Hi Dawgfish - I heartily recommend the Audio Intelligent system of three different fluids. They are quite a bit better than anything else I have tried, and everyone I know that has tried them has continued to use them as well.
As for re-cleaning, sometimes I do it again if the record was particularly dirty the first time, or if there was still some noise on it. Sometimes a longer soak with the enzymatic fluid will take care of those issues, sometimes not. I will also re-clean a record that hasn't been played for several months.
A Spin Clean works very well, although not expensive enough to be taken seriously by some. It cleans seriously though. I've been rediscovering my collection of "10 years stored" moldy LPs and damn...after some cleaning I find a lot of fun in those records.
Well, the question for the best Cleaning fluid will be always a more or less endless discussion. I looked for it, too, for several years. I use a RCM since 1992 and tried a lot. Today I changed my mind a little bit about it. When a record was made right from the pressing factory, you can use more or less whatever you want. you need some time that this fluid will work and the most difference is in the removal of that fluid (everything out and dry or not). when you have reissues which have tics, pops...you can't remove it. this is based on inferior quality control from the manufacturer (cooling not long enough, groove damage and some more). You can clean them 10x with everything (multistep cleaning solutions), it will help a little bit, but it will never be a real silent record.
I tried a lot of fluids, from cheap to expensive and back, VPI Concentrate does a good job, L'Art du Son is ok, Audio Intelligent is ok, that I use now, but my favorite is a German - cheap - fluid, Hannl VI3. When you want something expensive, there is a Set available from Switzerland, it is called Audiotop, multi step solution. Tried it too.
But after all those years I think, the best investemnt you can do is to buy a Point Nozzle Design (Loricraft, Monks, SourceOdyssey). I closed that chapter.
I recommend steam cleaning with your 16.5, it is easy, it is a cheap addition to what you've already spent, and it works wonderfully. http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1192142257&openfrom&1&4#1
Walker Audio Prelude Quartet
is the best I've found after trying many others. Used with a VPI record cleaning machine, it has consistently given better results for me.
After wet cleaning and storage in a clean inner sleeve, you will not have to re-clean. I do find that a re-rinse with the Prelude Step Four Final Rinse occasionally provides an improvement after the LP has been played repeatedly and may have picked up some dust from being out of it's sleeve.
L'art du son indeed is ok for what it is meant to do (cleaning the record) but be careful.
I didn't use my cleaning machine (Clearaudio Matrix) for a while and some white slime (fungus ?) obstructed the drainage pipe.
Took me quite some time to open it up and clean the thing.
I read somewhere that this is because the reservoir is made of plastic which makes the fungus grow.
I will leave the fluid discussion to others, I have a VPI cleaning machine and the fluids I got with that seem to do a good job on both dirt and fingerprint oil. When considering whether to re-clean after a recent use I think you have to consider what you are storing the LP in. If it is going back in a stock paper sleeve I would considered recleaning. What I typically do is once I open an LP is replace the sleeve with a higher quality one such as the MFSL sleeves you can get for about 45cents/each. Typically if the original had notes or lyrics on it, I store that in the jacket so it does not get lost or damaged. Sleeves made of rice paper or similar media reduce static (and in turn dirt and dust) as well as eliminate sleeve caused surface scratches which are just another place to small dust particles to attach to the LP.
I am not a specialist with L'Art du Son, but I think, it is mixed with soap. Probably this is reason for the white slime after a while. To avoid that, the bottle should be stored in darkness. I think it is a reaction with Plastic, light and temperature. I know some owners who store it in the fridge. I just got a mail about that Hannl fluid, when you google, use Hannl VI3c, then you will find it.
Another vote for L'Art du Son. I use it for regular cleaning (used LPs that are in decent shape) and also have the VPI 16.5. I use Mobile Fidelity Deep Clean for new records followed by L'Art du Son. Local high end shop taught me this -- for new records there is still enzymes from pressing on new vinyl that needs to come off.
I don't use a rinse, just those two cleaning agents. I have a can of compressed air and a dedicated cleaning brush nearby to get surface particles off. For the VPI I have a dedicated arm and cleaning pad for new, and for used. I make sure to replace inner sleeves with Nitty Gritty ones so albums don't go back in old sleeves and pick up the dirt/stuff that collected in sleeve.
With my VPI 16.5 I started out w/VPI fluid, found Disc Doctor better than that, and as one of the original beta testers found Audio Intelligent even better.
When I tried Walker Audio Prelude (4 steps) I knew I found my solution (pun intended!). An audible improvement that you can also see. One tip is that when you mix a batch of the enzyme solution, it is only effective for ~24-48 hours max, so you are best to mix only what you plan to use right away. Cheers,
I made a Picture from the USED fluid after the cleaning process (It is clear fluid before cleaning). This is from new /mint minus records.
Hard to believe...Click me softly
Dawgfish...I disagree with you regarding the importance of a fancy record cleaning machine. I get MUCH better results with a steamer for about 25 dollars and some microfiber cloths for about 5 dollars. I steam records just once..after which they remain clean for years providing I don't drop my jelly sandwiches on them.
Well before I bought a Spin Clean I was visiting a friend who was cleaning LPs with a popular vacuum device...it sounded like a jet taking off next to my head and seemed like a messy pain in the butt. I wasn't listening to my LPs much back then (no excuse) so my interest in cleaning machines (or non mechanical cleaning techniques) was zero. Flash forward to recently and the Spin Clean...it works very well and has that zen-like quality of a manual hand tool thus imbuing the user with a sense of quiet peace, harmony, and an overall sense of well being resulting in the user possibly becoming a better person, or just another asshat with cleaner LPs.
I'll see your Spin Clean and raise you a DIY RCM that spins by hand. Cost me about $75. ;-) The fluids are what do the work, but nothing replaces vacuuming the crud off.
As to the other part of the OP's questions. I find that new LPs usually need but one good cleaning. Used LPs can take two, sometimes three cleanings. After that, assuming the vinyl is kept in quality sleeves, I MAY clean an LP again after a year or so. If the LP gets a lot of play I may clean it again after 6 months or so.
Anybody want a Perfection Steamer? I was a proponent of steam for a time. A 10 minute enzyme soak showed me that it wasn't getting things as clean as I had thought.
I use AIVS (dealer disclaimer) because it works very well for me.
The Spin Clean is hand operated and costs about $75. Fluid, the tight brushes, and elbow grease get 'er done. Also the act of drying the LPs pulls a lot of loosened stuff outta the groove...remember: Nature Abhors a Vacuum.
I use a 6L ultrasonic cleaner with about 1/2 oz of Disc Doctor cleaner added to the distilled water bath. The LP is (manually at this time) rotated slowly (1/8 intervals) for about five (5) minutes. I then vacuum the fluid off (VPI 16.5) and follow with an ultra pure water rinse. I will never willingly go back to cleaning with brushes and/or steam.
I will be automating the rotation of the LP with a low 1-2 rpm motor in the future.
I started with Disc Doctor Extra Strength Cleaner, and Distilled Water, Disc Doctor brushes, and clean baby clothes (super soft cotton) for small wiping of drips.
I found this method helped, but too often the rinsing and brushing didn't remove the DD cleaning fluid (which I was mistakenly using at full-strength).
I then graduated to a vacuum machine the VPI 16.5, which certainly makes possible a better rinsing away of the gunk and crud in the vinyl grooves.
I then diluted the DD cleaner with Aquafina water (a recommended cheap tweak here and an affordable replacement for ultra pure water). This allows for very generous rinsing, which is so important.
I then moved to Audio Intelligent enzymatic cleaner (at urging of audiogon forum commentators), and Audio Intelligent Archival record cleaning formula (much more watery and less sudsy than DD extra strength, even when diluted).
And of course one needs better inner sleeves for the record. I bought a boatload of MoFi Original Master sleeves, which are supposedly anti-static, and highly recommended. They are plastic (vinyl?) and with some rice paper-like paper to offer stiffness. That said, I feel that I would have preferred stiffer sleeves with paper outside and vinyl inside.
And, here I get controversial, I bought gruv-glide II (for anti-static, a real problem in my house) and apply a very very small portion via the two pads.
And then I label the inner sleeve with: AIVS Enzym / RC/ GG and date.
And no I haven't been to the office for weeks....
And of course steam-cleaning the dirtier records. I couldn't find the highly recommended steamer noted in threads here, so I bought a Rowenta hand steamer at Target (a bad company to workers, unfortunately), albeit with a heavy heart.
Again the steam-cleaning allows for heavy rinses, and I add steam to enzymatic cleaning as well, when it seems 'like the thing to do.'
I can't believe how many people complain that the vpi 16.5 is too noisy. The turntable motor is not loud. And the vacuum motor. Well, umm, it IS a vacuum cleaner. AND you only need have it on for about 3-6 seconds at a time (two or three rotations of the LP). I found it hilarious that folks sometimes compare it to a plane taking off, or require wearing earplugs. I dunno, maybe mine's unusually quiet, but I use it on the floor atop a carpet.
The pain is in emptying the dirty fluid from reservoir. BUT it looks like really dirty water --or fine amber-color, peat-flavored smoky scotch--depending on how you view brown water-based liquids.
That vacuum thing is like the din of armageddon...like a thousand thunderclaps in your hat...Niagra Falls next to your lounge chair...Joan Rivers living in your eustachian tube...my ex wife in the passenger seat...
That will never work, Wolfy. Every knows that when you spin the record it creates its own gravity field and that holds all of the particles of crud tight to the surface.
MAkes about as much sense as your "Nature abhors a vacuum" statement. ;-)
Have you ever compared a vacuum cleaner to the Spin Clean? I rest my case.
I'm curious what's the next step beyond wet-vacuuming and beyond steam-cleaning/vacuuming, and beyond enzymatic cleaners, and beyond fine fibers, and so forth among the 'out, damn'd snap, crackle, pop' crowd of half-mad Lady MacBeth vinyl clarity obsessives?
Other than, umm, buying a new album and treating it with TLC. I do THAT when I can to.
I'm trying to exorcise the dust demons of my living collection rather than having to replace them all--and much of the more obscure stuff has not been reissued anyway.
"Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!One; two: why, then 'tis time to do't.Hell is murky.Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our pow'r to accompt?Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?"
revised for vinylists as:
"Out, damn'd snap, I say!--One, two: why, then 'tis time to do't. Vinyl is murky, and hell too.... What need we fear who knows it?"
Nature DOES abhor a vacuum...look it up. When I manually spin my LPs in the Spin Clean, it strenghtens my forearms thus allowing me to skip that day's trip to the gym. Also, I drink the used water as I assume it imparts some musical information into my body, and damn if it didn't help me figure out an illusive Danny Gatton lick I'd been wrestling with for 20 years!
I'm thinking a little lime juice and tequila would make that dirty water go down easier. And we ain't talking about the Charles here. :-)
Gotta love the vinyl cleaning threads!
I've tried several fluids and techniques. My current and by far best method is a KAB USA RCM, Scunci hand held steam cleaner, and MoFi liquids. I was given a ton of vinyl that has sat in an attic for at least 25 years. Covered in mold, dust, and sealed by what appears to be kitchen smoke residue.
Here's what I did (and still do when I listen to an album I haven't played yet) -
Rinse them off under tap water. I was amazed by how much came off. I then put the album on the RCM and hit with some steam for a few revolutions. I vacuum that off, then hit it with the MoFi liquids. Spin a few revs under light pressure with a dedicated fiber brush, then vacuum off again. I then hit them with one last blast of steam and vacuum one last time.
A little OCD, but nothing has sounded nearly as good.
My iPhone doesn't make editing easy...
I have an old Technics deck with a rubber mat the has very little contact with the LP. I do all my cleaning on that and transfer to my RCM for vacuuming. I also rinse off the mat after every LP or two.
I think the most effective part is probably the steam. The drain water is far dirtier now than it was before I incorporated the steamer. And my vinyl sounds about perfect. You should see some of the LPs before they were cleaned. Absolutely disgusting. After handling an LP or two before cleaning them, my fingertips looked like I just finished reading a newspaper with damp fingers.
Also, I put the LPs into new MoFi sleeves after they've been cleaned. No point in shoving a clean LP into a dirty sleeve.