Why is some vinyl noisy?


I'm listening to a copy of "This Is The Moody Blues", a very fine record store find, and I'm amazed at how noisy the vinyl sounds compared to it's physical condition.

The record is nice and flat, looks great in bright light, heavyweight. It's very clean as it's just been through my VPI 16.5 cleaner with two fluid baths. The rig it's playing on is plenty good enough to get the best from this record: VPI Scoutmaster, Sumiko Blackbird, McCormack & Krell downstream.

Yet, this is a noisy, clicky, poppy ride. I don't get it. Is some vinyl just plain noisy, or is some surface damage too hard to detect? By the same token, an ancient, clearly scuffed RCA Living Stereo recording of Van Cliburn just sounds terrific.
forddonald
Possibly bad pressing or worn stamper, possibly careful user with terrible groove carving arm, possibly just bad recording.
I have gone through several copies of Hotel California and none of them are particularly good sounding pressing, yet some audiophiles say good ones exist.
Visual inspection can't detect bad pressings or all worn out grooves, playing is the only real determinent.
Not all copies of a particular title on vinyl are the same. Despite their mystique, records can have quality control issues in their production just like any other consumer item.

Also not all surface defects are necessarily visible to the human eye. A good bit of the time they are though with careful inspection by trained eyes.

By the way, you did score a good find with that particular album. It is the only album that has the very fine and rare Moodies tune "Simple Game" on it. They even left it off the Time Traveler CD box set for some reason.
The quality of vinyl use will compound the noise. Not all labels bought stock from the better or best vinyl suppliers. K-Tel (you know their HOT HITS type discs as kids) put all sorts of cheap ingredients into their vinyl so as to cut costs and as such were LOUSY sounding vinyl. Back in the day (when LP's ruled) I often found A&M and MCA to have the better quality control.
I have a jefferson airplane album (Bark)that exhibits similar noisy background sound. It is on the grunt label and i have cleaned it multiple times. I finally found a very clean, unused pressing and aargh, it sounded just like the other slightly worn copy. On the other hand,
Every now and then one runs into a "pre-owned" LP that looks pristine and plays horribly. My best guess it that it was handled well but played with a bad (chipped? too heavy?) stylus back in the day. Better luck next time.
So remind me again, why is it we love vinyl?
I have gone through several copies of Hotel California and none of them are particularly good sounding pressing, yet some audiophiles say good ones exist

I have given up after 3.

But on the other hand, I have a B.B King album (Guess Who) that looks terrible, but plays perfect, and I only paid $1.00 for it. Go figure.
Vinyl has ALWAYS been a crap shoot. There are no gaurantees especially when acquiring used media. You don't know what kind of equipment was used, allignment issues, cleaning issues, etc. I'm always amazed when I play stuff that even after cleaning looks bad but plays breat. I have some that look perfect but play like s**t. You never know until you play em'.
I'm always amazed when I play stuff that even after cleaning looks bad but plays breat. I have some that look perfect but play like s**t. You never know until you play em'.
Analogphil (System | Threads | Answers)

Exactly.

This is the minefield that people need to consider before they jump into vinyl if they're starting from ground zero.
Very illuminating, thanks! Maybe this explains why my Cat Stevens albums sounds so remarkably good when they arguably shouldn't (not a major artist) and why CCR records are hit and miss.

At least I know it's not me or my cartridge! Now it's back to the dark majiks of setting tonearm alignment and other fiddly things I'm learning how to do for the first time.
It is a strange thing...some LPs that look like they were used for frisbees sound great -- and nice, glossy copies sound terrible. This is why I try not to give up on older LPs I run across in thrift stores (especially considering that they're 3/$1). Picked up 7 or 8 London mono Rolling Stones LPs a few weeks ago that looked just plain awful. After a good cleaning, they sound terrific; the odd click here and there, but thoroughly enjoyable.
After using a 16.5 for about ten years, I finally figured out that some records with such problems require a full 1-2 minutes cleaning per side with lots of fluid before they give up their clicks & pops. Perhaps worth a try.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but a record played with a damaged stylus will tear up the material inside the grooves, but the record may look perfect to the naked eye. With used records, this is a very real possibility. I just threw out a Phildelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy LP of The William Tell Overture and other overtures (Columbia Masterworks). It looked totally mint but was completely wrecked.

So I'm out a dollar.

Cheers.
Vinyl noise is the nature of the beast. Even with it's faults, I much prefer top class analog to top class digital.
I recently bought a used three LP collection. The first two sides have most of the recognizable songs. All six sides appear flawless. However, it's obvious that in it's lifetime the collection's first two sides have received 90% of the playing time because they display some groove damage which is audible as distortion.

Sides three through six sound nearly pristine. It makes for an interesting observation of how differently vinyl from the same collection can sound.
In this vein a couple albums in my collection come to mind, such as George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, and several Miles Davis Mosaic box sets with 7-10 disks. With the Harrison, I try to sit long enough to work my way into Apple Jam disk three; I've made it all the way through perhaps once in 30 years. With the Miles boxes, I forget where I left off and just start over.
"All Things Must Pass" was never a very good recording on vinyl or on CD originally in the first place as I recall, which worked to its detriment despite being a very solid collection of songs overall otherwise.

The remastered CD version was better as I recall but there may have been only so much that could be done.