Advantages of upgrade from VPI 16.5 RCM

I wonder if any fellow A'goners have upgraded their RCMs from a VPI 16.5 to the higher end VPI models ie VPI 17 or the Typhoon 27 or any other brand eg Clearaudio, Hannl or Acoustictech and the perceived advantages, if any, of such upgrade in terms of superior cleaning etc etc. The mega bucks that some audiophiles lavish on their vinyl front end would presumably demand the best cleaning device available.Have been using a VPI 16.5 for over a year while I am satisfied that the RCM cleaning regimen(with AVIS one step and distilled water) coupled with steam cleaning does give decent results there are several lps, some fairly new , in which the pop and crackle is a constant feature,(despite anti static gun etc etc). A recent review of the VPI 27 in Soundstage, in which MM while preferring the VPI 27 over the VPI 17, did not find any distinct advantage on account of the superior cleaning power/ more powerful vaccuum motor of the VPI 27, set me thinking.
Would appreciate the advice/comments of A'goners who have done an upgrade or contemplated one.
Many thanks in anticipation.
5730ac72 b4ae 4369 9106 b94235ab9855sunnyboy1956
I had the 16.5 and now have the 17. I think the only real difference is convenience, which was worth it to me. As for cleaning the records, I don't know that there is any difference.
"Higher" grade RCMs may have more powerful motors that allow more lps to be cleaned per session. Better ventilation or fan to facilitate cooling of said motor....

Ability of the platter to rotate in both directions. Speed variation (faster for fluid application and slower for vacuuming)

All these "should" help clean your lps better. How much better? VFM? Diminishing returns? Ahhhh... only you can decide that.

Is your collection still growing at a fast/alarming rate? What you buying? Flea store/Fleabay or new vinyl?
Most of the machines you mention work in essentially the same way as the 16.5 but have either additional power, features, or both. I doubt any of these would be a significant enough improvement to be worth the extra money. The Loricraft, Keith Monks, and Odyssey 5 machines all use a different mechanism that may or may not be a significant improvement but cost a lot more. For me, the 16.5 is a good place to stop.
Sunny, Having moved all the way through the VPI line I can say that with my new Typhoon, cleaning records is almost fun now. This machine is so quiet and powerful, there is no comparison to my former fav the 17. Clean for an hour if you want, the Typhoon won't break a sweat.
I steam clean for dirty records, and wipe with a slightly dampened microfibre cloth for those in-between plays. This serves me well.
Sonofjim analyzed the situation well. The machines you mentioned all use the same basic technology, a vacuum wand straddling the record surface, covered with "felt" to prevent scratching. This limits performance compared to the differently designed Loricraft, Keith Monks and Odyssey. A 6" vacuum slot is too large to allow really high air velocities and the felts are constantly being contaminated, requiring multiple wands and frequent felt changes (depending on how picky you are).

The string-based machines have neither of these limitations. Having used both a VPI 16.5 and my Loricraft PRC-3, I can tell you the Loricraft is far quieter and it vacuums notably better. OTOH, it is a bit slower. For our particular needs, which demand ridiculously clean records, the PRC-3 is a no-contest winner. We'd never consider any wand style machine, the technology is inherently limited.

Whether such an upgrade is worth the extra cost and somewhat longer cleaning times is an individual choice. FWIW, the time spent cleaning isn't a total loss. The Loricraft is quiet enough so you can listen to music (not critically) while cleaning. No one ever did that while running a VPI.
My friend, guess others have summed it up pretty well so far, , and as Doug has explained, these machines he speaks of use a whole different pricipal for the removal of fluids. They are as well, a bit more complex, and one probably has to learn the little tricks with these machines to insure you are getting the most from them.

I've read about them a bit, and the thread feed is something you have to get the hang of, and most is just good common sense, like having the recovery jar on the Loricraft screwed tight, and things along these lines.

I would assume any machine like the VPI, that uses a vacuum wand to suck fluids, is also grinding a slurry of filth mixed with the fluids into the record as well at the same time.

I would imagine that the detriment is closely related to how filthy the records were from the beginning.

For one who is mechanically, and electrically adept, the 16.5 can be improved upon, and enhanced, with a spare vacuum Wand, doing a rinse with a sepeerate wand to reduce cross contamination, self adhesive Rubber Sheeting could replace the Cork Platter Mat, as you'll note many of the better, more costly machines like the Loricraft use a Rubber Platter Mat.

A Muffin Fan can be added to the 16.5, keeping the machine running cool enough to run 24/7, without a hiccup. And lastly, the machine could be lined with an insulating material, which should help squelch some of the horrid noise. Of course, it won't entirely eliminate it, and this is one of the 16.5's biggest dislikes-shortcomings.

As for auto application of fluids, I see no advantage with any other machine, if you are going to use a multi-step process, as manual application of the various fluids will still need to be employed.

And I cannot actually see-imagine any advantage to reversing the Platter Motor upon vacuuming. With manual Scrubbing, one can scrub in both directions to thier heart's content.

Of course my friend, the choice must be yours. If I had the mad money, the Loricraft would be a choice of mine as well, but the 16.5 serves me very well, and I'm happy. With the AVIS Fluids, I'm using all four steps, including the Archivist Formula, and two rinse steps with the Ultra Pure Water. I'm definitely light years ahead of what I used for so many years. It's only when I flick that Vacuum Switch, that whoever is in the house at the time, wants to strangle me! lol Mark
Mark, DougDeacon, Sonofjim,Doktorgigi and others : many thanks. The collective wisdom and experience of A'goners(which I deeply respect) clearly suggests that additional vacuuming power will not help so long as a felt tip wand is there to churn the filth back into the grooves( good point Mark).
I guess since I don't have easy access to the entire range of cleaning fluids, the upgrade was a possibility, which I will now abandon, till I can afford a Loricraft!!
My collection is growing at an alarming rate. Every trip Stateside results in at least 25/30 lps. I have been to the US twice this year and you can guess what the numbers are like!! Its mostly new/reissue vinyl bought online and second hand vinyl bought from Acoustic Sounds that in almost every case is , IMHO, equal if not better than the 180/200 gm vinyl. What I love about the used vinyl from Acoustic Sounds is that it is invariably cleaned and repackaged in fresh clothing. My experience with used vinyl shops is mixed including last weeks visit to NYC.
Cheers and Happy listening

I asked after your buying habits to get a gauge of your cleaning requirements. From the sounds of it, the 16.5 or loricraft (in the future) is being/will be put to good use! :)

I have seen/heard a lori in action and it is a wonderful piece of machinery. Presently I'm having difficulty justifying the size... note not price. I'm personally leaning towards a Hannl for that same reason. Small footprint, quiet(ish) Various nice to have features; variable speed, bi-directional, seemingly well built.

I do appreciate the downside of the wand, but life is full of compromises! I don't think my system nor ears are up to hearing the differences anyway. The Hannl I think will get me 90-95% of the way there. Just for the sake of putting a number to it!

All the Best
Thanks for the tip about Acoustic Sounds used vinyl. I had considered it in the past but ruled it out due to the lack of grading or info about condition. I will now reconsider.
Doug, You have obviously never heard the new Typhoon. I have yet to audition a quieter machine. Perhaps that is why? Using Harry's DIY solution, I have yet to hear a cleaner lp.
Thank you for your post Zieman,
But, the things I'd like to know, is what is the reason behind your assessments? I want to know technically, what makes the Typhoon a quieter machine versus the 16.5? Is it better insulation, is it a different Vacuum Motor? Can somebody here be brave enough to pop open thier Typhoon, and tell me?

Basically, from what I know, the Typhoon uses a similar Platter Motor, but not the same as the 16.5. It has a run Capacitor, and from what I understand, is a reversible motor as well. But what about the Vacuum Motor, what is the Part #? Mark

latest issue of one of the hi-fi mags (stereophile, TAS)has review of typhoon... actually noticed a few RCM reviews recently, wonder why some many suddenly.

anyways description of differences between typhoon and 16.5 all listed there. when i have more time will try and remember and post....
It would be incredible for someone with a 16.5 or 17 and ALSO a Typhoon to record some short sound samples of each and post them.

I also read that the later Typhoons were quieter than early ones, but I could be wrong.

Over the summer I was in a similar situation where I wanted to upgrade from my 16.5 I had recently invested money into it as well, with a second arm tube/holder (for AI step #2) and a new cork mat.

It cleaned well, but I wanted to be able to clean LP's after Midnight, while talking on the phone, and without resorting to ear protection.

I was just afraid that after all that cash to upgrade to a Hannyl or Typhoon, that it would only be marginally quieter. So I jumped on the Loricraft PR3 the day the price increased (I got the old price)

So I say outfit your 16.5 with another set of cleaning tubes, and use the best fluids (I'm thinking of trying Walker step 4)

Unless you can go for a Loricraft, stay with your 16.5. SInce it's so fast, you can do an extra pass or two and get it clean that way. The 16.5 is just a great cost to performance ratio.
A slight tweaking of my cleaning regimen has led to some perceptible though not dramatic improvements which I can happily live with until the Loricraft PRC 4 arrives. A periodic steam cleaning of the velvet wand and the MoFi dry brush followed by dry cleaning with a toothbrush is highly recommended. I only clean what I listen to in an evening, usually no more than 3/4 lps max. Hence, a once a week steaming works fine for me( I don't steam clean every record, only the ones that sound bad).
Cheers and Happy Listening
Emailists, its not necessary to sample the 16.5. Just put your face next to an average household vacuum cleaner and there you have it :) I've always used a pair of noise reduction headphones (-27dB)when using mine. The accessory cooling fan mentioned above is a really good idea as is the (new to me) Walker accessory wand being discussed in another thread here. I always clean the records I intend to listen to in that session while the system is warming up.

Why is everybody so afraid to get info straight from the horses' mouth? Call Harry! I have popped the trunk on my Typhoon and going from memory of my 17s guts, the vacuum is different. There is actually LESS insulation in there. I always wore ear plugs with the 17. I listen to records when the Typhoon is in use. It is that much quieter. I would caution folks to let the lp spin just once when drying. This thing will suck the proverbial chrome off a trailer hitch. As with any product Harry says is an upgrade, the Typhoon is truly in another league. And no, I don't have 2 grand to just blow for minor upgrades.
A Dyson canister vacuum cleaner produces 82db with the SPL meter two feet away from it. The VPI 16.5 RCM produces 91db with the SPL meter at the same distance. I always wear -26db ear muffs when vacuuming the records, which is an extra hassle for me.

Does anybody know how many DBs the Typhoon produces?



I'm used to wearing ear protection for my shop tools. I even put ear plugs in to run the coffee grinder and juice maker these days. Getting old...

All in all, I'd say the purchase of the VPI 16.5 was a wise one for me. Only regret was not buying one some years back. I've had mine now for about 14 months now, bought new.

As we can all probably agree on, the 16.5 cannot be a TOTL Loricraft, but I think it was Harry of VPI, who once said himself, he wanted to bring a machine to market that could be afforded by a larger number of people. I believe he succeeded in that goal.

Of course, it had to be built to a price point, and because of this, there were some corners that had to be cut, these are mostly obvious, laminated MDF, reasonably priced Motors, a relatively simple, but ingenious Suction Wand design, spartan Rocker Switches, a Wooden Platter, Cork Mat. Surprisingly, construction is solid, and well executed.

I think it would be fair, and accurate to say, that the 16.5 with the highest quality Cleaners, Rinses, Brushes, and proper, sound techniques executed by the end user will account for much, and versus the TOTL Loricraft with sub-standard cleaners, etc, and poor technique, the VPI 16.5, and it's variants within the company, and outside may proove to be the winner in a showdown.

I myself have begun relatively, cost efficient Mods to my own machine, some already can be seen at AIVS's website, as Jim P was kind enough to place there, my Fan Mod, and comments.

I'm not done yet though. Current mods in the making as I type this, will be a new machined Acrylic Platter, with Neoprene Mat. The new Platter won't necessarily improve performance, but the Acrylic will be a more stable material, and should be more precise, and stable over the long haul. The self adhesive Neoprene Mat, I'm hoping will proove to be better in regards to identifying dirt-dust on it, and keeping it clean should proove to be easier.

One other mod I am seriously considering as well, will be lining the 16.5 with an Insulating Material, one person in one of the forums has mentioned something along the lines of Dynamat, or an Insulation Sheeting like the Low Rider Boys put in thier Rides to knock down the Buzz from all those Subwoofer Systems they like.

And there's a supposed new enhancement on the block, Lloyd Walker has a retrofit Vacuum Wand for the VPI Machines, some have noted improvements, and feel its cost was very worthy. I haven't yet tried this route, but if it does as it is claimed to do, it's cost may be very well justified.

While I know what Motors are used in the 16.5, by examining my own sample, and I know what Platter Motor is used in the Typhoon, I have no idea what VPI used as a Vacuum Motor, and it would be interesting to know the make, and part number? Whether it is another Eletek-Lamb Motor, I am unsure?

I've read mixed reports on its volume level, some say quieter, and others say not much difference between the Typhoon in operation, and its less expensive brothers.

There are many who can comfortaby afford the mega dollar machines, but some of us, perhaps like myself cannot easily justify the added cost, so I reckon we just make due within our means to do the best we can with what we can afford. Mark