You also need to buy a good record cleaning machine if you intend to get anything remotely close to the best out of those groves.
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I vote for forgetting the RCM. I use the Disc Doctor manual system with fantastic results.
For new records I play them first before cleaning. I sweep first with a carbon fiber brush to assure there are no large chunks that might scratch, then I clean with a micro fiber cloth to really get into the grooves and finally use the ZeroStat to remove the static that the process adds. Then I play the record. One of my latest, the Analogue Productions 180 gram, 45 rpm version of Hugh Mesekala's "Hope" is silent as an SACD. So I will not clean that. Most new LPs do not require wet cleaning, in my experience.
For used records and my own older LPs that need it (only about 10%), I use the Disc Doctor system, carefully following the directions. It works like a charm.
Try DD first, before you drop a bundle on a RCM. If you're not happy with DD, then consider a machine.
Let your ears be the guide.
02-13-08: Headsnappin said:
"How about this question... has anyone who bought an RCM after hand washing regretted their decision? All I hear is guys who didn't voting against something they've never tried. I would think not trying something instead of trying something is a self fulfilling prophecy."
You're jumping to conclusions. Thankfully I've never owned a RCM; however, I have paid a shop a per-reocrd fee to clean some records with a VPI. My Disc Doctor manual system did a better job.
The beauty of manual labor is that you can focus your efforts where they're needed the most. For a general cleaning I suppose that a RCM could do as well; however, when there a fingerprints or a concentrated dirty spot, you can really focus on that with a manual system. I easily vary the strength of the cleaning solution by having two bottles ready. Rinse with copious amounts of distilled water, while using a rinsing-only brush and you end up with a great result.
The keys, IMHO, are using properly designed brushes and a cleaning solution designed specifically to work with record vinyl.
I see nothing wrong with properly operated RCMs, but I don't think that it's an essential component as some seem to imply. Anyone that wants one or enjoys having one should use it wisely.
Let your ears tell you the answers.