RRL fluids, IMO.
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I think the idea that you need distilled water is bunk. It is a result of the audiophile obsession to take everything to the extreme.
What's in your tap water, rocks, grains of sand? No, various chemicals in the parts per million range. I seriously doubt that a few molecules of chlorine or whatever left behind on the record will affect LP playback. Whatever detergents, etc. that are added to the distilled water to make a cleaning solution far overshadow those in the tap water.
Well, Herman, you are entitled to your opinion. I suspect you are speaking based on what you think you know and not on what you really do know. What do you think leaves water spots on your car after you wash it? The rest of us know what we hear after using RRL products. There is no detergent in RRL products.
I worked professionally more than 15 years in the potable water industry as a water treatment specialist and I can assure you that there is far more mineral content in your tap water than you think.
I'm glad your tap water is so pure. Mine isn't. Washing LP's with my tap water, even filtered, leaves deposits that are both audible and visible. RRL fluids don't do that.
You posited a general theory that, "Whatever detergents, etc. that are added to the distilled water to make a cleaning solution far overshadow those in the tap water."
I'm afraid this theory does not match my real world experience. Is my experience just "bunk"? May I ship you some of my not-very-pure tap water to help you cool off? ;-)
Supermarket bought distilled water is more than good enough for record cleaning purposes. If you feel it's inadequate, than any pharmacy can sell you pharmaceutical grade distilled water. By itself distilled water won't clean a record, but it can be used to create a record cleaning solution when mixed with an appropriate record cleaning concentrate.
Reverse osmosis systems provide water that is free of complex molecules providing drinking water that is of very high quality. Usually, because tap water is high in minerals and the minerals will plug up the RO membrane, traditional water softening equipment is needed prior to the RO process. Less complex molecules pass through the membrane with chlorine being the most common. Most systems hold water at this stage and pass the water through a bed of activated charcoal at the moment of dispensing thereby removing the chlorine. It's a judgment call as to whether this is pure enough for use in LP cleaning.
My home RO system dispenses water with total disolved solids in the 3 ppm range. Whenever my charcoal filtering system approaches the end of its useful life the disolved solids is in the 7ppm range. I can taste the chlorine at this stage. Interestingly, chlorine will gas off if left in an open container for a couple of hours.
The best water I've found is that used in the computer (chip) manufacturing industry. Not only do they purify through the RO process but also use a multi-stage ion exchange process; known as deionized. The problem is you need to know someone in the plant that can bring you a supply as the local manufacturers here have no way of selling water...they sell memory chips.
Probably the highest quality water is medical grade which is further purified by the distillation process to exacting standards. This is the type of water used by labratories. I don't know how an audiophile would go about buying such water since the suppliers are wholesalers to the medical research comunity.
There is no way to prove it but my reasoning is that highly regarded vinyl cleaning companies such as RRL most likely buy their water from a commercial vendor (Culligan, Echo Water, etc.) that supply bottled drinking water. These locally owned companies use the deionizing process, which when done properly provides water with total disovled solids in the range of 1 ppm when measured with inexpensive portable testing equipment.
The deionizing process is one where minerals are electrically charged through a chemical process. The charged water passes through a bed of resin that attracts these charged particles and removes them from the water stream. Some minerals respond well to negative charge and others to positive charge. That's why it's a two stage process. The process is very similar to water softening where minerals are exchanged for salts. The chemicals used in the deionizing process are caustic and dangerous for the lay person to handle and that's why you won't see a deionized system sold for domestic use.
Knowing what I do about how complex and expensive it would be to generate a supply of pure water just to clean LP's it is totally illogical to assume that RRL or any other highly regarded record cleaning supply company could afford to go to such extremes. The additives in the cleaning products would be chosen on their abilities to suspend any record bound impurities in the fluid during the cleaning process which is vacuumed off quickly.
Cleaning of vinyl has been discussed in these forums many times. While I respect what an audiophiles ears tell them about the effectiveness of certain products AND, RRL seems to have the best products as attested to by members I really respect, the mere mention of home brew using solvents that are readily available brings a hue and cry from the uneducated audience that such products as alcohol will somehow coax the vinyl into giving up substantial parts of its makeup. Hogwash. RRL and other suppliers keep whatever solvents they use secret and that fits in perfectly with the mentality of us as a user group. Voodoo often is the alter we worship at.
No offense intended here folks but I received a number of criticisms for my cleaning process in the past. If I didn't get my water from a local computer manufacuter I would buy it at the grocery store and look for water labeled as using the deionizing process.
Hi Patrick. It's good to hear from someone with considerable knowledge on this subject. I just copied this paragraph from the RRL site I linked above,
"To achieve the proper base for RRL fluids, Weitzel designed and built a special copper distillery, producing distilled, quadruple deionized water. Distilled water as a base alone still contains many trace minerals which can be positively or negatively charged and attach themselves to the vinyl. Deionized water reduces the level of trace minerals in the reacted water, greatly reducing the amount of mineral contaminates on the record itself. Chemical labs have for years used deionized water in their work. Lab grade water is single stage deionized water, RRL is quadruple deionized. "
Brian Weitzel's explanation is virtually identical to yours. Distilled and quadruple de-ionized water is precisely what RRL fluids are based on, whatever the source.
Perhaps the difficulty and expense of de-ionizing is what makes the RRL fluids somewhat costly. OTOH, I find that very little fluid is needed to clean or rinse a side. I literally use just a quarter-sized patch of fluid per side on my RCM. Using more is counterproductive. It doesn't clean any better and it makes complete vacuuming more difficult. This seems (at least to me) a good testament to its purity.
Let me say in more succinct terms that I believe RRL products to be the best available for vinyl cleaning because of the testaments from members like you and Albert. For sure, if RRL has a distiller that does what they say, they are using water that is as pure as it gets. Also, I don't want anyone to feel like I'm being overly critical of any manufacturer of cleaning products. Most work very well and a couple are outstanding. This topic is like rice paper record sleeves. They are labeled as such because the sellers know that if they call them polyethylene they would sell fewer. I've always admired anyone that goes to the furthest extremes in a effort do their best as RRL apparently does. I do take offense at opinions based on nothing but ignorance. And, for the record, every drop of water on this planet has been cyrogenically treated long, long ago, and far, far away. Marco, maybe you can make some IC's out of this resource. More outrageous things have been tried.
Lugnut, thanks for piping in with an informed opinion.
As to the claims of RRL about how many times they deionize, it doesn't really matter to me 'cause I do hear a very perceptible improvement using RRL products. For a long time I used a home brew using store bought destilled water and based one of the oft mentioned DIY formulas (I do believe they are better than nothing) because I too was sceptical of what I thought was high priced snake oil. After reading AlbertPorter's post offering to give someone a sample to try, I decided to take a change and order a single bottle of the Super Vinyl Wash. I was totally convinced after re-cleaning and playing half a dozen or so of my LP's.
I still use my home brew first on those really grimy used records I bring home. But all of my records get a RRL wash and rinse before going into new sleeves.
Crap, Lugnut said it before, this is beating a dead horse. AGAIN.
I have to agree with the RRL camp.
I also tried many different things, and none work as well for me.
I also tried them based on recommendations of Patrick, Doug, and others here.
I also have learned that there are people on this forum who have much more patience to try many more processes than I am willing to try.
So, to sum it all up, Patrick may have the most anal cleaning process in the world, but damn if it don't work good! I use it on any "rare or expensive" album that I have. I use about 3/4 of the process on the rest.
And since I started doing it his way, damn if my albums don't sound better.
So, I gues what I'm tying to say is you can try all of the options that are out there, or you can take the advice offered, and try it first. It may save you a lot of aggravation, and again I'll testify to the fact that it does work, and well.
Of course, I will jump in on the RRL bandwagon, having been on it for some time following my comparisons to many other fluids. Joe, I'm glad to hear someone has a cleaning process that is more anal than mine.
I was also impressed by Albert's past offer and have posted a couple of times offering the same. I've sent out a number of samples with universal approval. A couple just never contacted me again so I will assume they are happy, too! ;-0
Shhhh. Don't tell anyone but where I live is one of the nicest climates on the face of the planet considering we have four seasons. High desert. Ah, it's so nice. Rain, if you can call it that, is rare and snow removal would be a one way ticket to go broke if that was your chosen profession. I look out my front yard at a range of mountains and out the back door at another range. Trout fishing is abundant as is snow skiing. You couldn't pry me away from here with a crowbar.
Luckily for me I've been married for a long time to a woman from the great state of Wisconsin. It may be cold where those milk cows live but the women have warm hearts and toasty feet. My single acquaintences complain about the local women suffering from near cryo internal temps here. I demo-ed a couple of those cryo gals when I was young but found they introduced a shrillness which wasn't synergistic in my sytem.
I use only the best distilled water from high up in the himalayans, i noticed there is some nice quality about it when the locals schlep it back down on the back of thier yaks, i guess the swinging motion of the yaks help purify it more. Then thhey bring it back to thier village, and put a very tiny amount of Yeti dandruff in it, then have it blessed by the spirits of thier ancestors, which really gives it a nice smooth liquid quality that you just can not beat
$1,375.00 a liter? When it comes to cleaning a $5 LP, we all know that the quality of the water is of the upmost paramount importance right fella?
Once i saw this sucker using $150pr liter water from the top of Mt. Fuji. Thought it was something special. What a tool.
Ok I must chime in here---
For ages I have used the VPI cleaner, and have kept it in the refrigerator in a gallon jug (to keep it from spoilage)...
I had an unexpected house-guest that apparently got thirsty in the middle of the night.
YUP, you guessed it! He drank a bunch of my VPI cleaner thinking it was cold water ~!
When he told me what he had done-- I just about died. "That wasn't water, that was record cleaner."
He lived without incident, so I guess the VPI stuff was good quality!!!!
Oh BTW, my RRL fluid is on its way from Red Trumpet, so if anyone visits dont get any wild ideas :)
The garden-variety Steam Distilled Water sold at my local supermarket is labeled "Purified Water USP, and marked "purified by distillation and ozonation." It also has an NSF International certification. I checked the NSF International standards for drinking water, and their testing protocols are pretty rigorous.
Plus, the "USP" means the water is pharmaceutical grade, which is pretty much as good as it gets outside of extraordinary purification measures.
So - if regular supermarket distilled water is certified AND is pharmaceutical grade, why isn't it good enough to clean LPs?
OK, so tap water has minerals, chemicals, and various other assorted nasty stuff. The big question is how big is the biggest particle of this stuff that you would find left behind on your record after cleaning it with a good machine, and if this particle is big enough to be audible.
I think not.
I followed the link above about Art Dudley trying the RLR stuff. He played a record, cleaned it with RLR, and it was better. So what, did he compare it to other records cleaned by other means? No. Is that a controlled experiment? No.
How would you do a controlled experiment anyway? Clean a record by one method, play it, then clean it with another? Who is to say that the order in which was cleaned had an affect? Maybe cleaning with method A followed by B is better than B followed by A or maybe throwing in method C would help. The very fact that you cleaned it by any method could affect the vinyl in irreversible ways and make it impossible to compare it to other methods.
Don't get me wrong here. I have a very expensive cleaning machine and there is definitely a difference in a clean versus a dirty record, but quadrupled deionized water?? hee hee hee
Don't get me wrong in my answer to your post. My gut is with you on this as I think the biggest factors in a great cleaning fluid are its ability to dislodge and suspend particles which are removed through vacuuming. There are additives in the formula which aid water in doing its job. Here's where both our thinking may be wrong. Many respected folks have posted here about trying numerous cleaning solutions on the same record without satisfactory results. When they tried the RRL products the results were much improved. It all really comes down to trying it. We aren't talking huge sums of money to give it a try. We needn't continue buying it if there isn't a benefit.
As an example of mineral laden tap water leaving residue behind, anyone that has owned a custom vehicle with an expensive paint job could easily tell the difference between one washed and dried by hand using regular tap water versus softened tap water. Is what clouds the finish hard water deposits or soap residue? The same can been seen when washing clothes. Clothes routinely washed in very hard water never look clean. That's why we have these commercials about dingy looking versus vibrantly colorful washed clothes. Laundry detergents are trying to overcome the deficiencies of your tap water. People would fall asleep listening to a scientific explanation during a commercial and in the end buy a water softener so that they could use the cheapest soap to get the best results.
Water is the universal solvent. Minerals in the water are a result of this. Like any solvent there is a point at which it no longer behaves like it should by having reached its saturation point. In the case of washing a show car or clothes, really hard water prevents the soap from doing its job which is breaking down solids and keeping them in suspension long enough to be rinsed away. That is why a record cleaning product needs to start the formula with pure water. How pure? I don't know and in the end I really don't care as long as it works.
I am gratified that Michael (motdathird) and others have found the RRL samples useful and have used them succesfully. I am happy to continue the tradition established by Albert and maybe someone will pick up the torch later.
Herman, check your e-mail, you need to try them without buying first and give us your unbiased opinion - yea or nay! :-)
Have just had an opportunity to try the RRL samples, graciously, and at no cost, sent from David (4yanx) one of the Audiogon Good Guys, willing to share his enthusiasm for a product line.
Really, quite impressive improvement in vinyl listening, even where records have been previously cleaned with other products on my VPI 16.5 machine.
RRL has really upgraded the listening experience, for me, and is definitely worth a try, if your only experience has been with other products. It never ceases to amaze me how much musical information is able to be pulled from the grooves.
Okay guys, I bought some of the RR products and they arrived today. Great stuff. I had an LP that I just couldn't get to play quiet enough for my satisfaction. I dug that one out first and used the cleaner and then the wash. It's quiet now. The stuff goes a long way too. Very interesting and nice product.
Audiophile= obsessed (I´m one!!).
Gentlemen Your records are indeed far more contaminated than the distilled deionized water properly done you can buy!!
I know, I am obsessed too!! i.e. audiophile but I see no point in overdoing something that's already well established and known in specialized circles i.e. using the right level of water purity and the rest of your cleaning process should get you the improvement in sound without making everything as complicated as we audiophiles tend to do.
If the dionizing process is properly done, subsequent repetitions are useless and nothing more than a nice marketing tool, if you are happy putting money in someone's pocket for peace of mind that's OK with me, but don't believe everything you are told or read.