What do you think causes the crackle and clicks we hear?

I think pops are easier to understand but clicks and crackle noises, what causes this?
Rice krispies. Well technically its holons in the morphic fields emanating from the writing on the box of rice krispies. http://www.machinadynamica.com/machina43.htm

Either that or static electricity. However you must admit static electricity is nowhere near as word-salady as holons and morphic fields.
Bad vinyl surfaces with pressing bubbles and imperfections and some vinyl is not as good as others.Pressing quality also comes into noise on surfaces.
For another explanation do a search right on Agon for

Atmasphere phono overload.
" Rice krispies"
Yea, but only if you add milk. Come to think of it, amps might do that too if milk was added ... ;-)
It's usually segregated as clicks vs. crackle with crackle being much smaller and more numerous clicks.  They result from poor quality pressings and/or poor handling.  I believe Atmasphere draws a link between how audible and annoying they are with phono stage overload characteristics.
Will someone kindly provide a link for the  "Atmasphere phono overload" thread, I'm unable to find the relating thread.
Many thanks, Anthony
I'll take crackles and clicks over what I term "buzzy farts" - you know, the annoying *BRZZZT" noise you occasionally hear on some LPs.  Never could figure out the cause.
I believe Atmasphere draws a link between how audible and annoying they are with phono stage overload characteristics.

When really its a function of moving mass and resonance.

@onhwy61 , That’s my understanding too. Furthermore, I agree with Ralph that it’s one of the main causes, but I find that the cleanliness of the surface matters too. Perhaps that’s because I play a lot of old, used records. I use 80KHz US to clean, and get better results thereby.

Atmasphere has a powerful record of being right on this forum. He’s also a prominent expert and manufacturer who is generous with his advice and always civil, unlike some hereabouts.
Buy old records in great shape, clean them fully, use a Zerostat gun or other static remover, finish with carbon fiber anti static brush. You will have no more noise.
Nitty Gritty, Last, First, Carbon Fiber brush, ZeroStat gun.
Blah blah honk honk.
After 36 years, and now retirement making breakfast cereal. Rice Crispys as a matter of fact. We ran that stuff seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Keep buying them, you will be helping my union pension ... LOL
If you play an early pressed well cut platter the noise is minimized. For mo so most records available for sale the only way to minimize noise real time is an expander, Park's Magic or spend up for a Sugar Cube.
dirt. I have found DCC, Analogue Productions, Umbrella D2D and Sheffield Lab D2D pressings are VERY quiet. ANY record I purchase - new or used - gets cleaned in my CleanerVinyl RCM. Some of them multiple times. 
Zero Stat lol.  Unfortunately, I see absolutely no improvement when using.  I'd say best used as a paperweight, only its not heavy enough.  The maple shade static draining brush looks intriguing.... cheaper too!
I have the same issues with these old records I am cleaning using the SpinClean record washer.  Most show a lot of improvement in amount of noise, but there are certain records that continue to pop and crackle.  I clean them a second time and not much improvement.  I was chalking it up to excessive grove wear — I know that the equipment they were played on decades ago was not very good; neither was the care and cleaning (some were my teen party records).  I hadn’t thought about static electricity.  I will need to look into that.

On another thread, I asked for advice for reducing the warp in one record that I have. I think it was affected by heat somehow.  My idea was to use a clothes iron to heat the record and press it flat.  I laid the record on a paper record sleeve on a flat surface, then placed a microfiber towel over the record and then applied the iron (no steam).  I went slowly and started out with low heat.  The warp decreased but not enough to play it.  So, I gradually upped the heat and it was still hard to get the record flat — If anything, it warped more on other parts of the record.  I think it would take a special device that could apply heat and pressure equally over the entire record surface all at once.  Otherwise, it just continues to warp in a different way than when you started.  I was looking forward to hearing those island rhythms too!
The Zerostat has always been a pain to use, and only marginally effective. I replaced it with a Nagaoka Kilavolt No. 103 (no longer in production) years ago, and now also have a Furutech Destat III. Both are much better than the 'stat.
even if you have a turntable with acrylic platter and there is humidity.

In my case, most of the records that I play are new re-issues. I use an anti-static fiber brush and zerostat, but these are only marginally effective. The VPI vacuum doesn't get much work unless I've picked up used records from the local bookstore.
I have noticed that the clicks and crackles are mainly on my TW Acustic especially when I was using the copper mat on it, the issue is lessened a great deal since I've gone with a different mat on this table but still present. The copper mat doesn't seem to be problematic on the two Garrards though. My guess is the TW setup is just more prone to static for some reason. It could also be a tonearm/cartridge resonant issue, but I haven't narrowed it down yet.
I don't think phono overload is the case here since the noises were present with a Pass Labs, a Jasmine, and a King/Cello phono stage.  

Actually, groove wear does not cause pops or ticks. It slows groove velocity. Dust ground into the surface does that along with static and overload. This is a problem we have all learned to live with. It just goes with the territory. If you don't like it go digital. 
MC you really need to go digital. This stuff is getting to your head or whatever you call it:)
I think pops are easier to understand but clicks and crackle noises, what causes this?
Some of course are caused by damage to the LP surface and static electricity. But not all. Many ticks and pops are caused by radio frequency overload of the phono section. The RFI is caused by the operation of the cartridge, which has inductance, interacting with the capacitance of the tonearm interconnect cable.

Many phono sections simply are not designed to deal with the RFI generated in this manner! So they overload and you get a lot of ticks and pops. When I say 'many' I mean most.
would disagree on static discharges, and some of the other ideas.

Have looked into this for a long time and taken many microphotographs of LP / vinyl groove surfaces.

first you need to understand what is  mixed in with vinyl pellets before the record pressing plants ever sees them. Many think mold releases are used. Have not found that to be the case.

But during PVC pellet processing, Calcium carbonate is added to almost all vinyl formulas during formulation as a processing aid for all the manufacturing steps, from extrusion, to pelletizing to molding.

during the record pressing cycle, the calcium carbonate is still in suspension in the PVC vinyl matrix during the heating cycle. During the cooling cycle, the rapid change in temperature causes the Calcium carbonate to migrate to the the cooler surface, collecting in the bottom of every groove.

As the stylus tracks the groove, the bottom of the stylus is hitting the tops of these larger particles. Want evidence? Take a look at the bottom side of your cartridge. you will likely see some fine dark white to light tan tiny particles clinging everywhere. these are tiny calcium carbonate particles the stylus removed from the bottom of the groove.

Have looked at over 300  records under a microscope and have never found one without the deposits.

Removing the calcium carbonate is the key to removing ticks and pops, and general groove noise. and its tough to do. But one done, its amazing how much better your vinyl will sound.

it can be removed with an ultrasonic machine as well as a vacuum type machine (VPI or nitty gritty).

Both require numerous passes on each side to remove the particles.

But once removed, your records will get amazingly quiet and the resolution and imaging will improve much more than swapping in a new phono cart.


Johnss, I have looked at many new records under a binocular microscope and have seen no such residue. The occasional finger print, some dust but no calcium carbonate. You see these round crystals in horse urine. I look for calcium pyruvate crystals in human joint fluid all the time differentiating pseudo gout from gout ( uric acid crystal arthropathy)
Uric acid crystals being negatively birefringent needles versus thepositively birefringent rhomboids of calcium pyruvate. 
The mold release agent is a very small part of the PVC additive mix. Additives such as plasticizer, the mold release agent, carbon black and some other stuff make up 2.5% of record PVC mix. It is in the mix. Not on the surface. 
Contrary to popular mythology generated by the record cleaning industry new records do not require any special cleaning as long as static is neutralized and incidental dust is swept out of the way. Only poorly kept used records require cleaning. I personally do not buy used records. I can certainly understand using a record cleaning machine on them though. But instead of all that record cleaning stuff I would rather spend the money on new records. My perspective may be different as I have been collecting records for over 50 years and have a fine stash of vintage records. 
MC you really need to go digital. This stuff is getting to your head or whatever you call it:)

Good one. Its just hard sometimes to take this stuff seriously. I mean it is after all records we’re talking about.

Its like the guys on Rennlist asking why do my brakes squeal? Why can’t Porsche make a car the brakes don’t squeal? VW can. Mercedes can. Why not Porsche? What is so hard?

And there’s really only two ways to go. One is a deep dive into brake compounds, calipers, temperature ranges, kinetic energy, on and on. The other is dude, its a Porsche. If you absolutely can’t deal with it go ahead, drive the Beetle.

Its static electricity, dirt, dust, wear- all those and more. If you absolutely can’t deal with it, there’s always the Beetle.
I can’t answer the why. I don’t know what causes the clicks and pops. I do know that a good cleaning helps. I use an RCM and I do a rinse and vac after using a cleaner. I use pure distilled water to rinse even though I’ve been told the water molecules are too big to get in the grooves. All I know is it works. And I will do just a water rinse if there is a lot of static on a record. The moisture kills the static. A Zerostat works well for me if the static isn’t terrible. I’ve noticed some of them work better than others. I think there quality control was never great. And there is a proper way to use it that I see most people get wrong. Youtube has plenty of examples of how to do it right. I still have some LPs with noise I can’t get rid of. I either live with it or I find a better copy. 

If I could post photos I would, I have over 300 JPG files of groove images and all show carbonate in the bottom of the groove. so not sure what grooves you have looked at.
All I am doing is trying to remove some of the mystery behind LP cleaning and show more that getting clean LPs requires a bit of work if you are using VAC or US type cleaners, and can be done.
Have not tried the sink wash type cleaners so can't offer any insight on them.

If anyone wants to do a simple test, its quite easy. can be done on a vac machine (VPI or NG). use your favorite cleaning solution, apply it to LP. spread evenly across the LP surface.  Let is sit for 10-15 min then vacuum off.
Go play the LP. you will notice a much quieter background.

use your favorite cleaning solution, apply it to LP. spread evenly across the LP surface. Let is sit for 10-15 min then vacuum off.
@johnss   That sounds simple enough, I'll give a try shot.

Some of my favourite second hand records have noticeable surface noise even after cleaning. My 'solution' is simply to play them 'wet'. I find wiping the record with a very thin layer of record cleaning fluid or just plain water and then playing it makes otherwise noisy records, quiet and enjoyable. I've read from various 'prophets of doom' that my stylus will fall off! my records will be ruined, my hair will fall out (well that bits true). My Ikeda 'Kai' plays too near the record surface for comfort but my, bought for trying out charity shop finds, Denon DL 103 plays wet records no problem and sounds amazing to boot!

These clicks, etc. are caused by a good stylus that tracks the imperfections, or a bad one that does not .
I use a Talisman to mitigate static and a good US cleaning to eliminate dust and dirt. I have silent playback from vinyl! Some of the older records have surface scratches from rough handling 50 years ago and of course a few dings here and there.
The Talisman eliminates magnetic fields, not static electric charges, as fate would have it. Chalk that one up to that’s the way it goes sometimes.
Last night I gave my noisy crackle 180 gram a really good cleaning, and whaddya know the crackling went away! I also noticed most of the static was removed from the record which was what I thought causes the crackling. I'll test out more records in the coming days.
MC, I have two 911s and neither one squeals. One is ceramic and it is supposed o have a reputation for that. The other one will grind just starting out if the brakes got wet but no squeal. It has Girodisc rotors on it and Centric pads.
Johnss, My records are never touched by any cleaning device or fluid. Just a conductive sweep arm and the stylus. Excuse me. Some of my very old albums were treated with Last. I stopped when I figured out that it was not doing a darn thing. Maybe to rare fingerprint when I slip.
 I just got a new WiFi USB microscope. I will see if I can get pictures and figure a way to post them. 
Used records and records that have gotten dirty are a different problem. I can understand why those who buy used records get a record cleaning devise. I do not. The secret to clean records is, don't let them get dirty in the first place. 
@ mijostyn, no worries. I used to think exactly the same; keep records from getting dirty in first place; be super anal about not letting anyone else handle them, etc. That was key to clean records.

But now realize that is not the case. The particles in the bottom of the groove are from the cooling cycle of the pressing process or operation during LP manufacturing, so are completely independent and totally unrelated to how clean or how well you handle or dont handle your records, brand new or old. 
I will say the 180 gram and 200 gram LPs I have looked at do have a lower level of particles in the groove than the 1970s and 80s LPs, so there is more care taken with these than the earlier commonly released titles pressed by whom ever. But these particles are still there. 

I have a large (but not huge)  collection, with many LPs from the 1650s-70s, plus many re-issues from Speakers Corner and Acoustic Sounds. For years I always thought the VPI or NG were made for removing finger prints, dust, lint, etc.

Once I realized that was not the case, then the door got blown off on my original theories on LP cleaning that have been drummed into my head by so many over the years. So then had to experiment to see what worked to remove  the white particles. Many trials of cleaning, then looking under the scope to see if I mad a difference or not.

If anyone knows how to  post photos to this blog would be happy to do it, but in the past have tried that with no success.

if you use a stylus cleaning solution, take a look in the solution. It should be loaded with white particles all floating around in bottle.

And once you get the grooves free of 90% of the particles, you will be amazed at how much lower the noise floor becomes, and how much more ambience is pulled from those grooves.

These clicks, etc. are caused by a good stylus that tracks the imperfections, or a bad one that does not .
This statement is false.

I’m very used to not hearing any ticks or pops over an entire LP side, even on LPs that were pressed in the early 1960s that I bought used.

The cartridge makes no difference- this is consistent whether a Grado, Mico Benz, Lyra, Koetsu and so on.

When an album is mastered, its common to send a test of the stampers to the producer, who has to sign off on it. One thing he listens for is ticks and pops- it won’t do to have them pressed into the LP surface else there will be returns. This has been the process for decades, so production LPs should be pretty quiet. And if your phono section is well-behaved, they are.
I had a Coda Fet 02b preamp about 20 years ago which I bought directly from Coda since they had a large number of circuit boards on hand after the model was discontinued so they did a limited manufacturing run to use the spare inventory up.  They were selling them for just under 50% of the original list price.

When I received it there was on input selection which made a noise when I switched to it.  I called Coda up and complained and the tech told me it was most likely an impedance miss match between the cables and the preamp input.  So I swapped the cable to a different input selection and the noise followed it.  After I replaced the cable the sound disappeared and I used that preamp for over 12 years.
Despite @geoffkait’s statement, it works. I won’t dispute his infinite knowledge and omnipotence, but it works. The Talisman stops the clicks and pops no matter what it does or how it works. I never said it's anti-static, don't put words in my mouth, I said it mitigates the noise caused by static electricity. For more information https://walkeraudio.com/. The designer helped NASA solve the static electricity problems that, combined with raw oxygen, blew up Apollo 1 with the three astronauts in it. His invention comes directly from that experience, thank you very much.
NASA? Aren’t they the ones who blew up a bunch of astronauts in the Shuttle? Actually In two Shuttles. No thanks, dude!
Oh omnipotent one, thou dost not read the post. I said he he fixed it, . You're welcome! And, have a nice day.
One day perhaps you will see 👀 the difference between neutralizing a static electric charge and degaussing a magnetic field. But perhaps not. Stay in school, scooter.
I don't give a rat's behind and I do know the difference oh omni-impotent one. It works. De-Gauss, de-static, de-magnetize, whatever. It works!!! Thanks for the lesson. What else can you tell me that I already know?
I also see that you like to bully people if they don't agree with you. Wanna fight?