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Wet Playing

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Wet Playing

What the heck is wet playing? Well, as you might guess, it's a method wherein the grooves are saturated with liquid during playback of your vinyl record. "Not *my* vinyl!" you might well exclaim. What could someone have in their mind that would get them to wet their records during play? Well, let's see.

Theories - why it works

Floating Dirt

Dust, dirt, and other crud that is normally in the record grooves is suspended and will thus not impede the trekking stylus.

Dampened Stylus

Vibrations from low-volume noise transmitted from the vinyl to the stylus are muted.

Aquaplaning stylus

The stylus is riding on a thin film of water.

Vinyl Spackle

The liquid acts as a filler, buffering heavier scratches and eliminating minor surface noise.


Theories - why it sucks

Groove damage I

The incredible force concentrated at the tip of the hard diamond stylus upon the relatively soft vinyl creates temperatures in excess of a bazillion degrees fahrenheit. When 'air' playing a record, the heated vinyl soon reverts to its previous shape; when 'wet' playing a record, the grooves are cooled by the fluid and won't get the chance.

Groove damage II

The fluid will prevent the vinyl grooves from expanding and cause mistracking, which can cause chipping of the groove (permanent irreversible damage).

Dried layer of gunk

The dirt once suspended will dry within the grooves and make your record noisy. You'll have to play it wet from now on.


DAK's Theories


After all the theories listed above, it sounds like wet playing is either detrimental to the vinyl, its sound, or both. I've tried it a couple of times on really worn favorite records that aren't to be found anywhere. After the tradtional dry recording, I'll do a wet one. If you have to go to this extent to save the music, it can be worth it, and doesn't seem to be all that bad for the vinyl. If someone finds details of a study done (in the 1970's, I think) that, using microscope analysis, found that wet playing isn't all that bad, please send me a link.


Clean the record. If it's very dirty, use your handy dandy Nitty Gritty record cleaner, or home-made equivalent. Use proper cleaner fluid to avoid leaving residue or having bad chemical reaction with the record.

Saturating the surface

Place a few drops of your saturate of choice - 50/50 solution of Isopropanol and distilled water; some folks will use Isopropanol straight (or Discwasher D4+). You can use a spare carbon fiber brush to distribute the solution over the recording surface.


If you're recording an entire album side, you'll want to wet one track at a time if your wetting agent evaporates quickly.


A one minute section of an album recorded both 'wet' and 'dry' resulted in half as many impulses detected (Cooledit) in the 'wet' recording. Waveform analysis didn't find a damping effect in the highs like one might expect. Again, I imagine someone would use this technique for those very worn records.


Commercial Stuff to Fill Your Grooves

Gruv-Glide reduces surface noise, removes static, and cleans the record. The treated record will last longer due to the increased tracking ability and reduced friction. (Does not do dishes, however.)

Lencoclean - sound reproduction free of strain. The classic wet cleaning procedure with its special liquid Superfluid removes during of the playings all dust of the plate surface and from the plate groove. The wet runner avoids each electrostatic loading and with it connected sounds. (Sorry, I can only find German websites with this product.)

Special thanks to Jimfor bringing wet playing to my attention. He owns thousands of records and has successfully wet-played, and doesn't find that it hurts the acetate or vinyl at all.