I use a two step process. My cleaner is a point nozzle vacuum machine. A piece of nylon string rides between the nozzle and record which is changed for each side of cleaning. I think vacuum type cleaners are good, but I feel the ultrasonic machines do a better job, especially on vintage records. Just my opinion of course!
+1 Dan. IMO, ultrasonic cleaning is the single greatest advance in vinyl playback since the Discwasher brush. Vacuum units do work, but not as well as one might hope. The ultrasonic technology removes all surface debris that can be removed. While it can't fix a damaged record, it will allow you to discover nuances and detail you might not have known were there.
Use this one and a 6 ultra sonic tub - $ 400 and it works brilliantly. I air dry the records.
One gallon distilled water fills to perfect level in the 6L tub - cleans about 30-40 records. Then dump wipe out tank and refill.
IME much is gained by following US cleaning with a vacuum rather than air dry. The US machine removes crud, but also leaves loosened debris on the LP for extraction by the vacuuming. I start with 20 minutes in the Elmasonic, and end with a TergiKleen liquid brushing on the VPI 16.5 followed by six rotations with the vacuum wand. The last few rotations are completely dry-- which may cause consternation to some, but does no damage that I can hear.
I turn on some music. A tad/ drop of Dawn dishwasher liquid on a rubber maid rectangular tub, add 3-4 inches of hot water. I place the album on an angle where the water line is just below the center label. I spin with both hands the LP about 5 times on each side.Get both sides wet. Then in a circular motion I go over the vinyl with a soapy (same Dawn water) sponge 15 times clockwise then 15 times counter clockwise on each side of the album as the albums lays on top of the edges of the tub.
Next, with another clean sponge , with cold clean water from the faucet, I sponge rinse the album with about 5 wet circular motions on each side.
I then place each side of the album under the faucet in an angle so , again I do not get the center label on the album wet, at least not a direct stream on it, and rinse each side thoroughly.Rinse a quarter of the album at a time under the faucet as you spin to the next rinse area.
As I finish the above process with each album I lean/stand each washed/ clean album against the wall on the bathroom or kitchen counter top to air dry a bit. I prefer the bathroom because is closer to my listening area and have more towels and space.
Once I finish the group wash I go to the first washed album and in consecutive order I dry them with a very soft, clean, mid size bath towel with circular motion covering both sides of the album. Only the towel touches the vinyl. As I finish each album with the towel dry,I place each album in a rack under a ceiling fan while I finish the whole bunch. Once finished with the group I then put each album inside the sleeve/cover with more towel circular drying motion right before going back in the sleeve.
Once finished then the reward is to listen to the really shinny and clean albums while reading the LP cover and admiring the art on the cover in the same order of washing.
I usually do no more than 10 albums, if that many, at one time which may take me 30-40 minutes. Key thing is to be listening to music the whole time. Is a love thing. The albums get really clean.
I REALLY want a AD Ultrasonic machine....Just waiting for a pissed off wife/divorce listing for $500. Good thing I'm not holding my breath..
I've been saying I'm going to get a proper RCM for the past 10 years.
Meanwhile, I recently purchased a new bottle of cleaner for my Spin Clean. My strategy is only buying clean presses to start(I only buy used) Does the job enough so, I've taken them to shows to hear on uber systems and not have the exhibitor abruptly cut a song short because it was awful.
A random tick/stitch is easily overlooked by great music and decent recording, especially on a killer system.
This DIY thing is intriguing. I like great stuff on the cheap.
...I did see the Amari once at a show in Norway - it is quite large and noisy - well all the Ultra Sonic ones are.The Klaudio machine is very, very quiet if you use it with the sound dampening option.
Peter, So you place the LPs on the apparatus that you cited in your first post into the bath that you have cited just above? What frequency is best (anyone)? This one is 42kHz. I have heard that 80kHz is perhaps better. But the most important thing to me would be to make sure the LPs are not damaged. Rumors of high frequency loss are disturbing. My hearing is bad enough already without damaging the source material a priori.
I have been using ultrasonic plus point nozzle for a number of years now- had the AD, and still have the KL, which I use along with a big Monks (Omni). I think the combination is synergistic - and the results of using both methods - US and vacuum-- in combination are particularly evident with older/used records.
DIY US offers more flexibility than the "commercial" US machines meant for LPs- you can control heat, degas, power, and frequency as well as use different surfactants.
If you are going the DIY route, be mindful of the relationship between surface area, tank size and the power of the transducers-- there is a formula on page 5 of the long diyAudio thread that discusses this--where the author points out that 12 inch records act like a baffle and reduce cavitation effect.
I think the Elma is the way I’ll go when my KL gives up the ghost, though it (the KL) has been reliable, it suffers from some limitations. The transducers on all these things eventually burn out, which may make buying a cheap unit seem more sensible.
PS: Rush Paul’s seminal article (published here on the ’Gon and in Positive Feedback Online) which takes the collective wisdom from the long diyAudio thread and applies it, along with some of the tweaks, including an external pump and filter, is well worth reading, as is a similar piece Tim Ackerman wrote with a follow up (and published on my blog, TheVinylPress.com).
The apparatus as you call it has magnet that hold the fixture that holds the 3 (or 4) LP's, you then lower the up's into the tank, the pillar that holds the motor with the magnetic fixture has a telescoping feature and a clamp lock. The 6 L tank with one gallon distilled water has the perfect fill level i.e all the grooves are submerged in water just before the horizontal arm touches the edge of the tub.
I typically do batches of LP's so running 3 or 4 batches of LPs and you've cleaned 9-12 albums. After two or three batches I dump the water and wipe out the tank, then fill with a fresh gallon. I run them for 10 minutes, which is 2 clicks on the US bath which has a timed shutoff in 5 min intervals. I only use distilled water, no additives, the LP's come out super clean. I let them air dry.
I have not heard any rumors of high-frequency loss using US cleaning - saw a video once, I think posted by KLAudio, where they ran an album for hours upon hours then filtered the water through a coffee filter to prove that the machines do not damage the LP's. I have detected ZERO damage to albums using this method - and if you think about it dragging a diamond stylus through the groove certainly must be a LOT more damaging to the LP than pulsating water.
I haven’t used the GemDandy, though George Merrill has a long well deserved reputation in analog. The main thing that would concern me about his inexpensive approach is that you are apparently using tap water, filled with minerals, and after rinsing, wiping dry, it appears. For the same reason that Merrill criticizes ultrasonics that use a surfactant (cleaning fluid) for leaving fluid on the record, I would be just as concerned about mineral deposits left on a record by Merrill’s method, even though the water is under pressure and the record is ’wiped’ dry. Of course, the reviews say that they got quiet records as a result, so without having used it myself, I can’t say otherwise. That would be a concern, though. Wiping doesn’t necessarily mean that the contaminants (whether fluid or particulates) have been removed- it just means that the record surface is no longer wet.
As to Merrill’s criticisms of ultrasonic cleaners they are:
-the need to constantly change the bath- an issue that is pretty much eliminated by filtering;
-an effective filter that allows full flow but captures contaminants- no argument here;
-even after cleaning in a US, the record may have residue (contamination) from the surfactant, if one is used. I believe that is true as well.
The KL doesn’t use any cleaning fluid to enhance cavitation, but my learning has suggested that a surfactant will enhance cavitation. Getting it off requires a pure water rinse and in my estimation, a vacuum, which is basically what I do. (Note that as mentioned, I owned the AD, currently have the KL and intend to replace that when it goes with a DIY so that I can use a surfactant). The arguments against vacuum in combination with ultrasonic are: greater time, potential static and further contamination of the record surface. Using a point nozzle, like the Monks, pretty much eliminates any issue re static or cross contamination (if you use two mats). More time consuming? Yes.
Everybody has their preferred approach based on the amount of time, money and effort they are willing to devote to cleaning LPs. I’m willing to make those expenditures due to the relatively high investment I have made in older and in many cases, rare pressings- many of which require deep cleaning- many were not "audiophile" records and were not handled accordingly.
I actually think you can get pretty good results with a conventional vacuum machine if you use best practices- you don’t have to spend a fortune on cleaning equipment. I like what ultrasonic does, but if I had to choose only one machine, it would probably be the Monks. The ultrasonic, alone, doesn’t address some grotty stuff that is virtually glued into the grooves, but does help loosen it; in combination with fluids, vacuum and pure water rinse steps, I can achieve extremely good results. At a cost in equipment, time and effort.
I don't think Harry has been testing Us cleaners for nothing. I’d bet on VPI to release their own line of US cleaners.
I followed Rushton’s article for equipment. (I’m a Audio Desk owner BTW.) One set of rollers for the AD cleaner costs half the price of my current US cleaner. I am still a big proponent of steaming and continue to do so currently as my first line of defense. My unit has a heating element, which is essential, IMO. (Steamimg/heat?)
Just replacing the units I own, using the AD fluid w/ distilled water (in both) was a revelation. My personal feeling is a larger tank area is needed for superior results. Mine is a 10L. I believe at least 1 inch of space between lps, as Rushton writes, enhances the cavitation process.(The more space the better). Sometimes I just go for it and put in one or two at a time. Does life get any better?
I’m glad you posted you’re just using distilled water and no additive with excellent results. It has been somewhat disproven on the DIY Audio forum that the Aquafina water MF recommends isn’t as pure as reported. This is probably not hard to research. This will hopefully inspire others to take the next step for a US cleaner. It really doesn’t need to be complicated.
I appreciate all of your comments/work. You don’t mention steaming anywhere in your thoughtful/thorough posts.
@slaw- Hi, Slaw. I haven't really experimented with steaming. I know you have. Is there a point where the vapor condenses to hot water on the record surface? Is there a particular steamer that you prefer?
I remember the threads touting it as a good preliminary step in the cleaning process, and more recently, a Fremer video demonstrating how he removed pasted-on paper/cardboard from a flood-damaged record.
" I forgot to plug in my Vinyl Stack after turning my 40khz US cleaner on for a 30 minute cycle. I was worried but could hear no damage."
I've also done this with a cheap Chinese US machine and experienced no damage. But when I forgot to engage rotation in the German Elmasonic machine, after 15 minutes at 37khz the record melted at the inner grooves along the surface of the bath. I conclude from this that the Elma produces much more cavitation action than some of the other machines.
Hi whart, The (vapor) = steam does make a wet record while steaming. A big positive is that the weight/force behind the steam, allows the initial crud to be washed away. This is assuming the user holds the lp over a sink as I do. (Some seem to use a flat (lazy susan) type of platform).
I'm currently using a DB steamer. The low cost of steamers on Amazon lends themselves to be virtual no-brainers as far as price goes as they are usually refunded if they don't meet one's expectations. So, I'd say just start experimenting.
I could make an argument for one that's more ergonomically correct, which is a plus. The main factor is a consistent steam pattern, consistent pressure along with a tank that holds at least 8 ounces of heated water.
I own the original Mapleshade. Very expensive. I've purchased 3 others on Amazon since for under the MS's original price.
The Vinyl Stack holder has 1" spaces between the LP's. The reason I recommend the 6L tank is that one gallon, which is the measure its sold by in the local supermarket @ c69 makes the perfect fill level so that the LP's are submerged with all the grooves in the water and not so high it reaches the holder.
I have owned the AD machine too - I don't like the rollers because they leave an exit mark where they disengage, clearly audible when playing a "cleaned" record
slaw, thanks for bringing up steaming, something I've wondered about before jumping into the US circle.
So where does that rank in an absolute sense between wet/vacuum cleaning and US cleaning? I realize the cost difference is significant but that is a choice everyone needs to make for themselves. For those who have tried both, what are the sonic result comparisons between steam and US?
I now use a Chinese 10L US cleaner and a Vinyl Stack. My process:
Spin Clean, as a pre cleaner to dislodge most of the dirt etc on the LP, blot dry.
US clean using Rushton's formula, at 1/3 rpm / 5 rev in 15min.
Nitty Gritty vacuum dry. Then inserted into a new MoFi inner sleeve.
I change all fluids after 20 LPs.
There is a considerable amount of debris in the Spin Clean tank after a cleaning session. There is *also* a surprising amount of debris in the US tank after a cleaning session, representing debris *not* removed by the Spin Clean alone.
Damage is still audible. The background of undamaged LPs is now lower than the background of my system. Amazing to hear music decay into nothing, or an arbitrary cutoff where the engineer cut the signal. The low level Shhhhh/Woosh sound is removed from undamaged LPs. Transient response and low level ambiance clues are significantly improved. I have noted an increase in pops tics on some LPs as I get closer to the record label indicating some tweaking of my process is needed. Overall US *is* a significant step forward.
The main reason I prefer my steam method is that among other important things, there is no "tank" that the initial debri falls into to possibly be redistributed again. (I’ve read that the Spin Clean fluid has an agent that allows for debri to fall to the bottom).
There are SO many positive aspects of steaming. They are very logical, which I find to be the most persuasive argument for most things.
My belief regarding the amount of ticking one experiences at the beginning/end of lps is related to the pressing process/quality.(IMO).
I use steaming solely for my initial cleaning of lps. I do not use it in any way as a replacement for US cleaning.
I’ve found the I achieve superior results with my pre-steam method, then a VPI rinse, then US, the a VPI rinse.
Using plain distilled water after I steam is great.
Great thread guys. I'm looking to get one of these US cleaners as a pre-step to a final rinse/dry with a VPI HW-17.
I currently do the following:
1) Clean with a Spin Clean in distilled water
2) Rinse with a (second) Spin Clean in distilled water
3) Rinse/dry with a VPI HW-17 in pure water
How are you guys doing the steaming as the first step in your process?
Witnessed this again yesterday in a diner's men's room:
Guy comes out from a toilet stall, goes to the sink, turns on faucet, places hands under the water stream, then turns off faucet. By the time you get to finish the previous sentence, guy is out the door. What is wrong with this scenario and what's that got to do with cleaning vinyl records?
While accepted as the "universal solvent", water needs help to run off unwanted dirt, gunk, debris, germs, etc., from any surface, including the presumably dirty hands of that guy. The kind of help with mechanical and/or chemical solutions depends on our valuation of acceptable risks on vinyl and environment. Ultimately however, the main purpose of any solution is to lessen the physical or chemical BOND between gunk and records. Science of cavitation holds much promise in that regard. But I wait in the sidelines while others experiment. My records are old like me and ... irreplaceable, unlike me!
Rinsing with water afterwards must maximally FLUSH out the "un-bonded" gunk off our records.
Then DRYING. The drying method will depend on one's patience. Evaporation is slow, sans static electricity of rubbing. Vacuum extraction is quick.
BTW, water as described is not "tap". Buy online laboratory grade distilled water. The chemical solution to use depends on your conscience. Or wallet.
Implementation of vinyl cleaning, like hygiene, is a personal choice, like that guy in the men's restroom.
@mikemalter - I suggest calling The Disc Doctor (web search is your friend) to get his recommendations. He's an actual chemist that has been working in this space for a long time and is the recognized expert in this field. I have been using his products for a years. He has an expert knowledge of what needs to be cleaned from the grooves and what will effectively act on that material.
I won't recommend any kind of homemade record cleaning fluid when there's such a good source of information and and cleaners available through The Disc Doctor.