I had good luck with an Orbitrac system - about $40, but it did better than my old Discwasher. Good luck, and welcome.
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Personally, I would not waste the money on many of the so called "temporary" solutions, for marginally more (about $200 U.S.) you can purchase a KAB EV1 (if you already have a decent vacuum), a bottle of RRL Super Vinyl Wash and a carbon fibre brush and you will have virtually state of the art record cleaning that will be at least as good as any of the Nitty Gritty or VPI models and approximate the Monks/Loricraft units (or better them if inferior fluids are being used with them) for a fraction of the price. You will also need a scrap turntable (for best results) but that should be pretty easily available for next to nothing (try going to an audio shop and just asking for a junk trade-in).
You state you are going to save up for an automatic RCM, but need a temporary cleaning option. My recommendation is to go with a cheap, manual RCM.
Something like a Nitty Gritty 1.0 or a Record Doctor.
I have seen the NG 1.0 goes for $265 here on Audiogon
Or the Record Doctor for $229 on AudioAdvisor
These are basically the same unit by the way.
This is a basic RCM which will do a good job while you save up for the automatic version. If you buy some good brushes (I like the Disk Doctor brushes myself) and some good Fluid (I prefer RRL), this will tide you over for a long time. It does mean you'll need to clean the records by hand using the brushes and fluid and then using the RCM as a vacuum to dry the records, but this will clean records about as good as you are going to get, until you jump up to one of the truly expensive RCMs like the Keith Monks or the Loricraft.
(Another option is to do a DIY machine, which will save you some money. Check here and on Audio Asylum for details on how to build one of these simple RCMs. I was too lazy to do that, so I got a NG 1.0 (I bought it used for $100) and I find it does a very good job. It is loud and noisy and work intensive. But it does a good job nonetheless. IMHO, nothing beats a vacuum RCM, even a cheap one.
I have no desire to upgrade until I can truly afford a Loricraft or a Keith Monks. (Given that the Loricraft costs around $2K, that msy be awhile! And yeah, as you can tell, I'm cheap. I'd rather spend a few extra minutes cleaning my records, and save the hundreds, or thousands, of dollars for new equipment.)
My two cents worth anyway.
I vote with Hdm, RRL + CF brushes + vacuum.
Vacuuming doesn't have to be expensive, though I draw the line at the notion that an EV1 or other DIY type machine can approximate a Loricraft. I own both and I'm confident that bit of hyperbole was, well, hyperbole! ;-)
But an EV1 doesn't cost $2K. Neither does a modded Shop Vac. Those can be found for $25 at Walmart, and you can tidy up the garage when you're not cleaning records. Try that with a DiscWasher!
There is no substitute for vacuuming. Dissolving dirt and leaving the scummy liquid in the grooves to evaporate leaves the dirt behind, emulsified into smaller particles, tougher to remove than before.
For truly inexpensive DIY RCM ideas, search the archives at Vinyl Asylum. There's no end of clever and determined though budget-challenged geniuses there.
Doug: I can only tell you this: I had records cleaned professionally on a Monks using Nitty Gritty fluid just before I purchased my EV1. Recleaning the Monks cleaned records on the EV1 (with my Filter Queen vac) with RRL, followed by a lab grade water rinse (yeah, I know the RRL doesn't need a rinse) yielded a much better sounding record. Could be a number of things: residue from the Nitty Gritty fluid, a "quickie" job done by whoever did the Monks cleaning at the record store, etc. etc. And I am pretty finicky about the way I clean with the KAB, so maybe it's just the extra time I put into it. This was with relatively clean records; the Monnks/Loricraft may do better with really grimey records, but the KAB/RRL combo, combined with the Nitty Gritty fluid in between (the alcohol in the Nitty Gritty cuts through grime, fingerprints better) does very well even on really digustingly dirty records.
I'll concur, the Disc Doctor Brushes are a good inexpensive choice. Unlike the Discwasher brush, or the old Parastat, (You folks remember that one?) the Disc Doctor Brushes have rubberized handles, and can be immersed in solution, or water without damage to them.
Nothing says that a slimy, dirty record solution has to be left on vinyl with manual cleaning. Do your final rinse with distilled water, and dry. mark
We obviously agree on the main points for the Maineiac: RRL works very well and vacuuming is essential.
That KM/NG comparison was not meaningful. Try applying your argument to this (logically identical) experiment:
1. clean a record on the NG
2. clean the same record again on the NG
Observation: the record gets cleaner (happens all the time)
By your argument we would conclude that the NG works better than the NG, a logical absurdity. A more logical conclusion would be that two cleanings are better than one.
The fact that different cleaning fluids were used renders all conclusions meaningless anyway. No one can say with any confidence which variable was responsible for the results.
Valid points, Doug, and as I stated above, there are many variables. Choice of fluids is obviously critical and we are much more in agreement than disagreement as you say. The fact that the KAB/decent vacuum/RRL combo can improve upon the Monks/Nitty Gritty combo even on a comparative basis on a 2nd/following cleaning at about 1/25th of the price is pretty impressive though and the main point I was trying to make. I think that many would say that the Keith Monks, for $5,000 with just about any decent fluid should not leave anything behind for the $159 KAB to pick up on a 2nd cleaning. I've had the opportunity to pick up a used Monks at a very reasonable price, but based on my experiences, just don't have the interest in doing so.
I'll vouch for the DIY RCM. I built mine a few years ago (there's a picture under my system) with the intent of one day buying a really good. I still have my $50 plywood/Hoover RCM but I still say that someday I'll spring for a Loricraft or Monk. Kurt_tank is right on. Mine is noisy and somewhat labor intensive, but it does a really good job. Like DougDeacon posted, the vaccuming really makes a difference and you can get good results with a small shop vac that has good suction. But don't discount the work that a good brush does, such as the Audioquest and the Mobile Fidelity. I'm also a believer in RRL and AIVS cleaning solutions.
Check out the post by Zaikesman regarding the use of an Ikea Underbar.
Im using a couple of these, a lazy susan, a nylon bristle paint brush, a shop vac with felt on the lip of one of the attachments, and alternate between RRL and AIVS (depending on how dirty the record is to begin with). Oh yeah, a CF brush before and after each play. Seems to work well for me and I can spend the difference on more records.
Note: if you go the shop vac route, don't get the cheapest one without hearing first how loud it will be; you may need to step up to a quieter model or wear ear plugs. Some of the commercially made RCM's are pretty loud too.
I agree with Doug. I've found that RRL and a vacuum RCM are the best methods.
There are plenty of ideas that have been shared on this forum and in the Vinyl Asylum forum regarding DIY vacuum cleaning machines.
I have several friends who use an old turntable from a garage sale along with an inexpensive wet/dry vac, available at any hardware store. You can usually pick up a new wet/dry vac for less than $40. Buy some velvet to use for the contact area and presto!
Folks go into greater detail about how to do this correctly. Do a search.
I have ruined records with tap water. Unless you run a chemical and particulates analysis on your water, get results many standard deviations purer than normal, and have confidence that those results will remain consistent going forward, you're merely guessing about what's going on your vinyl.
That might be an acceptable risk with a grungy $.25 thrift store find, but reissues and increasingly rare originals at $30+ a copy deserve more careful treatment.
And no sponge, cloth or brush can remove scummy liquid from inside the grooves. The grooves are too small. Only vacuum at fairly high velocities can do this.
A phono cartridge is a motion detection and amplification device. The better ones reliably generate electrical signals from even sub-micron deflections of the stylus. Put another way, top quality systems amplify stylus deflections by factors of 8,000 or even more. Therefore, any impurity above molecular sizes will be detected and amplified by a good system. Even those who don't have such systems today would be prudent to care for their records on the assumption that they might, someday.
Jwin ... both the Photo-Flo and the Joy are bad ideas. Soaps leave nasty residues that are very difficult to remove and which will attract dust and form a gum-like substance over time. The Photo-Flo will also leave a residue and a treble-eclipsing sonic signature.
Alcohol can be a good or bad idea--it depends on the alcohol. Either grain or isopropyl can be safe, but it's nearly impossible for regular folk to get grain alcohol which isn't charcoal filtered ... which loads the alcohol with hydrocarbons. This is great for taste, but not so for your vinyl.
Isopropyl is effective and safe, but only if it's prefume and moisturizer-free; you have to avoid isopropyl sold as "rubbing alcohol." Also, isopropyl less than 99+% may not have been diluted with ultrapure or even distilled water, and as Doug mentioned, tap water can permanently ruin LPs, depending on the mineral and calcium content.
Hope this helps.
Be careful with the Hunt brush. There is a potential to trap grit under the pad and mar the record. I've not had any problems with it but others have reported issues. I use the Hunt brush prior to cleaning and only use the edges with the bristles. The AudioQuest brush is much better and safer. I use one of these while the LP is on the turntable before each play. Some folks have reported that the AudioQuest is the best for applying cleaning solutions. Haven't tried that yet. Did you get both the RRL vinyl wash and Super cleaner? IME, you will need both with used records.
Sounds like your closer to a new table than I am.
Thanks Dan. Although I want to be up and going with my new TT, it has actually worked out well to have the time to research and order all of the other stuff that goes along with this venture. I'll go ahead and look to pick up the other RRL and an AQ brush as well. My wife is starting to really wonder about this operation. Me showing up with an armful of LPs, boxes coming in with all sorts of contraptions, and we don't even have anything to play records on yet. Without even having spun a record yet, I can see how vinyl should be a lot of fun. Thanks for all of the advice.