Does the Step 4 final rinse for Walker Prelude help?

help? Simply, yes, amazingly so.

I have now played six records which were previously cleaned using Prelude. Afer listening I cleaned each with the new Step 4 and then listened again. I expected some benefit, especially as I had already done two Step 3 rinses. What I got, however, was a major reduction in the noise level often revealing noises I had been only somewhat aware of. Listening to Harry Belafonte's Returns to Carnegie Hall. The subway becomes quite obvious and even traffic outside. This, of course, does not improve the performance but the improved ambience and awareness of the movement of the performers greatly improves the realism. Further, the bass is greatly improved.

The Joni Mitchell Blue album moved from a roughly recorded performance into one with great realism about her then youthful voice. One focuses much more on her lyrics. Finally the Duke's Big 4 45 rpm release soared in dynamics. The bass and the piano leaped ahead in realism and the sense of being there.

I have done this with three other albums, but the pattern is obvious. I now have to rinse many, many albums today.

If you like Prelude, Step Four is absolutely necessary. The label says not to take internally, so it clearly contains chemicals not meant to drink.

Good report, though I doubt it contains what most people normally *think of* as dangerous chemicals. I expect Step 4 is just a still more highly purified water. After all, would you want anything else for your final rinse? The goal of perfect cleaning is to leave NOTHING between stylus and vinyl. The sonic improvements you described are evidence that Step 4 is doing exactly that.

That doesn't invalidate Walker's label warning. Drinking very pure water like that sold by Walker, AIVS and MoFi (soon, it's in beta testing) would be quite dangerous. Being such a good solvent it would leach tissues of many compounds that naturally occuring water does not absorb, compounds your body needs. Drinking laboratory-pure water is something no one should do.
TGB, my experience with Walker Audio Step 4 Rinse is similar to yours. A few days ago, I posted my observations which the moderators insisted on putting in Reviews:Analog. Too bad we can't have all of this discussion in one place.

Step 4 Rinse is now a standard part of my cleaning regimen, and like you, I'm re-rinsing a lot of records. :-) For those using other multi-step cleaning fluid regimens, I'm confident the addition of the Walker Audio Step 4 Rinse will provide additional benefit to your cleaning process as well.

Dougdeacon, the Step 4 Rinse starts with Lloyd's ultra pure water rinse, but he's added something to it. From the smell, there clearly must at least be some alcohol of some description. Lloyd claims that, like the ultra pure water he sells, it leaves absolutely no residue.
Dougdeacon, I directly asked Lloyd whether it was his Ultra-pure as I had already double rinsed with that. He said that it was based on Ultra-pure but had added ingredients. Whatever, they are, the add greatly to the final product. I also asked if Step Four should not be used before Step Three, he said no.

Rushton, I obviously had not seem your report. I guess I find the Step Four to have a bigger magnitude of improvement than you, although I am shocked that I would be saying this. I had expected little improvement, especially as it is a fourth stage.
Tbg, I too had expected little improvement and was very pleased to find a very noticeable improvement. Whatever the degree, it's a material enough improvement that I now use it regularly and will continue to do so.

Thanks for posting your experience. It certainly was nice to read that someone else is also hearing yet a futher improvement!
Rushton, do you use one of the new tourmaline hairdryers? I don't but I wonder if the other ingredients in Step Four are anti-static in purpose.
Tbg, no I don't use one. My vinyl is too valuable to me to risk having an accident with a hair dryer coming near my LPs. Same for the steam cleaning recommendations. I do use the Talisman.
Sorry to get slightly off the subject, but, can you tell me where on the Belafonte Lp I should be hearing street noise and the Subway?
Hifiharv, actually throughout save when the music is loud, but on side 1 in the second cut and the subway is obvious in the introduction of the Thad Mitchell Quartet.
Oops! I stand corrected in terms of extra ingredients in Step 4. So much for speculating from the sidelines, sorry...

That info and your listening reports (both Tbg's and Rushton's) do make me wonder though...

Having established that Step 4 is useful, the question remains: what's the optimal time to use it?

Some who know more chemistry than me (which means anybody) have argued that alchohol-containing fluids pose *some* risk to vinyl. You'll both remember the arguments against alchohol presented by Brian Weitzel of RRL (now MoFi). I don't remember that his concerns about the lingering effects of alchohol left behind on PVC were ever reliably refuted. To the extent that any risk exists, using an alchohol-containing fluid as the final step may increase it. Trace amounts not vacuumed off may linger to do whatever damage they may do. This may be a trivial risk, but if it can be reduced...

The four AI fluids we use also include one containing alchohol, but we use that one at an earlier stage. Paul points out that alchohol denatures most enzymes, so we use it immediately after the enzyme solution. We follow that with a surfactant-containing solution, to dislodge loosened contaminants and to begin dilution of any alchoholic residue. The final two stages are rinses with ultra pure water. The idea is to make the progression of fluids steadily purer, which reduces the chances of leaving anything behind.

Step 4 is clearly beneficial. I wonder if it wouldn't be as beneficial or more, and possibly safer, if used right after the enzyme soak. Maybe worth a try, if you care to.
Doug, I appreciate all of your efforts to elucidate and educate, but I'll have to disagree with your speculations about the optimum sequencing of the Step 4 Rinse, and I won't choose to experiment with it. The point of the Step 4 Rinse is exactly that: a final finishing rinse that reaches deeply into the groove to remove any remaining residue. There is no value to using it after the enzyme step but before the Step 2 surfactant cleaning step because of all the materials in any of the various surfactant cleaning fluids. As witnessed by all of our shared experiences with purer and purer water rinses, the Ultra-pure rinse eliminates residues better than plain distilled water. From my listening experiences with it, and from what Lloyd says he's doing with the formulation, the Step 4 Rinse moves us another step further ahead.
I tend to believe that Jim (and perhaps partly Paul) designed AVIS, just like Lloyd Walker designed his cleaners to be used in a certain succesion.

That the following step compliments the preceeding step. Jim P. has verbally enforced these beliefs personally to me.

Lloyd should at least explain what ingredients are in this last step, without giving away proprietary info.

We would all assume, tht the purest water rinse would be the final step, removing any loosened contaminants-residues left behind by prior cleaning processes?

I find it odd, that some sort of inal step would be better than a purewater rinse? I of course am not a disbeliever, dosagreeing what others have "heard". Markd
Well, until Lloyd Walker chimes in with info as to what is added to the "Step 4 rinse" (he doesn't have to give ratios or quantities), Doug's speculation in the first response would seem to me to be much more plausible and realistic than other ideas put forward here.

Think about it: it makes absolutely no sense to follow an ultrapure water rinse with anything else other than another ultrapure water or a "more" ultrapure water rinse, if you will. By adding anything to the ultrapure you would be diminishing, not enhancing, its efficacy as both a solvent and a rinse and greatly raising the possibility of leaving both a residue and a sonic signature.

I'm not saying the Step 4 is not effective, just that I doubt it is, in fact, anything more than pure or purer water than the Step 3. No one has to sell me on the merits of ultrapure-I've been using it now as the final stage of cleaning for a couple of years, usually doing 2 passes with it and I have no problem believing that more passes may improve sound quality any more than I have no problem believing a 2nd or 3rd cleaning with the right technique and fluids may well improve things with many records.

I do have a problem with what the record cleaning companies are charging for ultrapure water, but if the market will bear it, so be it.
Guys, it is hardly true that a rinse with ultra-pure water leaves nothing behind. There is the friction of vinyl and the static electric charge on the record. I can remember when Lloyd recommended GrooveGlide and certainly the Talisman removing static charges have benefit. I have used both and find the benefits of Step Four exceeds them. I continue to use the Talisman, but do find it has less effect now.

While you guys fret about how this can be, I will keep doing a final rinse with Step Four on my previously Preclude treated records and enjoying them. If your ears tell you there is a benefit, shouldn't you conclude that your logic and theory must be wrong?
"Guys, it is hardly true that a rinse with ultra-pure water leaves nothing behind. There is the friction of vinyl and the static electric charge on the record. I can remember when Lloyd recommended GrooveGlide and certainly the Talisman removing static charges have benefit. I have used both and find the benefits of Step Four exceeds them. I continue to use the Talisman, but do find it has less effect now."

I fail to see any logic in the above statement. Lubricating the record groove or eliminating the static charge both have absolutely nothing to do with getting the record clean. If you want to argue they can make the record sound better, I suppose that's fine (although there are people that have used Groove Glide that do not like what it does-certainly makes sense to eliminate static though if you have static issues) but they both have nothing to do with making the record sound better by making it cleaner which apparently is what the Step 4 does or is purported to do.

If that is indeed what it does, I'd just be interested in hearing why, if it is more than ultrapure water, it is to be used following an ultrapure water rinse as opposed to before it and what it contains, without, of course giving away any proprietary secrets.
Hdm, of course I am talking about getting more off the record, which Step Four certainly does. I have asked Lloyd and even directed him to the thread.

I agree about Grooveglide. I used it a couple of times and sought to clean it off.

As I said, I already twice rinsed my records with ultra pure water and was told by Lloyd that Step Four was not just more ultra-pure water. He was right!
HDM and Mark,

My local materials scientist tells me that certain alchohols will decrease the surface tension of very pure water relative to a PVC surface. This may allow Step 4 to flow more readily deep into groove bottoms and tiny modulations than pure water would do. That might explain the results Tbg and Rushton have heard, which I trust to be real. Neither of these gentlemen has ever posted anything that wasn't honest and helpful for as long as I've known them.

My question was based on the fact that the lower the surface tension of a fluid, the more difficult it becomes to remove a thin film of that fluid from a surface. Any combination of fluid, wetted surface and RCM involves a conflict between the surface tension between fluid and surface and the air velocities produced by the RCM. For any given air velocity, the lower the surface tension, the more fluid will be left behind.

Tbg and Rushton's results and Walker's explanation all make perfect sense. I only wondered (perhaps somewhat academically, as Rushton suggested) about the risks of alchohol traces and the possibility that an alchohol step immediately following the enzymes might be useful. Those questions remain, but it's beyond my knowledge to do more than pose them for anyone who's interested to consider.


P.S. to Mark, neither Paul nor I had anything to do with designing the AI fluids. They were in the finished form we know today several months before we first saw them. Jim gets 100% credit for the redesign. We're just satisfied users like you or anyone, with no other interest.
Lloyd responded to my email saying the following: "No, using ultra-pure water after the Step 4 would not be better." I would have liked more elaboration, but hey, it is his product.
I was gonna make some comments about facts, evidence, and alcohol in record cleaners, but instead I am reminded of a delightful James Blish short story entitled 'Surface Tension'. Wherein breaking through that effect was likened unto gravitational escape velocity for a tiny vessel built by a band of rotifers leaving their current droplet for the next. Entertaining writer, Blish.

I spoke with Lloyd today about the Step 4 final rinse and was told it is composed of ultra-pure water, a teeny bit of alcohol, and 1% of a secret ingredient. It replaces the second pure water rinse in the Prelude regimen and Lloyd suggested it made a 10%-15% improvement. Everything I've tried from Walker Audio works pretty much as claimed - I'm gonna try the Step 4. Thank you, Tbg and Rushton, for sharing your experiences with it.
Jtimothya, thanks for the further clarification. Lloyd has always been into percentage improvement. It is big. I strongly suspect that it is not the alcohol.
Using the laboratory grade water from the Prelude kit as you know pools onto the Lp.
It almost seams it rides or floats on top of the Lp until you work it around the surface with the brush.

Thinking about it, this Step 4 must pick up where the lab water leaves off, or just simply saturates the Lp more effectively.

My question, how does the Step 4 spread over an Lp, is it more uniform then the lab water?

Tbg,we have similar tastes in music,all that you mentioned. Harry Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall, great music by all and yes the sub way and that one truck going through the gears.
It's much more evident now with my new turntable.
Do you have the 45 rpm box set of Belafonte Live at Carnegie Hall?
Been enjoying that one since I was a very young child,thanks to me dear old Mom for introducing me to a wide verity of truly great music of her ara.

Anyway ,I certainly plan on buying some Step 4.

Rushton did mention the product in another thread, it just didn't click at the time that it was a new product.

Looking forward to it.
Stiltskin, I have only been doing a final Step Four rinse on previously Prelude cleaned records, so I cannot really answer your question until I do some more records. I do think, however, that you need to use the Step Four brush to really get good distribution on the record.

I do have the 45 Live at Carnegie Hall set, but I must admit it is among perhaps 50 LPs I have yet to open or clean. Incidentally I have both the original and the Classic releases of Returns. I have yet to treat the original.
Stiltskin, I happened to be cleaning some records tonight so I observed carefully after reading your question. The Step 4 Rinse behaves just like the Ultra-pure water when you first squeeze some onto the surface of the LP: intact drops with high surface tension. But after just a second or two you can see that some moisture is seeping into the grooves to either side of the droplets. The Ultra-pure water won't migrate at all out of its tidy little beads until you start forcing it into the grooves with the brush. Now, the seepage of the Step 4 is nowhere near the amount of flow that occurs with the Step 1 Enzyme mixture or the Step 2 pre-mixed cleaning fluid. But, the Step 4 does seep somewhat, even though the bulk of the bead stays intact until you start working it with the brush.
On a related subject, have you found the enzyme effectiveness deteriorates in less than ten hours? Have you ever done a large scoop? How long does it take you per record to do all four steps? As effective as Prelude is, I find myself avoiding cleaning more records.
Tbg, I haven't been able to tell anything about enzyme loss of effectiveness in less than 10 hours. I've never mixed up a batch with the large scoop, only the small. And I often mix a half batch with just half the small scoop to do just a few records. It takes me about 8-10 minutes to do both side of an LP with all four steps (including a double rinse on Step 3) using a VPI RCM for the vacuum between steps. Yes, it does take some time.
Rushton, I cannot replicate your speed. I did twelve records, both sides yesterday. It took me 20 minutes for each record. I would expect that the Loricraft string vacuum takes longer. At any rate I have nearly 2000 LPs to go!

The Step 4 looks different than the Step 3 ultra-pure water when you first sprinkle it on the record. There is a surrounding wetted area even though the water remain as drops on the surface. Once you spread it with the Walker applicators, however, they look the same.
Tbg, I'm reasonably sure that the time difference lies in the amount of time it takes Loricraft (or any of the "string" cleaners) to traverse the side versus the VPI. I'm quite confident that the string cleaners give a better result, but that's a different discussion! :-)

Best wishes as you keep moving through your collection. I continue to be amazed at the improvements I'm hearing in LPs that I know well, so I'm happy investing the time as you also seem to be. I have over 6,000 LPs yet to go, so my approach is just to pull out what I think I want to listen to in the next several days and clean those. It will be a "forever" process.
Thanks for teasing us Norm.

I read your post and tried to order Walker step 4 (I use the Audio Intelligent steps 1 and 2) and it seems Walker Audio is away until the AUg. 4.

How am I supposed to listen to all these crappy sounding unrinsed records now?
Emailists, I couldn't help myself. Doesn't AI have four steps also? I have no idea whether one is superior and both seem to be thinking along the same lines.
Hello Folks,

Just to clarify, we don't really have a four step cleaning system. We have two alternate second steps that were designed to meet the needs of different customer groups. We do have some customers who have found that using both of the second step formulas is a benefit to their personal record cleaning routines.

We also produce a one-step record cleaning product that many prefer over the multi-step cleaning system. The point of all of this is that different people have different needs and are in different situations. We try to accomodate the needs of as many hobbyists as we can.

As far as "rinsing" formulas go, we use only purified water. It's the same water product that goes into all of our formulas, and this water product has just been upgraded in quality for the sixth time in the past 18 months.

Our testing has shown that we can manipulate the sound of the record playback by rinsing the record with a formula other than water, but we've stuck to our original mission of getting the record clean instead of "treating" or "conditioning" the record.

The products that we offer currently are based on extensive laboratory testing and have progressed in level of performance and purity from where they began before we were in the picture.

I would encourage any of you with questions about record cleaning or about the Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions products to get in touch. I'm always available to answer questions and try to help with your record cleaning situation. I don't care whose products you are using any more that which turntable or loudspeakers you use. Our goal is to help improve the hobby in any way that we can.

Best wishes.

Jim Pendleton
Osage Audio Products, LLC
Jim is serious, he is extremely helpful!
I have now rinsed 50 albums with Walker Audio Prelude Step Four and used all four steps on 12 records. I have not heard such silent record surfaces before. Although the sound stage and realism are much better also, a good part of this derives from my H-Cat amp.
Great results, Tbg! I'm experiencing the same here with the Walker Audio Prelude and the Step 4 High Resolution Rinse. It's delivering remarkable results, not just with silent surfaces but also with the improved resolution.
TBg and Rushton, this past weekend I used the Walker Step 4 ..... I still can't get over what I heard this weekend.

For others reading this, anyone that is serious about analogue regardless of play back price range, need to start using an active enzyme based soak method of cleaning your vinyl.

The results go far beyond other products on the market including cleaning with steam which seams to be a new found method of today,it's not.
As a matter of fact the end result are not even in the same league, not even close....

Over the past 25 plus years I have used many different brands of solutions including cleaning with steam.

I've been using Walker Prelude for about a year, this cleaning method alone is a revelation.
The Step 4 rinse completes this product.

For the price including a record cleaning machine ,you would be hard pressed finding anything for your system that would match these sonic results.

Thanks for sharing your experience with the Prelude and Step 4 Rinse, Stiltskin. You clearly are experiencing what we're experiencing here!
The other fellow's cleaner kit thread reminded me of this one. I've been using the Prelude Step 4 about 3-1/2 weeks now and want to say I'm *very impressed*. It makes a very real, very audible, difference in the most positive sense.

Records are quieter with reduced surface noise - and I take that to mean simply that records rinsed with Prelude Step 4 are cleaner. But equally impressive... no more impressive, is the sheer improvement in quality and quantity of harmonics and overtones made available. No record have I rinsed with Step 4 that the Orpheus does not find more revealing, more interesting. I'm kinda hotted up over hearing mo betta - this stuff works.
based on this thread I sprung for the Walker Prelude system friday from Elusive Disc. It arrived tuesday.

The surface noise was greatly reduced and the harmonics (as Tim mentioned) are so much truer. The seperation of instruments and timbre became even more pronounced.

I took records that had previously been cleaned on my Loricraft with Premier/Bugtussel/Disc Doctor

the results were very impressive

I did try just using the Step 3 Step 4 on a previously cleaned record (did the full step on side two) and it definitely benefitted from the full Step 1 -4 over just the final two rinses. Much better resolution
Does Step 4 use a lubricant? I think I heard this mentioned.
Step 4 does not use a lubricant. Lloyd says it has a further ingredient in addition to ultra pure water, but it leaves no residue and is not a lubricant.