I know of no negatives at all. Been using an original Nitty Gritty since the early 80s and am still amazed at what it can do. I like the manual machines better than the automatics and would recommend the $200 Record Doctor from Audio Advisor (a Nitty Gritty clone).
IMNSHO, record cleaning is a no-brainer. I've been collecting vinyl for over 35 years and see/hear no evidence that record cleaning machines damage the software. On the contrary, failure to do so will embed debris into the vinyl permanently. Remember, the solvents used in commercial and home brew cleaners contact the recording for a very short duration and by design are compatible with vinyl, leaving no residue. Following machine cleaning place the disks in polyethylene sleeves and use a carbon fiber brush before and after each play. Clean your stylus often with a brush and periodically with a commercial cleaner. Replace your cartridge before the stylus is worn to a point of damaging the vinyl.
I recommend a vacuum record cleaning machine although it matters little if the cleaning is done automatically or not. So, your choice of machine should be determined by your budget, the volume of work to be done and the level of labor you are willing to invest with each disk. The basic Nitty Gritty and Disk Doctor machines are likely 99% as effective as the most expensive machines. DIY plans are available online. If you are handy and buy the vacuum source at a yard sale you can build a great cleaner for less than $20.
Using a commercial vinyl lubricant (Gruv Glide) or a vinyl preservative (Last) is a personal decision that, IMO, will not damage the recording and will most likely add to its life expectancy.
Develop a routine of proper handling and storage of your music and your great grand children will be enjoying your library long after your passing.
Others may take issue with my suggestion for polyethylene sleeves saying that rice paper is preferred. I'm the only person I know that has done a burn test on every available sleeve that I could find. Even the outlets that advertize rice sleeves are actually supplying polyethylene. Sleeves available for as little as 7 cents each (Sleeve City) are chemically identical to VPI sleeves at nearly 50 cents each. Rice paper sleeves were manufactured long ago and, to the best of my knowledge, are no longer available. They can be identified by folded and glued edges and crack with age.
These are just the opinions of an old fart that still enjoys my oldest recordings as much as the newest. Still, they are worth exactly what you paid for them.
If you are worried about the cleaning solution leaving residue, simply rinse the records off in a thorough manner with distilled or de-ionized water after the cleaning.
Personally, i've got three record cleaning machines and this is the order that i clean them in. First of all, used records get "scrubbed" by hand whereas new records go directly to the next stage. This stage is a side 1 cleaning using a VPI 16.5 machine using whatever cleaning solution ( VPI, Record Research Labs, etc... ) that i have handy. The record is then flipped to side two and placed on the second VPI 16.5 and that side is cleaned in like manner. From there, the record is tossed onto my Nitty Gritty 1.5Fi and rinsed with distilled water, one side at a time.
While this sounds like it is a pretty expensive and thorough approach, i spent less on these three machines than one could buy a single VPI 17 machine for. To top it off, two ( one VPI and the NG ) out of the three were purchased from dealers ( Music Direct & Audio Consultants ). The second VPI was purchased here on Audiogon from a local that treated it like it was made out of gold.
Other than that, i think that the folks at Last know what they are doing and i wouldn't hesitate to use their products if one was so inclined. Only problem is that they can become quite expensive if going "whole hog" on their cleaning / record maintenance program. Sean
I have owned the Audio Advisor $200 model and now use a VPI 17. The VPI does a much, much, much better job of sucking up the fluid off of the record. No matter how long I went with the AA machine there was always a little moisture on the record when I was done and the VPI seems to get it all.
I also use a large amount of rinse water, spraying it on as the vacuum is running for a couple of rotations. I put it on just to the point where the water it is about to run off the record and then let the vacumn run for a about 3 more times around to dry. This you can't really do with the AA machine because the VPI vacuums on the top and the AA machine from the bottom.
I have read similar things. I have read tests of new albums being opened--played, then cleaned and played and the top end "lost it's magic". I have heard of two identical records being opened at the same time--one cleaned, one not cleaned and the not cleaned sounded better.
I clean all of my albums, even before the first play. I clean the side I'm going to play each time I play them. To me, it really is a no brainer. My albums remain in excellent condition, and I laugh at myself now for how long it took me to actually buy a VPI 16.5.
Most LPs profit, with sometimes really shockingly good results regarding soundstage and presence and some simply do not, lose in presence and immediacy, which can be equally clearly evident. I have still to find out why this is so. The percentage of records which sound clearly worse after cleaning lies at about 5% I would say and mostly they are very early stereos.
I've used a Nitty Gritty 2.5 since 1986, together with the cleaning fluid supplied by NG. I've had fabulous results. My routine is to clean each record once with the Nitty Gritty (sometimes, in the case of a really gunked up LP, twice). Then, both before and after each play, clean the LP with my Audioquest fiber brush. No problems with the LPs, *and* my stylus stays very, very clean.
Record cleaning is a must for any anolog system, the word that stuck out like sore thumb was cleaning. By this I beleive any one who takes time to do this in his or her collection probily has fairly clean records. But sometimes the condition of the records - or + in ions needs to be considered sometimes a clean record will have ticks, wash it the ticks go away this is regenerating the record back to its positive state. We must remember records do collect static when stored even in the best VRP ricepaper sleeves.In my collection dirt is not the enemy its the - charges thats what keeps me washing. David
The formula's I've seen for DIY record cleaning fluids (based upon the ingredients of the more expensive prepared formulas) are fairly innocuous. Usually something like 75% distilled water, 25% Isopropyl Alchohol (non-lanolin), and a few drops of Photo-Flo (a "soapy" wetting agent designed for photographic processing to prevent spotting on films, which I believe is just more alchohol[propylene glycol]) per gallon. I can't imagine how any of these ingridients might build-up or cause damage to vinyl, but I'm no scientist either. Certainly the water and alchohol would evaporate. Photoflo can leave a residue if in too high a concentration, but with only a few drops to a gallon I doubt that would happen. I'm pretty sure most of the cleaning fluids are simply distilled water and alchohol with some form of wetting agent added in very small concentration. Someone correct me here if I'm off base.
Gee, I hope your "friend" doesn't read the Audiogon forums...
Seriously, I don't know what that writer was advocating instead, but if a record has fingerprints on it, you are going to need to use some type of cleaner to dissolve them. And a vacuum machine, while not a total necessity, is the best way to get the fluid *and* the contaminants back up off the record. However, I find for the real cleaning portion of the ritual, I prefer to use the Disc (should be "Disk"!) Doctor's hand brushes and scrub the records myself (using plain old - and cheap - 70/30 isopropyl alcohol). I don't think any cleaning machine can do the kind of job on really scummy used records that can be done with elbow grease. For wet scrubbing, I use a long-out-of-production accessory that I found in a thrift shop called a Sound Guard mat, which is basically a flexible molded-vinyl mat that's somewhat bigger than an LP, and has raised, textured support plateaus divided by drainage channels and surrounded by a raised perimeter, with a 'spindle' at the center. This provides a great work surface for hand-brush cleaning, and is something that one of the current crop of vinyl-care accessory makers ought to copy, and in fact improve upon.
I have a DECCA brush that has like a Miollion small horse hairs on it that I like to use just to bee on the safe side.A vacuum machine would also be recommended.
I really do not like to put solutions on anything that is going to have playback.If a record is buoght used I will definitely clean it and after that I use a brush.
There is no reason scientificly for the way I do things,it's just that I prefer it that way.
There are exceptions also.If an LP has been left out and such.
Cleaning is very important and works for me. A system as simple as a "Decca" type brush followed by "Gruv Glide" has been my standard for nearly twenty years. I can't think of a single record that has been degraded.
For really dirty records Keith Monks (if you can find one), VPI, and Nitty Gritty wet washers have worked very well for me.
Hope this helps and Happy Listening!
What I think interesting is, that a majority finds the washing and cleaning process essential and that at the same time there is a tiny minority of people who find the very same process detrimental to the quality of LP reproduction. In my experience and as I have stated above, neither party is delusional but truly on to something, which only then turns sour, if stated as an absolute. I still insist, that not every LP will not only NOT profit from a good cleaning, but will in fact lose some of its presence. Thankfully the number of those LPs which do not profit is tiny in comparison to those which in fact do. But also here, to my mind at least, there are no absolutes and one man's bliss is another man's poison.