Surface noise

I seem to have noticeable "noise" in between tracks on vinyl, especially at louder volumes. Should I try adjusting VTF? The system is a Luxman PD-441 turntable, Denon DA-307 arm, Grado Gold cartridge. Everything is pretty well isolated from vibration on a sand filled stand which is on floor spikes and the Luxman is sitting on vibrapods. VTF is probably near 2 grams right now. Thanks for advice.
I see that recommended VTF is 1.5 grams, so perhaps you should try lowering the VTF. Also check your alignment and azimuth.
I'm assuming that this is not your first time setting up a turntable, so I'll assume that the records are clean and have played w/o noise in another setup to rule out these as the source of your noise.
I don't feel that 1.5gms is too light. Deep down your grooves may be just dirty OR your LPs are worn. Are you using a RCM (record cleaning machine w/a vacuum)?
Yes, I clean with Record Doctor vacuum and fluid every time. Noise is there even on brand new 180 gram vinyl. I just checked set up with Hi Fi News set up record and everything seems fine except that track which they explain is pretty severe. On that track I do hear the warble. I'll adjust VTF and see what happens. Thanks for now.
What do you use to align your Grado cartridge?
I used that device that was included in the Hi-Fi news set up record. That was to double check what I had originally used, which was some download that I printed out several years ago. Wonder if my stylus is wearing down. Would that make for more noise in between tracks? I used the Shure gauge for the VTF.
Do you have surface noise on all you LP's of just some?
All. Just between songs, not during the song.
I dont hear any surface noise at all on any of my turntables on new 180g albums, so I suspect something is going on with your cartridge. How old is it. do you have another to try?
Well, it's at least 4 or 5 years old. I wish I could take a stab at how many hours, but I'm afraid I wouldn't be close. Maybe 1,000 hours tops? I do have another older Grado to try and I will this weekend when I get home. Just to describe the sound I hear, it is kind of a hollow sound, not scratchy, and only in between song tracks at higher volumes. Maybe I'm making too much out of this?
Is it a Whooshing sound? What is your other equipment. could it be tube rush? Does it change in pitch? perhaps bearing noise, have you lubed it?
Not really a whooshing sound. I've also changed the phono section tubes around with no difference (Rogue Audio 66 Magnum pre-amp). Your comment about the bearing noise sounds interesting. The tonearm does seem to deliver a decent amount of noise through the system when I tap on it with my finger. I think that's why I've described it as kind of a hollow sound, but clearly the sound is of the needle running over the flat vinyl in between tracks when I have the volume up pretty high. I have not done any kind of lubrication, etc to the table. The last time it was gone through was by Soundsmith over 10 years ago. What should I try to lubricate and how?
Have you done anything to load the cartridge? Grados seem to like about 8000-12,000 ohms.
Loading the cartridge? Now you've lost me.
Problem solved !!!!! Thanks to everyone for the advice. All I did was bump the VTF to 2 grams from 1.5. No more "noise" in between tracks. Should I start to tweak it down a bit until I hear the noise again?
Grados don't seem to like excessive tracking forces. I would not go above 1.7 grams.

As per loading. There is a lot of discussion about loading MC cartridges (most of it bogus- loading MC cartridges is all about energy at RF frequencies rather than audio frequencies- there are other threads regarding this matter).

But MM cartridges should be loaded too. 'Loading' is the act of putting a load (usually a resistor) across the output of the cartridge (or input of the preamp). Because they are higher impedance than MC cartridges, the loading value is much higher as well. Like I mentioned before, Grados like something in the neighborhood of 8K-12K ohms. Your stock phono section will have something around 47K. This value will allow most MM cartridges to 'ring' (distort). By loading them, the ringing is reduced or eliminated and you will find the presentation much smoother, often more 3D, with less surface noise yet the same bandwidth (assuming that you got the loading value correct).

If the loading value is too low, the highs will suffer and you will loose output.
Any suggestions on what resistor I should try as far as make/model and where I can get one?
Thanks again,
surface noise is caused by the following phenomena

1) incorrect VTA, so that the sylus makes incorrect angled contact with the groove
2) signal induction into a MM cartridge from a ferrous platter
3) stylus wear forming flat wear spots that interfere with tracking of recorded vibration in the audible range
4) incorrect stylus pressure (usually too low)
5) aging of rubber like materials in some types of stylus suspensions

In addition, incorrect antiskating can cause a channel imbalance of surface noise

The signal to noise ratio of a properly setup, functioning catridge is determined by
a) the catridge manufacturer design
b) the ability of the TT to prevent micro transient vibrations from interfering with accurate stylus vibration tracing; micro vibrations cause an averaging/reduction in dynamic range between softest and loudest passages on vinyl playback.
Davide256, you missed one- design of the phono section can affect ticks and pops quite a lot.

Bdunn, the first thing to do is to determine the value that you need. There are several ways to do that, you could get a stereo potentiometer, wire it as a rheostat, put that across the inputs of the phono section and dial it in. Radio Shack makes a 100K stereo potentiometer that would work nice for that.

Or you could start with a resistor value and see what effect it has. This can be a little trickier as you have to change the resistor to change the loading. That's why I like to use the pot.

But since you have a Grado, I already know that most of them like something in the 8-12K range. Your input resistance of the preamp is 47K, which has to be taken into account. So I would get a pair of resistors that are about 17-20K to use as loads.

Now some preamps don't allow you to do this easily and others do. Its been my experience that you don't want to interrupt the phono cable on its way to the preamp with an additional connector, but that would be one way to do it- get an RCA to RCA adapter and install the resistor inside it. Otherwise you might have to install the resistor across the input connection of the preamp. Of the two the latter is preferred as long as the installation isn't difficult.
given the stylus age and gradual onset of symptoms a prudent person would replace their stylus at this point rather than continue down a path that could be damaging your LP's due to worn out stylus or hardening of the suspension damper. But who am I to say, I only did this for a living in the 80's
Davide256, so did I, from 1974 until now... but I was not discrediting your comments, FWIW. Simply adding to them.
Thanks again for all of the advice. The increase in VTF certainly provided the improvement I was looking for. I'm just going to back off of the 2g setting and see if I have the same luck at 1.7g. I am also replacing the stylus, as it is probably time. Will let you know the results.
Regards, Brian.
Increasing VTF seems counter intuitive, but one usually gets better tracking, smoother playback and ultimately will wear out LP's lesser if you edge towards the high end of VTF for you cartridge. Much of the clicks and pops one hears on old, used vinyl is from mistracking cartridges from previous owners of the records.

In the late 70's Shure was on a kick to lower VTF but most cartridges and especially today will be better at a slightly higher VTF.

NOT DJ SCRATCHING LEVEL OF COURSE :-) But using the range as a guide and adjusting a touch higher than say the middle point.
I suggest you test azimuth. Use the Cardas LP or similar with 1khz through the left and then right channel. Listen for crosstalk in the opposite channel. If one channel has more crosstalk, do the following. Using a hole punch, punch out a small round shim. Place this shim on the side of the cartridge opposite the weak channel.

Sorry, the Bordeaux calls must go now.
One thing no one mentioned that makes a big difference in both tracking and surface noise is a clean stylus. A good stylus brush is a must. It is also important to wet the brush. Dry brushing is just not that effective. I use a drop of my record cleaning fluid on the stylus brush and then clean the stylus with that. It is very effective. With optimized tonearm geometry and a clean stylus, I get good clean tracking all the way to the end of the groove. When I start hearing a little edginess near the end of the record I know to clean the stylus. Imagine sweeping the floor with a broom, now imagine wet mopping the floor. Which one is cleaner?
I also agree that setting VTF to the upper spec limit for that particular cartridge is best. When I set my VTF with my test record, the best tracking results are at the higher settings. Don't forget to recheck the VTA and HTA after adjusting VTF. (love the acronyms)