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A phonograph record (also known as a gramophone record, especially in British English), or simply a record, is an analog sound storage medium in the form of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove.
The groove usually starts near the periphery and ends near the center of the disc. At first, the discs were commonly made from shellac; starting in the 1940s polyvinyl chloride became common, hence the name vinyl. In the mid-2000s, gradually, records made of any material began to be called vinyl records, or simply vinyl.
So do all records crackle?
Although most records do crackle, a quality record that’s made from high-quality vinyl, and adequately clean, played with a new needle should be dead quiet. So no not all records crackle.
If you would like to know more about do all records crackle, please keep reading and check out this video!
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Playing The Record
In the evening, sitting relaxed and open-minded listening to the sounds, putting the needle on the record to play it and suddenly crackles, pops or tick sounds are audible. These are usually produced while playing the old vinyl records but can occur in new records.
Vintage records are one of the favorites of people and even throughout the advancement in technology, the traditional vinyl record lovers prefer vinyl records over any other music CD or anything.
While playing the vinyl records, one of the most common things is the crackling of the record. When the needle or stylus moves between the grooves, it sometimes produces a ticking, crackling or popping sound.
Most LPs have some degree of surface noise. In most of the cases, Vintage record lovers admire this crackling sound of the records. They feel that it is the symbol of vinyl records. That’s why, in the era of digital media like CDs, they lean towards vinyl records. CDs provide noise-free sound, but still, people are inclined towards vinyl records. The silent background of CDs against the heart touching musical satisfaction they get from vinyl is priceless.
Being of symbolic importance for records, sometimes these crackle records can cause problems and discomfort to the listener. Tics, pops, and crackling sounds may be accepted to a limit, but if it expands further than that limit, it will ruin all the listening experience. People often complain about crackling noises from records.
These noises are more common with an old record because of wrong handling and caring of the records.
How much crackle you hear can depend upon the player arm, quality of the stylus, mat, turntable setup, amount of static in the air and other many factors. But the main three factors on which crackle records depend are:
- Cleanliness of the record
- Static electricity
- Quality of pressing
The problem is, while buying any record, the seller confirms it visually and doesn’t have the access to the turntable that they should have. They look for scratches and marks. But while it may be an old or a new record, you will hear the crackle, pop sound if you do not take care and clean it.
The older records with obvious scuffs and light scratches can play well. It is in these scratches the microscopic debris settles and this debris or dust is picked up as a crackling sound when the stylus moves over it. These scratches often cause noise and the skipping of records.
In case of cheap quality records like impure vinyl or recycled vinyl, it also causes noises because of the impurities present in them. 180 GM vinyl and virgin vinyl are some alternatives by which you can avoid some of this crackling noise.
Not all of them will crackle though. A good record made from high-quality vinyl, which is clean, played with a new needle would be dead quiet.
Another factor is static electricity. Vinyl records produce a fair amount of static electricity while playing and this static electricity is picked up by the cartridge and gets amplified. And it is this static electricity which attracts the dust and tiny particles which stick in between the grooves and when the stylus or needle moves over them it’s like your car going through bumps and rocks. The stylus instead of music gets these bumps and again amplifies them and you hear the crackle and pops.
The last major factor that affects the crackling of the record is the quality of your pressing needle. It depends upon the needle how much it will pick up. The better the needle, the lesser is the noise. The needle or stylus can be of two types: spherical and conical stylus. The spherical stylus usually touches a small part of the groove and can give quieter ticks and pops. The pressing quality can avoid the noises and it can amplify the music.
Avoiding the Crackle
In most cases, crackling is irritating to the ears and the listener often gets frustrated. In these, you must think of the ways to avoid the crackling of records.
As seen earlier, the major cause of crackle is the dirt and dust particles present between the grooves. So the best way to avoid these crackle sounds is to keep your records neat and clean. Handling and storing of the records should be done carefully.
To do that, you should try the following.
- Try a local store for a stylus cleaning brush and some fluid, you can get it from radio or TV stores.
- An artist’s painting brush is fine but make sure it is soft enough.
- Moisturize it with a few drops of Isopropyl Alcohol, which you can get from a nearby pharmacy.
- Brush slowly and carefully from back to the front of the cartridge twice. This will clean the stylus.
If the record discs are badly damaged by scratches, it will become difficult to restore it. To clean the records you should try the following steps.
- Take the record and wipe it with a cotton towel.
- Use some cleaning agents or nail varnish to clean the dust particles present between the grooves of the disc and then dry them. Do not keep them under direct sunlight.
- Or you can buy a records cleaning machine.
Taking Care Of Your Records
- Keep your records dry. Never play or store a wet record. It is a myth that playing a wet record will reduce static build-up. Instead, using a record with moisture on it can damage the grooves and create an even bigger mess to clean. Make sure that you fully wipe down your records with a microfiber cloth or let them air dry on a cleaning mat.
- Touch them carefully. Try to avoid touching the interior grooves of your records whenever possible. Instead, handle them by grabbing the label or perimeter of the disk with your fingertips. The oil on your fingertips can attract dust to the grooves and make it more difficult to clean the record.
- Place them in archival sleeves. When your records are cleaned, place them into fresh interior sleeves. Anti-static plastic sleeves are usually a good option. Look for a sleeve that is labeled as archival quality and non-scratching. This will preserve your disk as you take it in and out to play it.
- Store them vertically. Make sure to place your records vertically next to one another. If you lay them flat, then your risk warping or bending. If your record is leaning to one side, this can also cause bending. So, keep the records placed firmly together with little room in between.
Vinyl records are loved and their crackling sound is satisfying, but only when they are within some limit. Buying a good quality record and player is value for money. Besides their crackling sounds, people are a fan of vintage vinyl records and see these sounds like the traditional symbol of quality music and sound.
To avoid excessive crackling, you will need to take proper care of your records. Storage as well should be proper with no excess pressure on the records.