Crackle and hiss on some albums

New to world of vinyl. 
Had a low end Orbit turntable, played everything OK.

Upgraded to a Planar 3 with Rega Exact 2 cartridge. Absolutely love it. Noticed that some albums - even when brand new - exhibit some crackle, pop, and hiss. Some albums are dead silent and perfect. Have checked for dust and that doesn’t seem to be issue. Is there a quality factor with some pressings I am missing? Or something in setup that needs looking at?


Thank you for thoughts! 

System is Vincent tube gear -

Vincent PH-701 tube Phono Stage

Vincent SA-T7 tube Preamp

Vincent SP-20 tube hybrid Amp

Sonus Faber Olympica II’s 


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Clean them before first play with an ultrasonic cleaner and a release agent. Once the stylus "welds" them into the grooves it is too late.

Buy a SweetVinyl Sugar Cube or live with it like the old days.

How are you checking for dust? Visual inspection is futile unless the LP really is filthy. If you’re buying used LPs it may be that some are worn out; badly worn LPs can look perfectly ok by visual inspection. But if there’s simply gunk in the grooves, where the music is encoded and the gunk is not visible to the naked eye, then a Record Cleaning Machine would be of some benefit, but I’d recommend a conventional VPI vacuum type. Ultrasonic cleaning is a hobby unto itself.

So with your cheap turntable you did not hear lots of noise?


First, typically the noise goes down the better the turntable with a big drop when you hit high end… let’s arbitrarily say around $5K depending on the type of table. But then, you say that some are very quiet… so it doesn’t seem to be the table quality. Although many of my very noisy records became silent with a high end table and high end cartrige. I believe the cartrige has a much smaller stylist and it drops down much deeper into the groove from where damage had been done. I have a surprising number of beat up albums from the 1970’s that sound great.


Then there are albums themselves. There is a category of non cleanable albums that sound like you say. For me they have been less than 1 in a hundred when buying used records. But I have lots of experience. 99% of the time you can tell a trashed album at the store by taking it out and reflecting the lights from above across the album. A clean / non-destroyed album’s grooved area will be bright and shiny. Really high volume (in the music) area will show exaggerate grooves… so not quite as shiny… but overall bright and shiny. Trashed albums will be dull looking.


So, if you have a little noise, or constant surface noise a better turntable may take care of them. But if a constant noisy albums with pops and hiss. Even a good record cleaner ( a must if you will be collection… VPI sells an expensive if noisy vacuum cleaner) will not fix these. You need to figure out how not to buy them.

Dust doesn’t make pops. Good luck getting rid of them short of editing them out digitally or serious electronic mitigation costing more than all of your analogue equipment together.

View the pop/grooves with a microscope and you’ll see what you’re up against.

Cleaning after you’ve created them misses the boat.

GHD, I cannot quite visualize how a "better turntable" would mitigate the noise from noisy LPs, if we agree that ticks, pops, and other sorts of noise associated with vinyl playback are due to mistracking, dirt in the grooves, or a worn out LP.  No turntable can fix any of those problems.  I better tonearm and better setup of any tonearm might mitigate mistracking.  Different cartridges handle dirty and/or worn out LPs with different success rates, also depending upon setup.  Also some cartridges inherently track better than others. But it's hard to blame the turntable in any of this.

Exact carts are known to be overly detailed. The output is around 7mv. Most MM carts are around 5mv. Make sure the capacitance on your PHO-701 is set for 115 pF. If the vinyl is imperfect in anyway, Exact carts tend to emphasize those imperfections. I think you’re just experiencing a mix of static and pressings with low quality vinyl. Especially if other pressings sound fantastic on your system. Some carts just aren’t as forgiving as others.

@fuzztone   I believe the research shows that the stylus does not in fact raise the temp of the vinyl more than a very small amount.  There is no melting of the LOP and no "welding" going on.  Cheers.

  • That plastic melts into a fluid under the tip pressure as propagated by some can be completely rejected.
  • Temp rise of the Vinyl groove because of static stylus force and dynamic friction while playing, will not exceed at most a few degrees, where the friction component is dominant.


Tanking a poorly designed phono preamp can contribute…. but inspection of supposedly clean LP under black light will reveal the sometimes UGLY truth….

I love it when a newbie vinyl user gets hit in the face with the reality of the medium.  New, used or otherwise, any vinyl is very often noisy.  There are pops, clicks, lead-in groove swooshing, warp wow, off-center pressings, etc.  But occasionally there will be a quiet, well-made record.  We deal with it and move on.  Record cleaning machines may help, but only to a certain degree.

Not "very often noisy", unless your collection was derived by shopping at Goodwill or at yard sales, but occasionally noisy, yes.

GHD, When you say it is your "experience" that turntables can enhance or reduce ticks and pops, do you mean to say that with the same tonearm, cartridge, setup, phono stage, and LPs, changing only the turntable per se made a difference? I'm more than skeptical but of course I am in no position to doubt what you say.

If surface noise is a major irritant, then just listen to digital.  Even the highest end gear can’t completely eliminate it and to enjoy vinyl you need to have some tolerance for it.

Get a good cd player…no noise other than the music…Yamaha cd-s1000 is great…

Welcome to the world of vinyl. If a record is real bad return it. However if one record is noisy all other records in that batch will; be noisy. You will notice that some brands are much better than others. If you do not take pristine care of your records they will all become noisy. 

I find that a thorough washing before first playing the record, and then another washing after the first play is useful. With that said, you are never going to eliminate all of the pops and crackles, it’s part of the media. Worth it in my opinion, But the only way to absolutely eliminate that noise is to go digital 

@fuzztone   I also own an ultrasonic LP cleaner.  A necessity if you are interested in vinyl IMHO.  My personal rule is to clean the LP with a bit of Kodak Photo Flow in the water.  This causes the water to sheet off and dry without deposits.  Once cleaned, Nothing ever touches the surface of the LP.  No cloth or brushes that will push dust down into the groves.  I use a Furutech DeStat III to remove any surface charge before playing.  This process has really improved the sound quality in most of my collection.  Sadly, nothing can be done to fix a bad pressing or used LPs that are simply played out.  Cheers. 

The vast majority of my LPs are quiet on any of my 5 TTs. If an LP has objectionable noise, it goes to the recycle bin. I’m feeling a bit sorry for the vinyl martyrs. RBCDs leave me cold.

@OP Some modern pressings are noisy. And some purely analogue recordings exhibit tape hiss. Back in the era when multitrack recorders were limited to four or eight tracks, there was frequently an amount of bouncing done to increase the number of recordable tracks, and this caused increased hiss as the noise from each bounce was baked in to the overall recording.

One thing not mentioned....Also inspect the stylus. Crap can collect on front, back and sides and will contaminate the sound horribly.  

Noisy new albums is mainly a result of poor quality vinyl material used in pressing. Japan used to be recognized as one using some of the purest vinyl quality, dead silent. Nowadays it's a crapshoot at best. Even so I have an excellent analog system with over 2k vinyl, I no longer buy them mainly because of quality issues. Rather, if I must have a physical version of something I discover while streaming, I buy the CD. The main reason is quality, the secondary one is, with the new vinyl craze, CDs are much more reasonably priced than vinyl. It seems to me that the people now just coming into vinyl will have a huge uphill mountain to climb to build a satisfactory record collection. It's always all about timing. I built most of my vinyl collection in the 60s and 70s.

If you can take equal pleasure in both media, go for it. For me RBCD is elevator Muzak. Good for background music at a party. ( Not talking about hi-Rez digital.)

Dirty stylus, bad records, too much static, contributes to all what OP is saying. So I clean the stylus, Desat the table and the record, I also used ultrasonic vynil cleaner. Pops are hard to eliminate.

Fwiw, I purchased two new records a couple weeks back and both were cleaned in the same exact manner(as I do with all new albums). One - Rush's "Exit... Stage Left" and Neil Diamond's "Hot August Nights" (a gift for my wife that she was very anxious to hear). H.A.N. sounded like it had sat out for a few days in a drywall removal project! The Rush album was black as night without the "dirty record" layer. An associate that has way more experience with vinyl, without hesitation, asserted that H.A.N. is a bad pressing, nothing more, which at least put my mind at ease that it was nothing that needed to be changed in my cleaning process.

Wow, so grateful for all the thoughtful replies, thank you! 

I’m only cleaning with an air spray and dust ‘brush’ thing I got off Amazon. Clearly that isn’t the right method. Will up my game. 

 Absolutely love the medium, don’t mind the pops and hisses, but also driven to understand what the heck is going on, and if possible address.


Great feedback across all replies. Thanks again.



I would highly recommend sending your records to PerfectVinylForever, a record cleaning service. His is no ordinary ultrasonic cleaning process; it’s a multi-step cleaning done with proprietary equipment that he designed himself. I know, you’re thinking “snake oil” — I thought the same thing. I had always used my VPI record cleaner and thought it couldn’t be beat. How wrong I was — PVF is amazing. Records sound completely black with improved sonics. Even some of the pops and cracks are gone.  I’ve now sent nearly 50% of my collection to him and will eventually finish the remaining albums. It’s absolutely amazing — even my old “college frisbee albums” sound good after a PVF cleaning. I’ve included his website link or you can just search for PerfectVinylForever. 


I would highly recommend sending your records to PerfectVinylForever, a record cleaning service. His is no ordinary ultrasonic cleaning process; it’s a multi-step cleaning done with proprietary equipment that he designed himself. I know, you’re thinking “snake oil” — I thought the same thing. I had always used my VPI record cleaner and thought it couldn’t be beat. How wrong I was — PVF is amazing. Records sound completely black with improved sonics. Even some of the pops and cracks are gone.  I’ve now sent nearly 50% of my collection to him and will eventually finish the remaining albums. It’s absolutely amazing — even my old “college frisbee albums” sound good after a PVF cleaning. I’ve included his website link or you can just search for PerfectVinylForever. 


At the very least, a PVF cleaning will tell you for sure if the noise was just dirt or inevitable wear from frequent use or disuse.

I offer another PVF salutation as possible help for your problem with noise. I’ve several albums that were purchased in both vinyl and RTR played on my prosumer Studer. Of course, tape is without extraneous noise and has a stronger dynamic range. Some albums— but not can be cleaned by PVF to a silence that matches RTR. This is my experience for new and used albums. Neither PVF nor I are able to predict in advance what album will become noiseless. PVF is not cheap. But despite their cost and variable success, a positive outcome with PVF is so striking that I send every album to them — even those that are new.



No, I cannot say that with absolute certainty as it was from a series of upgrades of different tables and cartridges etc on different tts when I was moving from mid-fi to audiophile stuff. It all seemed to contribute to different degrees. The solidly stable tt seemed to significantly reduce surface noice. The cartrige when having a tiny stylist would significantly reduce the pops and more obvious discrete noise.  

I believe that @mahler123 hit the nail on the head. Vinyl as a medium is prone to physical imperfections. Be it foreign matter like dust or fingerprints (gasp!) or actual damage to the record itself such as scratches or just plain wear. 

As a long time vinyl enthusiast, I think I've learned to just listen 'past the noise' to the good stuff we're after which is, ostensibly, the music. I found a great LP at a used shop the other day, Brubeck's "Time In". 


A quick examination at the store showed it to be in not too bad in condition, When I got home I ran it through my Project RCM and was pleased that although not perfect, it was quite passable listening. And having learned something new, I'll now have to search for the rest of the "Time" series of LPs. After listening a thought occurred to me and sure enough, searching Amazon Prime, "Time In" appeared in the catalog and I can listen to the music w/o the surface noise of the LP... But somehow the LP sounds more vivid, more "real" to my ears in comparison. 

Sorry for the ramble! Too much coffee this morning I expect. 😇

Happy listening.

"Time Out" made the Brubeck Quartet practically a household name in the US at a time when jazz was popular music. That's the one you want.  Joe Morello's drum work on that album is unique and spectacular, as indeed it had to be because of the weird time signatures chosen by the group. Paul Desmond was recognized for the great alto sax player that he already was, as a result of that album. You can get good pressings of that album easily.

@fuzztone ...+1 on the Sugarcube by Sweet Vinyl.  I have been happily turning sows asses into silk purses with my SC-2 since I got a beta unit when it was crowd funded in 2016. Of course, I still use my vacuum record cleaning machine, the cheep and cheerful KAB record cleaner, as well as an In The Groove cleaner as a finishing tool, and an anti-static gun, but with it's transparent click removal and background noise reduction (a form of digital noise masking), the results I get from beat up garage sale LPs is gobsmackingly good!

A seemingly increasing proportion of vinyl since initial decline in production (1990’s)  has QC issues. Much of the original production machinery is long gone, and much of what’s in use today is purportedly not new. Add to that what’s likely considerably higher cost for ingredients (PVC sourced from overseas) and perhaps integrity of said ingredients (no info available on the chemical or environmental standards of major producers of the precursor pellets), and “180g” isn’t a spec that will save performance of the final new product.

A strong stream of water into grooves is probably the second most effective way to remove noise from troubled vinyl (whether it’s been accrued through time via dust or is a result of poor QC from the get-go) that you can do in-house. There are sandwich-handled-discs that can be screwed onto the center of each LP (over the label) that allow water-blasting under a strong faucet (silicon inner discs protect the album labels from water).

The most effective solution I’ve seen is to apply WD40 to the troubled disc via microfiber cloth (preferably after washing said disc). However, white spirits x vinyl over the years… well, chemically, who knows. Also, a semi-liquid in the grooves x hollow cantilever for me was always a “no.” Amazing solution in performance, but not one I use on my equipment.

I had no idea there was a mail-in disc cleaning service. In a world advocating people consider food miles etc., the concept of re-shipping vinyl that’s already shipped at least twice got a chuckle from me.


Congrats on the upgrade!  I moved up to a Planar six (w/exact 2 cart) from an old Dual 1219 a couple of years ago and it was well worth it. 

Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of variability in quality from album to album. Many new albums I have bought have been noisy from the get-go. I tend to stick to the used bins and look for super clean records. I clean them all with a Pro-ject VC-E vacuum machine which does a nice job and won't break the bank. But, there are always some random pops and clicks. You might look into a Zerostat static reduction gun. IMO it actually does work and definitely helps with pops and clicks.

Best of luck!

Some record labels or pressings just used inferior or recycled vinyl. The Noise cannot be removed. However, if dirty, then the record dr is a great economical machine. I use mine with audio intelligent #6 cleaner. There will also be a bit more noise when tubes are introduced, such as in the phono stage. All depends on how well it was designed. Typically a solid state preamp is quieter.