Keith Monks. That's the one.
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if you have all kinds of dollars to spend, then the above recommendations are right on. however, i've been using a nitty gritty model that cost maybe $200 and it works beautifully. plus it has a small footprint which is important to me. a machine and clean vinyl is very important, but as long as it gets the job done, i'd rather spend the majority of my dollars on the vinyl and table.
I also have the low end NG, and while it's manual, meaning there is a ceiling on how many I want to clean at a time, it's effective. I am like Sberger - the money is better spent elsewhere. But getting a machine that cleans is well worth some dollars. I don't know from personal experience, but I suspect the incremental dollars don't increase the effectiveness - just the effort, sound, etc. If others have had several machines, I'd be curious to know if pricier machines do a better cleaning job, or if they mainly impact the process.
I'm sure the Monks or Loricraft are great machines, but for between $3,000 and $5,000 they should be. If you are really interested in cleaning vinyl, there is a huge amount of info in the Vinyl Asylum at Audioasylum. After spending a bit of time there, I came to the conclusion that you should go cheap or go very expensive but not waste a lot of money by going in between. Obviously, the Monks and Loricraft are very expensive.
I ended up with a KAB EV1, simply because I didn't want to have to deal with the extra noise from a shop vac (which can be very, very noisy) along with the space that shop vacs consume. The KAB is simply the "guts" of the Nitty Gritty machines, which you in turn hook up your own vacuum cleaner to (it can be a wet or dry vac as the KAB traps all fluid). Having sold Filter Queen vacs about 28 years ago, I have 3 kicking around the house and use one of them with the KAB. There are distinct advantages to going this route using a quality vac if you already have one:
1) you will, in all likelihood, end up with better/stronger suction than you will with any of the Nitty Gritty or VPI motorized versions 2) you will not experience overheating that can occur with those models and 3) if your vac breaks down, it is no big deal, you can buy another one used for next to nothing as opposed to paying a huge buck for a replacement motor from VPI or Nitty Gritty.
Going DIY with a shop vac is even less expensive than the KAB route, which will end up costing you about $200 by the time you buy a carbon fibre brush and some RRL Super Vinyl Wash (which I would recommend). A beater turntable (buy one at the Goodwill) is also a must have, in my opinion, with this kind of setup for applying the fluid before vacuuming.
Keep in mind that your choice of fluid is probably at least as important as your choice of cleaner, and there are certainly many choices.
I am certainly no expert, simply having drawn my own conclusions from the vast amount of info at the Vinyl Asylum, but I have had records cleaned on a Monks as well, and am not interested in spending that kind of money on a machine. I had an opportunity to buy a used Monks (well used, not in the greatest of shape) for around $800 and skipped it (many will say I'm crazy of course for that), and honestly don't feel like I am missing that much. But I am a bit of a cheapskate and $800 will buy me vinyl for the rest of my life the way things are going. I just picked up 30 albums last night for $10-a very serious score at the thrift store, actually the best I've had in the 3 months since I purchased the KAB, and it is working beautifully. So at that rate, $800 can buy me 2400 albums, not that I think I'll be doing that (or at least keeping them!).
10 years ago when i got serious about vinyl i purchased the VPI 16.5 RCM. i've likely cleaned at least 3500 records with that machine over the years.
recently i built a new dedicated listening room with a foyer outside the room with a dedicated space for record cleaning. the space has a tile floor and hard surfaces and when i tried my 16.5 in that space the noise from the vacuum pump made it just too uncomfortable. if i hate to clean records i will just avoid it.
so i did some research and decided to go with the Loricraft PRC3. during the research i learned a few things....particularly that all the machines that use a wide sweep arm (like the VPI 16.5 and the Clearaudio among others) will to one degree or another leave at least some dirt on the record due to the nature of the cleaning process. also that these machines need a large noisy vacuum pump due to the size of the vacuum opening.
OTOH the Loricraft (and Keith Monks) machines use a new and clean bit of thread for every cleaning so the cleaning process itself will not leave any dirt. the Loricraft website does a much better job of decribinbg this process than i could do. suffice it to say that if clean is what you want this approach has a better chance of doing it.
in addition; since the Loricraft has only a tiny orifice to provide vacuum to it gets away with a much smaller and less noisey pump; and is very comfortable to be around for extended periods of time. whereas i would have my hearing assaulted by the VPI 16.5 and it would take me out of the mood to listen i am still feeling at ease using the Loricraft.
remember that the machine is not the whole issue; there are still questions of which cleaning solution to use and keeping the RCM platter clean constantly.
i do recommend the VPI 16.5 at it's price point as a great RCM. but if you use the PRC3 once you will likely find a way to afford $1895.
Why not a Ultrasonic cleaner plus a vacuum type machine? This combination will definitely stands out most (all maybe?) vinyl cleaning method. Ultrasonic is safe to groove and very powerful to get everything out of the groove, and NO special cleaning fluid needed so you can just using warm water. There are many lab grade ultrasonic cleaners available on eBay cost from $250~600 depends on power and size. Once you have the vinyl cleaned by ultrasonic you can dry it by a vacuum type machine. If there still audibly noise then nothing on this planet can fix it.
My apologies with respect to pricing on the Loricraft; I was unaware that they had introduced the lower priced model at $1895.
There is certainly no doubt that the Loricraft and Monks are good machines and will do an excellent job. They both offer much quieter operation and the ability to really churn through cleaning records at much higher speeds than budget alternatives. The threading system on both is an excellent way to prevent cross contamination (the thread is really only a spacer to prevent vacuum lock up and does not contribute anything to the cleaning process other than preventing potential cross contamination) although in my experience with the KAB providing one is diligent in keeping the vacuum slot clean (ie. by vacuuming it occassionally following cleanings and by pre-cleaning records with a carbon fibre brush and Nagaoka roller if really filthy before the wet clean process) the threat of cross contamination is negligible. As an example, an almost new record cleaned on the Monks with Nitty Gritty Fluid (without a rinse) sounded noticeably better when cleaned a week or two later with the KAB using RRL Super Vinyl Wash followed with a lab grade water rinse, which is now my standard cleaning procedure. There are two pieces of info to be taken from this in my opinion and they are: 1) that as I said above, the issue of cross contamination if you're using a bit of common sense is negligible and 2) as Mike and I said previously, selection of cleaning fluids and/or cleaning regime is just as important as cleaning hardware.
I am in no way trying to knock the Monks or the Loricraft; my intention is only to make someone new to cleaning vinyl aware of the fact that they can get very high quality cleaning with a bit of effort and a relatively modest financial outlay.
Hdm's reasons for not buying a Loricraft/Monks are quite reasonable, for him and his priorities. OTOH, like Mikelavigne I would never go backwards from my PRC3 to any wand-based design. The Loricraft's ease-of-use, quieter operation and 0% cross-contamination risk make it one of my "never sell" components.
From this discussion it's reasonable to deduce two sensible RCM strategies. One is acquisition-cost concious, the other demands best possible performance.
Those in the cost-concious camp can choose between DIY, KAB, NG or (at most) a VPI 16.5. To spend more than $500 on such a design would be unproductive. The VPI 17.5 is nearly as costly as a PRC3 and it's nowhere near as good. The Clearaudio Matrix is overpriced for an inherently inferior technical design, no matter how well made it is.
Those in the ultimate-performance camp can take the Loricraft model of their choice. A Monks will clean no better, though the two-platter models would clean faster. This should only matter to those with extremely large collections who intend to use a RCM in an intensive effort to clean thousands of LP's as quickly as possible.
I use the VPI 16.5 and am very happy with it for the price. The loricraft and monk is better, much better, but more costly. As for residue I did a little experiment. I use a Zerodust to cleam my stylus. When I had cleaned I would clean stylus after every playing and a little black dot would be present on the Zerodust dome. With most cleaning fluids I could play several to 1-2 doz. before I would see a visible dot, (I did not clean between each record as I was unable to detect residue). With the Audio Intelegent three part solution I have gone months and I have yet to find residue on my Zerodust. I "clean" my stylus still but have not had any residue develope. So in addition to RCM look at solutions. I would guess that one of the advantages of the AI soln. would be three seperate dips in soln. per side helps to remove loose debriss. This might not be as much of an issue with RCM such as the loricraft or monk. Oh, and the 16.5 is noisy.
Having built a DIY cleaner - and having modest but not abysmal skills - and now having a low-end NG, the NG is clearly better - easier to use, better contact point materials (where lp meets suction), smaller footprint, etc, etc. The main thing one has to be aware of with the NG is keeping this contact point clean.
I own the VPI 16.5,but have a different viewpoint.After cleaning multiple lp's,with it,I cannot clearly decipher the very subtle inner details of the finest "first pressings" that my record collection is "rife" with!
Good excuse to "sell" my wife on going for a Loricraft!
Also,after using my noisy but beloved VPI,I have a hard time hearing her call me in to dinner,from my dedicated room,which is about twenty feet from the kitchen.Good excuse #2,for going for a Loricraft.
Only problem is that I am currently sinking about three grand into my set-up,for mods/updates/new "gizmos",and am making an expensive "med school" graduation party for my son,next month.
Yet I really want a Loricraft!!!
Anyone have a solution to my dilemma? -:)
I've been using my DIY rcm for a few years and have had a few opportunities to compare it with a VPI 16.5. Mine wins hands down if what you're looking for is the absolute loudest vacuum in a rcm. (I've got to build a better cabinet, maybe in the next room or a closet with a really long hose.) My wife giggles at this because I absolutely hate the sound of a vacuum running in the house. Central vac in our current house has solved that issue, but she never misses a chance to point out to me how loud my rcm is. But, it's my vinyl!
Hummmmmmmm? Wife? Loricraft? Wife? Lori. . . Oh hell, I'm sure gonna' miss her!
I use an Audio Advisor Record Doctor for cleaning my LPs - usually 40-50 per month. It is as noisy as a VPI. My solution for the noise - ear protectors. El cheapo ear plugs for 25 cents a pair will work fine. If you find ear plugs uncomfortable, as I do, go to your local sporting goods store and buy some shooting earmuffs - $19.95. If plugs or muffs can protect your hearing from gunshots, it will certainly protect your ears from your RCM.
Take your choice: Keith Monks/Loricraft OR $200 RCM plus ear protection plus 100s to 1,000s of LPs.
I use the Loricraft fluid only for scummy records that don't clean up with my normal regimen. The Loricraft normal and heavy-duty fluids both contain large amounts of alchohol. I prefer not to use alchohol if possible.
My normal regimen includes RRL fluids, Vinyl-Zyme and Micro Care Premier. That handles 90% of all my records.
When I remember right, the Loricraft cleaning fluid ( L'Art du Son ) is without alcohol.
That's one of the main reasons for it's success, it doesn't smell, has no material mixes which are dangerous for human beings and it doesn't weaken the side walls from the gooves.
Most alcohol based fluids dry them out and after a while the records are not the same anymore.
I wonder where the myth of alcohol damaging vinyl came from. I have never seen, read about, or experienced anything of the sort. I still, in addition to using a Nitty Gritty, play my records wet, with the Swiss-made Lencoclean system, and I have done so for nearly 30 years. The only thing is that you should do is to use high-purity ethanol and two-times-distilled water for cleaning, or playing wet. I have tried all the fancy new liquids, L´Art du Son included,with the Nitty Gritty, and I could not really tell a diffrence to my own alcohol-water-liquid. Not one of my records ever suffered from damage, instead they are in much better shape of my friends, whose records are often much more worn.