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@bdp24 Believe me this is no joke, and the Crosley is certainly no children’s toy. I did also consider the Record Doctor, but I decided I’d prefer something affordable that cleans both sides simultaneously.
I specifically wanted to start this discussion because I was certain there would be other people out there, like myself, who would be very skeptical about the effectiveness of such an inexpensive cleaning system. When I saw a video of Stereophile’s Michael Fremer at CES recommending the Spin Clean record cleaning system I decided I’d give it a try. In searching for it online I discovered there were other similar systems on the market for even less. I thought if I was going to make a mistake on this thing I should spend as little as possible.
I challenge you to find the worst record you could possibly find, clean it with the Crosley or similar system, then give it a spin. I guarantee you will be a convert. If not I will buy your system from you and give it to a friend as a present.
Washing records in the sink or some other receptacle has been done for a long time and it can work. The problem is that, without some type of vacuum, the cleaning fluid(s) may dry on the record, leaving a residue. Also, with a vacuum system, you can play your records right away, as opposed to waiting with a bath-type cleaner. I've never tried, but I would imagine you could probably get a record pretty dry with a high quality microfiber cloth. If you're happy with it and your records sound good, that's really all that counts.
While the Crosley may make an LP superficially look clean, where it matters, down in the groove. nothing has changed much. And chayro is exactly right---without a vacuum removal of the cleaning fluid, along with the dirt imbedded in the groove, the record is not clean. It may in fact be even noisier, some of the dirt loosened, but not removed.
Serious record collectors moved on from superficial LP cleaning decades ago, when the original Nitty Gritty was introduced. VPI soon followed, and now a true vacuum record cleaning machine can be had, as I said, for as little as $199. Surely every collector can afford that! Your LP’s deserve a more serious cleaning than this thing is capable of providing.
While not using the Crosley itself, I have used the cleaner it is an imitation of, the Spin Clean. In fact, I still have one, using it to pre-clean very dirty pre-owned records before they go on my VPI. At it’s price, not much is risked by trying the Crosley, except the possible damage to a valuable, irreplaceable LP by playing it without it having been "deep" cleaned. I don’t consider it effective enough to be my only cleaner, but then I’ve used the best vacuum machine I’m aware of, the VPI HW-17F. I bought a Nitty Gritty before the VPI, but wasn’t 100% satisfied with it. Next up is one of the ultrasonic cleaners. I take my LP collection very seriously!
I started with a Nitty Gritty but the turn table broke and I traded away the vacuum and what was left of the motor to as guy that mods gear for me. I then got the standard VPI 16.5 I think or 16.0- anyway it works fine. What I find to be key, is the solution you use and the care you use putting it on the record.
I've used a Spin Clean nearly 10 years, as part of my re-entry into record playing after a 30 year break.
For the money and convienience, it's tough to beat.
That being said, it ain't cleaning a record like a VPI or the Audiodesk, which I've tried both. It will cure a skip caused by gunk buildup and reduce noise most of the time.
It does make a disc come out looking nice, but wiping with a cloth defeats the purpose to some degree. I guess since I start off by being picky with my used record purchases, I don't feel the need for a noisey box and the effort.
If I ever find an amazing deal(70% off retail) I will get an Audiodesk.
I'm not holding my breath.