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Wet playing revisited

the thin end of the wedge

Wet playing revisited

Postby flavio81 » 15 Oct 2009 01:10

Today i revisited wet playing of records.

Really, records who had dirt that could not be removed by wiping them with cleaning fluid, sound like clean when wet played (more on that later), no tics&pops, plus the sound clarity does not seem to suffer at all!!

Of course this assumes i've cleaned all kinds of grease away from the record, and that the record has no fungus/mold in it, nor scratches. Just common dirt. Dirt which won't go off using a carbon brush or a wet cloth.

So, researching the internet i see wet playing of records have gotten a bad rap, by the following pseudo-scientific reasons:

1. "Vinyl heats to hundreds of degrees when played, which is necessary so vinyl flexes under play, so water would prevent this flexing by cooling, and thus it will damage the grooves"

It has been proven on this forum, with calculations, that the temp rise cannot be more than 1 or 2 degrees celsius. Which is almost nothing. So the flexing (or non-flexing) of the vinyl will happen (or not happen) regardless of if the surface is wet or not.

2. "Water will make the stylus lose contact with groove walls on the higher frequencies and thus this mistracking will damage the groove.

If it were mistracking, it would be audible, or the higher frequencies would be damped at the very least. What i hear, and i trust my ears, is no changes in tracking with good high frequencies, and this with a lowly conical stylus, the worst of trackers. It actually seems to track better when playing the record wet, even on inner grooves.

Or maybe i wasn't hearing mistracking but dirty grooves when playing dry.

3. Dirt will stick to the record when playing wet
4. This is bad to the stylus!!

Why a dirty record sounds with ticks & pops? Because the stylus is riding OVER the dust, thus the stylus is suffering abrasion from the dust, which is very hard (it is like sand!!)...

Water performs as a very low viscosity lubricant plus anti-static fluid, so the stylus, instead of riding over the dust, it DISPLACES the dust away. The result? No tics and pops, and the stylus is not damaged, because it is NOT being sanded off by the dust.

When playing a record wet for the first time i notice a build up of dirtiness behind the stylus, which i remove once the stylus starts to mistrack (because the dirt ball is starting to counteract the VTF). This is a GOOD thing, it means that the record is being CLEANED WHILE PLAYED!!

5. Wet playing is bad to the vinyl compound!!

Go tell that to the plastic water bottles. Vinyl records are made from PVC with other ingredients, so far the ingredients i've seen on record compound patents do not look like water-soluble.

I have records from the mid 1950s in very good shape, and i live in one of the most humid cities. If vinyl records had water soluble components, the humidity on the air would had already damaged those 55 year old records.

6. If you play a record wet then it will always had to be played wet

This one is repeated even by advocates of wet playing. If the dirt would stay there, then it can also be removed by other means such as wood glue cleaning (which works great but takes a century of time). And then, be played dry as usual.

Also, still i've found no one that can support this claim with a good argument.

7. Dust will stick to the grooves after that

No good argument to support this claim. The opposite appears to be true, since, as i've written, the dust is flying off the surface.

8. It will damage the stylus


See #4

Now, for the ones that seems to be more credible:

9. It will sooner or later dissolve the glue that keeps the stylus bonded to the cantilever, thus rendering the styus useless.


This one seems to be more credible, but water is not a solvent, and i think stylus is held in place by epoxy glue. Epoxy should be water-resistant after curing, though.

BTW I don't think any sane manufacturer would bond a stylus with an hygroscopic glue such as animal glue.

10. It can rust the cantilever


Aluminium is rust proof. I don't know about titanium or boron, though.

11. It can damage the cantilever rubber on the long term

Might be true, but i thought dryness was the thing that damaged the rubber, not humidity.

Great tip for audiophiles who wanna try it:

Use the EVIAN water that comes in spray, the one the beauty salons use. It will sound even better than using staight water. Why? Because evian water is MUCH more expensive, and, since it is MUCH more expensive, it will sound MUCH better. Better pacing, timing, staging, speed, imaging, and that sh...
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Postby flavio81 » 15 Oct 2009 01:29

How do i wet-play? I just spray a fine mist of water over the record surface and then play the record as always. It does not need excessive water.

Why does it work? Simply, when the groove is wet, the stylus glides the dust away instead of riding over it like a bump. The stylus is thus cleaning and playing at the same time. Plus it eliminates any static charge problem. This also means dust will not get attracted to the surface when removing the record from the platter.

Why is this playing method not commonplace? Because of FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.
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Postby flavio81 » 15 Oct 2009 02:01

"Role of Scanning Electron Microscope in Disc Recording." George Alexandrovich. AES Preprint 1274, 58th Convention.
Among other subjects we investigated was the method of playing records wet...


Yes you posted that on the "elliptical vs conicals" thread but then the ice-skating effect was debated further. If the ripping exists and is significant then it would be heard as a high-frequency whine, if i don't hear it (and i can hear up to 20KHz), it's because it's beyond that range.

I bet there are AES papers that support wet playing too... i'll have to search.
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Postby shhh...listen » 15 Oct 2009 02:11

How does a film of water differ from a product like LAST Record Preservative which must be between the stylus and the vinyl?
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Postby Thomas_A » 15 Oct 2009 07:14

Since it is adviced to reduce the antiskate during wet play, I guess the friction is reduced (aquaplaning), i.e. the effective VTF has been reduced during wet play.

This reduced VTF could cause increased wear.

However, this may be compensated by an increased VTF.
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Postby Thomas_A » 15 Oct 2009 07:20

Since it is adviced to reduce the antiskate during wet play, I guess the friction is reduced (aquaplaning), i.e. the effective VTF has been reduced during wet play.

This reduced VTF could cause increased wear.

However, this may be compensated by an increased VTF.
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Postby flavio81 » 15 Oct 2009 08:11

Wrong on all counts Flavio.

"Role of Scanning Electron Microscope in Disc Recording." George Alexandrovich. AES Preprint 1274, 58th Convention.
Among other subjects we investigated was the method of playing records wet. By applying a thin film of water as the record was rotating and playing the groove with an ordinary stylus, it produced unexpected increase in vinyl deterioration in the area where the stylus was touching the groove. Our SEM pictures unveiled extraordinary ripping of the vinyl surface which I can explain only by the fact that the vinyl is not allowed to liquify momentarily...


He (Alexandrovich) is failing here. The "melting vinyl" theory is absurd. [Flexing is different to melting.] I can't read the whole paper, but using a bad tracking cartridge, or the incorrect VTF will cause damage to the surface regardless of if the disc was wet or dry. I bet Alexandrovich used a terrible cartridge or improper setup or low VTF.

Another AES paper does supports wet play. It's from the maker of the Lenco-Clean wet play system, Loescher.

"Long-Term Durability of Pick-Up Diamonds"
http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=10259

Page 81 of a Popular Science magazine shows some claims of that system:

http://books.google.com/books?id=ewEAAA ... utput=html

"In a comparison test of dry versus wet play, with styli cleaned after 20 plays, 2000 plays were achieved with the wet method, versus 1200 with the dry method before any audible sound deterioration could be detected" (...) "The dry-played records were washed after 500,1000 and and 2000 plays to eliminate dust" (...) "The wet-played records were not cleaned".


BTW 1200 or 2000 plays is really A LOT and this means Loescher was using a good pickup/stylus/compliance/VTF combination. This point is enough for me to believe more in Loescher's test.

There is a discussion on both diametrally opposed AES papers here:
http://www.audioasylum.com/cgi/t.mpl?f=vinyl&m=71241

And some people used the Lenco-Clean wet-play system in the long term and liked it. From this forum:
Stentor wrote:I am down to my last bottle of " LENCO-clean super tonic " , I bought a stash of those about twenty years ago , including tanks and brushes (...) even a conical stylus will not be "pinched", harshness and scratch is eliminated completely, revealing detail ,specially in the upper treble, and, records lasts much , much longer , they advised to dry the record after use, for the tonic leaves a residue (...) I have tried every product on the market , have still a few carbon fiber brushes made with a million hairs ( I counted them :) ) have the antistatic-gun , got the vacuum cleaner machine , but after using Lenco-clean for over forty years , I have come to the conclusion : the Tonic works , better than anything else


Source: http://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?p=91015
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Postby Crepajac » 15 Oct 2009 08:30

I do THIS:

10994 10995

for the last 23 years, and neither the records nor the cartridges/stylus' suffer(ed) from any sort of damage.
The stylus' even lasted twice as long as when the records were played dry.
Not to mention, the second-hand records I buy sound much better that way.
All that "flavio81" said - I agree!
But, it's not for everyone.
It requires much patience, but the results are overwhelming.
Test it on some spare dusty records, you'll be amazed...

Here's my story that I posted on AudioKarma last year:
http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showpo ... stcount=15
http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showpo ... stcount=20
Never ceased to be amazed by analog!
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Postby mysticfred » 15 Oct 2009 12:38

SERIOUSLY - this is absolutely crazy :shock: - you should never play records with even a trace of moisture as it will damage both the record deck components and the records, as well as being downright dangerous, water and electricity don't mix - BANG! :(

do as you like but don't involve anyone else in this madness :roll:
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Wet Play

Postby 1200y3 » 15 Oct 2009 13:00

I find that the record has a noticeabley higher amount of treble when the record is played wet , likely from less stylus expansion from heat (I use cheaper softer diamonds). The risk of vinyl damage from wet play does exist and it should be tested with your own methods. A Kieth Monks style record vacuum may be required to remove washed dirt from the groove bottom. The stylus life will last forever, because wet play does for a stylus what oil does for an engine. Realistically we most likely get tired of a record before the stylus. I do not experiment with good records I purchased new. JUST OLD CRAPPY ONES I buy from thrift stores that aren't worth listening too. I think out of all the records I purchased old and sound noisy and destroyed only about 5% are irritating. They do sound better after a few plays with cleaning, and proper damping material, cartridge, and setup separates the noise from the recorded signal. Nonetheless with the amount of damaged records (most used ones will be), it is easy to try.

I use the Last record preservative and it appears to do what it says, but I know the original formula which I used may have been changed. I like to stay away from poison vapours and high prices, so I am willing to explore other options. Does the Last record preservative increase stylus life?
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Postby Guest » 15 Oct 2009 14:42

Thanks, Flavio81. Fascinating.

One upside for me would be the opportunity to reduce surface noise, for just one play through during archiving of high surface noise pressings. There's many records I would do that for if it's non-destructive.

As for anti-skate, acid test is whether decreased frictional drag from stylus/groove offsets any extra drag of stylus through fluid lubricant......I have no opinion, don't fancy the fluid calculation ! If anti-skate setting is left untouched, I calculate c 0.3g max of extra VTF needed if groove/wall friction is totally eliminated and zero extra fluid drag WHIW. Typically useless physicists answer there :wink:

My opinion is that, in air at least, heating of groove wall during playback is not significant. Don't see why it would be worse in the presence of fluid, unless fluid somehow increases friction between stylus/groove wall, seems unlikley ?

Water is at least non-destructive, though not a great lubricant, and I wonder if there are other additives, such as iso-propyl that decrease surface tension, easier to get into the grooves too ?

Intuitively, fluid lubricant might increase effective stylus inertia, thus hamper tracing and so increase distortion. Does it really work, no bits of diamond and cantilever stuck in the ceiling :wink: ?

Edit : PS There might well be an upforce from compression wave in front of the stylus, in whch case, increased VTF seems indicated ?
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Postby pivot » 15 Oct 2009 15:06

[quote="flavio81]
He (Alexandrovich) is failing here. The "melting vinyl" theory is absurd. [Flexing is different to melting.] I can't read the whole paper, but using a bad tracking cartridge, or the incorrect VTF will cause damage to the surface regardless of if the disc was wet or dry. I bet Alexandrovich used a terrible cartridge or improper setup or low VTF.


[/quote]

Were I a betting man I would bet George Alexandrovich was using a rather good stylus and properly set up cartridge. At the time of the paper he was Manager for Professional Products in cartridge research at Stanton
Magnetics.
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Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

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Postby kolchris » 15 Oct 2009 16:01

Try playing a vinyl wet, and then try it again dry. In my experience, wet play ruins a record for dry play. Can't be restored with Keith Monks machine either. I also knew someone who threw out quite a few records he had played wet.
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Postby fscl » 15 Oct 2009 16:28

Fascinating......


f81,

More details on cartridge, VTF and tt? during wet play, Please?

I've always wanted to try this but do not want to risk ruining my LPs.... :cry:

I've temporarily quelled my desire since finding the MoFi microfiber brush in another forum topic. :) :) With all the Beatle reissue hype, I pulled out my old LPs to see if I needed yet another set of media and was really disappointed to hear all of the surface noise on my LPs. After I tried cleaning with the brush and homebrew cleaning solution (all manual), I was happy and excited with the results.

Fred and wondering what sacrificial LPs to play wet.... :-k [-X and with this thread wondering if application of additional VTF would help as I suspect the styli was hydroplaning at recommended tracking weight and knowing first hand that too little weight = ruined LPs :cry: is MUCH worse than too much..... :?:
Music is Everything....Except Predictable....WFUV Fan.
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Postby flavio81 » 15 Oct 2009 16:52

pivot wrote:Were I a betting man I would bet George Alexandrovich was using a rather good stylus and properly set up cartridge. At the time of the paper he was Manager for Professional Products in cartridge research at Stanton
Magnetics.


A study can be biased if necessary. We don't really know his study conditions. You can play a record 3000 times, wet or dry, and find it is damaged. Then you can say "wet play damaged it" but the fact is that it would have been damaged anyways if it was played dry.

But what i want is that people use their brains and think, WHY would it damage the record? WHY?
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