Best value record cleaner/cleaning system


Thought I would ask the group -- when I was last in the analog game some 12-15 years ago it was a VPI or Nitty Gritty for record cleaning (that and the wood-handled Discwasher pad with red-bottle liquid, Zerostat and Decca CF brush for just before playing an LP)... are these still the go-to standard units, or has the state of the art / ’value’ options advanced to some other kits in the present? I see cleaner units now from Pro-ject, Music Hall, Spin Clean, etc etc.

In my case I am not trying to ’deep clean’ mistreated, flea market or recycled recors store records... just good hygiene maintenance-cleaning of a treasured collection - 80% regular records, 20% ’audiophile’ pressings.

Thanks in advance.
jjss49
The Spin Clean is inexpensive and effective. It's not cool, or glamorous. But it gets the job done pretty well, for not very much money. 
I have used two methods so far - Spin clean and microfiber towels for drying works well, get more background noise out with a Record Doctor V after Spin Clean on very dirty records.  Record Doctor V is less painful than spin clean if dealing with hundreds of albums.  

[Use carbon brush and zero stat before playing thereafter.  All new sleeves and outer sleeves after cleaning.]
I started out using the velvet pad on a wood handle cleaner years ago.

Then I got a Knosti. I was quite pleased with it other than the cycle time. I could only wash one record and then wait for it to dry enough to remove the hub and do another record. Then there were rinse issues....

So I moved on to an Okki Nokki. I like this one! I am able to clean a record as deep as I like, dry it and play it immediately afterwards.

The Knosti cost me about 80 bucks while the Okki was 500.

I decided on an automated platter when using the Knosti and thinking of upgrades.
2nd on the Okki Nokki.  Full Disclosure I am a dealer for Okki Nokki.  Great product that cleans in forward and reverse. 
I recommend the VPI 16.5 record cleaner.  Not the cheapest solution out there, but it's mighty reliable.  Thousands of records cleaned, and it's still going very strong 15 years later.  The downside: it's not quiet, so it really needs to live away from polite company and ear protection is de rigeur. Newer (or more expensive) models may be a bit less noisy.
On the other hand, you can trust @meadowman ^^ and his Okki recommendation.  I'm pretty sure he sold me the VPI record cleaner years ago. Thanks, Mike!
goheelz,  thanks for the mention.  The Okki Nokki is based on the VPI.  metal construction, quieter and cleans in both directions.  Glad to hear your VPI is still Sucking!
My process: Spin Clean, then steam (using finger bowl to cover label), final dry off with micro fiber towel. Seems to work pretty well.

I have been using a KAB EV-1 ($169.00) for aout 10 years now. It’s a no-frills Nitty-Gritty style cleaner whic requires you to supply a canister vacum. I do clean garage sale records and I have been pleased with the results. KABUSA.com.


Now, however, there is the Record Doctor V, which is similar, but has an internal vacuum for about $200. If I were buying today, this is the machine I would purchase:

http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=RDV




Not only is it important to deep clean but a vacuum is a must for removing any debris.  At the very least consider a nit with a vacuum - I use a Nitty Gritty MiniPro2.  I like the NG since the platter only touches the label area.
I use an old plastic Technics table with the belt removed for record support while I apply Disc Doctor cleaning fluid and scrub using the Disc Doctor cleaning pads. Then vacuum on the KAB EV-1 and back to the table for rinse using reverse osmosis H2O (Whole Foods) and then back to the EV-1. This process makes up for the only deficiency that I see of the EV-1, lack of lateral support while scrubbing. Have done hundreds of records like this. 



After graduating from the Discwasher to a Nitty Gritty when it was first introduced, and then to a VPI HW-16, I much preferred the VPI. Not only does the VPI Vacuum suck the LP dry much quicker (in two revolutions) than the NG, but its platter provides solid support for the LP whilst (gettin’ above my raisin’ now) you scrub it, a must with used LP’s. To keep the just cleaned side from becoming contaminated when you flip the LP to clean the other side, use a second platter mat. The HW-16 (now 16.5) is well worth it’s price, but I sprung for the even better HW-17F, about as good a cleaner as you can get outside of the osmosis type. I’m waiting for their price to come down.
okee dokee i bought an okki nokki from audio advisor... :)
I still think the method of covering the LP with peanut butter and letting maggots eat it all off is the way to go.
Spin clean and fiber wipes are of no real comparison to a good vacuum machine. I  used to have a VPI 16.5, but it leaked so I recently got the new Pro-Ject VS-C, a superior machine to the VPI, Okki, and Nitty Gritty. Quieter, greater suction, bi-directional, ease of use! If you have a collection of an size, it's well worth the cost to get a real RCM. And the difference in sound quality is nothing short of amazing! I have albums I've owned for 40 years, I thought were old and worn out, lots of surface noise, pops and ticks. A thorough cleaning and it's new again! No surface noise at all! Jaw dropping results. Records don't wear out, they just get dirty. 
I have been happy with my VPI 16.5 for 26yrs and still works perfectly.
 I then found out about Dave Burton- "Record Genie" his service will clean your records with an Audiodesk or Klaudio ultrasonic machine or both. Also uses a Furutek D'Mag.
Very worthwhile if you want to experience CLEAN Vinyl. Reasonable prices and uses media mail to keep costs down 
Highly recommended, Try his service on some of your prized records. You will want to do them all !!!
I use sandpaper. Fine grit is best. 
Okki nokki is a great choice. Make sure to empty the tank after each use. You have to tip it toward the hose end to get all of the fluid to come out. If you leave fluid in the tank the arm tube can swell and not move freely. If you leave it in too long it can get chunks of crap in it and can cause problems trying to drain it.
Let's go another tack.  I recommend ultrasonic cleaning. It yields far superior results to Nitty Gritty (which I have) to VPI (which my friends use).  We have conducted tests by cleaning ultrasonically after using the prior machines and the sound is so much clearer, better detail, much better imaging, etc. The effects are the same whether you use beat albums or those brand new. In fact I have had good luck buying original Blue Note recordings all scuffed up for a few bucks and after cleaning they are decent and listenable.
I resisted this as I did not want to spring for the expensive German machines $3-4,000.  Now there is an excellent alternative. I purchased a system from Cleanervinyl.com for $550 and an ultrasonic machine recommended by them for $170 on EBAY.  In the past 2 months I have cleaned over 2,000 records! I would say the results are close to going up a level in Record Condition and are great for beat up albums.
I have a few friends who purchased this system and are very happy. It looks pretty cheesy and for the money it looks ridiculous. However, I am buying the results and they have been excellent. The system is not cheap but it justifies the expense.
A soft non-abusive dish washing brush with some dawn detergent seems to work pretty well. Not for everybody but it works pretty well for me. 
Rhoneman,

Great work; finding a cost effective ultasonic record cleaning system. All vinyl lovers should take note of your contribution to clean vinyl.
The "Spin Clean" is a fave among my customers looking for "basic" cleaning. As mentioned before vacuum and ultrasonic cleaning is superior. 
Anvil Turntables
Sure line paint edger is a great gentle tool to wash vinyls in the sink.  Gets a lot of surface area. Use a little Rinseaid and then rinse thoroughly. Dry with microfiber towels. Slip into plastic inner sleeve. No affect on label. Lots of videos on YouTube.

I use the Squeaky Clean with a Shop-Vac Micro. Made in Canada.
I tried several ones. I was disappointed by the big noise of vacuum RCM's. I tried also a DIY ultrasonic RCM but the process is long and is also noisy.
My final choice is Loricraft PRC3 (entry price). Very silent and rapid : two minutes for the two faces of an LP (no rinse).
Loricraft is not cheap but if I've made this choice from the beginning I would save a lot of money.
You need to ask yourself this question... How important is my vinyl record collection to my overall enjoyment in life? Then one more if the answer is very important...How much time am I willing to put into the caring for such a valuable addition to my life?

If the answer is I'm willing to put in a decent amount of effort into such an important aspect of my life...here is my response..

Get a good steamer and some Down With Dirty Concentrate/Aquafina water and a couple of cleaning tools. Overall investment is around $200.00. Labor not included.
nkoner,

I'd love to a customer/'s like you who appreciate properly cleaned vinyl.

If I thought there was a good enough market, I'd offer my services.

Cheers!
I've done a lot of research.  The most effective cleaning method is ultrasonic.  Results are demonstrably better than vacuum machines and results are repeatable.  Improvement is noted with new unplayed records, and records that were carefully stored.  Cost varies from a few hundred dollars (DIY Kit) to several thousand (Audiodesk and others).   I will purchase a DIY ultrasonic setup in the near future.  It will replace a process of Spin Clean followed by Nitty Gritty Vacuum.    The basic Ultrasonic process is adequate for most cleaning purposes.  Some have reported better results by incorporating an enzyme pre clean and scrub, rinse with purified water (distilled, lab grade etc) then a US clean.  Some feel that a post bath rinse and air dry improves results.   My takeaway is these are tweaks around a basic process that is sound and effective.  And as I stated previously, I will purchase a DIY system in the near future.  
I'd be interested in any info from everyone out there who's had experience w diy ultrasonic cleaners.
Thanks

 slaw,

Last I heard from Dave Burton @ "Record Genie" .com Is that he really has NOT made money but does stay busy with his record cleaning services and three (3) young kids.
If I stay focused; I can clean (5) records in an hr. Will I complete all of my 3000 LPs with my process. Absolutely Not. I will get all of my special recordings done and listen to them.
Using just my Audiodesk; I clean LPs as I want to listen. Only special recordings get the full enzyme, rinse, Audiodesk, rinse treatment. The full treatment does really make a difference over just the AD clean only.
You're correct that "full treatment" does make a big difference.

Regarding the OP's point as to the best value... I may have misinterpreted that as to include (lowest cost = greatest impact) as part of that "best value term".

Regarding a Spin-Clean. Based on what I've read and seen in print, I'd go with the Gem Dandy over it, mainly because in the (initial cleaning), the dirt/crud that comes off of the record won't go into a bath that the next lp will see.

jayh,

Check out Rushton's thread.
nkonor,

We've visited on the Rushton thread. I believe we have mostly the same equipment and processes except for, (in my experience) one factor...I do the steam clean as my initial step.

I've cleaned many records with out the steam/DWDC, and put them through my 16.5, then the Audio Desk. Then later added my steam regimen, and the results were positive. I posted on Rushton's thread not too long ago about my experience with the Neil Young lp. The result in my system was noticeable. The result in KC's system was like a component/cable/cartridge upgrade, IMO. He had his $10K statement phono stage playing. So, the more resolution of one's system, the more of an impact that a great cleaning method can offer.

Steamings'  benefits: ( I hold the lp over a sink while I steam so the lp is washed off)

(1) You can spread any fluid you choose onto a record.
(2) The addition of heat that other inexpensive options, and most others'  don't allow for, along with a great cleaning fluid, removes a very high percentage of contaminants.
(3) It has a built in rinse factor.
(4) You're not using old dirty water to clean any other lps.
(5) Inexpensive.

Steamings' negatives:

(1) Labor intensive.

The method Rushton uses with his filter is very well thought out and solves one of the main problems with US cleaning, the re-use of contaminated water.

Happy listening


The other major benefit I failed to mention above is the ability to clean your lp cleaning tools and velvet lips on your stationary vacuum cleaning machines. I could argue that over time, this benefit alone would pay for the steamer in the absence of having to buy new velvet pads/ tools over time.
slaw,

Yes, I think that we are mostly on the same page with equipment and methods.
My method takes 20 minutes per record.Yes, labor intensive.
 I think steam cleaning would be great; Can you or Rushton point me in the right direction for equipment and sources to obtain?
Also technique for safest and best results? I would appreciate it.

 I the meantime; I am still trying to get a handle on the AFI Flat and its Relax function. Cost in US $, And US distributor? Any help from anyone would be appreciated.

When I start running out of the L Art d' Son ; I will start using the Down with dirty enzyme solution.

Best wishes to All on this journey.
Clean records and stylus; There is no substitute.
nkonor,

That AFI Flat sounds (fantastic) from what I've read. There is a thread here on it that I assume could point you in the right direction. If you obtain one, I'd love to hear your impressions. Good luck!

Could you explain exactly what you're looking for regarding "point me in the right direction for equipment and sources to obtain?"


I have seen mention of obtaining steam cleaning equipment from Walgreens and Mapleshade and KAB. Any thoughts on the best one? 
The original Mapleshade I own. The newer Mapleshade, by Pierre's own admission is not quite as good. The Walgreens that use to be recommended is no longer available last time I checked. I bought a db tech steamer off of Amazon years ago that worked 95% of the original Mapleshade. I recently bought a new db tech with a smaller water tank. I was disappointed in this one. I plan on searching for a larger tank version soon.

With my Mapleshade and my 1st db tech, I made the cardinal sin of refilling the tank before it was cooled enough. Do not do that!
@nkonor, 

Rushton's thread links to an article that details all the chemicals etc. and where to buy them, all for ultrasonic, not steam. I use that method and then do 2 wet rinses & vacuum using a manual DIY spinner made from an Ikea lazy susan which works quicker than my VPI 16.5 used to. You can see my description in that thread and pics on my system page. Cheers,
Spencer
I have found steam cleaners on Amazon and videos on You Tube.
My current regime takes (20) minutes per record. Is labor intensive already. The extra step of steam cleaning will add more time and looks messy. I will continue to look into it and imagine ways to accomplish the steam cleaning regime in the most efficient way.
Stll no leads on cost and obtaining an AFI Flat in the USA.. 
I agree with Rhoneman.
I have a VPI 16.5, but I think that cleaning up to 12 records with the Pro or even up to 24 records at a time with the max is probably the only way I am ever goin to get all the records I have cleaned and keep up with the new purchases. Load 12 records at a time, push a button and walk away, while your records are cleaned ultrasonically; all for around $700.00.
Reviewed by Michael Fremer http://www.analogplanet.com/content/cleanervinylcoms-reasonaly-priced-multi-lp-cavitation-based-reco...

http://www.cleanervinyl.com/

i bought a used Nitty Gritty here on the Gon. A model 1.0 very happy with it !!!!
The seller The Music Room in Colorado was fantastic to deal with !!!!!
I got all the needed brushes, fluids, etc direct from the factory. Makes a massive difference in noise and sound quality..IMO


rec'd my okii nokki - really nice machine

my records never sounded better 

sweetness
Regarding the method I mentioned earlier along with my complete regimen,
cleaning just one lp at a time does take a while. If you start cleaning another lp while your 1st one is in the US cleaner, this reduces time considerably, more of an assembly line approach.
jjss49,

You should consider shelling out $30.00 for the steam cleaner I mentioned if only to clean your cleaning tools/velvet lips. Small initial investment, for a large ultimate payoff in terms of replacement velvet strips and ability to clean off any contaminants between cleaning and rinsing cycles.

Happy listening.
Don't know what velvet strips the Okii uses, I've found the Disc Doctor strips to be the best I've used.
FWIW: When I was finally able to buy my VPI 16.5 years ago, after reading about it, after dreaming about it, I was so disappointed to learn that it did not work as I had read for years.

Upon first using mine, I found that the vacuum was so strong that the lp would adhere to the vacuum tube while the platter would continue to spin. I found out from my dealer that there was a screw that can be tightened once you poke through the cork platter mat and find the 3 screws that will allow you to remove the platter. Then you can barely access the allen screw (at an angle) that will allow you to tighten the assembly. If this wasn't enough..read on...

I then found out that the pick-up tube would not release as I've read for years, automatically. This, I later found out, on my own, is a very delicate melding of several factors.

(1) The position of the pick-up tube in relationship to the lp, in terms of how much it should be twisted, left or right of center.
(2) How much actual fluid one applies.
(3) How flat a particular lp is

None of the reviews I had ever read prior to this purchase ever talked about this. This purchase, became my first in a long line of events to come, that reminded me of how little one can rely upon the reviewers of products.



slaw, more than reviews (who knows what experience many online posters have?) it seems like both VPI and your dealer were to blame.

I've owned two VPI 16.5s and had none of your problems with either one.  First it is hard to imagine your platter was not secured properly but obviously that somehow slipped through.  Regarding the strong suction, that is simply a function of the angle of the slot in the tube relative to the record surface.  Viewed from the outside end, if the slot points straight down (180 on a 360 degree reference) then the vacuum will be too strong.  If set backwards (< 180 degrees) it will not pick up the fluid.  VPI specifies the slot should be at 185 degrees for efficient vacuuming.  It seems your dealer should have checked that.  The two I've owned have been and I get complete drying in two revolutions.
I purchased mine through Galen Carol Audio.

The main point is/should be, (The VPI (manual).).... to my knowledge (as usual), did not have any information on any of these situations. (When did you find out that VPI specifies the slot should point in any direction?)  When I bought mine, the (manual ?) did not have any of this. This goes to my main point... If this was true during the time frame I was (drooling) about a 16.5, and the reviewers NEVER wrote about this, I can only assume, that the VPI (manual) never included such.? (Also, I asked questions to my dealer at that time.  The response was, as I remember, "It's not a intricate/specialized device..(paraphrasing)

BTW, I get complete drying in 2 revolutions as well. This happened only after I figured everything out for myself.

Please, someone, post one link showing  (any) issues I've posted from any reviewer in as long as the 16.5 has been in production

Happy listening.