Old records playing badly - mould?

Hi

I recently tried to get back into playing vinyl records. I have two turntables:
- a Rega Planar 3 with a Goldring cartridge, I think it's a 1020.
- a Bang & Olufsen Beogram 5500 linear tracker with MMC-4 cartridge and new stylus (professionally fitted to the existing shank).

Both players are old but the stylii haven't been used much; in the case of the Rega, I bought it new many years ago and it hasn't seen much use. The B&O has a new tip.

The problem I am getting is that every LP I've tried sounds like the styluses are worn. However, it seems likely there is some mould on the record surface causing this. Is that a "thing" with old vinyl? Although the collection has been stored upright indoors, the room it is in has had some damp issues and the sleeves smell a bit musty.

Any advice?
 
Some used records have been stored in leaky basements or garages. These can have mold on them, sometimes something smellier. Even a living room could have had a leaky roof as the tenant aged.
Water & dilute dish detergeant can take it off. I use palmolive original without the lye. Sometimes scrubbing with a soft brush is required. Stream of the kitchen faucet adds some motion to the dirt. Only source of pig hair brushes now is the paint department of the hardware store. If the record is premium, RCA red seal or dynagroove, colombia (not special products), London Phase 4, Mercury Living Presence, I'll final rinse with DI water. Sometimes I have to throw the jacket & sleeve away because of the smell.
Many used records have been damaged by the previous stylus & heavy tone arm. No restoring those. Some, as Capitol pop artists, must have been mastered in an open shed in the Mojave desert and had sand impressions on the master/mother/whatever. New EMI pressings of the same artists are much better.
Best surface I ever heard, 2019 record by wickedcoolrecords.com The Dollyrots was dead silent. If engineers John Fields & Luis Cabezas are watching please reveal who the record plant was.
 
Last edited:

billshurv

Member
Paid Member
2014-03-01 11:53 pm
I add a vac cycle to my cleaning. Restores most things. Best thing to do is to find a friend who will lend you a known good record to try that you can hear at their place first to confirm the turntables are ok. If you have no one local PM me and I'll post you a couple of good but disposable albums to try out.
 
Vinyl, ie PVC, is unable to sustain life, being chock full of chlorine atoms, so mould damage should be unlikely I think. However like most polymer products vinyl contains plasticizer chemicals to control its physical properties and these can leach out or be attacked, and these have a key role in defining the plasticity (no surprize!). Black vinyl also contains soot (ie carbon black) which lubricates the passage of the stylus along the groove. This might be subject to degradation in poor storage conditions perhaps?
 
. However like most polymer products vinyl contains plasticizer chemicals to control its physical properties and these can leach out or be attacked, and these have a key role in defining the plasticity (no surprize!). This might be subject to degradation in poor storage conditions perhaps?
In general, not. Organic waste as in flood water or mold binds dirt to the surface as a glue. When dissolved in water with detergeant, I find even late 1940's LPs (Colombia) can sound as good as the old ribbon mikes would allow. If not subjected to a 5 g tone arm & **** stylus in the intervening years. Heat can also warp LP's.
 
Last edited:
This sort of happened to me when I got back into vinyl. I went ahead and bought a record-cleaning setup. "Spin-Clean" or something.

It certainly worked to clean up the records, and I could hear the difference, however I discovered the real issue; my digital setup is so damned good that all the warts in my vinyl setup are quite obvious. For reference, my vinyl setup is a Technics SL-10 with a very good Audio Technica stylus (can't remember the model right now) going into my pre-amp which has a RJM VSPS circuit on the aux/phono input.
 

Galu

Member
2018-04-17 6:50 pm
The problem I am getting is that every LP I've tried sounds like the styluses are worn. However, it seems likely there is some mould on the record surface causing this.
Do you mean that there is a lack of treble or are you talking distortion? Have you tried a different phono preamp stage to eliminate that as a causal factor?

You say 'seems likely' - is there visible contamination on the surface of the records?
 
To be truthful, I haven't looked closely, but they seem to be clean.

There's no lack of treble on playback; there's a lack of base and treble sounds sibilant. It's so bad I cannot believe I put up with it back when I used to listen to vinyl. In other words.. something has definitely changed.

Regarding the preamp. The two turntables are connected to different amplifiers. The Rega is plugged into a fairly modern Onkyo TX-NR818 A/V amp. The Beogram is plugged into a Beosystem 9000 from the early '80s. I'd expect the same record to play differently on both systems, but they don't (much).

By the way, the sound is similar to when you get a ball of dust trapped on the stylus. Naturally, I have checked this. :)
 
Hi
I recently tried to get back into playing vinyl records. I have two turntables:
- a Rega Planar 3 with a Goldring cartridge, I think it's a 1020.
- a Bang & Olufsen Beogram 5500 linear tracker with MMC-4 cartridge and new stylus (professionally fitted to the existing shank).
Some cartridges have rubber in the suspension that hardens up due to the years, even sitting unused. Don't know anything about your inventory.
If you've washed the LP's already, (costs nothing) then check the down force. If okay I'd buy a new cartridge. I last year bought a shure M97 on closeout for $100, but they don't make them anymore. My M97 Era IV from 1979 is still working fine. some AudioTechnica cartridge of equivalent quality keeps getting mentioned on here, I didn't buy one so I don't remember the number. Note these are 1.5 g cartridges; 1 g makes them sound funny.
 
Last edited:

Galu

Member
2018-04-17 6:50 pm
Some cartridges have rubber in the suspension that hardens up due to the years, even sitting unused. Don't know anything about your inventory.
The cantilever suspension can certainly deteriorate over time, and when a new stylus is attached to an MMC4 body, the cantilever suspension is not renewed.

May just be bad luck that the suspension has given up the ghost on both the OP's cartridges.

The obvious next step is to buy/borrow a basic cartridge to find out.
 
To be truthful, I haven't looked closely, but they seem to be clean.

There's no lack of treble on playback; there's a lack of base and treble sounds sibilant. It's so bad I cannot believe I put up with it back when I used to listen to vinyl. In other words.. something has definitely changed.

Regarding the preamp. The two turntables are connected to different amplifiers. The Rega is plugged into a fairly modern Onkyo TX-NR818 A/V amp. The Beogram is plugged into a Beosystem 9000 from the early '80s. I'd expect the same record to play differently on both systems, but they don't (much).

By the way, the sound is similar to when you get a ball of dust trapped on the stylus. Naturally, I have checked this. :)

If you want to make sure its your records go buy a new (used) one of something you think sounds bad and compare. Or just borrow one.
 
Last edited:
OK, I think I can close off the thread now, and thanks to everyone for their comments.

Last night I took an old pressing of Oxygene and washed it with detergent and a sponge. I tried to play it on the Rega and it still sounded bad, so I had a really good close look at the stylus. And found some fluff that I had not seen last time I looked. I cleaned it with a carbon fibre brush and eventually the fluff came off (I need a proper stylus cleaner, I think - I was using the record cleaning brush, rather awkwardly). This seems to have done the trick. I sat down and listened to the side of the record that I'd washed - it sounded fine - then flipped it and started listening to the unwashed side, which also sounded OK, but perhaps not as good.

That's the Rega sorted, but what about the Beogram? Well, it still sounded a bit off so I upped the stylus pressure a little and it improved... there may still be a bit of fluff on its stylus; I cannot get the brush in there to clean it safely as the arm doesn't lift very far.

So, conclusions:
- I need to buy a good stylus cleaner. What would you recommend? I'm considering ultrasonic types, are they any good?
- It seems likely my arms aren't set up properly for weight. So I'll get a tool to measure this and set them properly.