Vinyl Lovers: Dirty Records

analog music reproduction discussion

Vinyl Lovers: Dirty Records

Postby Shannon Parks » Tue Nov 07, 2006 7:30 am

This past week while visiting my folks with my uncle, I picked up about 15 LPs of some vintage, eclectic rock in a tiny resale shop. The stash was extremely clean and not the typical fare. For example, there was an original thick vinyl Joni Mitchell Ladies of the Canyon and strangely, the Roger Dean covered Osibisa collection. :)

Anyhow, we couldn't play them, as the folks are stereoless (egads!). So I wondered if my uncle and I could maybe at least clean them. Interestingly, my folks have a rain water cistern coupled with a double reverse osmosis filter system. Dad was showing me his fancy little pen-sized particulate meter as soon as I had arrived. He went on to show me that their water was filtered to only 10ppm of contaminants, whereas bottled water could be 50 to 150ppm and tap could be as high as 500ppm. Anyhow, the light bulb went off - with that little meter I could measure the particulate count of any solution - thus getting an idea of how much 'crap' is left behind on my LP. Anyhow, dad's 10ppm worked great even without surfactant.

I purchased this unit for $10 on Ebay.

Tested - More to come
My Tap Water 330ppm
Two Different twin filtered RO Setups 10ppm
Deja Blue Bottled Water 27-30ppm
D4+ Discwasher (Isopropyl 67-63-0) 0ppm
Poor Man's DIY Solution 27ppm
Hinckley Springs Bottle Water 22ppm
Absopure Water (5gal jug - Grand Rapids/Detroit) 1ppm!!!
Dannon Spring Water 150ppm
Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water 197ppm
Last edited by Shannon Parks on Fri Nov 10, 2006 6:11 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Osibisa website

Postby EWBrown » Tue Nov 07, 2006 9:33 am

The "official" Osibisa Website:

http://www.osibisa.co.uk/


I have the first (1971) LP, with the Roger Dean "flying elephant" cover. Been played just a couple times in 35 years.

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Postby erichayes » Tue Nov 07, 2006 1:32 pm

Hi All,

For those of you who are interested in cleaning your LPs (45s aren't vinyl and are essentially uncleanable), there are a couple of things you need to be aware of.

First, the purer the water, the stronger a solvent it is. By applying pure (distilled, DI, RO, etc) water to the record surface, the lubricating stearate in the groove is partially dissolved. Following the application with a cleaning brush exacerbates the problem by physically lifting the stearate out of the groove. This is why I dislike the Discwasher System (and why none of my direct-to-disc LPs has ever been wet washed).

Second, pure water has a tendency to act as a growth medium for fungi. Living in the mold and mildew capitol of the world, this is of concern to me. There's something truly unnerving about pulling a record out of its sleeve and finding its surface covered with a bluish grey patina.

The solution--pardon the pun--is to take pure water (I use DI) and "contaminate" it with isopropanol and . . . liquid dishwashing detergent. Get a pint of anhydrous isopropanol from your friendly pharmacist (it's not usually on the aisle with the rubbing alcohol, and don't use rubbing alcohol), and a bottle of original flavor Dawn. Pour off about an ounce of water from a 1 gallon jug of distilled or DI (NOT spring or drinking) water. Add about 10 drops of Dawn, or enough to create a slight amount of suds when shaken. Add alcohol to bring the total volume back up to a gallon, and there y'are. Apply with a natural sponge or one of the old padded velvet record cleaners.

This is the juice I've been using with my Nitty-Gritty cleaner since 1985, and manually for 10 years prior to that. I've even had occaision, in creative moments of desperation, to flood the surface of an uncleanable record and play it wet while transcribing it.

Remember that this is a single component system. You defeat the whole purpose if you rinse the record after cleaning. Instead, use an old diaper or one of those imitation chamois made for cleaning cars and gently blot any excess solution from the surface.
Eric in the Jefferson State
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Postby Shannon Parks » Wed Nov 08, 2006 6:50 am

Dang - batted .000 at CVS last night. No deionized water. No anhydrous isopropanol. I think I will experiment with readily available Deja Blue, 91% Isopropyl and Dawn. I figure contaminant readings under 100ppm should be good.

BTW, Eric, does the Nitty Gritty vacuum cleaner really give you surprising results versus hand cleaning? I'd spring for one if I heard an objective report and I trust you for that. In particular, what about a record that looks very clean and scuff free but has a higher than average noise floor?
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Postby Shannon Parks » Wed Nov 08, 2006 7:36 am

OK - tried one Deja Blue, one drop of original Dawn and topped to the bottom collar of the bottle with 91% alcohol. Measured 27ppm. I'll test it out tonight.
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Remember The Fugs ?

Postby EWBrown » Wed Nov 08, 2006 10:28 am

speaking of dirty records....


http://www.thefugs.com/

Yellow_Light_Colorz_PDT_02 Yellow_Light_Colorz_PDT_09 Yellow_Light_Colorz_PDT_08 :o
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Postby erichayes » Wed Nov 08, 2006 8:06 pm

Hi All,

Shannon, as soon as you open a bottle of anhydrous isopropyl, it probably absorbs 5% of water from the air. 91% is plenty good for kitchen chemistry like this. The reason I specify anhydrous is to better ensure getting alcohol without a bunch of skin conditioners and rash inhibitors found in rubbing alcohol. BTW, rubbing alcohol is verboten for cleaning tape heads (remember those?) for the same reason.

I'm not familiar with deja blue, but if it's running 27 ppm after adding the secret stuff, it passes my muster just fine.

The reason I have a Nitty Gritty is because I was commissioned by my high school reunion committee back in 1985 to compile an anthology of favorite songs of the '60s to play at our 20th reunion in 1987. I put out a plea for records from other classmates, as my collection of rock was pretty limited (I was a folkie). The condition of the albums I received ranged from not too bad, to unlistenable. You have to remember that the phonographs teenagers of the '60s had available to them generally consisted of a VM changer with a 5 volt output crystal cartridge tracking at 15 grams, directly driving the grid(s) of a 50C5(s) for a scorching 1½ watts. My homebrew hi-fi was better than most of my classmates' parents.

Anyway, the NG did an excellent job of making the really dirty records listenable, and a fair job of making the pretty good ones better, but I regarded them as lost causes from the getgo--anything was going to be better than what I was starting with. I also tried it cautiosly on a couple of my own albums that had very good surfaces, the reason for which was because I didn't like them very much. I could hear little to no difference on surface noise--if anything, it went up slightly after cleaning. That's when I decided to switch from NG's $25.00 a gallon solution to my home brew. The results were the same, and I never looked back. My conclusion is one of those obvious ones: If your records aren't making noise, don't clean them.

When RCA came out with the DynaFlex records in the late 60s and early 70s, they cut the weight of the disc by around 30% and used less virgin vinyl in the mix. Most other major labels (Columbia, WEA, Capitol, etc) followed suit, leaving only the classical divisions, foreign labels such as DGG and Decca, and a few indies willing to pay the extra bucks for full size virgin vinyl blanks. Virgin vinyl is easily scratched, but yields the lowest noise floor by far. I have never cleaned any of my virgin vinyl albums, some of which date back to the late 50s, and they sound as good today as they did new.

What you're describing is a classic case of the stearate being stripped from the groove: the surface looks pristine but sounds like it spent a day at the beach. Ball Corporation (the canning supplies cpmpany) came out with a record preservation system in the late 70s called "Sound Guard" whose primary ingredient was some kind of polymer spray applied to the record surface, then hand buffed after a fairly aggressive solvent was applied to intentionally remove the stearate. It actually worked quite well, but, of course, it went the way of the dodo when the cassette and CD took over as the media of choice.

I have a couple of stripped records that I'm going to experiment with. My thoughts for a stearate replacement are running the gamut from castille shampoo to TriFlow to silicone. I'm more concerned with the vehicle of the latter two than the "active ingredient". Winding up with a squishy black blob of plastic is not my goal.
Eric in the Jefferson State
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Postby TomMcNally » Wed Nov 08, 2006 9:21 pm

I went to a high school reunion a few years ago, and the DJ played a "name that tune contest" well, I've been a DJ since I was 18, and know every song on the first note ... needless to say, our table won about 8 bottles of wine as we shouted out the title and artist of every song that was played instantly.

This is still my vinyl system of choice ... gotta try your solution on this CSN album ! Yellow_Light_Colorz_PDT_06 The specs are great !

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Postby erichayes » Wed Nov 08, 2006 9:57 pm

Hi All,

I can't tell from the angle, Tom . . . does it have EMPI exhaust?
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Postby TomMcNally » Wed Nov 08, 2006 10:18 pm

Darn right ... for the price I paid for that thing I could have bought a real (rusty) one !

I started a Rock station in the early 80's (pre-CD) and we decided to put all of the music on NAB Tape Cartridges, which could sound pretty good with first-class equipment. We asked everyone to bring in albums so we could "dub" the songs we needed over to cart, about 725 songs to start with. I still remember one of the girls from our TV station brought in some albums, and I needed Bob Seger's "Night Moves" and she had it. I took the LP out of the sleeve and it had a full size footprint on it in dried Coca Cola ! After much show and tell and laughter, I rinsed it off with warm water in the sink, and dubbed it off. There is a low level spot in the song where the footprint lived on forever, with our aggressive audio processing bringing the album's inherent tape hiss, plus the footprint up to a nice loud level, with some nice ticks and pops. We had a Technics SP-10 with a high priced tone arm and a home made MDF floor cabinet with a
couple of hundred pounds of sand in it to dampen any vibration when we dubbed songs.

Night Moves was such a sound signature of Rock 104 in Atlantic City, I hated to replace it with a CD a couple of years later.
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Postby Shannon Parks » Thu Nov 09, 2006 12:53 pm

Added:
Hinckley Springs Bottle Water 22ppm
Absopure Water (5gal carboy - Grand Rapids/Detroit) 1ppm!!!

Guess I'll start bringing water home from the watercooler. ;)
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Postby Blooze » Thu Nov 09, 2006 1:35 pm

separks wrote:Added:
Hinckley Springs Bottle Water 22ppm
Absopure Water (5gal carboy - Grand Rapids/Detroit) 1ppm!!!

Guess I'll start bringing water home from the watercooler. ;)



Careful on the water in the generic 5ga carboys. We use DI/RO water that is filtered to an inch of it's life in the lab. Once our RO system went down and we had to go to the local "water" store for a bottle. It tested fine that day. I checked it a month later out of curiousity and boredom and it had "picked up" all sorts of contamination. The only conclusion we could come to is that it was leaching from the plastic over time. FWIW, we don't see this in our reagents that are in high quality HDPE carboys.
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Postby Shannon Parks » Thu Nov 09, 2006 4:20 pm

Glad I never 'borrowed' one for homebrewing then! Yellow_Light_Colorz_PDT_09
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Postby Shannon Parks » Thu Nov 09, 2006 7:10 pm

Added:
Dannon Spring Water 150ppm
Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water 197ppm

Yes, I'm bugging every person I see drinking bottled water. I just need a pocket protector and a bamboo slide rule. Yellow_Light_Colorz_PDT_06
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Postby WA4SWJ » Thu Nov 09, 2006 7:50 pm

Thank goodness! I had a metal slide rule!

(Didn't wear it on my belt either!)

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