What kind of cartridge do you use? You could buy several different stylus
tips to experiment with.
Mono LPs were cut with a wider groove, so that a microgroove stylus will
ride much further down in the groove than it should.
I think that the old vinyl was a little noisier from the start (in my
experience with mint records), but took much more abuse before becoming
unplayable (compared to a Columbia or RCA from the '70s that had a much
softer vinyl formulation and was thin and floppy).
Cutting engineers for the audiophile labels like Classic Records try to
limit the side to 17 minutes for the best fidelity. They cut louder than
the old records with as big a groove as possible. That gives the best sound
with the high end cartridges. If you play one of those with a junky
cartridge, it may mistrack during loud passages. A good example of what can
happen is with the first pressing on RCA of The Pines of Rome. It was cut
without compression and bass summing making listener's cartridges literally
jump out of the grooves. A modern cartridge like a Shure V15 tracks it
without problem, but 40 years ago, a Shure M3D couldn't play it. So they
pulled the 1S pressings they had left, re-cut it with bass summing and some
compression and the 1S pressing became a one of a kind sonic spectacular
that would fetch $400 easy. The louder cutting is harder to track but
brings the music that much further above the noise floor of the vinyl, the
stylus scraping the vinyl, the rumble of he bearing, any hum in the arm wire
and RIAA circuit, and any other problems you may have with limitations to
the playback chain. But you need a good cartridge.
That M44 cartridge is very modern in its execution. It'll track almost
anything a V15 will track, but it has either an elliptical or conical tip,
where the V15 has a fine line or microridge tip. I know one of the things
that you are hearing with the M44 is that it has a heavy and ridged aluminum
cantilever designed for heavy use. Couple that with a conical tip, and the
high end starts to roll off very quickly. It acts as a mechanical filter
because it doesn't respond quickly to reproduce the tics and pops the way a
hyper elliptical with a light/fragile cantilever will. The conical tip
won't track the high frequencies depending on what the loudness is, or if
it's close to the end of the side, or if the frequencies are high. Picture
the groove as mountains. The big peaks are bass and midrange and the scrub
brush is treble. And hear comes a huge boulder. It's coming down a slope
that has very few crags (no loud bass or midrange) and it can track the
scrub brush (highs) just fine. But all of a sudden this big round boulder
hits some big ridges (bass drum whacks or organ pedals) and in the process,
since it is big and round it can't go all the way down into the craggy area.
The boulder because it is big and round will skip from the top of one ridge
to the top of the next because the size of the boulder prevents it from
riding all the way down into the valley (the valley is narrower than the
thickness of the boulder). It can track the brush as long as something
bigger doesn't get in the way. With a microridge diamond the think acts
more like a garden trowel with a thin edge and can go all the way down into
the valleys. So Tom's theory is correct. The big needle just doesn't
reproduce as much of the noise cause it can't reach it.
How about a humidifier? I have one going during the winter months for my
allergies and to cut down on static. Works like a charm. It's an
evaporative type, not the heating element kind.
If you are playing mono records, I would suggest investing in a mono
cartridge (true mono, not a stereo cartridge strapped to mono internally).
I have the Denon dl102 and it makes hammered records play much better. It
has a conical tip and it ignores any vertical information (the vertical
noise on a mono record is only noise; the signal is the horizontal back and
forth). Vertical noise is 30dB down from the horizontal signal. I played a
hammered copy of Dial 203, Charlie Parker Quintet. I would grade it as
Poor. With a modern cartridge, it was unlistenable. With the mono
cartridge and proper EQ (another variable), it was still noisy, but you
could make out the music much easier.
The DL102 is described here:
Sorry to go on and on.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Tom Fine"
I do not know this for a
> fact, but my experience is that older LPs were either cut with wider
> grooves or the grooves have widened with time (vinyl is, after all, a
> plastic and plastic is inherently unstable over time). Or the vinyl was
> much "chunkier" back in the day, so prone to crackle. Generally, when I
> play an LP pressed in USA from pre-1970's or so, I use a more rounded
> cartridge type and experiment with tracking weights if it's crackly.
> Sometimes you can get better results doing this, sometimes the vinyl is
> just plain crackly. Everyone knows that at least some Eurovinyl was better
> all along, and the Europeans tended to put more content per side so the
> groove pitch was generally smaller (and levels lower), all factors making
> playback on a modern system more likely satisfying. Audiophile labels
> copied that approach and now I notice they've gone back to the old-school
> methods of "cut the hell out of the laquer" but press on very quiet and
> rigid vinyl.
> I have, use and love a VPI cleaning machine. Cleaning is the best vinyl
> noise-reducer I've found but it doesn't have to be a pricey machine. > I
> own and have transferred many (thousands by now) of LPs, and I do not like
> to listen to noisy surfaces, so I've worked this problem for many years.
> People scoff at cartridges like Shure M44, but sometimes that or an old
> radio station cartridge will play an old record best. My only theory is
> that the needle is thicker and/or more rounded so it doesn't ride as low
> in the groove. On the other hand, modern or very pristine vinyl seems
> better with a modern cartridge. When a client sends or brings a vinyl
> record in, I wash it and then play a little bit. If it's hopelessly
> crackly or loaded with groove distortion, I'll turn the work away because
> neither of us are going to be happy with the results. I'll fix ticks and
> pops (no auto-digi-fix here) if they'll pay the time, but I can't do
> anything about groove distortion caused by too many plays, bad
> storage/care or tracking with the dull nails that passed for stylii in
> some cases back in the day. Some records are just literally played to
> death, the downside of grooved mechanical disks.
> Finally, Zerostat can't hurt. I use one and like it. Some days, a record
> just gets full of static (particularly this time of year). But the kind of
> crackle you describe won't come from static unless there's a grounding
> problem in your system, and even then I doubt it. But do feel free to post
> or send around a short sample of what you're talking about.
> -- Tom Fine