Clearaudio Double Smart Matrix or Loricraft PRC4

Anyone with exspearience with these two specific units shed some light.

I don't currently have much of a record collection but looks like I will, just got back into vinyl and really enjoying so a really good cleaner is important to me.

The Clearaudio; I like the idea of cleaning both sides at the same time but just not sure if there will be issues with that down the road and really just how good of a job does it do. How quiet is it compared to the specific Loricraft I'm looking at.

The Loricraft; I like how it uses that thread for cleaning, a freind has the PRC3, a few years old and seems to be very happy with and says it does a great job, I saw him do a record and it really didn't take all the long but was pretty load to me anyways once the vacuum was put on. Maybe I don't even need the model I'm looking at, put the $400 into some music, maybe the PRC3 MK2 would be sufficient.


No brainer owned both. clearaudio double matrix best best record cleaner ever. fast, relitively quiet, fantastic job, especially with steam and really FAST! Would never go back to the slow, fair cleaning, slow loriocraft Prc4. yes it is real quiet but it takes forever. I can do 5 on the matrix in the same time as 1 on the PCR4. It is a little quieter but I would rather listen to vinyl then clean it. The string is a pain, it constantly binds up in the tube. Had to take apart a LOT. The matrix is simple to use, clean and maintain. And did I say, really fast? The Double Matrix is more money and well worth it. A final purchase.
A Point nozzle Design was made for professional use in radio stations, libraries and so on. They are concentrated on the grooves to remove the fluid, always with identical top result, no matter how many records are cleaned. They can't be so fast, but they are better.
Those other designs are faster, the cleaning result is not identical, but good enough for most records. The slot vacuum is across the whole side and after 2 or 3 turns it is done.
The Loricraft is not really silent, but silent enough, no problem. In a way it is a decision what you want to have, speed or a superior removal of the fluid with the dirt in it...
(I went from such a Slot Vacuum Design to Point Nozzle and never looked back...)
I own a Loricraft PRC4 and considered the Clearaudio prior to purchase two years ago. No doubt the Clearaudio is faster and quieter. Once I gained a little experience, the string has not been an issue. When directly compared prior to purchase, I thought the Loricraft did a better job cleaning and that made my decision easy. I currently use the Audio Intelligent 3 fluid process and have cleaned over 3,000 records in the past two years without a hitch.
The few small problems with a machine such as the Clearaudio Double Matrix, or Smart Double Matrix are this:

Yes, one gets convenience of doing both sides at once. The problem with such, is the underside of record cannot have fluids applied, and then let soak for a period of time. The simple reason is gravity. The same applies to machines like the Nitty Gritty, in that if you wish to allow a record's surface to soak, it must be done off the machine.

And, the other, is if you wish to use multiple step cleaners, and/or a rinse step, again, you have a problem due to the same features.

At least in the Loricraft-Keith Monks arrangement, one can concentrate on cleaning one side at a time, use multiple steps, and rinses no problem.

The VPI 16.5 is of course the price king option at $500. This leaves lots of money left over for a lot of other things.

Another, with better features, and build quality, would be the Clearaudio Smart Matrix. As I undestand it now, the new Smart Matrix is all aluminum exterior construction, not aluminum painted MDF. ($1000)

The Smart Matrix has reversible platter, and where many of the parts on the VPI are made of plastic-delrin, the Smart matrix uses metals.

The choice must be the end users, but with double sided cleaning machines, it would be a considerable waste of money, and could be called counter-productive then not using all it's whistles, and bells, by straying from a one step cleaner, which seems to be the intentions of how these machines are supposed to be used. Mark
Def not a better clean! Professional, give me a break, who is the pro vinyl spinner today, a dj? I owned BOTH! Let me repeat,"I owned BOTH" and not for just a few days. I had the PCR4 for over a yr. I have the matrix now for almost two and would not part with it. there is NO comparrison. I do not own stock or any other clearaudio equip. I am considering the goldfinger cart though. With out hesitation, hands down double matrix beats in every way except noise level. And that is not any big deal. Choose as you wish, no offense to the above, the double matrix cleans as good/better and with steam, deffinitely better. And it is a pleasure to use and look at. My wifes favorite looking equipment and that is saying a lot.
Buy a manual cleaner, some good brushes and cleaning fluid(s). You'll save boatloads of money to buy vinyl.

Yes, it requires a bit of elbow grease and certainly more time but your records will be just as clean and most likely cleaner than an automatic machine.

Good luck.

Nice RCM's :-)

I am quite familiar with a quite of those RCM's, Odyssey, VPI, Hannl, Monks, Odyssey and so on...Whatever you choose and love, that's fine.But, point nozzle concentrates the vacuum and will result in a drier and more clean record. This is simple Physics. Especially when you use it quite often. The lips from the slot based Vacuum machines will stay wet and then you can forget it more or less. That is the reason, why Monks was so successful in professional areas.
An Audiophile, who uses it only a few times in a row, won't reach any limit from a machine. But the differences exist.
I have owned Clearaudio Matrix (Transparent) for 3 years before replacing it with the Double Matrix (Silent Version) a year ago. Both RCMs were bought brand new by me.

The Double Matrix cleans better and is *much* faster and *considerably* quieter than the Matrix. It is however *very demanding* of microfibre strips. I can rarely clean up to 10 LPs without replacing a couple of the 4 strips because the microfibre material gets detached from the 'glue' that binds it to the nozzle.

Thus, I have to pay a lot of money for micro-fibre strips. Furthermore I am using a mirror to check the condition of the strip on the upper nozzle every two LPs - so that I replace it at the first sign of detachment and protect the surface of the LP I clean.

Had I known the above I would have NEVER bought the Double Matrix despite its advantages.
I owned the VPI 16.5 and now own a Loricraft PRC4 Deluxe. There is no comparison. The combination of the 3 step AI solutions plus a 4th final rinse step and the point source nozzle produces extremely clean records. I hear things (details, dynamics, extension) that I previously got only by upgrading equipment. I spend 20 min. per side, but it is well worth it to me. YMMV. I dare say the improvement is similar to the one I got when I upgraded my cartridge from a nice $1500 one to my Airtight PC-1. Listening to very clean LP's has been a revelation.

I have never tried a machine from Clearaudio so can't comment on how effective it is. The shorter cleaning time sounds nice.
I'll try combining all that's been recently said. No I'm no PHD authority, just some comments to what others wrote.

Ad for the velvet protective strips coming off the Double Matrix, perhaps give Dr Duane Goldman a ring at Disc Doctor. He sells replacement peel+stick strips for something like $15 for 4 strips, enough to do the double matrix. You might have better luck with these? Worth a try anyway.

As for Bill's (audiofeil) suggestion, about manual cleaning, that's a good point he brings up, especially if a person's starting out, and has a relatively small collection, 50-75 records give or take. Again, with some good cleaners, like AIVS, Disc Doctor, MoFi, etc, you'll get pretty decent results if you use care.

As for the VPI 16.5 roaming around the record with "wet lips", I think this is over-exaggerated. In fact, run those "dry" lips around the record more than two revolutions, and you'll have some excess static built up.
The suction of the 16.5 literally sucks the lips dry as well during a vacuum step. With the 16.5, it is wise, to have an additional Vacuum Wand Assembly, that is dedicated for a seperate rinse step, so no cross contamination occurs.

Is the Loricraft better than wand style machines? Probably so, and it should be, for the asking prices.
The benefit I see, is no wand even touching the surface to possibly grid contaminants into the vinyl.

With the VPI machines, one will just about invest 20, or so minutes per record as well, if using a 3-4 step AIVS cleaner-rinse.

In any case, it is the cleaners that must do their job. Without good cleaning fluids, rinses, one could probably use a machine that cost $20K, and won't achieve the desired results. If the cleaners, rinses cannot remove-dislodge the contaminants, and the rinse removing any residuals, I guess the party's over as far as state of the art, pristine cleanliness goes. Mark
Thx, allot a great info. above.

It may not be the best but I have decided to order a Loricaft PRC4, after seeing my friend use his PRC3 it was pretty straight forward.

I like that there are options to cleaning methods, soaking etc. The way there seems to be no cross contamination with the thread method, no changing pads.

I think your choices are good ones, and as long as you can afford such a machine without hurting yourself, then I say god bless you, and go for it!

There's some tricks, and small roadblocks to using the TOTL Loricraft, and you might hit a snag using one, noting a couple of specific issues.

But there are a good number of folks here who have the same machine, and will be able to offer good advice, and their experiences, to guide you past such.

I reckon nothing's perfect. But this quality of machine is a work of art.

Doug Deacon is one who owns the same machine. I know he's written much here. Just search the archives on this forum for all posts pertaining to these machines.

That's one thing to love about this forum, the wealth of information on virtually everything audio, that can be accessed with a simple search.

Again, and I know the gurus here will not argue this very important point I make. Use high quality cleaners, and ultra pure water rinses, and you will enter the holy shrine of vinyl-nirvana!
Ok I thought you guys might just get a bit of a chuckle out of knowing this, my whole collection prior to having my new table set-up recently was seven, yes only seven records.

Ok so how many of you guys are laughing so hard right now that your ribs are hurting, hope you didn't have any food or beverage fluids in your mouth or even worse well we won't go there.

I've seen some pics of your crazy collections, I know a few that have rooms, basements full myself, one guy I know has a room set-up like a library 22ft ceiling with a ladder and cat walk, absolutely anal.

Now my collection consist of still only 50 new and 20 used and another 30 new coming but they are all cherry picked pces that I know that I'll enjoy listening to for a long time, well I have already listened to most of them and really enjoyed. I went out and got some used pces too, found a nice mint "THE BEATLES" "HELP!" UK album, amazing sound quality and the music, well it's the Beatles. The owner was nice enough to clean each one for me and on my way out said see you soon smileing, ya cha ching cha ching, I'd smile too.

Well it's only the beginning, my redbook collection is up there and really includes all the pces that I enjoy listening to. Long time ago I just started going through and the pces I had not listened to or really did not enjoy, possibly the music or crappy recording just got rid of them and that's what I'll be doing with the vinyl.

Since I have had my vinyl rig set-up and it's still only in break-in mode my RedBook has not been listened too.
My collection is meager to some I know, probably about 800-850 records. To go back to the point of just having 7 records, well that would have to be late 1963, early 1964, and I was about 9 years old.

But we all have started somewhere. And there's no shame to your "confession".

It would be like me saying "Yeah, I was riding racing bikes when Lance Armstrong was still in diapers", but what does that proove?! If I could keep up with him on a hill for a block, it would be a miracle!

About all I can add, is do reseach your options fully, and sleep on your decisions. As many might say, for the price of a Loricraft, one could buy a fantastic Phono Stage, a great Cartridge, or something else.

As for the truth of this statement, I am unsure, but I have heard from a couple of people, that the Loricraft can be a bugger getting total fluid pickup off a record. That it might mean the necessity of a unscented kleenex (or the "mop" of your choice) to sop up any fluids left.

This of course isn't unusual, that it as well can happen with any other RCM, if you spill-spread fluids into the label area, or they leak over to the underside lip of the record. The plusses of the Loricraft probably outweigh the minuses.

Again, I've think I made it known in this thread, I own the VPI 16.5. And I excluisvey use AIVS products.

It is a basic simple machine, but I like the fact that I can manually control the applications of fluids, let them sit as long as I like, scub as little or as much as I feel necessary, use multiple cleaning-rinse steps with ease, and that the cost was not too unreasonable, especially for the improvement of playback I attained.

My only regret was not buying one sooner. Mark
Markd51 and Syntax, when it comes to the double matrix you have not a clue what you are talking about. Kostas 1, I have no clue what you are talking about. I have had my double matrix for over two yrs with out an issue, of any kind. Just flawless great prefomance. I have cleaned a lot of vinyl, using steam on the d.m. and it preforms fantastic. And as for the originator of this thread, Dev, we all have to make our own mistakes. with the little vinyl you say you have, it will not matter anyway. Oh and check out the review of the D.M. in the tas issue 180, JV loved it as much as I. Hope you have better luck then I did with the loricraft.
Koegz, Since Syntax, and I appear clueless, please further explain a few things to us then.

Cab you easily use a musti-step cleaning process with the Double Matrix? I think I can answer that, that yes, you can, but can it be done easily, I think the answer is no.

I checked out your system, and I can easily gather it is state of the art.

Not at all ashamed to admit that most, if not all of your equipment is vastlty superior to what I own. I would assume just the Walker Table alone, makes my VPI Table akin to a wind up RCA Victrola!

You seem fond of Lloyd Walker's equipment, so may I ask you this below, since you are in no doubt regular coorespndence with Lloyd.

But I'll ask this question first...
Why, with a $5200 RCM, would you squirt scalding hot water from a $3.00 chinese made steamer onto a record sitting on a $5200 RCM? (OK, you might've sprung the $150 buying from Mapleshade, but little to no difference to the $20 Steamer at Walgreens, which cost about $3 to make in China)

I'm of course not asking you to trust-respect what I say, but have you asked Lloyd Walker what he thinks of such? I already know the answer. And his answer would be, that he will say his Prelude cleaning system is vastly superior to a steaming method, with little-no risk to the vinyl.

And would I believe Lloyd if he told me this? Yes, in a heartbeat I would.

Yes, I know there are fans who seem to like steaming, but I myself do not, nor never will.

Is the reason you wouldn't use products such as Walker Prelude on your RCM, because it would be too difficult-time consuming, or illogical to use on the $5200 Clearaudio RCM?

I've never used the Loricraft to accurately comment on the bad experiences that you've had with one, but I do know people who use them, and I think they have found them to be very good working pieces of equipment, once a person fully understands how to properly set up, and maintain them. Mark
please don't write that. I will have a bad day, when I feel, you don't love me anymore. :-) I think, this Forum is a great one, because you find owners from nearly everything. Based on the - imo - exceptional knowledge here, everyone is able to find an information which is not written in our beloved magazines. I think, this is the main difference here to all others.
Yesterday I got a record - Original Dave Brubeck, Time Out - and it was cleaned from the Dealer. It had noises like mad. When I looked at it, it was super clean, shiny, really really great. I thought, this can't be possible except he used a machine with wet lips, and I cleaned it with my Odyssey (point nozzle).
After this it was silent, no tics, no pops. There are some ways to clean a record.
Dear Koegz,

I am happy to post, in this thread, a photo that speaks volumes of the problem I have been facing with the Clearaudio Double Matrix microfibre strips I have described above.

Since I do not know how to link to the photo, could I send it to you, or any other member of this thread to post it here on my behalf?

Many thanks to either you or anyone else who helps me out on this one.
Guys it's all right to prefer what ever so no need of the personal attacks, Koegz I really appreciate your input and info. relating to the Clearaudio.

There are a few reason why I have chosen to go with the Loricraft but one that really stands out is; the used store that I mentioned I had bought some pces from actually has the Clearaudio "not double matrix" and cleaned my records for me but when I played the "Beatles" it had allot of pops and ticks but the record looked really clean and nice and shinny, well it got re-cleaned on a Loricraft. I can't believe the difference and all those pops and ticks are almost all gone and to me that sealed the deal.

Aprox. 10 years ago I owned 1000 LP's but unfortuantly sold them, owned a Teres table back then.

My current set-up;

MBL 101E speakers
VAC Sig. MK2a pre-amp w/phono
TW Acustic Raven One table, just getting my feet wet.
Graham Phantom MK2 arm
Dynavector XV-1s cart
Steath Hyperphono cable
MBL 1621a RedBook transport
Accustic Arts Tube Hybrid dac
Bryston 28 Squared mono blocks
Torus RM20 for each mono block
Stealth cables through out

I take my vinyl very serious. when I find a state of the art "superior" product, I am willing to shout it out. To my best knowledge lloyd, if you must know uses an old VPI record cleaner with his 4 step product. It is great stuff but I do not use it. I preferr a general cleaner like the clearaudio cleaner and then steam. It is fast efficient and therial. My vinyl is spotless and dead quiet. I bought the PRC4 on raves by some on this board. My mistake. cost me a few $100 and the D.M. was not out yet. The real test is if you would buy another? I would buy another D.M. in a heart beat. To each their own.
Sorry you don't have an open mind toward steam, Mark. I will stack my steamer and DIY RCM up against any of these machines. It is not as convenient and must be spun by hand, but the results I get are very, very good. And all for about $100. ;-)

Don't forget to put your clean vinyl in NEW sleeves!
Yes Koegz, I have no doubt at all that you do take vinyl, and audio playback quite serious, you have assembled quite a fantastic system, and in truth, the Double Matrix costs more than what I have invested in my turntable, but I do get good sound running a ZYX Airy 3, and going into a Sutherland PhD Phono Pre.

I concur what you say, about how sometimes we often have to take the word of others about a certain piece of equipment, then possibly later find out that piece of gear turned out to be a personal disappointment.

Often, very few of us have a brick-mortar store we can walk into, compare, and examine-test a product.

I know the lesser Clearaudio RCM's use similar pricipals to the VPI machines, such as vacuum wand fluid pickup. But clearly, most of the clearaudio gear is built to a higher quality standard, and of course an end user pays for it.

Since little is known about such machines, and many of us just do not know many of the finer details, it is interesting to talk to those that do.

In what the similarities, and/or differences are between the TOTL Double Matrix, and lesser models in the line.
How, if there is any "trickle down" technology used in the lesser machines, thus making them good candidates of choice for somebody who perhaps cannot spend the money on such a state of the art machine.

It probably cannot be done here, in a forum thread, but it would be really nice, if people such as yourself could author a review of the machine?

I'm not in disagreement about hearing that the Loricraft can be difficult to extract proper operation from. I was lucky just to be able to afford the VPI 16.5. But I have modded the unit, with a cooling fan, and acrylic platter-neoprene mat to squeeze-enhance performance.

With the cleaners-techniques I use, I am getting exemplary results as well. Mark
I can't believe the difference and all those pops and ticks are almost all gone and to me that sealed the deal

Good sound has often its roots in science, some knowledge and the right solutions. I found a nice print, probably it will help to understand how something works

The Point Nozzle Principle

The Keith Monks Record Cleaning Machine is one of the world's best devices (if not the best) for cleaning records and keeping them in excellent condition. 
The Loricraft Record Cleaning Machines (PRC) work along the same principle devised by the late Percy Wilson, but they omit the stationary brush and the motorized unwinding of the buffer thread. The advantage is that the Loricraft machines are about half the price of the Keith Monks. There is also the Odyssey on the Market, when K. Monks passed (Loricraft made their RCM at that time) away and nothing was available, the German Monks Importer built a new one with excellent German parts and some modifications. K. Monks Son Jonathan continues the work of his Dad now.
There are plenty of choices, for every taste, for every amount of money, some work good, some better, some excellent.
let me rephrace something. lloyd's cleaner is fantastic and I have tried using with my D.M. but because the way the D.M. is set up it was not a good fit. also I have not been to lloyd's for some time and he maybe using something other then the vpi now. but his 4 step is probably one of the best cleaners there is and on ocastion for a real bad album I make it work on the D.M.. He is a perfectionest.
Markd51, one last point since you brought it up. the last time I was at lloyds he was using steam and loving it in conjunction with his cleaning product. There is nothing wrong with the VPI cleaner. it is (very)loud, but it works good enough with steam. I would own the VPI over the PRC4. the cost of an item is not directly connected with how good it functions or preforms. so your referance to the cost of a steamer has no "value". do as you wish, but if your not using steam it aint kleen.
I'd like commenting again. Lloyd possibly was conducting some curious tests that day, and I would assume that if the Prelude Cleaning System is so good, as everyone claims it is, one wouldn't find a need to resort to steam.

Not in any way berating Prelude, because if what I was using currently became no longer available, the Prelude System would be the one I would most likely turn to-consider. Only possibly dislike I might find with the products, is the need to pre-mix batches of the Enzyme Cleaner.

I'm not here to hype any particular product, but with the products I've been using, I have found no need to resort to the Steamers. One might argue, saying, "well that's because my system isn't high quality-resolving enough to hear the differences". I believe it certainly is, and I don't think one will absolutely need to spring $40K on a Table to clearly know without a doubt, the records are perfectly clean.

Although the ZYX Airy 3X Cartridge is not what I call a "high resolution click+pop finder", as it is a cartridge that plays very quiet in the groove.

I've seen how steam "tacos' records, and there's enough of this on youtube to see such, as when the steam is applied, the record warps crazily. Yes, that goes away once the steamer is pulled away, and the record is left to cool, but to what degree it then returns to its fully original state before such an assault I'm sure is not 100%.

Since the dawn of time with vinyl, it always has been a no no leaving vinyl in a hot car, etc. And that's one good argument as to why I would not wish to create a self made enviornment of hea destruction for my treasured vinyl.

I believe one day, someone will show visually, the effects at the miscroscopic level, before, and after, the evidence of what steam (I prefer to call it hot water) does to the groove.

I'm a firm believer, that if the cleaners that are used are properly designed, in that they do the job they supposed to do, which is detach the contaminants that are found in the groove, and place them into the aqueous solution, so that the vacuum can come along and remove them, then the job is essentially correctly accomplished.

As well, that no residues are left behind due to an inefficient vacuum system, or that the vinyl was damaged by the specific components of a cleaner system. That any residues left behind in the groove, are just another type of contaminant left behind for the Stylus, (and the Ear)

I know there's people here who have a better knack of explaining the sciences involved, and putting them to type better than I. I don't exactly consider myself a William Shakespeare, or someone like Justin_Time when it comes to writing.

Again, do use what you feel is best for you. I am well aware how such topics have controversy about methods-cleaners.

I will lastly say, that common sense causes me to believe that a $500 RCM with the best cleaners, and proper techniques will give head and shoulders better results versus an RCM costing 10 times the price but with inefficient cleaners, rinses, and/or poor technique. Mark
Just for the record, Lloyd Walker experimented with steam for all of about 15 minutes. His 4 step product functions just fine, thank you very much, without steam. He tried steam - it was not the answer.
I would Imagine if Lloyd Walker trusted in such as steam cleaning (which IMO is a misnomer, it's actually hot water) that he would endorse such, and market such to compliment his Prelude System.

It's a shame in a way that manufacturers as such cannot participate in these forums, as we could then get accurate-truthful, and useable information straight from the horse's mouth so to speak.

About Lloyd, I don't personally know the man, but I'm quite certain Walker Prelude wasn't originally concocted on Lloyd's Kitchen Table, nor is the final cleaning formulas manufactured in Lloyd's Kitchen Sink.

He no doubt went the full monty, with degreed chemists, testing, analyzation, testing again, on, and on, till his formulas were perfected, and acceptable for marketing.

I assume that after use of his products, that nothing further needs to be done to the vinyl in a near future tense. Just the dusting, and yes, in time vinyl does need to be recleaned. One cleaning, no matter what the product doesn't insure that the record is now going to stay pristine clean for the rest of its usable life. Mark
IME, steaming can be an extremely important and valuable step in a cleaning regimen and I do it regularly. It's particularly effective with really dirty records.

I'm not fond of steamers like the Mapleshade which concentrate the steam in a very small area, favoring a steamer which provides a much more diffuse distribution. I never have a record warping while steaming and wouldn't advocate doing so.

I see no reason for any of the marketers of commercial record cleaning products to endorse steaming as there is really nothing in it for them and it would, in a sense, shed a somewhat negative light on the efficacy of their products.

I'm grateful that companies and people like RRL, Disc Doctor, Audio Intelligent and Lloyd Walker have come up with effective cleaning products (especially their first stage cleaning products) but I'm a lot less grateful that they sell ultrapure water (which is every bit as important, if not moreso, than the first stage of cleaning whether it be surfactant or enzyme based) for five to eight times the price (Lloyd Walker's price) to gullible audiophiles who could buy it from any scientific supply house at pennies on the dollar.

If Lloyd's markup on his tables resembles anything like his markup on his water he must be very comfortable.
I am convinced that the Keith Monks, new or used, is the best you can get for reasons that Syntax explained previously. I don't know what a new one costs, but expect to pay around $2500 for a used one. If you aren't DIY inclined, it is probably worth the price.
FWIW in response to some points made above:

1. We've owned and used a PRC3 for 5-6 years. In all that time I have only once had the thread bind up in the tube. That was less than a year after we bought the machine and I blame operator error. We've had no such problems for years.

2. We've tried steaming, using a device like the ones often recommended on this forum. Maybe it was operator error again, but the results were miles behind what we get from our 4-step AIVS regimen. Someone said Lloyd Walker is a perfectionist and so are we. Steaming didn't come anywhere close to producing acceptable results for us, though it certainly was faster.

3. The Clearaudio solution doesn't match the performance of the AIVS solutions we use, regardless of the RCM you vacuum them with. Koegz's experience that his Clearaudio D.M. worked better than his Loricraft PRC4 was therefore based on different performance criteria than ours.

4. The ultimate test of vinyl cleanliness is not how quiet your surfaces are. One can eliminate clicks and pops with many different methods using many different machines, but that's only the first step. Much harder than that is getting the grooves clean enough so that a very revealing system can reproduce all the low-level information in them. Anyone who touts a cleaning method or machine based on how quiet their surfaces are is not listening at the highest levels. Their statements must be considered in that context.

5. Never tried the Clearaudio RCM's, but as pointed out above the demonstrably inferior physics of slot vacuuming and the constant battle against contaminated felts make them a non-starter for us. No doubt they're faster and if it does a good enough job for some, that's great. To each his own.
"4. The ultimate test of vinyl cleanliness is not how quiet your surfaces are. One can eliminate clicks and pops with many different methods using many different machines, but that's only the first step. Much harder than that is getting the grooves clean enough so that a very revealing system can reproduce all the low-level information in them. Anyone who touts a cleaning method or machine based on how quiet their surfaces are is not listening at the highest levels. Their statements must be considered in that context."

Doug, I couldn't agree with you more. Effective cleaning is about more than elimination of clicks and pops; it's about unleashing the information in the groove. My system is perfectly capable of resolving those differences.

The problem with debates about record cleaning is that it is impossible establish with any certainty a real absolute in terms of process. Everyone is doing something different. Different fluids, different brushes, different amounts of time in terms of leaving fluids on records, different techniques with respect to removal of fluid. Think about the variables.

My comments above with respect to steaming refer to it being used in conjunction with more traditional cleaning techniques (fluid, vacuum, rinse, vacuum, 2nd rinse, vaccum) with steaming being part of the process, certainly not the entire process.

I believe it was Markd who suggested above that better results could be obtained with effective technique and quality fluids and a more rudimentary vac (ie. slot based) than with weaker fluids and a Loricraft or Monks and I couldn't agree more.

Do the Monks/Loricraft warrant their expenditure when used with the very best techniques/fluids. Quite possibly. I won't argue that.

In terms of value for money, I'm not so sure. I've bought and cleaned about 3,000 records with a KAB EV1 in the past 4 years. I utilize a dedicated Filter Queen vac with the KAB and I've cleaned records that I've previously had cleaned on a Monks and there is no comparison. In the end, all that proves is that the fluids used with the Monks were probably substandard in affecting a really good clean.

But it's showed me that technique and fluids are extremely important and that a strong focus on both those can achieve very good results.

I had a chance to buy an older Monks for about $800 before I acquired my KAB 4-5 years ago and don't regret passing on it in the least. It was not in particularly great shape and required some serious money in terms of parts to put it into A1 original shape and had the look of being somewhat like an early 60's Jaguar in terms of what I'd have to do to maintain it and keep it in top operating form.

The KAB (with a very high quality vac), with excellent fluids, steaming and practised technique, offers me everything I'll ever need in a cleaner for $160.

Is a Loricraft/Monks 15-20X better?

Not for me.
I've seen Dougdeacon use his Loricraft PRC3 and heard the results. It's one of the reasons I bought my PRC4 and why I also use the AIVS four-step solutions. His post above is right on the mark.
I don't use steam as a replacement, it is part of my regimen that also includes AIVS cleaners and rinse. However, I have found in my DIY cleaning station that steam does enhance the results I get. For others, YMMV. But there is no issue with heat.

What you guys with the expensive machines miss the most is the great backlog of lps that need cleaning stacking up in the corner. :-) Lends an eclectic look to the room. I call it "retro-yard sale".
APicture for those who love some serious engineering. Inside of the German Source Odyssey RCM :-)

Point Nozzle RCM
Syntax, That photo makes me want to trade in my PRC4.

Dan_ed, Is that stack of LP's not there because those of us with expensive machines don't have any money left over to buy more LP's or is it not there because some machines like the wand vacuum types are so much faster than your DIY cleaning regiment that owners have already gone through their stacks of dirty records and there is no time for a backload to build up? :^)

I just talked to a guy who has the automatic Audiodesk machine who did 100 LP's in an 8-hour marathon session last weekend. It has taken me three months to do 100 LP's so I have quite a stack built up but my wife won't allow it in the LR so it's hidden away.
Doug, I agree, common sense dictates that a wand style machine can be a source of re-contamination. But that those inherit qualities can be lessened with a few additional steps. I always assumed as well, the abrasive qualities by physical contact could as well create damage to the vinyl surface, and groove.

A pre-cleaing/pre-dusting before the record reaches the RCM will lessen what the Wand encounters. Periodic replacement of the Vacuum Wand and/or protective velvet strips.

An additional wand dedicated for rinse only will help, and of course the obvious, is a simple additional rinse step at the end.

I understand as well, that groove silence, or the omission of clicks-pops to be used as a gauge to judge a cleaner's-rinses efficiency.

That clicks-pops can be damage, or anomalies in the vinyl that no cleaner, or RCM will magically remove.
I have come to reguard debates on record cleaning methods as pointless. It's a no win arguement. First of all there are endless ways of reaching essentially the same result. Second, we judge the results by listening(which is an inherently subjective experience) on systems which differ in a multitude of ways between us.
I use the VPI. I've heard records cleaned on Doug's Loricraft and Albert's Odyssey and Audiodesk. All produce impressive results. A friend of mine on a tight budget uses the Spin Clean(dirty word to many of you I'm sure) and I'm surprised at how effective that device can be. The most important thing is to not play dirty vinyl, whatever your method.
In the end do what works for you and you can afford. I agree that "audiophile" purified water is a rip off. There's no way it can be more pure than Nerl lab grade water and even if it was it would not have any detectable impact on the results.
As usual Doug's comments are well-reasoned. On some level I agree with Sonofjim and to paraphrase Thom Mackris the best recording cleaning process for each individual is the one you actually use. Software is the most important component in your system. It's worth the effort to do all you can to protect and enhance those precious vinyl discs.
HI Peter,

well I was hoping that the lack of cleaning backlog was due to the Loricraft/Monk/Clearaudio machines being faster. Apparently, from your response, a PRC4 wouldn't help as much with my backlog as I thought. :-(
Hello Dan,

Right you are. My PRC4 with the AIVS 4-step (two rinse) process takes 20-25 minutes per side. I follow this with a demag and new inner and outer sleeves. I think Dougdeacon spends about the same time per side with his PRC3.

V e r y s l o w g o i n g. But the results are fantastic. As Doug says, it's about the added involvement one experiences from the increased information being extracted from the grooves. There is a lot worse than a backlog of unclean records stacked in a corner. As I tell my friends who express an interest in LP's...."Analog is a commitment."
You've seen our clean-me-now pile in the LR and that's barely a tenth of it.

As Peter says, for throughput compared with wand style machines, a Loricraft can be part of the problem, but not part of the solution. Vacuuming alone takes ~1 minute per sweep X 6 sweeps/side. If speed is your goal don't count on a thread style machine to help. If I ever want to hear all our records I may need to hire somebody! :-(

We've yet to find a magic bullet to shorten our process to < ~15 minutes/side without impacting results. We'd hoped steaming might replace our 5 minute enzyme soak. No luck, and there's no other step in our process it could replace that would save any time.

Of our ~15 minutes, 6 are consumed by vacuum sweeps and 5 by the enzyme soak. Applying the other 4 fluids takes only ~1 minute/each. I don't include demagging, predusting and resleeving times, since those steps can be done whilst another LP is on the RCM.

Agree with Sonofjim that it's all about personal preference, both for cleanliness levels and for what makes sense to each of us. I'm sure Markd and Hdm are correct that wand style machines can be effective if used with intelligence and care. A thread style machine makes it a easier and largely foolproof to vacuum really well, though certainly at a cost in money and some extra minutes/side.

The Audiodesk machine Peter mentioned once interested me. 100 LPs in 8 hours with minimal user involvement is tempting. I once spent a similar period to do just 36 LPs, and with fewer solutions than we use now. It took my entire attention for a whole day, woo-hoo! Unfortunately, from operational information provided by the dealer and direct comparisons reported by an owner, it's apparent the Audiodesk cannot clean as well as our current process.

Again, it's our choice to insist on maximal information retrieval as against convenience. We only listen to 3 records, but d@amn they sound good! :-^)
Well, I guess our approaches are on par time-wise. I'd say it takes me ~20 minutes just to clean a record.

But remember, I have to do everything manually. Except the sucking part, of course. Not only do I still have a backlog, but I'm developing carpal in both wrists. :-)
Hi Peter and Doug,

May I ask, what product do you use to demagnitize the LPs after cleaning? Thanks for your helpful posts.
Hello Randy,
I use an old Geneva Audio/Video Tape Eraser which I originally bought through an audio dealer to demagnetize CD's in the early 90's. I think it was originally designed to erase VHS tapes. It cost about $80 back then and I now use in it a circular motion on each side to demagnetize LP's. It works great resulting in a quieter noise floor. It is much cheaper than the $2K Furutech? device, which may be more effective, though I don't know if the Geneva is still available. Geneva Group, Model #PF-215, made in the USA.
Thanks for that tip, Peter! I'll give it a try.

We use a handheld small tools demagnifier, sold through industrial supply houses. There are many out there, ours cost ~$65 IIRC.

I'm reluctant to post a link because ours was TOO cheap (a product of China, and not their best work). It gets hot very quickly if leave it plugged in, even with the switch "off". It has a thermal shutoff but we don't trust it. I wouldn't want to help anyone burn down their house.

That said, it operates like Peter's. Both work on the same principle as the Furutech: pretty powerful electromagnets. By not spending $2K we have to provide the slow circular motion and gradual distancing from the LP (or silver disc) but it works very well.

Sonic effects are as Peter described, and gray scale improvements on DVD's are visible and measurable with Digital Video Essentials.

We A/B'd ours against the much less powerful $200 Walker Talisman and the $65 cheapie outperformed it easily.
Thanks, Doug! Great advice, as always. All the best.
Doug, sounds like that button switch on your's has gone bad. They are cheap enough. :-)
Thanks, Dan.

It's acted this way since new and Paul replaced the (incredibly shoddy) stock switch ages ago. It made no improvement. Maybe his "better" replacement switch, ain't.

Guess we should have hired an EE! Can you recommend an audiophile grade switch for less than the cost of a Furutech? ;-)