can you provide more info about your record collection? Are you playing used store-bought vinyl, new vinyl, or records that you played on a previous system?
I started buying LP's in the 70s using a middle of the road Dual TT and Shure cart and I they still sound pretty good to me with my upgraded system. I took very good of my vinyl and very few records have noise problems recorded-in from the manufacturer.
Noise and limited dynamic range (and a few other issues) are inherent to the vinyl medium.This statement is inaccurate.
LPs generally are mastered with less compression than CDs, for the simple reason that there is no expectation that an LP might be played in a car. This applies to non-CD digital tracks as well.
LPs only have limited dynamic range if the label or engineer is being lazy because sometimes it takes some engineering time to sort out how to do a cut properly without compression. Its not inherent in the medium any more than Redbook; although the noise floor is considerably more variable in practice.
(FWIW I run an LP mastering operation. Our equipment is fairly stock, Scully lathe with Westerex 3d cutterhead and 1700 electronics. Typically lathe cuts are so quiet that the playback electronics are the noise floor.)
I am very used to playing LPs without a tick or pop on the entire side. When people listen to my system they often ask me if I'm actually playing digital while appearing to play LPs since there are no ticks or pops.
Here's a tip on ticks and pops: a lot has to do with stability (how likely an oscillation might occur) in the phono preamp. If the preamp is unstable, a tick or pop that would be inaudible because of its short duration or amplitude can become exacerbated by the phono preamp by oscillating briefly.
The design issue best I can make out seems to have a lot to do with stopping resistors in the circuit since it has nothing to do with feedback or EQ technique (IOW, preamps that employ active EQ can be just as stable as a preamp using passive EQ). Most inexpensive Japanese designs I've seen don't employ stopping resistors anywhere in their designs and most of them are unstable.
A stopping resistor is a series resistance at the input of a transistor or tube and is there to prevent oscillation. They interact with the input capacitance of the active device to create a low pass filter (usually at ultrasonic or radio frequencies). For this reason they can also make the circuit slightly lower noise.
So we have an entire generation of audiophiles that grew up thinking ticks and pops and noise are inherent in LP reproduction.
One other thing: if the phono preamp is unstable and is otherwise able to work with low output moving coil cartridges, it will be seen that loading of the cartridge is critical to obtain the best sound. This is because LOMC cartridges can inject RF noise into the preamp- imagine what that can do if the preamp is already an unstable design!
It is this fact that has given rise to the idea that LOMC cartridges need to be loaded for best response. They do not- the loading is only needed if the preamp is unstable.
Once you have tried all the passive adjustments, tweaks, mats, VTA fine tuning, etc., if you still want to reduce noise, you can start with filters and signal processors like you have done, but they will affect the sound in ways you might not want, even as they reduce noise.
If you are referring to the noise like clicks and pops, I can recommend the Sweetvinyl Sugarcube. I am a beta tester for the SC-2 ($3000 list), and it removes abouit 95% of the clicks and pops without altering the underlying signal in any way that I can hear. The SC-1 ($2000 list) will do this as well. However, you should know that removing the clicks and pops makes the record's surface noise (the steady state/rythmic hiss or groove noise) more apparent than without the click and pop filtering. Overall, I still vastly prefer the results of the click and pop filtering, but I was surprised by how much more detail and surface noise are revealed once the clicks and pops are gone.
Sweetvinyl has hinted that they are working on additional processing that will reduce surface noise, but this is a complicated algorythm, and may be available in the future, but not free of charge, as a downloadable software upgrade. I think that means it may only be available as an upgrade on the SC-2, since I am not sure the SC-1 has software that can be upgraded via the web.
It’s not nonsense until the OP defines what type of noise he is hearing. Is it from improper setup of his analogue, or simply tape hiss or surface noise of this medium that he finds objectionable. Maybe he is comparing the noise levels of analogue vs. digital. And we don't know if they are new vinyl pressings or used records.
@geoffkait - Feel free to amuse yourself. Here’s the link with miscroscope picture evidence:
And there’s this thread:
In support of your idea, there is this:
So, you can take your chances depending on who you wish to believe. Better still, use an old cheap cartridge you don’t care about with an LP that you don’t care about and experiment for yourself.
Assuming the cartridge is properly setup (if not get this fixed before anything else), culprits should be a dirty album which is solved by something like the Record Doctor V or similar, hum from your interconnects or dirty power which is harder to fix. I have dirty power and a good power conditioner helps but improving the ground at the circuit breaker and better wiring can be a big help. This could be pricey however.
I agree with 'Atmasphere"--also, total inertia of the revolving mass affects noise. My Avid Diva 2 sp (15 lb platter) naturally has a pretty high background noise-only 12 mNm of torque, pretty small. I added Teres Audio 'verus' high torque drive system-somewhere close to 200mNm, and the noise all but disappeared. I later upgraded from a Moon 5.3 phonostage to a Whest ps30rdt-special edition, and the background became BLACK. NO NOISE is not the same as actually hearing BLACK.
@cspiegs, When you have the Yamaha set to phone; but the tonearm is in it's rest do you hear noise? Is it a hiss or a hum? Have you had this issue since you got your TT/cart? Did you have it with a previous set-up?
Also, no matter what method one uses to wet clean LPs; the solution does matter. A lot. When I started using a solution of Triton x100, HepaStat, and alcohol my old LPs sounded much better. Better than using commercial solutions and LAST.
@mattmiller & @gasbose , Good to hear that GruveGlide does the trick. I am not impressed with LAST and have been looking for a replacement for Sound Guard for decades.
As far as phono preamps go, I have gotten pretty "black" background on MM carts with a Schiit Mani ($129) and on MCs with an Emotiva XPS-1 ($180?); but the my integrated is very black to begin with. I've moved up to a Musical Surroundings Phonomena II; but I was not motivated by surface noise. @atmasphere , would you know if any of these have stopping resistors?
You should watch the video below. It is long but quite enlightening. I just installed a Sound Smith cartridge and the surface noise on records that I thought were inherently noisy, all but disappeared.
I was able to lower surface noise by a pretty large amount by replacing stock VPI Classic feet with GAIA II feet. I thought things were pretty well isolated on a 3" maple block with isolation pads in each corner. Obviously, pops and clicks are still present but the static/rumble type of groove noise was reduced by 10dBs on average (measured a lead-in groove before and after). So isolation can help with perceived background noise. And there are inexpensive ways of isolation if you don't care how it looks.