Static Cling!

Mikey,

Love the website. I can't stay off of it! I have an "Ask Mikey' question:

"What do you use to control static pops and clicks on your records?"

I have a nice high end turntable and a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine. For the first year or so, my vinyl played dead quiet. Now, even with clean, new copies of records, my vinyl has quite a bit more clicks, pops, etc coming from the grooves. I notice when I lift my LP off the platter when playing is finished, is has quite a bit of static electricity on it, which was not there after cleaning.

I've tried everything from Scotchguard on the carpet to ZeroStat to anti-static brushes. Nothing seems to help. I've even checked my cleaner over and bought a new vacuum tube with new felt. Been looking at a Furutech DeStat but its spendy and I'm not confident it can keep static from building up during playing a record.

I live in hot, humid, Oklahoma. I'm at a loss. Please help!

Thanks again for all you do for analog and helping us learn more and more about this great hobby!

Phil

Mikey sez: Usually static is a winter problem when the air is low in humidity. You're saying you have a static problem under humid conditions. I assume you didn't mean "Scotchguard" but "Staticguard." If you were actually using the former, then that's part of your problem! But I'm sure you meant the latter.

Staticguard usually works very well to eliminate static buildup on carpeting, which is a common problem in low humidity environments. Another solution is a humidifier but you're saying you're getting it in the humid weather.

Actually, vacuum record cleaning machines that use velvet "lips" do produce a great deal of static electricity build up on vinyl because of all the rubbing. One solution there is to not vacuum for too long. Do it just long enough to get the record dry. When you run the lips over a dry record you really build up the static. So the issue isn't getting new felt lips, its how long you spin the record under the lips.

You can also try grounding your turntable. You don't say what its made of. Does it have an acrylic platter and/or plinth? My understanding is that acrylic is prone to static build up. Try grounding the turntable by (CAREFULLY) running a wire from any metal part you can use, to the wall plate screw of an AC jack. Also, Acoustic Sounds sells a large anti-static brush (used originally in film developing) that comes with a ground wire that you connect to an AC jack or a water pipe (no, not that kind of water pipe!). If an anti-static brush has no place to discharge the static it really is of little use.

Room ionizers are also good devices to use to reduce static charges. If the Zerostat doesn't do the job, I bet the Furutech or Orb DeStat devices would work. Yes they are pricey, so I'd try the less expensive solutions first! Let me know if any of these ideas work for you.

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COMMENTS
cfitz's picture

Great info here.  I am having the same problem on my LP12.  The winters in Southern CA can be pretty dry.  However, I am suprised that it is still happening during our summer right now.  I will have to try some of these fixes.  

morserotonin's picture

I have been having the problem here in Southern CA in the past week myself... will look into some of the options listed.

Jim Tavegia's picture

I have had pretty good luck using my old R2R bulk tape erasers on discs that seem to have a huge amount of static. I hold the disc well away from my tables and holding the disc at the ends swirl the eraser around the disc surface as close as I can without touching a few rounds and pull it away before turning off. I don't seem to  be hurting anything by using them. It does help. I don't do it every time I play one, though. 

I am convinced that some is in vinyl that is not 100% virgin and other are some groove wear.  I use a Spin Clean which helps quite a bit, I do plan to buy a VPI at some point. 

You might find the bulk erasers off Ebay or a thrift or pawn shop. My 2nd one I bought off Ebay for $8 plus shipping.  

Michael Fremer's picture

I don't claim to be a physicist, but I don't think static and magnetic charges are the same. I know that demagnetizing black vinyl can improve sound quality but I've never found that demagging a record removes or reduces static charges so your experience surprises me.

vince's picture

I ran into a similar issue in foggy San Francisco.  Static pops that are very much louder than simple dust.  Vicious, in fact!  Scary loud!  I reasoned that the diamond, dragging along the vinyl, was creating a static charge.  So I attached a wire from the bearing sump on the turntable to the phono stage using the same screw that the tone arm ground wire attaches to.  This arrested the issue completely.  I can't say that the records always leave the table static free, but I can say that static pops are a thing of the past.

 

Looking at a triboelectric series makes me think that static buildup may not require a diamond to rub the vinyl.  It may be sufficient for the record to simply move though air!  See, http://www.siliconfareast.com/tribo_series.htm  Note the relative positions of air and vinyl.  

deckeda's picture

I attached a wire from the bearing sump on the turntable 

Mine has an acrylic platter and the bearing cup extrudes down from the bottom of the turntable. Makes sense that if the platter is gathering static electricity it's gonna try to pass to (or "be available at") the spindle and bearing, less so the motor which is already grounded. Path of least resistance, non?

Indydan's picture

My solution to this problem is the following. I wash all of my records (even the new ones) with the Spin clean kit. It removes all of the static. I then place the record in a Mobile Fidelity record sleeve (they are non static).

By doing this simple and inexpensive procedure, I have clean records that are static free. My turntable remains static free. Even records I cleaned years ago, have no static. 

I wash every single record before I play it. Just putting one "staticky" record on the table, can introduce static into the system. 

Martin's picture

I use the Mobile Fidelity record sleeves too, they are great.

I haven't found static to be a huge problem, although the humidity in Zürich in winter goes through the floor. The hygrometer in my room starts edging toward 20%.

I've found washing the records, putting them in the MoFi sleeves seems to work fine.

deckeda's picture

Some modern HVAC systems (love love LOVE my Carrier Infinity) will report indoor humidity right on the thermostat control, and even permit adjustment of it irrespective of the temperature setting --- which should really be independant of whatever's going on outside, mostly. Right?

Meaning, your A/C removes moisture in the air by definition of its basic functionality, but it could be removing too much depending on how the system is designed and setup, causing a static electricity issue.

From my other post here you'll all notice this hasn't helped me, however. :)

Glenn's picture

I ‘m feeling very cheap, there is a bounce sheet (those drier anti-static things) between my platter and mat on my TNT 3. Poke a hole in the thing.  It works in the middle of a Canadian winter. It’s a dry cold.

Cheers!

Ajcrock's picture

All good advice.  I also live in Oklahoma.  Definitely hot and most definitely not humid ( we have been in a drought for a couple years).  One more thing that seems to help is to go barefoot and make sure you touch the arm or spindle to make sure you are discharged before touching the record.  Now Houston or Tampa thats hot and humid.

Vinyljunkie92's picture

There is a brush made by Mapleshade that works wonders for eliminating sound degrading static.  I have used this product since it was first offered, and would not think of playing a record without it!  The brush uses very fine stainless steel bristles.  It is one of the softest brushes I've used.  It is grounded and does an amazing job of eliminating static on the record surface.

http://shop.mapleshadestore.com/prodinfo.asp?number=PHONO-BRU

JRSBat's picture

I upgraded my VPI Scout platter to a Classic aluminum/steel platter.  Since then I have had LP static issues off and on until last weekend.  I always use a Zerostat to remove LP static build up prior to play.  The static built up, and related crackles/pops, occurred while I played the LP.  Last weekend I remembered the original Scout platter bearing collar had a hole drilled through it and a small screw inserted.  I think it was to there to provide additional help with grounding "hum" problems.  It also worked well in preventing LP static build up during play.

The Classic bearing collar does not have a ground screw.  I removed the bearing nut (only sounds painful) and washer, wrapped the exposed end of a ground wire around the portion of bearing below the plinth and re-attached the nut/washer.  I attached the other end of the ground wire to the ground screw on my amp.  I have not had static build up problems since. 

I have a VPI RCM which as you noted can create a lot of LP static.  My Zerostat usually takes care of that static problem.

audiof001's picture

I have two systems. The one upstairs has no static issue. The turntable in the second system in our as yet unfinished basement builds up trememdous static that discharges loudly during removal after play.... crazy static pops so loud I have to turn the volume down. Some records don't build up static at all - certain labels seem to use better vinyl formulations than others.

I have a dehumidifier set at 50-55% humidity running intermitently most days. On days when we'll be listening intently, I leave it off. The table is a Sumiko Perspective Anniversary Carbon. It's got an acrylic plinth and aluminum platter. The arm and bearing are not connected and the bearing is not grounded... I suspect so as not to diminish the sleek look of the clear acrylic base.

I've tried attaching a ground wire to the bearing...  there's very little area on which to attach an alligaor clip. I have not tried to ground the arm as yet.

Some of the static can likely be attributed to our ceiling being covered with plastic sheeting. I imagine that this might be midigated once we sheetrock.

meck's picture

I would like to thank you for your nicely written post, its informative and your writing style encouraged me to read it till end. Thanks
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