Vinyl Crackle and Popping Sounds
Listening to vinyl records is a great pastime. The act of playing a record can be a relaxing ritual. Pull out a vinyl from the sleeve, place it on your turntable. Set the vinyl spinning, grab the tonearm and gently lower the stylus… Sit down, relax, and enjoy… but then POP! CRACK!
A loud crackle and pop pulls you out of your relaxing calm. Why does this happen? What causes a vinyl to crackle and make popping sounds? It may seem like a random and annoying occurrence but luckily there are ways to prevent this disturbance.
Why Do Vinyl Records Crackle?
There are a few reasons that a vinyl will crackle or pop. Perhaps the most obvious is a dirty record. If your vinyls aren’t clean and there is dirt, dust, or other debris in the grooves of your record you may experience some crackle and pop when playing your record.
Think of your stylus as a car and the record grooves as a road. Any dust or debris are effectively speed bumps on your road! If a dirty record is the culprit, the solution is simple. Clean your vinyls!
Read our guide on Vinyl Record Care
Another reason you may experience vinyl crackling is a dirty stylus. Going back to our car and road analogy, imagine your car has a flat tire. This also makes for a bumpy ride! Much like the solution to a dirty record, a dirty stylus can also be cleaned to stop that annoying crackle and popping.
The final culprit that we’ll go over that can cause a vinyl to crackle is static electricity. Static electricity can build up over time as things move and rub together. A vinyl sliding in and out of a sleeve can build up static electricity. A vinyl being wiped clean can cause a build up static electricity. A vinyl rubbing on a slip mat can cause static electricity build up. As you can see there are a number of ways that records become statically charged.
When your vinyl gets electrically charged, it can cause pops and crackling which is picked up and amplified by your stylus. A statically charged vinyl can cause damage to your stylus and will also attract dust, hair, and other debris. Fortunately there are plenty of options to prevent static electricity on your vinyls.
To prevent static electricity on your vinyl records, use poly sleeves for storage. Poly sleeves are anti-static and help reject static electricity from finding its way on to your records.
Instead of a felt slip mat, use a slip mat made of rubber or cork. These materials are anti-static and can help prevent the build up of static electricity on your vinyl records.
Properly Clean Your Vinyls
The final tip to avoid a build up of static electricity on your vinyls is to clean them in ways that prevent static build up. Wet cleaning your vinyls is a great way to clean them thoroughly as well as prevent static charge. If you are going to dry clean your vinyls, make sure you’re using an anti-static carbon fiber brush.
Vinyl crackle and pops are bound to happen now and then. Do your best to prevent them and you’ll be rewarded with longer lasting vinyls and equipment. You’ll also have less interruptions while listening to your favorite album.