Alcohol contains lanolin (an oil) which attracts dust & therefor is not recommended as a contact cleaner. Highly refined denatured alcohol is oil free however. Those that have tried them all recommend Kontact, & I must agree that it's among the best.
Isopropyl alcohol does not contain lanolin. "Rubbing Alcohol" used by doctors and hospitals has lanolin. It is not the same thing. I have a bottle of Isopropyl in front of me. It has only two ingredients 75% alcohol, 25% distilled water. Full strength Isopropyl alcohol is commonly used in industry as a solvent, so it will certainly take the junk off of your cables without leaving any impurities, etc.
I do agree with Bob though that denatured alcohol is better,
especially for things like VCR and Tape deck heads.
This is a good subject and thread. Most people never thnk of doing this and might be amazed at what they find coming off of the contacts and connection points if they did clean them.
I recently pulled apart my HT system and am still working on getting it dialed in again. While i had it all apart, i took the time to clean all of the rca jacks on both the equipment and the cables. I used Caig Pro Gold liquid that comes in a little bottle along with some Q tips. For the record, they also make little "wipes" that are small squares and are already treated with the chemical. The wipes are woven cloth and as such, would have a slight abrasive action to them. I have some of these also and you might not believe the "gunk" that comes off of what looked like a "clean" connection.
The problem with using alcohol is that, while it does clean the surface, it does nothing to treat the metal. As such, the fresh and porous metal surface is now open for oxidation and pitting. Using a good cleaner with a mild metal and electical lubricant prevents this from happening and prolongs the need to do it again. This can even cut down on distortion that has been measured and verified under labratory test conditions. Jim Johnson ( JJ over on the Asylum ) has verified this and stated that ANY connection that has been terminated for over 30 days without some type of initial treatment WILL show measurable distortion as compared to a "clean" connection. He also stated that just pulling the connection apart and reseating it can drastically reduce this. Sean
Kontak provides best improvement, as Bob said. I have tried Caig pro gold and some others, Kontak clearly provided greatest improvement in sound.
I just use whenever changing cables, dries almost instantly,
pipe cleaners (tobacco dept) are better than Q-tips, don't leave behind fiber strands. I do use the little Caig brushes
for cleaning certain items, but apply Kontak to them.
Tsquared; a good reminder thanks. I use the contact cleaner supplied by Sonic Frontiers and it seems to work great. Following cleaning of all wire and terminal contacts, music is just so much more "there".
It is best to use a cleaner designed for cleaning contacts and connections. Many people believe alcohol is a solvent and cleaner, it is not. In the printing industry alcohol is widely used in the water to make it wetter and to produce a cleaner print. If you put ink in a cup of alcohol and in a cup of water, the ink in the cup of water will break down while the ink in the cup of alcohol will be untouched. Ink is an oil based product more like grease and alcohol has no effect on it. So using it on your connections you are not getting them as clean as they should be.
I think I just said Isopropyl alcohol is a solvent. Some people think its not. Dont take my word for it, go to: Http://solvdb.ncms.org/solv01.htm (National Center for Manufacturing Sciences) and see for yourself. Also see Romic Environmental Technologies Corp solvent recycling programs and one of the solvents listed is Isopropyl Alcohol. The link is http://www.romic.com/romprods.html and also www.mgchemicals.com/products/824.html and real about their Isopropyl Alcohol cleaning fluids.
tsquared, when you say you lubed the gears on your transport, is this someting you as weel as others ordinaily do? I have a Theta transport...should I learn how to do this? While we´re at it , what all does everyone else do to maintain your systems?
I will add on this one last time. I just read the computer industry uses industrial isopropyl alcohol to clean oils from computer circuit boards and semi-conductor equipment. Oils are a much bigger problem for computers than an amplifier, their fatal. It is also used as a fiber optic cleaner. So it should not hurt your amp if it won't hurt a computer circuit board. Denatured Alcohol is Ethanol based and is still a better cleaner, just more expensive.
Any thoughts on using brass polish/cleaners?
That stuff would probably leave more residue than what it took off.... Sean
During my last trip to Skywalker Sound, I saw one of the guys cleaning their connectors to a patch bay, using a fluid that the guys from Record Research made for cleaning contacts. They said it wasn't available yet, and that Record Research gave it to them for their evaluation, the bottle was near empty. Has anyone heard whether or not this stuff is on the market? I like their record cleaner.
XLO makes a contact cleaner that is very good. It smells bad but dries quickly. I think thety are a dollar apiece. I have used alcohol when I was out of the XLO wipes.
I have tried lots of cleaners & preservatives and it's hard to beat ProGold: http://www.caig.com/index.htm
Has anybody come up with a good way to clean XLR male/female plugs?
For the female, I use my man's pipecleaners, dipped into Kontak or something similar. For the males its Q-tips.
Get some "Proxy brushes" where you by tooth brushes. check em out they are great cleaners for the female plugs.