Herman eats crow, RRL record cleaning fluids work

I recently answered a post on
distilled water saying that using deionized water was a bunch of bunk. Several people folowed up basically calling me an idiot and singing the praises of RRL fluids. I responded I didn't believe that these fluids could possibly live up to the hype accorded them. I then received an offer from a fellow member offering to send me some of these mystical fluids free of charge to try for myself. I accepted his challenge.

I just returned from Japan where I purchased some used vinyl including what appeared to be a mint Japanese pressing of Art Pepper "Live in Tokyo 79," one of my favorites. The RRL fluids were also awaiting in the mail.

I put the record on straight away and was greeted by quite a bit of surface noise so I decided it was time to give the RRL a trial on my VPI 17. I first applied about 10 drops of the deep cleaner and worked it in with my Audioquest carbon fiber brush turning the record several times in both directions and then vacuumed it off. I follwed with the same amount of vinyl wash using the same regime.

A massive transformation in background noise! I went from a used record that I was dissapointed in due to surface noise to a record that was dead quiet using barely enough fluid to even dampen the record. I am used to using a large volume of Disc Doctor fluid folowed by a lot of rinse water because if you leave any of the DD fluid on the record it will dry up and leave a residue.

I can't say for sure the DD routine would not have yielded the same results, but the RRL fluids were so much easier to use and so much quicker due to the tiny amount required that I am getting ready to order a big bottle of everything they have to offer.

A big thanks to 4yanx for sharing his fluids (record cleaning that is) with me.
Herman, it was my post on distilled water and I went on and got some RRL and have been using it since and find RRL GREAT. Huge improvement in sonics over other cleaners I used.
As much as I am pleased that "Herman" has found success in using the RRL fluids (that Art Pepper LP is a gem, BTW), it was never my intention for him, or anyone, to eat crow - though a good pinot noir is good with crow! Maybe others in that previous thread will revel in the "I told you so" stance, but not me. Instead, my intent was to pass along a favor extended by Albert Porter to fellow members some time ago in the spirit of helping others achieve clean and quiet vinyl. IMHO, the RRL fluids do the job like no other in terms of ease of use and in not leaving behind a sonic signature of any kind. So, my offer will stand to others that want to give them a try. Contact me and I will lay on you a couple of swigs from my bottles. The only real challenge is to compare them to what you're using and let me (and perhaps other folks) know what ya think - yea or nay!
Thanks for the post. I am just getting back to vinyl and appreciate any tips I can get. BTW, kudos on being objective enough to say "wow!" even when you didn't think you would ;-) I hope and strive to do that consistently, but I suspect my pride sometimes gets in the way.
Interesting! Where can one buy the RRL fluids.......John

Galen Carol has RRL products. They are really pleasant people to deal with and super fast service too! www.gcaudio.com

Herman, I am glad that the RRL products are working out for you- welcome to the fold :)


A recent convert
John, the cheapest I've seen them is Galen Carol Audio (gcaudio.com).

I got the same RRL cleaner from a fellow AudioGoner, and was pleasantly suprised by how much better they worked than the Sota, and VPI cleaning fluids I have used in the past.

Herman, why are you applying the fluid with an AudioQuest carbon fibre brush rather than the built-in brush on the VPI 17?

I was one of those who came down on you rather harshly in the previous thread. A big tip of my hat to you for having the intestinal fortitude to try something and make a public statement about your positive experience. I'm very happy that RRL products worked for you and like 4yanks I have no desire to gloat. It is rewarding enough to have a small part in helping you enjoy our hobby/addiction even more.

This one's for you, Herman!
I followed this link to RRL stuff from the previous thread and it recommended the carbon fiber brush. Music Direct also sells RRL.
I've tried RRL cleaning fluid and I must agree with many previous posters on this site that it worked GREAT. On the other hand so did my "homebrew" with distilled water and a touch of detergent and photoflow. I must agree with Lugnut that there is no really significant difference. The most important thing to do is just cleaning the records carefully to begin with.
But I still really respect RRL - after all, anyone who can sell water at over $100 per gallon deserves our deepest capitalist respect.
Hi folks,

This has been a most interesting and engaging thread. For the (ahem) record, I've been a non-believer---much like Herman (probably worse, I've used my own home brew for years and thought distilled water is distilled water). However, having witnessed the enlightenment of our dining colleague, I'm about to place an order for the fluids from Galen Audio. 4yanx, I appreciate your generous offer, but I might well order the stuff now!! The collective testimony is too compelling. Thanks to all for sharing your insights during this exchange. I found it in the best spirit of community.

Good listening,

I also found the RRL cleaning fluids were better than previously tried commercial products.
David(4yanx) has been kind enough to gift myself, and others, with starter amounts of these products, just for the joy of helping his fellow vinyl fanatics reach a shared goal of "perfect sound forever". Despite an effort by the digital majority to highjack that phrase.
Kodak specifically states that photoflo should not to be used as any part of a record cleaning solution as it will be detrimental to the vinyl. Proceed at your own risk. Sean
I, too, would strongly suggest against the use of photoflo. Works great in my dark room, though.
4yanx, Herman,

Looks like I'll have to try the RRL fluid myself. Right now I have a bit of the VPI fluid that came w/ the 16.5 machine + a concoction of my own that I use to clean LPs. It does a pretty decent job of moderately dirty LPs but not for the on-my-God dirty LPs.
Does either of you know a good (i.e. price worthy) place to buy the RRL fluid? Thanks!
Sean, 4yanx, Can you provide us with the specific citation from Kodak stating that it is detrimental to vinyl?
- It was Sean who said that about Kodak. Knowing Sean, I'm certain that he can provide a link or citation for what he states. I don't know of a specific citation from Kodak, though I've heard that same thing mentioned elsewhere. My proviso comes from personal experience - not so much from the aspect of realizing damage to vinyl but in that it leaves behind a sonic signature that I could not live with in a formerly used home brew. When I stopped using it, I could notice the difference. But, now that I am using the RRl stuff, ther eis no issue anyway!

Just got back from a week away, thus the delayed response. Glad you're enjoying the experience with the RRL stuff so far. Even if your DD fluid worked just as well, as you say the amount of time and distilled spent rinsing would leave it a second best approach. For new/clean-looking records I find 6-8 drops of each RRL fluid is plenty. Flooding the record is actually counterproductive since it makes it harder to vacuum properly. For dirty records I usually do two passes of DC before rinsing with VW, using a cheap Last brush for the first pass.

If you'd like to try some RRL let me know. I could drop some off at your office or you're always welcome to visit - with a few LP's to spin of course! I remember hearing that warning about Photo-Flo too. Whether it's true or not I can't say, but since I don't need Photo-Flo it's not important for me to know.
Doug, I have purchased RRL cleaner several times and as I indicated, I thought it worked great but not any better than my home brew which just uses a barely measuable amount of photoflow in a gallon of ditilled water per several recipies that can be found on the net. If anyone can hear the "sonic signature" of this trace amount then their ears a far superior to mine (which is not impossible since my 49 year old hearing is certainly not what it used to be). Bottom line then, I have nothing against RRL cleaners except I can get comparable results to my hearing for a fraction of the cost and as I am inherently cheap (prefering to save my money for records) that's what I do.
(P.S. You should come over my place and we'll spin a few records on my new setup - I picked up 50 classical trumpet albums from a classical trumpet player's collection for cheap and you're welcome to take your "pick of the litter" as it were, since you're more into classical than I.
Is it possible to use this without a vacuum machine?
If so, are there any instructions around for doing so?

Hi Bob,
I'd forgotten you tried the RRL already and were neutral on it except for cost. Sorry for the sales pitch.

I'd love to pay a return visit. We have house guests at the moment but maybe later in the month.

You'll also have to come back for another hearing, since my setup is significantly better sounding than when you last heard it. This is partly due to your observations. Last year you mentioned that my cartridge was mounted differently than yours, which encouraged me to keep experimenting until I got it right (or at least better).


P.S. to cloudyphiz
Vacuuming is nearly essential with any cleaning solution, RRL or otherwise. Once the fluid dissolves or suspends contaminants what would happen if you didn't quickly vacuum all that scum away? The liquid would evaporate and deposit the contaminants right back onto the record. In fact, this slurry can actually deposit dirt even deeper into the grooves before the liquid evaporates, making the remaining particulates more difficult to remove. Even careful towel drying can't reach inside the grooves.