New Hobby Ultrasonic Record Cleaning


Purchased a cheap $199.00 stainless steel digital ultrasonic cleaner with a very nice record cleaning attachment off Amazon and I am having a blast.

This thing is heated, has a timer and an electric motor to rotate the records in the US tank. It is a 6L unit and it is made in China. Seems well built and it cleans records like a much more expensive machine.

I have cleaned a half dozen albums that are 40 plus years old and have only been cleaned with vacuuming machines and this thing is great. The albums I have cleaned sound darn near new and my wife thought I bought another new cartridge or phono pre-amp.

Can not recommend this type of cleaning system enough.

Rediscover those old albums.. if this thing lasts a couple of years I will be a happy dude. 
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@skypunk,

FWIW - this paper Vinyl Record Manual Cleaning Process (thevinylpress.com) Section VIII gives a basic intro to surfactants, and Section IX shows the differences between Triton X100 and Tergitol 15-S-7 (that you cannot buy) and Tergitol 15-S-9 that you can buy ( Tergitol 15-S-3 and 15-S-9 Surfactant | TALAS (talasonline.com)

Tergitol 15-S-9 is a preferred non-ionic surfactant for record ultrasonic machines because you only need about a 0.01 to 0.025% solution for both superior wetting and some detergency and it has a high cloud point.  This low concentration equal to 100 to 250 ppm allows you to forgo the rinse step.  Triton X100 is a 50-yr design, and is not as efficient - it requires ~4 times to do the same, and because of the high concentration you really need to rinse otherwise you will leave surfactant behind. 

Tergikleen is a blend of  non-ionic surfactant Tergitol 15-S-3 which is not water soluble and Tergritol 15-S-9 which is water soluble.  Tergikleen will not foam because the Tergitol 15-S-3 is also a defoaming agent, and no Tergitol 15-S-3 + Tergritol 15-S-9 does not equal 15-S-7.

BE CAREFUL with alcohol.  There are DIY formulas using alcohol - and 20% used at just a few mL for vacuum RCM at room temp is a limited risk.  BUT, 20% alcohol is FLAMMABLE with a flashpoint of 85F.  So if you are operating that ultrasonic at 85 to 95F (with 100's to 1,000's mL), all you need is a spark (cigarettes are not a credible ignition hazard) and that tank (and maybe you and your house) just lit up.  And the vapors coming off the tank can form an EXPLOSION hazard - all that is required is a spark at 77F.  No ultrasonic tank you can afford is explosion-proof.  If you are dead-set on using alcohol in an ultrasonic tank keep it 2.5% or less.

One last item for this post - keep in mind that what you are mostly removing from the record is very small particulate - less than 50 micron and you cannot see it.  If you wait to change out the water until you see that it is cloudy, you probably waited too long.  There are many reports of people who cleaned with ultrasonic and made the record worse.  There is no easy way to measure particulate - TDS meters only measure dissolved ionic impurity.  But, there may be a correlation that is just based on time.  So, many DIY ultimately install a filtration system - small pump and standard Pentek 10" cartridge housing with ~0.5 micron nominal sediment filter - the lowest entry price for system that will work is about $100.   If interested - I can offer a design.  Note that the best filtration system with 0.2 micron absolute filter is about $350.

Hope this is of some help and as @slaw there are other posts here on Audiogon, and there is a running post at VPI Forum vpiforum.com • View topic - Record cleaning, as well as on other audio forums, the conflicting info on what cleaner works best notwithstanding.
Thanks @antinn,

I keep referring to that particular thread for:

(1) There' seems to be many new US cleaner threads started seemingly without searching first for existing threads
(2) There's a lot of good info there from many people from different areas of expertise
(3) I detail my personal thoughts in real time from my Audio Desk to a Chinese tank, Vinyl Stack, filter set-up.

Steve
I am so happy that this was a productive post, even if I did take into the weeds a couple of times.

cheers.
@antinn thanks for the productive input.

drained after 40 records and ran through a filter media to see results. Was quite surprised and I the Pro Ject Vac system and it leaves a bit behind.

I will just change water more frequently as I am not rigging a pump and filter.

My records are sounding awesome!
@baylinor You are down in Austin eh?

Nice setup you have.