What's the deal with the skipping and popping when playing records? This is more of an issue with used records and, of course, it's getting ever harder to find preowned vinyl that's in mint condition.
The good news is that in many cases -if you're careful- it's possible to reduce skipping and popping, even in used records. Knowing these tips can make it a lot more fun to buy vinyl records online, with fewer disappointments.
Causes And Solutions For Skipping And Popping Records
1 - Check Your Arm Pressure
Sometimes, the problem isn't actually in the record itself - the issue is that the turntable arm isn't applying enough pressure to stay in the groove.
This is the best-case scenario, since it's easy to fix. Most modern turntables have a knob on the arm which allows you to adjust the pressure applied. If you have a classic turntable, the traditional DIY solution was simply to attach a small coin to the top of the head - usually a penny or nickel- adding a bit of additional weight.
2 - Debris In The Grooves
It's relatively easy for dust, grime, or even flakes of materials like drywall to get trapped within the grooves of a record. Even very small foreign objects can easily disrupt the record needle and cause it to jump out of the groove.
There are various ways to deal with this. Probably the best, safest, and easiest is to pick up a can of compressed air. Give your record a good blast in a circular motion, and it should clean out the grooves.
Something every vinyl lover should own is a great record cleaning kit. We recommend using something like the GrooveWasher every 2-3 times you play a record. You'll notice a huge difference in sound quality, especially if you're cleaning used vinyl for the first time.
If there's something stuck in place which air or a cleaning kit alone won't dislodge, try gently using a soft object -like a cotton swab- to push it out. Using a rigid object is the last-ditch resort when something is truly embedded in the groove, since it's very easy to do additional damage. Try a toothpick, if you must do this.
3 - Collapsed Grooves
The worst-case scenario is when there's actual physical damage to the record, causing the ridges to collapse into the grooves. Depending on the severity, there may not be an easy fix for this.
In some cases, it's possible to re-cut a groove by applying additional pressure to the head of the needle as it passes over the collapsed area. If done correctly, this can sometimes fix the groove. It may still have a moment of sound distortion, but at least the arm will no longer jump out of the groove entirely.
Another alternative is to pull out that handy toothpick. Run the toothpick back and forth on the collapsed area, with slight side-to-side motions to try to clear the groove and push it back into shape.
It's also possible to attach even heavier objects to the headshell, such as metal bolts, to add extra pressure. The issue is this will almost certainly wear out your needle faster. However, it's certainly a time-tested trick since it was a popular solution for DJs back in the day doing heavy scratching.
Keep Enjoying Vinyl For Years To Come
Vinyl Lovers Unite is dedicated to providing the best prices and selection of records for those who want to buy vinyl records online. We want to make sure you keep your vinyl in good condition, and with a little extra care, most vinyl can be preserved for decades to come.
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