Only you can decide their worth. They do a good job. I think the VPI does a better job and others swear by the Loricraft. All are more expensive than the Nitty Gritty.
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I have the Record Doctor II which is made by Nitty Gritty for Audioadvisor. Its the manual version so there's a little work involved to get the records clean. I just recently purchased it used right here on the 'Gon. I cannot express my enthusiasm strongly enough for the new level of enjoyment that it has brought to my vinyl playback. It has made almost every record I have sound alive. No, it doesn't eliminate the sound of wear, the scratches, and other damage that can be audible on records. But, it has shown me that much of what I thought was wear, scratches and other damage that I was hearing was, in fact, dirt. Many of my records are in much better shape than I had realized or knew. The Record Doctor gets them so clean sounding. I've played more than a few records for my wife who kept asking me, "are you sure that's not the CD"--the machine gets them that clean. (It couldn't, however, save her copy of Carol King's "Tapestry" which she must have danced on when she was in high school (actually never heard a record in worse shape than her copy)). For me, the Record Doctor has brought a whole new level of enjoyment that I never thought possible and that makes it almost priceless. I don't know how anyone who listens to records can live without one. Highly recommended. And, thanks to John for showing me the light. I owe you one.
Well, I agree with Johnjbarlow's thinking, but not his conclusion.
The VPI 16.5 might be slightly better, but only if you don't wash the records by hand first. If you do, they work about the same, IMHO. In terms of how they vacuum clean, they work about the same. (In fact, with the NG, you have gravity working for you, not against you.)
A new VPI costs double the cost of a new NG, because the VPI has a motor for turning the platter, and it iis built more aesthetically pleasing, as it looks more like a piece of furniture, as opposed to the Nitty Gritty which is built rather cheaply. (Basically the NG is built out of pressboard.) However the NG's last for a long, long time. (I am the second owner of my NG 1.0, and I have used it for about 4 years, and the owner before me used it for years before that.)
Where I agree with Johnjbarlow is buying a RCM used. I bought my NG 1.0 used for $100, and I just bought a used Record Doctor used for $90. That brings the price down to 1/3 of the price of a used VPI, and it surely does almost as good a job, if not every bit as good.
Now, if you want a truly better RCM, go with the Loricraft, at only $2.5K. (Me?, I'm sticking with my NG until I have fully upgraded my system, and then, and only then, I'll leapfrog the VPI RCM's and get the Loricraft.)
My two cents worth anyway.
I've had my (fully automatic) Nitty Gritty 1.5 FI for 17 years. It's been serviced twice in that time, and still performs flawlessly as far as I'm concerned. It is a little noisy when you turn on the vacuum, but it's so powerful you only need to run it for 20 sec. or so.
The one caution, is to avoid cleaning solutions with more than 20% alcohol as they can ruin the pump and tank. I don't use alcohol-based solutions (anymore!) so for me that's a non issue.
It'll be a rare instance when a mechanical machine can perform a task better (quality) than one can with his hands (e.g. Bread Machine, Car Wash, Dish Washer, etc.) I believe most automation is implemented to save time; not for a higher quality output. My point: wash 'em and vacuum your records by hand. Save some dough and get SUPER clean records. Yes, it will take longer and involve more work on your behalf.
I guess you'll have to decide which is a more scarce commodity for you (time v. money) in the context of the value of having your records be the cleanest they can be.
This has been discussed many times check here:
I have had both the VPI 16.5 and a couple of different versions of Nitty Gritty. Record Dr., 1.5fi, 2.5 fi.
I prefer the Nitty Gritty. They suck down which IMO is preferable to vacuuming up as in VPI.
They are much smaller and more aesthetically pleasing. Sorry Kurt, VPI looks like something you would find in an industrial setting. Nitty Grittys fit on a normal size, 12" shelf and can be bought with a nice real wood grain finish.
I've owned my NG 2.5, in real walnut and oak, for 25 years. It is semi-automatic and noisy. Have never had it serviced. With the right 3 step cleaning process I am able to turn rice krispy-sounding records into enjoyable listening experiences. Doesn't seem to be any reason to replace it. Highly recommended.
"It'll be a rare instance when a mechanical machine can perform a task better (quality) than one can with his hands (e.g. Bread Machine, Car Wash, Dish Washer, etc.) I believe most automation is implemented to sa"
As a cabinetmaker of more than 40 yrs I respectfully disagree. A properly set up machine can always do the job better. I think most machinists would agree also and if your hand vacuuming your doing the same thing as the rc only slower.
I do the same as dmgrant1, i have a mini Pro 2 (solid oak) for approx. 10 years and it works like a charm. Never had it serviced. I use the Disc Doctor brush and solution to scrub/wet the record. Then i rinse the record with purified water. Then i put it on the minipro 2 and suck the water both sides at once. No need to turn the record over. Fantastic!!!! I could not live with my minipro 2.