Oh no, there's metal in your records!

IMO, this is completely out of left field. But, here’s the story. On Saturday, there was a "seminar" at the local stereo shop about why you should listen to high quality records. It turned out to be a 3 hour commercial for this dude who wants to market his services as a "HQ record shopper" of sorts. For a mere $240, you get an annual subscription to his services. You pick a title, and he will find the "best available" version of the record... so you can buy it. And, when he brings it to you, he’ll bring other similar records for you to buy. Most of these records are in the $50 to $100 range, so this "service" clearly not for me. Plus, I kind of like the hunt for a gem.

Anyway, the point of the post: One thing he said is that some older vinyl has metallic content embedded in the vinyl, and that it can interact with your cartridge’s magnet, causing distortion. Therefore, you should only buy the newest, most pristine (hence most expensive) vinyl records... from him, of course. I didn’t want to challenge him on the spot in front of others, but in my mind I’m thinking this is the most ridiculous claim I’ve ever heard. Even more ridiculous than gems you place on your speakers to change the way they sound... but, I digress. I understand he wants to show the true value of his "service"... but, seriously? Interesting business idea... but metal in the vinyl?

Just for fun, I did a little bit of google searching for metal in vinyl, and I found links to Metallica and Whitesnake records, but no stories about the metal embedded in the vinyl. So, can you prove me wrong, or just remind me that I’m not all that gullible. Please! Anyone have any information about such a wild claim?
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Have you heard about acetate (lacquer disc) ?
There is a metal covered by lacquer, can be 7 inch, 10 inch or even 12 inch. Master disc is the almost the same. But everyone can order an acetate for personal use, just one-off. Good for producers to cut your own music on "vinyl" (aka lacquer disc) to try or to make sure about mastering/mixing. This is the only metal disc that i know. It is not vinyl and wear factor is quicker than actuall pressing, but you can make one-off for about $30.

Watch this Lacquer Cutting Lathe   https://youtu.be/60LEmBXFpZI 

@chakster Right... but this is a very rare thing, and you’d have to seek it out. He was talking about your typical run of the mill vinyl.

@jmcgrogan2 I know what you mean! But, because it’s vinyl, that’s desirable distortion. :^)
I don’t know about metal, but as almost anyone who has handled LPs knows, they are prone to static charges. Thus, the use of additives, such as carbon black, which served several purposes, one of which was to make the record more conductive, to lessen the potential charge. ( I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but I can pull some old AES papers I read a few years ago about the subject).
This was a factor in Classic Records’ choice to go for their Clarity vinyl toward the end of their business life; the theory being, the conductive aspects of the vinyl led to all sorts of sonic anomalies.(I do have a few of those records, including a promo set of Aqualung that was released in both conventional (carbon) black and Clarity (translucent) to demonstrate the sonic differences. (My take was that the difference was relatively minor- the far bigger issue for Classic, as most of you know, was QC, non-fill and stitching when he went to the 200 gram flat profile). 
As to demagnetizing records, I experimented with it using Lloyd Walker’s handheld bar- I forget the product name. In the same way you could hear very slight differences with some things, it was possible I was hearing an improvement. I quit using for two reasons- I’m lazy, and I also didn’t like the idea of getting a magnetic field anywhere near my phono cartridge.

Not to mention CDs.  I didn’t realize the metal layer was steel or some other magnetic metal. 🤠
OP, that guy sounds like a complete fraud. Stay away! $240 yearly subscription to find you records. LOL. You just can't make this stuff up. 
OP, that guy sounds like a complete fraud. Stay away! $240 yearly subscription to find you records.
Fraud is a serious charge. If he's providing the records, it doesn't seem fraudulent. Is it a good value? That's subjective.

I’m guessing the fee helps cover the cost of acquiring multiple copies you can buy.

Getting others to buy your high quality records for you ain’t cheap.

No clue what the metal in the record deal is so that would have no value in my eyes. Various other well known things factor into whether a record is good quality or not and also how much they are worth. I’d read up on and focus more on those not some secret sauce.

Static electricity with records is a real thing. A swipe with a good quality carbon fiber brush takes care of that when needed.   Some humidity in the air if possible helps keep static electricity and related possible pops and clicks down. 
I think the guy was referring to the carbon black as mentioned by @whart .  I am not convinced it would have any effect on the cartridge, nor on the guy's ability to sell subscriptions, so I'm not sure why he brought it up.  

He was trying to push albums on clear vinyl, and they probably were some Clarity Vinyl records, I bet.  However, reading around about the Clarity releases, it seems to be hit-or-miss on the quality of the pressings.  Seems to me that would affect the playback much more than any quantity of carbon in the vinyl attracting the cart's magnet.
For the record (pun intended) I have had success with Gruv Glide helping to reduce static and reduce those pops and clicks.  
Seems like I recall somewhere someone saying that (supposedly) the coloring in black vinyl records had traces of iron in it and that was supposed to be the reason that clear vinyl editions sounded better...which I don't know about.

But never knew a record to react to magnet held up to it, so...
Even supposing the guy has a way to tell which records are magnetic, is he going to tell anybody what the method is? Uhh...no.....probably because it's something any of us could do without any special tools...and likely could be done for free.
@ivan_nosnibor I think that's the concept of the carbon black.  But, I still don't believe it makes any appreciable difference.  I've also heard that colored vinyl has its own limitations.  

In the end, I think my BS meter was on target.  If it sounds good, just enjoy it!  I'm not ready to trade all my records for clear vinyl.  :-)
The presence of magnetizable (ferrous) metal in the vinyl and the question of static charge building up on the LP surface are two entirely different things.  As some know, you can buy a device designed to degauss an LP; I don't know whether it's still on the market, but I think Furutech made it (and sold it for something like $2500!!).  In reaction to that product, there were a lot of on-line debates about ferrous material in vinyl.  Some talked about buying much less expensive tape degaussers found on eBay, to do the same thing for less money.  But nowhere at any time did I read of any convincing evidence that there actually IS any ferrous material in vinyl.  The thought that newly made LPs would be free of this (non)issue is kind of laughable.  Anyway, to the best of my ability to investigate, there is no evidence that vinyl contains ferrous metals.  One of my audiophile friends has a Furutech degausser gathering dust in the corner of his listening room.  He would rather not talk about it.

On the other hand, as anyone knows who plays LPs, the surface of an LP is very prone to pick up static charge, and there are various ways to deal with it.  The most popular is using a Zerostat, although many do not use the Zerostat properly.  However, it makes us feel good to use a Zerostat after brushing. 
He would rather not talk about it? Ooooo! The mystery deepens. Very scary! 😳
He would rather not talk about spending $2500 (less the discount he probably finagled) for the Furutech demagnetizer that he now never uses and from which he never detected a benefit.  OK?  Was trying for a bit of humor.

My guess is the OP is referring to the existence of non-virgin vinyl(?)


In the early 1970s some records were composed of this re-processed vinyl which sadly included fragments from the tungsten steel grinder blades of the machines used to chew it up. The concern here (for me at least) is not whether these fragments are slightly magnetised but what happens when those fragments collide with the stylus! The other concern is that if loosened/dislodged (and if truly magnetic in nature) that fragment will fly straight into the generator and stay there :O

...and there's not much a Furutech can do about that ;^)

Not good. :(

@moonglum - well done. I gather that regrinding is still common today, but that the issue of metal fragments is not as much of a problem. See [url]https://www.ptonline.com/articles/a-vinyl-record-business-grows-in-brooklyn[/url]
I was told recently by someone-- he'd have to elaborate- that the end product today actually comes out better with some proportion of regrind.
I can't give you specifics, but could reach out to him to see if he'll chime in here.
FWIW, I treasure one of my early Sounds of the South Skynyrd pressings with paper flecks pressed into the vinyl. :)
Very interesting article Whart.

After my local record shop had been refurbished in the mid-70s I remember buying an LP that had half a packet of small headed nails inside the sleeve. It brought new meaning to the idea of finding metal fragments in your vinyl :) :)
Moonglum, You have a vivid imagination, indeed.  You'd better get one of those Furutechs.

One can see those ''black small particles'' around the stylus and

cantilever by nearly all carts. The magnets in (MC) carts certainly

attract them. The only advantage of this fact is that one will

know this way that such cart is not new (grin).

If the magnets of the cartridge attracts them why are they on the stylus and cantilever?
I grind my coffee beans every morning using a grinder that is probably not as tough as the one used to recycle vinyl LPs.  Probably I should treat the grind with my friend's Furutech before brewing.

I grind my coffee beans every morning using a grinder that is probably not as tough as the one used to recycle vinyl LPs.  Probably I should treat the grind with my friend's Furutech before brewing.

Old 78 rpm discs were made of shellac (dried insect resin aka lacquer) mixed with things like carbon black, cotton floc, limestone, rottenstone, barytes, slate, quartz, and pumice.

From Wikipedia: Exact formulas for this compound varied by manufacturer and over the course of time, but it was typically composed of about one-third shellac and about two-thirds mineral filler, which meant finely pulverized rock, usually slate and limestone, with an admixture of cotton fibers to add tensile strength and carbon black for color (without this, it tended to be a "dirty" gray or brown color that most record companies considered unattractive).

Others claim the main filler used in 78s was carborundum, aka silicon carbide an extremely hard industrial abrasive.

Whatever the filler is it grinds away steel needles pretty quick. RCA recommended changing to a new needle after playing two sides.
Are you suggesting that the widespread and longstanding concerns over non-virgin vinyl are merely an Urban Myth?
Kind regards,

There are all kinds of particles neither of them should be

in the groove nor on the stylus.

I don't believe that "hunks" of vinyl are randomly ground off the record and then stick to my cantilever.  If that were the case, over time, the cantilever would become larger and the records would be smooth and make no sound.  

I think the crap you see stuck to the cantilever is more likely dust and particles that were attracted to the album by static, and are now attracted to the stylus by static. 
Moon, I guess I am suggesting that I don't know and don't much care about non-virgin vinyl.  I would not characterize the question as a "concern" that is "widespread and longstanding".  I would, however, be interested to know if anyone has a solid basis for believing that LPs contain magnetizable materials, just out of curiosity.  No one here seems to have such evidence.

The plot thickens…

According to one of the World’s top cartridge makers/builders/re-builders, acquired magnetic particulates inside the cartridge generator are not an occasional occurrence (as I would have thought and implied earlier) but a surprisingly COMMON occurrence…

Without wishing to replace one question with another we must look towards accessories or machinery which produce/”exhale” magnetic particulates such that the cartridge generator is in a position to “Hoover them up”. My opinion is that this could only happen easily if the source were proximal i.e. if the particulates were attached to or lying upon the vinyl surface whilst the cartridge passed over them.

I can’t see many turntable enthusiasts playing their vinyl with the lid off while someone uses a hammer drill on the wall above ;^)

Nor do I see anyone playing music whilst the vacuum cleaner flashes past the turntable, blasting hot air at it. ;^)

Turntable motors are generally shielded and highly magnetic inside, making it harder for magnetic particulates to escape (and then they would have to cover real distance to the cartridge).

Even accepting that the material might be conveniently located it isn’t THAT easy for the cart to absorb them because it is well encapsulated and there are barriers. The pull of the magnet IS powerful but there are obstacles.

Since the appearance of magnetic “crud” inside a cartridge is a confirmed FACT, where is this acquired material coming from?

The cartridge certainly isn’t spontaneously synthesizing it out of thin air otherwise cartridge builders would be seriously worried.

Answers/theories on a postcard please. ;^)


According to one of the World’s top cartridge makers/builders/re-builders, acquired magnetic particulates inside the cartridge generator are not an occasional occurrence (as I would have thought and implied earlier) but a surprisingly COMMON occurrence … Since the appearance of magnetic “crud” inside a cartridge is a confirmed FACT ...

Who is this unnamed " top cartridge makers/builders/re-builders?" How do we know the claim is a confirmed fact?

It's quite easy really. You go to the experts and ask them. Try it yourself & report back. :)
Here we go again. Nice try ;)
It's quite easy really. You go to the experts and ask them. Try it yourself & report back. :)
I'm not sure what you mean here. You previously stated:
According to one of the World’s top cartridge makers/builders/re-builders, acquired magnetic particulates inside the cartridge generator are not an occasional occurrence (as I would have thought and implied earlier) but a surprisingly COMMON occurrence … Since the appearance of magnetic “crud” inside a cartridge is a confirmed FACT ...
If you state it's a "confirmed fact," you must have some substantiation of that. Otherwise, it's not confirmed, and perhaps not a "fact." Correct?

The linked photo is of the internals of a Victor MC-L1000 cartridge. As far as I know, the cartridge in the photo was not subjected to unusual neglect, nor was it operated in a uniquely iron-laden environment.

The gold-colored object in the upper part of the photo is the front yoke, the darker object running across the center of the photo is the magnet, the object in the lower part of the photo is the rear yoke, and the silver-white rod running down from the center of the photo is the cantilever.

The photo shows clearly that enough grime has been attracted to the yokes to completely fill up the gap (horizontal in the center of the photo). The shape of the grime bulging out of both sides of the gap implies significant magnetic content.

The clogged-up gap completely immobilized the cantilever - cleaning out the gap restored normal cantilever mobility.
I see that it's a dirty cartridge, and agree with your comments that it's dirty, and that dirt could cause a problem.  But, otherwise what are you saying?  Are you suggesting that this is metallic material that was "scraped off and attracted magnetically" from the records by the magnet?  
To add to soundermn's apt questions, do we know the hours of use on the cartridge that you described, Jcarr?  Thanks for chiming into this thread to enlighten us Philistines, by the way.  Your input is appreciated.

I have had the experience of using a magnet to attract a tiny washer, screw, or nut that I accidentally dropped on the floor under my basement workbench or in my garage.  Inevitably, the magnetic head of the probe comes back with "magnetic dirt" all over it, in addition to the retrieved washer/screw/nut, if I'm lucky.  This suggests to me that there is magnetic dirt or dust in the environment, generally.  (Of course, no one uses a phono cartridge to probe for a washer on the floor, but my observation suggests that what we see on the cartridge need not necessarily have come from an LP.)
@lewm I think you are spot-on!  Great analogy.  I love analogies, and this is a great one!

Dear Jonathan,

Many thanks for rescuing me! :)

(Lyra were not the suppliers of my original information BTW but it was very kind of Jonathan to elaborate on this problem. Top man!)

Having given the earlier question (ie the source) some thought I realised the following (and thankfully nobody has mentioned it yet).

I said that no one would operate a vacuum cleaner near their turntable whilst music was being played but soon realised that the cartridge doesn’t need to be in use in order for the particulates to be absorbed by it, although uncovering the T/T is undoubtedly UNhelpful(!)

When I initially discussed this via email with a “World Renowned Cartridge Builder/Rebuilder”, one of their theories for the source of the problem was :

“Vacuum cleaner motor + super-strong magnet = cartridge full of metal filings” (a direct quote from their e-mail)

In retrospect that theory looks more probable by the minute. It’s difficult to say what percentage of the contaminants might be attributable to “non-virgin vinyl” but I would guess that it is extremely small e.g. an occasional chip for every 50x 1970s LPs.

So, in a way, “the truth is still out there” regarding “non-virgin vinyl”.

“Onwards & upwards….!” :)

The effects of magnetic particulates in old carts makes one wonder if there is an argument in favour of replacing or reconditioning cartridges more frequently than we would normally have considered? (A slightly off-topic comment I realise....)
Who is this unnamed source?  And what problem is this source trying to help you resolve?  The original question is about metallic content in vinyl.  What super strong magnet, and what vacuum motor are you talking about?  

Even if the record has metallic content, like Carbon Black, it isn't "rubbing off" continuously such that it's coating a cantilever.  If that was the case, all of my 50 year old records would be either smooth, or unlistenable, and my cartridge would look like a wooly bear.

The effects of magnetic particulates in old carts makes one wonder if there is a...
We haven't established that there are any magnetic particulates.  In fact, my conclusion is that it's unlikely.  I've learned that cartridges get dusty, just like everything else.  Over time, static charge plus moisture in the air or whatever, and those dust particles get stuck to the cartridge or cantilever.  So, a little cleaning is in order (just like under the couch and on our records) to keep things tidy.  

I definitely don't draw the conclusion that we should now replace cartridges regularly because metal is being stripped from the vinyl and attaching itself magnetically to the cartridge and cantilever.  

Moonglum, I think you are trolling here.  You've implied that the production of vinyl rubs metal particles off the "Tungsten steel grinder blades", which are then deposited in the non-virgin vinyl, which is then rubbed by the diamond needle, which pulls the metal out of the vinyl.  And then, the "super strong magnet" in the cartridge sucks these particles to itself, like an electromagnet.  And in the process, the cantilever grows to the point that it cannot move any longer.  I assume you are also implying that the diamond is harder than the vinyl, even though the vinyl is strong enough to abrade Tungsten steel?  
Next, I suppose you will tell me I need to lift the speaker cable off the floor to prevent static electricity from "smearing" the sound, and that some unnamed world-renowned genius thinks we should sprinkle diamond dust over tubes to make them sound more sparkly.  JK... I don't wish to go there.  Sarcastic humor.  

This train is well off the tracks now...