surface noise reduction

My Ortofon MM Red cart seems to emphasize surface noise.  Does anyone know of a decent cartridge [under $1000 please] that tends to reduce surface noise, particularly slight scratches?  Yes, I use a record cleaner. 


Before spending on a different cart, try cleaning your record. There are several good cleaning systems that you can use on your turntable without spending of a cleaning machine. DiscDoctor makes such a product.

Second, clean your stylus. That’s easy and inexpensive. (See Soundsmith site for instructions.)

Since you’re using a MM cartridge, I can’t make any suggestions in that area except to consider acquiring a phono stage that can handle BOTH MM and MC cartridges to give you more flexibility in cartridge selection.

I do not know how that little piece of thread got stuck to the stylus.  I do clean the stylus with that little brush in a bottle, the thread didn't come off with that.  So I pulled on it and it came off cleanly.  Records sound like they should now.

Check out the new Schiit Skoll phono pre amp. Someone did a comparison of the Mani 2 vs the Skoll and posted some vinyl rips over on the schiit section of and the skoll had significantly lower surface noise.

Then there’s just plain old crappy vinyl, recycled from old kiddie pools and dominatrix wet suits…

Saddest moments of my vinyl listening life were Mark Hollis’ solo release and the surface noise made it unlistenable. This had only sat around for a few years somewhere but I got to asking around and there were a LOT of people with the same problem. 

Second, worst of the two, was an LP my son had cut for me for my retirement, a collection of songs we listened to while he was growing up. He’s a multiinstrument musician - drums, percussion, xylophone, bass, guitar, ukulele primarily - and I exposed him to a LOT of stuff on roadtrips and here at home he’d never have heard otherwise. So he found this company that makes vinyl records and, while the audio is pretty good, the sound floor is on the ceiling unless I use the Ortofon 2M and even at that it’s pretty loud. The company apologized and sent out another LP, no charge, and while the sound level is better side to side, the white noise is just as bad. 

This isn’t a case of a 10 year old Lumineers LP or a 60 year old Miles Davis in person from the blackhawk I own both of which, having been stored in PAPER that broke down to adhere to the vinyl took several US cleanings, hand-scrubbings and finally a good Shibata nude stylus to clean out the grooves; or at least it seems that way. Still noisy.

Curiously, the Hollis LP I’ve listened to with a Benz Micro Glider SL cartridge and an Ortofon 2M black - after all that work it’s marginally listenable with the Benz, the Ortofon 2M, fuggeddabouddit.  However, put it under an Ortofon Cadenza black - less noise than the Benz.

I’d read a couple years ago about this phenomenon - line contact styli “cleaning” the records - with respect to a Hana SL cartridge and, having experienced it first hand, think the stylus shape and setup make a major difference. With an SME V tonearm my “setup” is limited but I get good results.

There’s also the wood glue treatment I’m still pretty skeptical about, but you can look it up on youtube. Purportedly effective at removing adherent particulates, I think I have an antique Sonny and Cher LP I’d be willing to sacrifice to this method if for no other reason than the hopes it ruins the LP and forces me to recycle it.😉

Very old LPs that you’ve likely purchased second or third hand were almost certainly played many times with cartridges using spherical or elliptical or worn out styli of either type. When you then play those LPs with a modern cartridge using an exotic stylus shape of any kind, it’s likely that new stylus rides differently in the grooves, reading a more virginal path. This is the most likely reason for the perception that one cartridge is inherently quieter than another in terms of surface noise. That, plus elements of setup such as VTA. Beyond that, it’s phono stage design and cartridge loading.