Record Cleaner


There are a lot of cleaners on the market these days. Is there a consenus out there on what record cleaner does the best job?

Record washing does not seem to be an exact science sometimes a mint record is full of ticks and noise even after several washings. While others play great after after 1 wash. I have tried Nitty Gritty, VPI and UHF all good products but none yield consistant results.

Is there one that seems to give consistent results time after time?
kel34
See "Record-playing Rituals?" above.

It is quite informative.
This is a shameless plug for Paul Frumkin.

http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?accstwek&1107293599

Contact Paul and he will make sure your happy.
Greetings Kel34,

I would like to recommend the Moth Record Cleaning Machine (RCM II). It is being used by the BBC in England for cleaning their priced record collection according to the owner of Brit Audio . It has a 16 gauge metal housing and is built like a tank. It has an extremely powerful vacuum that cleans my flea market finds to better than new status. It also has bidirectional cleaning capability. No regrets here considering it is less expensive than the VPI-HW-17 with more powerful vacuum and better built quality to boot.

Best regards!
Over the years, I have tried virtually every commercially available record cleaning fluid and myriad home brews. I’ve read the accounts and experiences of others regarding most all of them, too. One person will swear by Product A, swearing that is spanks, smokes, embarrasses, whatever, Product B. Meanwhile, Product B users will be equally as adamant in their support for their favorite, and are certain that it obliterates, blows away, devastates, whatever, Product A. One set of users will say that Product A leaves residue. Some will say Product C leaves a sonic signature. Others will say don’t use Product D, it has alcohol. Counterpoints will say alcohol is safe. You’ll hear that the fluid must flow evenly across the record to reach into the grooves. And, you’ll also hear that whether it beads up or not doesn’t make a difference, it’s doing its job. Foam is good. Foam is bad. Scrub hard. Be gentle. Vacuum is a must. Air drying is okay. Distilled water only. No, add Photo-flo. No, again, use purified water. Oy! ‘Nuff ta make yer hade spin!

Now, I really don’t care what anyone else uses, while others seem to take it as a personal affront if you DON’T use what they use. I have concerns about various products, but I don’t really care any more if others don’t. What you need to do is a little research, a little auditioning, and then choose what works best for you.

For me the choice was and is clear. I looked for the over all best balance of cleansing effectiveness, safety, ease of use, purity, and “removability” – with the opinion that a few occasional clicks and pops are the worst thing in the world, anyway. I, like many others, use Record Research Labs Deep Cleaner and Super Vinyl Wash. I don’t bury my head in the sand but, rather, try those products coming along that would seem to compete. I’ve not found one yet that best it when considering the criteria that are important to me.

Good luck in your search, Kel34. Above all savor the sound of vinyl when you listen.
I might be mistaken but I think the poster was asking about record cleaning "machines" rather than cleaning "solutions." If so, I cannot recommend the Loricraft highly enough. Research the posts and you will see why I believe this.
I agree with 4yanx word for word. I've also used many different ones and have come to the same conclusion, RRL. And just in case Fmpnd is correct, I use a VPI 16.5.
If fmpnd is correct, I'll agree that the Loricraft is a great machine, but a wee outta my range. If I didn't have my 16.5, I'd probably build one.

Ooops, and I should clarify my typo above to read that I meant a few pops and clicks AREN'T the worst thing in the world.
With the correct cleaning fluid,the 16.5 is all you need.
Based on your description, the problem is that you assumed a record that visually looks mint will play with negligible ticks and noise after cleaning.

Some records, especially those made around the time of the oil embargo back in 1973, have really nasty static/noise trouble. The cause of the noise is that the record companies recycled all their rejects without removing the center label first. The result was records with paper fibers distributed throughout the blend. The fibers cause the noise. No cleaning formula can fix this.

Some records may have been played "wet" or were rinsed with poor quality water. When the records dried, the mineral deposists hardened on the surface. If the water was hard, there will be hard water deposits that will not redissolve in any of the currently available record cleaning formulas. It won't matter if you use a vacuum record cleaning machine either. It takes an acid-based cleaner to remove hard water deposits. I have run some tests by purposely soiling records with hard water, setting them aside to dry, then cleaning them with 4%(w/w) acetic acid (equivalent to white vinegar) and this did successfully remove the deposits. This may not work on manganese-based mineral deposits (common mineral found in the Delaware Valley area of the USA). I must point out that I would not try acid cleaning if I didn't have a vacuum record cleaning machine and it is a very good idea to do a couple distilled water rinses after cleaning with an acid solution. I make no guarantees that this is safe for records but my gut feeling is that a one-time exposure to a dilute acid can't be any worse for a record that has already been slammed with mineral deposits.

Another source of noise can be that mold/fungus is growing on some of your records. You need to use an enzyme cleaner to tackle these.

Another source of noise can be static electricity. If the humidity is really low in your house/apartment, you will get static discharge from the friction of the needle on the record. Record compositions typically contain some additives to help suppress static charge problems. I wouldn't be surprised if some albums just aren't as good as others at suppressing this problem. I have found that sometimes waiting ~ 15 minutes after cleaning a record results in a significant reduction in static discharge problems.

Now, if all the above are not the cause of your problems, the problem could be that the record truly is worn out. If we are talking about buying used albums, the previous owner may have been very good at handling the record so that it looks mint but they played it enough to put significant wear damage in the grooves. This is especially true if the previous owner didn't clean their records. The constant playing of an unclean record will end up grinding the dirt into the grooves resulting in permanent damage.

Your post appears to be directed at cleaning solutions. Are you at least using a record vacuuming machine? A vacuum machine will produce superior results over basic wipe cleaning methods.

The moral of the story is "No matter how meticulous you try to be in selecting which new and used records to buy, every now and then, you run across a turd that can't be polished".

Mr. Kidknow
Forgive me for the confusion I own a Nitty Gritty claeaner and was enwuiring about different solutions. Where can i find these "Record Research" products
kel34 go to music direct they have the super wash and the deep cleaner I use em with a VPI 16.5 wouldn't change for the world
Gotta agree with Steve, except that the RRL fluids are a bit cheaper through Galen Carol Audio (gcaudio.com).
Ok, guys, I'm a cheap b-stard on a limited budget, so I've been hand-cleaning my lps with home brew solution recommended by someone at vinyl asylum (distilled water, isopropyl alcohol, a dab of Dawn blue), scrubbed on with Magic Brush, and wiped clean with micorfiber towel. Rinsed in plain distilled water. I'm wondering if the RRL products can be used manually in this way? Will they get more deep groove gunk out than the home brew? I have no budget (or inclination for that matter) to invest in an expensive machine, figuring that if I spend $.50 - $5 on a record and can't get it clean cheaply then I'll just trade it back to used lp store or leave it at the community swap table at the dump. Thanks for your replies.
I've never tried anything that works as well as Paul Frumkin's AIVS products. See the link in Flemke's first post above. Terrific stuff. Dave
Winegasman,

I used to clean records much the same way as you are now. I do think an RCM makes a huge difference with cleaning. You don't need to spend a lot of money on an RCM. I built one using an old Hoover vacuum motor, a lazy susan bracket and some plywood. About $50 and you could do it for less.

I use RRL always and I also use AIVS on the really dirty ones followed by RRL. If you're not using a vacuum RCM I don't think I would bother using either product because you're not getting everything off of the vinyl anyway.
Thanks for all your help the information has been quite helpful.

Merry Xmas fellow vinyl listeners
Another vote for RRL and Galen Carol.
Yes, the Loricraft noticably better cleans record done with the others, especially if you use AudioTop Vinyl1 cleaner.
Disc Doctor for me. I ordered both the RRL cleaners from Galen Carol and used them carefully according to Brian's instructions and no, they don't do nearly as good a job as DD.

Switching back (and switching to another new set of felt pads, vacuum tubes etc.). Another lesson in not changing things in audio when what you have works perfectly well!

Patrick
perfectly well?
Question to Tbg: I suppose if he said perfectly well and used your choice of cleaner, you'd let it fly, right?
No, but I guess this is the kind of phrase that I take so much notice of in grading papers. He is implying that nothing could do better without ever trying other products. As always, I am merely saying that in my experience, the Loricraft is the best.
I agree 100%, the Loricraft seems to be the champ.

I put a Loricraft RCM on my Christmas list, we'll see if I've been naughty or nice ...
"Perfectly well" is a phrase I hope all of you find some day. Unfortunately, "Grass is always greener" runs rampant on this board.
I wash the used LPs I buy in the sink with a UFO dealie that a guy sells on ebay, it seals off the label. I use 1-2 drops Ivory dish soap in the sink water and I use a mix of alcohol, water, Ivory sprayed on the record and scrubbed with a velvet brush. I rinse with warm then cold water. I then run it through the nitty gritty machine (I too would build a RCM for $50.00 if i had it to do again) then records go in new poly-lined sleeves. After that, I only use a carbon fiber brush, maybe the nitty gritty machine ( I use NG cleaning fluid) I find this system works perfectly well, but to be fair I'm to obsessed with the music to notice the occasional "pop".

Headcoat, I am not being dismissive when I urge you to stay satisfied with your method. Like everything else in audio, to do otherwise is a very slippery slope.
I have used (and still use) RRL and Paul Frumkin's cleaner. After dozens of cleanings with Frumkin's and at least one hundred with RRL, I have decided that Frumkin's is best on older dirtier records with significant mold exposure. If I have a new album, or one that has already been reasonably cleaned, I will use RRL (standard, not the deep cleaner) because it is more convenient than the 2 part Frumkin approach. I guess I would opt to have both available for the optimal selection of cleaners.
tbg,

Sorry, just noticed this. I didn't mean to imply that nobody should ever compare products. But all of us audiophiles succumb to the "grass is greener" mentality, or upgrade-itis, or whatever you want to call it, when sometimes we should just be listening to music and enjoying it. Whenever I end up on one of these comparison deals - whether or not I end up switching - I'm paying more attention to equipment and accessories in the meantime.

"Perfectly well" in this case meant that I was enjoying my system and my music just fine at the point when I decided, on a whim, to compare RRL to DD.

Happy holidays.

Patrick
Thanks to RRL and Paul Frumkin for sending samples of there products. I look forward to using them, drawing my own conclusions and enjoying the music even more which is what it's all about.
Just a quick question about enzyme cleaners - I have no hidden motives here as I have yet to clean a record in my life so I'm trying to find out what method is good and cost effective - but I thought I had read somewhere (maybe on Vinyl Asylum??) that some people seem to think that the enzyme cleaner can "eat" the vinyl. Is this just BS from someone with an agenda - you know, my method is the best and only record cleaning method to use - or is there some factual basis for this?
It's BS. I can understand your concern, but if there's any truth in it I've destroyed a hell of a lot of vinyl. And I seriously doubt that.
It's B.S. Enzymes cannot "eat" vinyl. The person who said that on AA also said that enzymes were living things, which they are not. They are proteins composed of amino acids, and they are harmless to elements in the environment.

Enzymes are used in oral care products, baking, fruit juices, yogurt, cheese, and in distilled beverages. Enzymes are also biodegradable. The 4 most common enzymes are (1) proteases, which break down protein; (2) lipases, which break down fats; (3) cellulases, which break down cellulose; and (4) amylases, which break down starches.

Vinyl is none of these things, but many of the things which contaminate vinyl are these things -- most notably, proteins and fats. Hence, the enzymes act on the contaminates; they do not alter the vinyl itself.

Best regards,
Paul Frumkin
Thanks for clearing this up - guess I didn't read the "anti-enzyme" thread very well - even I know that enzymes aren't living things! Guess I was thinking of oil-eating bacteria or something. :-D
Kel34 Please don't blame the record cleaning machines it is the record quality that is most inconsistent "Record washing does not seem to be an exact science" and "none yield consistent results". There isn't a record cleaning machine or cleaning fluid in the world to fix that fact. A great example of this is you could have different pressings of the same recording and some sound quieter and/or sonically closer to a live performance and some do not. I agree with you though that there does not seem to be a consensus amongst audiophiles on the best methodology for cleaning those pesky black discs. Enjoy!
Paul_frumkin has made an informative point. This just adds to your credibility with me kind sir.