Is it worth purchasing the VPI 16.5?

Having not had the opportunity to audition this product prior to purchasing I was wondering what people who have owned and used this record cleaning system over the years might have to say about it. Is it worth the investment?
By all means. Very well built, excellent job of cleaning records. Very reliable and little maintenace required.
In general, it's been my experience that having a vacuum based record cleaning machine is indispensible if you want to get the most from your vinyl. As such, in terms of funtionality, reliability, and performance, the HW-16.5 is an excellent value.
Owning two VPI 16.5's and a NG 1.5FI, i would probably recommend that someone interested in buying a machine of this nature check into the SOTA LP Cleaner. In this regards, Nate aka Nrchy was right on the money in his previous posts.

One should bare in mind that the SOTA RCM has undergone some design revisions over the years, so older models may not be the same as a current production model. The list price of this unit is between that of the 16.5 and VPI 17, making it a bit more expensive than the 16.5 but not as expensive as the larger and far more costly 17.

I really don't think that any of these machines are built / designed anywhere near as well as they could be, but the SOTA seems to be the nicest of the bunch within that price range. Since i've been cleaning a lot of vinyl lately, i've really thought about selling what i have and building my own. Then again, i've already got 2.5 million projects on the burner and not enough time in the day, so i'll have to stick with what i've got for right now.

Having said that, 16.5 isn't a bad machine at all. It just isn't worth anywhere near the asking price. Especially if you take one apart and see how they are made / what goes into making one. In the long run, a vacuum based RCM is a very worthwhile investment, especially if you have a lot of vinyl that you value and you want to obtain the best sonics and longevity from your recordings and stylus. There are HUGE differences in cleaning solutions too, so keep that in mind. Sean
Best money I have spent on audio gear.... It is amazing how much better the records sound after cleaning.
Nitty Gritty works very well and takes up a lot less space. The Keith Monk cleaner is the way to go if you can find one.
I just got mine yesterday, and cleaned three LP's from the 70's this evening. VPI recommends useing a dirty, dispensable record, when using for the first time. I found that dirty old scrached up LP, which used to belong to a Drummer friend of mine. I listened to it first, then washed and vacumed it, useing Record Research Lab Super Deep Cleaner and then with RRL Super Vinyl Wash. I was impressed with the results, as most of the snap, crackel, pop noise from the debris traped in the grooves were reduced to less then half, but obviously it won't take the scratches away, as a matter of fact, I think it enhanced the noise from the scratches, by cleaning and sucking out the debris that had been traped in there after all these years, creating a larger, cleaner, deeper gap for the stylus to run over. As for one of my records from the late 60's, that has no scratches or finger prints, and never been cleaned - I was very impressed with the results. So yes, for me, since I love my vinyl it was worth purchasing the 16.5
the vpi is good,if you get one,replace the brush that it comes with,,its terrible,get disc doctor or music direct record cleaning brush,,
Yes, it's worth it. however, follow the advice of raytheprinter and use Disc Doctor brushes. Also read up on different cleaning solutions, many of us here use Record Research Labs (RRL) although there is at least one other people swear by. Happy listening.

The VPI 16-5 is well worth the money. It is built like a tank and the only upkeep is a brush replacement now and then. However, the most important aspect is that LP's before cleaning and the same LP's after being cleaned are just not the same records. The sound is soooo much more revealing in everyway. And it deminishes the surface noise considerably.

No LP gets to my VPI 'Scout' without being cleaned by the VPI 16.5 first. Indispensiable.


I have owned a VPI 16.5 for probably 10 years now. I've replaced the vacuum tube several times. I remember debating when I bought it--do I really need something to clean my records like this? Well, I wouldn't be without it now. I don't see many used on the market--and that should tell you something, because as you can tell, a lot of people own them.
A record cleaning machine is definitely a worthwhile purchase.

However, I find it hard to recommend the VPI 16.5. I recently purchased one new and it arrived with internal wires disconnected, and then the vacuum motor failed after cleaning a few records. Still trying to get it fixed. Customer service and QC does not seem to be a high priority for VPI these days.

On the other hand, I have had a manual Nitty Gritty vacuum record that has worked flawlessly for 2 years (but manual is a pain).

Have to look into the SOTA...
I sold my NG 1.5 in order to get the VPI and am very pleased in my decision to do so. Much easier to work with and it does a fine job on all vinyl I have cleaned. I agree with Raytheprinter on the brush though. I prefer the Disc Doctor brush but I use the VPI the the DD as I always do a dual cleaning.
The Sota looks good, but I have a 16.5. Galen Carol has the best price I've found by far, and he is great to deal with. Whatever way you go, a good RCM is a must. Without opening the cleaning fluids debate again, I only use Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions. DD brushes are good too, as are the Last brushes. Don't forget a good carbon fiber brush to dust before you play. The VPI brush works great for the first cleaning cycle.
Because the string is replaced each time you use it and because the arm tracks the gooves, I would strongly recommend the LoriCraft record cleaner imported by Smart.

I have owned several VPI and NG cleaners. In each instance where I further clean a record previously cleaned on the VPI, I hear a substantially quieter and more transparent sound after cleaning with the LoriCraft.
Just want to second Jphii's recommendation of the Audio Intelligent products. They do a fantastic job. As to record cleaners, I still prefer the simple Nitty Gritty (or Record Doctor) manual machines after some 22 years of using them.
FWIW I have the SOTA cleaner. Love it.

Have Fun.
I agree with Sean.
Totally. I have had my 16.5 for 24 years (and I listen a lot)and feel record vacuums are the best long term investment. My vinyl is in great condition because of my VPI 16.5. I use RRL Super Vinly Wash which works very well for me too.
16.5 With Paul Frumkin's cleaning fluid.
A record washer is a must have if your gonna spin records. However I think the extra money for a 16.5 isn't worth it and is unecesary.

Buy a nitty gritty and turn them buy hand and save some bucks to buy more records
There clearly are variation among record cleaners in their effectiveness. You may be satisfied with less effective cleaning or you may not. In part this probably depends on the quality of your vinyl front end.
It is worth every penny, particularly if you use Record research record cleaning products with it.
Tbg: better source material is beneficial to any system. Whether or not one can afford to buy "the best" type of cleaning system is something completely different than being satisfied with what they have or might be able to purchase : ) Sean
I feel it is a no-brainer that an analog enthusiast should have at the least the highly touted VPI HW16.5 if you are building a record collection. Once you being buying a lot more LPs you may want to have more convenience by getting the HW17F. But if you are here to stay the Clearaudio Matrix is a lifetime investment. You should see the innards and build quality! At the expense of a much higher cost
Personally, i don't think that the innards are all that important. That is, so long as the unit gets the records as clean as possible, lasts a very long time AND is convenient to use. I think that most mass produced machines fail on the first and third parts of that equation. That's why i'd like to build my own machine as there are some very simple add-on's that could take them a few steps nearer perfection. Sean
A record-cleaning machine is a must. The Loricraft is the best of the lot. The VPI 16.5 is a good machine and the Loricraft (a good bit more expensive) is head and shoulders above the 16.5. It is much quieter (sounds like a micro wave oven running) and the constantly replaced string on the vacuum arm is an ingenious solution to not re-infecting the next record with the previous record's dirt. Solidly built and no parts to replace.
It is well worth the extra money and is a lifetime investment.

Regarding the cost issue. I have found a gently used, in excellent condition, VPI 16.5 with a gallon of cleaning liquid for $275.00. It appears this is a deal I should not pass on. Rick
Buy it! Quick!
That would be my advice as well. Buy it--quickly.
@ $ 275.00, I would buy a 16.5 in a hearbeat. Grab it before it is gone. You need a record cleaning machine and this is the best deal you will find.
Short answer: yea. I don't believe there is any debate left to quibble about weather or not to own a record vacuum cleaner either from the point of view for playing a quiet record or preserving that record for future playing imo. What is your record collection worth?! The only question is which one to buy. For me Harry Weisfeld's HW-16.5 is a bargain and supports an ample cleaning regiment. I find even the brand new Classic records seem to be smeared with enough mold release residue to constitute an immediate cleaning before ever playing. I can hear the difference and to my ears it is equivalent to a sizable phono amp upgrade.
It seems that everyone is recommending to buy the VPI 16.5
I will have to agree with them.You must get the right kind of fluid and I heard that there are better replacement brushes out there, but see nothing wrong with the VPI brush.
The VPI brush is a great tool. I use it with a mount that hold it in place. With a heavy coating of Audio Intelligent Solution,I let it run on the 16.5 for about 10 minutes. The results are amazing.