Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Bill Hart, Mar 2, 2021.
Figured it out! Here's a phone pic of my visually mint/plays mint Blood On the Tracks One Step. I mean, it plays perfectly, cd quiet background. Not bad resolution for a phone camera photo copied from super low resolution facebook file. I’m sure you know how small these specks are, way beyond naked eye, especially with the reflection of vinyl.
As I wrote in Chapter XI, there is reason to believe that some people are sensitive (can hear) residue to level equal to 0.3 microns/ft^2. The magnification necessary is at the scanning electron microscope (SEM) level. However, dust/lint that is mostly 'on' the record generally fluoresces blue, but mineral salts such as carbonates that can be in the general ambient and maybe pressed into the record groove fluoresce intensely white A well pressed record with virgin vinyl and well cleaned in my experience shows essentially no differential fluorescence as I show Figure 35. From my experience I do not need magnification to access the record.
Records are not pressed in a cleanroom; so residual contamination /debris should not be unexpected. However, whether or not its audible can depend on a number of factors - where is it; if its at the very bottom below the stylus its mostly inconsequential. But if its on the side walls that depends on the stylus shape and the nature of the contaminant - and as I wrote XI.6, is it "...viscous (liquid-like) or non-viscous (dry flakes/powder) and each can affect the surface differently.". The term quiet does not necessarily imply clean.
Reviewing the photo its hard to distinguish what is "on" the record and what is "in" the groove. Debris "on" the record can play with no consequence other than it may catch on the top the stylus. Debris "on" the record mostly is that which covers the entire groove and as I wrote "I.3.a V-shaped groove with ‘nominal’ dimensions of 56 microns (0.0022") wide at the top...". With white light you can see ~50 microns. Debris in the record groove will show the boundary of the groove and I do not see much of that. If you look at Figure 10 and just expand it - you will debris that traces the groove and with fluorescence you can see to 25 microns and sometimes less.
So for the debris to make an audible impact it must be small enough to fall into the groove, but big enough that it gets wedged were the music information is. If it's too small it'll just pass the area of musical information and settle to the bottom of the groove. Given what you said and looking more closely at my photo it appears some of the fainter middle gray specks could be grit that is more in the groove. Just to confirm, the size, how stubbornly it is wedged and the make up of the speck dictate how loudly it is registered, right? You get a bigger pop or click from a crystalline structure deeply wedged vs something not so wedged made of fiber?
When I am done cleaning my records - there is nothing 'on' the record other than some lint that falls during the drying process which I can brush away easily before sleeving or play. The big 'rocks' are the items that are in the vertical groove - the ones you may be able to see. The radius at the bottom of the groove is about 6 microns. So very very small particles (less than 1-2 microns) can collect there and be away from the stylus. But, all the high frequency data is in the side wall grooves. Particles attach to the surface by different forces (capillary, van der Waals, & electrostatic) and the smaller the particle the more difficult to remove, and this is just particles that deposit from the environment. This does not include residues from ambient moisture that can contain mineral salts that can pretty much 'glue' themselves to the surface. From the book Chapter XI, the smallest recorded amplitude can be 0.1 microns (and maybe less). Quoting the book:
XI.6.1 From paragraph XI.4.7.a there is an objective rationale for how “small” particulate effects the sound. But, how does residue – NVR - effect the sound? There are a number of possibilities. First, what we do know is that thick residue will cause debris/residue to form the stylus as the record drags the stylus through the debris/residue, and records subsequently cleaned often are audibly improved indicating that the stylus will not clean a record of residue; record and stylus wear notwithstanding. We should agree that any residue that alters the natural surface finish of the record, that alters the friction factor, that increases the mass of the stylus, that alters the interface between stylus and the record may affect how and what the stylus traces. The residue can be viscous (liquid-like) or non-viscous (dry flakes/powder) and each can affect the surface differently.
XI.6.1.a Given the high accelerations that the stylus experiences, residue (mass) that collects on the stylus will cause a resultant force (force = mass x acceleration) that can affect the stylus ability to trace the groove. A viscous residue on the record groove may damp the stylus reducing the modulation reducing the signal output. It may cause vibrations if the stylus experiences variable-drag or causes the liquid to cavitate under the extreme pressure of the stylus which in either case, the background noise floor may increase obscuring high frequency detail.
XI.6.1.b If the residue coats only the side-wall ridge valley, then the stylus may not deflect/trace the full peak-to valley height and high frequency detail can be attenuated/lost. Recalling the DIY cleaners from CHAPTER VIII. DISCUSSION OF PRE-CLEANERS:, some are over 1000 mg/L (1 mg/ml) and if 3 mL was allowed to dry, the resultant NVR could be 3 mg/ft² with a resultant film thickness greater than 0.3 microns which by Table XII & Figure 41 should be audible.
XI.6.1.c A non-viscous residue may increase the surface roughness noting that the silent groove if at -20db (Table XII) is very near the record baseline surface roughness (0.01 micron) causing the background noise floor to increase potentially obscuring high frequency detail, record and stylus wear notwithstanding.
I printed your article at work today and I’m working through it more slowly and carefully. Out of curiosity, do you have an inspirational sign in your living room that says cleanliness is next to godliness? I’m completely joking, of course.
Don't laugh, if you read the Forward and then read my bio, my re-entry to vinyl was a disaster - it did not sound good, so ultimately as my cleaning process expanded, it was Deja-vu; I have been here before - different applications, but the overall approach is the same; each with its own challenges. However, at least this time I am not worried about killing a diver of burning down a submarine.
I’m a nurse in our PACU. We utilize sterile technique all the time. Attention to detail is most beneficial in my line of work. It takes nuts like us to appreciate the efforts needed for superfluous seeming vinyl care.
Futther compounding cleanliness issues in my household include a German Shepherd (shedder) and 2 Maine Coon cats. Life is only a series of decisions and compromises...
These days you have been busy for sure, and one has to respect your commitment and dedication, and the devil is in the details. When you get to Section VIII.10 BIOCIDES: you should be on familiar ground and likely know more than I; and feel free to provide any comments/suggestions.
Neil, just learned and tried some new for cleaning your stylus, a dry magic eraser. Very good results and easy. Just position the erase below the cartridge in its cued up position. Lower and raise it onto the eraser a handful of times and inspect. I was shocked. Sound improved too.
The use of dry magic eraser is a commonly used stylus cleaner. The reason it works is because "dry magic eraser" is actually a micro-abrasive made of melamine foam - US20070157948A1 - Cleaning implement comprising a modified open-cell foam - Google Patents.
The only thing I might do additional to using the eraser is to follow it with a regular stylus brushing since the eraser can impart its own dust/powder onto the stylus.
Neil, your research and hard work are very much appreciated. I've been cleaning with a RCM for about 6 months now with terrific results. Nevertheless, there have been a few preowned LPs that have giving me some difficulty requiring a lot of extra work.
I'm hoping to benefit from your methods in this regard. All my materials have been ordered and are starting to arrive. I'll let you know how things turn out.
Regardless, thanks for taking the time to document your exhaustive work. Your attention to detail and meticulous instructions are amazing. Thanks again, and also, thanks Bill for getting this information out to the masses.
Thanks for the compliment. There has been good success with vacuum RCM using the chemistry - Alconox Liquinox for pre-clean and ILFORD ILFOTO or Tergitol 15-S-9 as final-clean with DIW rinse (as addressed Chapter XIII), and some is documented at vpiforum.com • View topic - Record cleaning, I started contributing around page 66.
FWIW - Some new info:
Even with pre-clean with Alconox Liquinox and final clean with Tergtiol 15-S-9 I 'had' some records that after cleaning still showed fluorescence as just pin-points of light and played noisy. After further research it occurred to me that what I am seeing as ref PACVR 2nd Ed Chapter/para IV.6 & Figure 10 is very tightly adherent non-organic/mineral based particles. These type particles are natural to the environment; known as aerosols Lecture25.pdf (gatech.edu) and while very small there is a significant amount between 0.5 and 1 microns and if these conglomerate - larger particles are generated . So its entirely feasible that these particle 'may' be in the ambient of record pressing factories (except maybe QRP - http://www.qualityrecordpressings.com/i ... =standards which appear pressed in a very clean environment); and can be essentially be pressed into the record. These type particles are not going to be easily removed even if just on the surface. "XII.6.a ...the smaller the particle the more difficult it is to remove from the surface,.... The paper Adhesion and Removal of Fine Particles on Surfaces, Aerosol Science and Technology, M. B. Ranade, 1987 (38) shows for aluminum oxide particles, the force (acceleration) required to remove a 10-micron particle is 4.5 x 10^4 g’s, a 1-micron particle is 4.5 x 10^6 g’s and a 0.1-micron particle is 4.5 x 10^8 g’s." A simple brush or wipe is not going to get these smallest particles/debris that can ‘hide’ in the valleys between the groove side wall ridges.
Carbonates fluoresce intensely white and noting that I do inspect records with a 10 watt UV light, it now occurred to me that the intense white specs that I am seeing on 'some' records may be inorganic salts/minerals. And, this debris that fluoresces intensely is not removed by multiple detergent washes and multiple rinses (with brush & flowing water). However, a weak acid can dissolve mineral type particles, especially very small (<5 microns) particles that can dissolve quickly. So after pre-clean with Alconox Liquinox I now do a pre-clean with White Distilled Vinegar (WDV) 5% acidity of which I add ~5 drops Tergitol 15-S-9 to 1-pint (~500 ml) WDV so that the WDV wets the record. I spray-on and gently agitate with Record Dr. nylon brush for 2-4 minutes and then rinse. The results are good to excellent. WDV is unique - its a weak acid, its acetic acid that is fermented from ethanol and is also known as ethanolic acid and it's very pure with almost no non-volatile residue (NVR); rinses easily and is cheap and readily available. After WDV pre-clean, I final clean Tergitiol 15-S-9 and rinse.
PS/Do not use White Distilled Vinegar with vacuum-RCM or UCM - it will corrode the unit.
PS/Once the record is clean, will the record stay clean of ambient aerosols - yes. The record should be exposed to the ambient air for just a few seconds before being played. Once in rotation, there 'should' be enough air current generated by record to prevent small aerosol particles from depositing on the record. At least by UV light inspection and by play - my records (and stylus) are staying clean. My platter/mat 'were' the source of most particulate recontamination. I now use only a hard surface mat and use a sticky roller Amazon.com: EHDIS Rubber Paint Roller Glue Pasting Roller Durable Glue Rollers for Crafting, Glue Roller Paint Brush for Anti Skid Tape Construction, Printmaking, Stamping Gluing, Ink Tools 12-inch: Automotive before each playing session to remove particulate.
As I wrote in Chapter/para XII.6, achieving organic cleanliness is generally the easy part - its achieving particulate cleanliness that is generally the real challenge. Ultrasonic is an advantage for this purpose, and the Degritter @ 120kHz and 300 watts with 4 transducers/2 per side positioned directly at the record surface is ideal, but other DIY UCM can have limits based on the many factors discussed Chapter XIV. But the weak acid wash uses chemistry to dissolve the contaminant. And this harkens back to when I was working with NASA White Sands Test facility on precision cleaning back in the 1990's and they were getting exceptional particle results cleaning metals with a weak phosphoric acid wash (after 1st degreasing). So, for me, its Deja-vu - all that goes around has come around. I believe I have taken my manual cleaning process as far as it can go. I now use the DWV pre-clean for all records - new or used.
PS/For those that view manual cleaning as drudgery & tedious, obviously this is of little benefit to you; personally I find it kind of calming - like knitting for some. Everyone approaches cleaning records differently from a simple brush to manual cleaning methods to vacuum RCM to UCMs and combinations thereof based on your own threshold of effort, cost and what is clean enough. Some say the occasional tick-pop is part of the vinyl experience, others want the record to be as silent as digital. There are any number of off-ramps; but the devil is always in the details.
Hope this is of some help,
I've been an advocate for hard mats for quite some time, not just for ease of cleaning but for sound quality as well.
Just one question: are you using the roller to clean the mat or the record? With hard mats it's important that they be kept meticulously clean. For this I use a CF brush to sweep it. I have sticky rollers (Nagaoka Rolling 152) for pulling lint from a record but I find it creates a considerable static charge on the record so I use it only sparingly. It also, after a time, can leave a greasy looking film on the record after it has been washed to remove accumulated lint. The film doesn't seem to be harmful to the stylus or record, or even audible, but it's not aesthetically pleasing. For these reasons I tend to use it prior to a deep clean rather than after.
I use the roller only for the mat. I tried CF brushes to remove dust/particles and my results are the same as NASA/TM—2011-217231, report on Evaluation of Brushing as a Lunar Dust Mitigation Strategy for Thermal Control Surfaces (49) that evaluated the effectiveness and performance of various brush materials and designs to remove dust from thermal control paint or aluminized thermal control surface. The report summarized that “Although there was only one carbon bristle brush tested, it had by far the poorest performance.”. I have also tried Thunderon brushes and not much better but keep in mind that I am using UV light for inspection.
Overall, CF is not really a good brush material - "VI.8.a CARBON FIBER: A very fine [Ø 0.000283] (~7.6 microns) fiber of 95% pure carbon. Fiber has a tensile strength of 575 ksi, a tensile modulus of 35 msi, and an electrical resistivity of 0.00055 Ohms in. Popular in light touch to non-contact grounding brushes due to its high conductivity. Not recommended for uses with high flexural requirements since carbon fiber has low flex fatigue resistance and can break off rather easily.”
I encounter visible detritus (usually a stray piece of white dust, sometimes a hair, other things) on surfaces of records that have been deeply cleaned, played and stored in high quality aftermarket sleeves that, in turn, are not slid back into the jacket. Instead, the new inner + record is stored and packed next to the jacket in an outer jacket sleeve that allows room for all this.
I suspect the material is that which was deposited while the record was being exposed to the listening room environment (with good HVAC filters), while the record is playing (vortex action noted by Percy Wilson-- is that still accepted?) and in some cases, due to shedding of the inner. (My best results seem to come from the traditional Japanese round bottom inners, though I have MA Records liners (woven plant material that feels like a light fabric), the Sleeve City, MoFi, Chad, Inc. going all the way back to the original Dishwasher sleeve).
I don't like dry brushing at all. It seems to create static, and doesn't necessary remove the surface detritus, though it can line it up nicely. I do use a hand activated air puffer and occasionally, will use a piece of real silk to "touch" and lift a piece of "lint" from the surface, but this is a constant for me. There is no obvious charge on the records themselves.
The mat on the Kuzma XL is a woven fabric that is bonded to the platter with some sort of resin that seems neutral; I use a lint roller to clean the platter surface, but avoid dry brushing. At worst, I'll pop the record into the ultrasonic for a spin and put it in a fresh inner, but none of that eliminates the problem.
"VI.11.a The paper Record Contamination: Causes and Cure by Percy Wilson, 1965, (52) makes an observation that the record in motion draws contaminants to it. The observation was made by blowing tobacco smoke across the record and watching how it deposited. This observation is likely flawed since the density of tobacco smoke is about 1000X higher than air (66), so if exhausted over the record it will deposit/fall upon it by simple gravity; and the deposition will follow the spinning groove motion. The record motion is not fast enough to develop air currents large enough to counter the weight of the tobacco smoke. However, for many households, tobacco smoke is no longer a source of contamination. My own observations pre- and post-play with UV light shows no signs of particle deposition during play (also noting that household cooking grease/oil aerosols fluoresce brightly under UV light). If the record is allowed to sit stationary – yes, particles in the air will drop onto the record.
Otherwise, like yourself, I find the record sleeve to also be an 'initial' source of particulate from shedding as you say. But, after some time, they do not shed as much. But, recall that I use a UV light for inspection - Alonefire SV005 10W LED 365nm UV Flashlight Blacklight Portable USB Rechargeable Black Light Full Metal Case Pet Urine Detector with UV Protective Glasses, 18650 Battery Included for Resin Curing - - Amazon.com. If you are serious about the cleanliness or the quality of your records, its the best $27 you will spend - because it will reveal much that you do not otherwise see. PS Even Tim is now using the UV light.
Yep, got the light, the glasses, and hoping that part of the home renovation we will be undertaking will give me real "lab" space, but short of re-cleaning (even if it is 2/2 minutes in the commercial ultrasonic), what's a mother to do? The dry brushing will allow you to push the visible surface lint to the edge or label -- why that's considered a good thing is beyond me- and how else to keep those records clean after they have already benefitted from a deep clean? Put another way, I'm basically the only one in that room- my wife walks through it to go to an office room, but no cats, no smoking, is it all me? The HEPA filter air cleaner is in the cleaning area, but I guess I could use some of those in the listening room and shut them off during playing sessions, but that seems awkward.
You don't have to answer immediately, and Neil, I'm not trying to put you on the spot.
Congrats on getting the UV light. Otherwise, you and your clothes are a major source of fibers & particulates as are any fabric surfaces as is your HVAC vents. But what you are seeing should be fibers/hair that is on the surface of the record. Tim says he has good luck using the Analog Relax brush and uses a piece of blue painter tape to pull the particles off. I have been using the Kinetronics Anti-Static Microfiber Cloth Amazon.com: Kinetronics Anti-Static Microfiber Cloth, 10x18-Inch Tiger Cloth: Camera & Photo to just swipe the record surface. It picks up some, and then I shake the cloth away from the table to shake off the particulate - it will pick-up, but being anti-static a quick shake dislodges the particulate.
There will always be some fibers - we are not in cleanrooms. But, I am able to remove enough that I rarely see any on the stylus. Also, being on the surface, the stylus contact surface does not see these relatively large fibers so they become mostly inconsequential to playback.
Thanks Neil. I have the Analog Relax; I will also buy that Kinetronics cloth and see what I think. Best!
Now that you have the UV light I am VERY Interested in what you will 'declare the best" for removing incidental fibers & particulate from a record. I have tried carbon fiber and Thunderon and they are - being kind - of limited value so I am interested in how your silk cloth, the Analog Reflex and the Kinetronics compare. Keep in mind I could care less about the ability to remove static - I do not have that problem and the three candidates your silk cloth, the Analog Reflex and the Kinetronics are anti-static with regard to not producing static. The $M question is which picks up dust/fibers the best.
PS/I came across this report which eludes to the fact that none of these brushes will remove static very well - Microsoft Word - SEALEZE_WHITE_PAPER_Final dam.doc. They 'may' reduce static enough to prevent discharge to the cartridge but not enough to avoid VTF effects (increases) from the remaining static.
FYI, I have just started using Alconox Citranox at 1.5% as a replacement for the DWV+Tergitol.
Source - Amazon.com: Alconox 1832 Citranox Phosphate-Free Concentrated Cleaner and Metal Brightener, 1 quart Bottle : Health & Household
Cut Sheet - techbull_citranox.pdf (alconox.com)
There is no-odor, rinses same as Alconox Liquinox and works better than the DWV. I had a couple of albums that I could not get clean - lots of static type noise - no change from repeated plays and no debris on the stylus. I soaked for 15 min Alconox Citranox at 1.5% and the results for one record was about a 75% improvement both sides while the other was 75% one side/50% the other.
I used a label protector and just elevated the record (with label protector) on a plastic container. Put it in the sink, applied a liberal coating to the record, adjusted container to keep the record/citranox level - and let sit for 15 min. Then rinsed with tap water. Reapplied Citranox and then brushed (I use the Record Dr Brush) - this removes any swollen but not dissolved debris. Then rinsed/brushed away the Citranox with tap water. Then rinsed away the tap-water with DIW spray. Then I repeated the process for the other side. Yes - its a 30-min process, but it was my last attempt before classifying the records as very bad pressings - never to be listened to again.
After the Alconox Citranox at 1.5% soak/clean, I completed with final clean with Tergitol 15-S-9, tap-water rinse, DIW rinse.
In the future, I will still use Alconox Liquinox 1.0% for pre-clean and then follow with pre-clean with Alconox Citranox at 1.5%. The Alconox Liquinox 1.0% is important as a degreaser to get the best performance from the acid even though the Alconox Citranox does have detergents. I will only do the Alconox Citranox soak for those records that are not clean (by my standards - we all have our own) after the 1st normal (~6 min clean time) attempt and 2-3 plays.
Regardless of the cleaning process final clean with Tergitol 15-S-9, and tap-water rinse/DIW spray rinse is the final step to ensure a residue-free surface.
PS/I am beginning to speculate on the term 'bad pressing'. Depending on the root cause, and assuming no major defect(s), there may be ways to mitigate and recover.
Is it because of the plate (assuming correct cartridge alignment)? Distortion because of the stamper is unlikely to be mitigated. I have seen no evidence that repeat plays can wear down/over this defect. However, I have seen where cleaning can remove distortion caused by residue. If a good cleaning removes the distortion - it was caused by residue.
Is it because of the vinyl composition? A poor (or less than good) composition can effectively leave the vinyl with a surface roughness many times higher than it should and this will raise the noise-floor - its that radio type static. You can tell the difference - if you increase the volume - does it fade into the background. Pops/ticks that just get louder are likely hard debris or microscopically torn pieces of vinyl. Repeat plays with an elliptical stylus versus fine-contact can smooth over the vinyl roughness and make the record playable - not optimum, but a compromise. Note: Many new (cleaned) records will not sound optimum until after the 2nd or 3rd play.
Is it from the environment? As I addressed above about aerosols and hard scale - this can be corrected with the appropriate cleaning process. EDIT - the records that I soaked with the Citranox had background static type noise.
And, the journey continues...
Separate names with a comma.