Record Cleaning Machine RCM

My present vinyl collection consists of about 100 LPs. On average, I purchase about 3-5 new LPs per year when the annual HI-FI Show comes to town. I've always purchased new with the odd purchase coming from friends for mint condition used LPs. My analog set-up is a VPI Scoutmaster.

I've read some very positive comments concerning the benefits of using a RCM and I'm serioulsy considering purchasing one.

For the money, I'm looking at the VPI HW-16.5 but I've read posts where people are complaining about how hot the unit gets due to the lack of a cooling fan while others have complainted about the noise. Should I be concerned?

My next choice up would be the VPI HW-17 but this unit costs about 2.5x more.

Suggestions / comments?
My advice is to buy the VPI HW-16.5 machine. The machine is very effective and reliable, and it's definitely the best bang for the buck.

Yes, it's loud, but that shouldn't pose a problem unless you have a baby sleeping down the hall or some similar circumstance. (In those instances, you're probably similarly restricted with respect to the volume level of your audio system, so you might as well go play golf. :>)

In my experience, it takes a lot of continuous vinyl cleaning to cause any sort of heat issues with the machine. Your modest collection should not pose any problems in that regard unless you decide to clean the entire collection at once (and without any soaking time in between records). Seriously, if you use a cleaning solution that works best with a 5-minute soak, you can clean vinyl all day long with my VPI 16.5 RCM and never noticeably heat up the machine.
Buy the 16.5. Heat only becomes an issue if you clean a bunch of LPs at one time. I've NEVER had my overheat.

Place it on a piece of carpet and your will attenuate the noise a good bit.

Check the age of the posts you have read. I can't remember clearly but I believe earlier versions of the VPI 16.5 had overheating issues, but were resolved (or at least reduced) a long time ago by VPI.

I've had the 16.5 for about 7 years and have not had an overheating problem even once.
I have had my 16.5 for about 5 years, cleaned about 1100 LPS in that time, each LP with two to three solutions which is 2-3 times the work of a single solution cleaning. I usually clean three LPS, both sides, and take a break. I have only repeated cleaning on one album in that time. I am very happy with the 16.5.
I just bought a 16.5 and find it very easy to use and a definite plus. Cleaning is so easy now and the quality of sound is much better!!! Do yourself a BIG favor and get one you'll wonder why you waited this long.
I agree with the above positive posts. I’ve owned and use my 16.5 for three years now and have experienced no problems. It might be the best machine to buy for the price. I would only consider replacing it if I was going to purchase a Loricraft (RCM) which sells for several thousands of dollars.
I had the 16.5 and it worked well I didn't use it so much, but when you only have 100 Records and you buy about 5 per year then go for it. The Danger of getting deaf is minor. I bought some earplugs...
Just for a different flavor, I DON'T own a VPI and never have, but I agree with the above posters.

For a modest sized record collection the noise won't happen often/long enough to matter. Just wear ear plugs like Syntax said (the VPI's have been measured at nearly 90db). Overheating, even if a theoretical issue, is unlikely ever to be a real one. Worst case: turn it off and wait an hour.

If you become sufficiently fanatical it might make sense to spend more for BETTER record cleaning. But that would cost at least 4X more (Loricraft, used Keith Monks).
I like my Sota RCM. It has a fan like the more expensive VPI. But it is loud. I wear Stihl ear protection when I use it which I got at the hardware store. Nitty Gritty machines are good too if you don't clean too many records. But definitely get something! It's worth it.
I've got a VPI 16.5 and the only thing that becomes hot is the spindle. After the fourth or fifth album (2-sides, three scrubs each side) I notice it getting hot.

By that time the first one I cleaned is dry enough to play. I rack them in a plastic-coated wire dish rack from Target so they can air dry after coming off the VPI. I never put them back into the sleeve immediately after cleaning.

I go listen to a side of a freshly cleaned album and am motivated to continue. I'm backlogged about 600 albums so I should be cleaning, not posting!

Tubetan, the spindle is hot because the motor is hot. You may try stopping the platter and letting the fluid soak on the record for a minute, it will help keep the motor cooler as well as giving the record fluid some time to work.

I know why the spindle gets hot. I've had the 16.5 for about three years now. I was describing a symptom for the benefit of the OP.

I do let the enzyme solution sit for about three minutes during the first of three cleaning cycles. That is why I can get through four or five LPs instead of just three before a cool-down is in order.

Thanks for responding to my previous post.

HAving used the 16.5 in my LP store for 13years it never missed a beat and I would clean 100's of LPs a week. The thing I liked about the 16.5 was that you could monitor the application of the liquid and brushing as a manual exercise as opposed to the automated 17 which did not appeal to me. Noise is only a temporary issue as an LP will take 30secs to a min to do. As they go for 350-450 on Agon, it is a very wise investment IMHO.
Hey Eric, have you tried a towel or a piece of carpet under the machine? It certainly helps lower the noise. It is a great machine, isn't it?
If you buy only 3-5 albums per year a manual machine is all you need.

No automatic machine can never compare with good brushes, a good solution, and elbow grease.

Save the unspent money and buy more vinyl.
Bill said,

"No automatic machine can never compare with good brushes, a good solution, and elbow grease."

Wow! I absolutely disagree with this statement. I find it as wrong as Roy Gandy's assertion that the stylus does all the cleaning a record requires.

I do agree that good results are possible with manual cleaning and it may be the best option for a small collection.

Which results in a cleaner car, your local car wash or a thorough hand wash?

I have 6500+ albums collected over 50 years to support my claim.

And you?

I hope this helps.
Bill said,

"I hope this helps."

It doesn't. I too have been collecting most of my life and I'm not sure there is a cleaning method I haven't tried. I always went back to a machine as the best tool to facilitate the process.

If you manually clean 6500 LPs, good for you!

BTW, I know that number was meant to impress. 6500 doesn't come close to the number of records I have purchased in the last 46 years. Who cares? It doesn't mean a thing.


I too would love to know how Bill manually removes grunge-laden cleaning solutions from inside the grooves without vacuuming. If you don't remove it all quickly the liquid evaporates but the grunge remains behind - and nothing IME removes liquid from a groove faster or more completely than vacuuming.

Of course I only have 3,250 LP's, so I'm only half as qualified...

I agree. Manual cleaning can be quite effective but I've never discovered a better way to quickly and completely remove the fluid, from the record, without using a vacuum.
There are various ways to vacuum but none, in my experience,
as efficient as a purpose built machine.

Of course, Bill may have some special way I've never tried.

VPI 16.5 = manual cleaning
VPI 17 = automatic cleaning
Both remove fluids via a vacuum wand.
handwashing = disappointment

Before we resort to snark and sarcasm, we should all be on the same page with terminology.

No snark and sarcasm? What fun is that?

You make a good point and when Bill refers to manual cleaning he is not meaning to not use a vacuum to remove the fluid.

VPI 16.5 = manual cleaning
VPI 17 = automatic cleaning
Both remove fluids via a vacuum wand.
handwashing = disappointment

Before we resort to snark and sarcasm, we should all be on the same page with terminology.

I think Bill calls "manual" as an rcm that one must rotate the record yourself, versus "automatic" which the rcm rotates and vacuums. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Thanks Headsnappin and Narrod for the clarification of a manual operation.

Doug, with a few more albums and/or years of vinyl experience under your belt, you'll understand.

Did you consider the new machine from Gläss Audiodesk - the Vinyl Cleaner. It works perfectly with a very good cleaning result. And it is for lazy boys...
Just re-read Bill's post and realize I misinterpreted his use of the word "manual". I thought he was towel drying or something. One of my many youthful mistakes!

While I appreciate motored rotation of the LP it's certainly not necessary, especially for a low volume user. I totally agree that manual application of fluids is acceptable, arguably better even. I certainly wouldn't pay extra for a machine to operate a squeeze bottle for me.

Sorry for the confusion, but keep the snark coming!
If record cleaning was half as much fun as this thread has been, I wouldn't be backlogged 600 LPs right now!! :-)
has anyone ever tried any of the Hannl machines?
This here seems the all American self-congratulatory VPI 16.5 cleaning thread --- earplugs welcome, or rather a MUST :-)

In my experience the Hannl is the quietest machine this far I heard. And as far as second hand vinyl is concerned the best results I ever got with the use of that roller-brush (car wash style). Records (quite a lot) given up as uncleanably noisy have actually been made playable.
Just my 2 cents...
Axelwahl, the OP asked about the 16.5 and experiences. I've never heard of the Hannl. I'll have to check it out.

A machine that rotates the LP, a set of 3 good brushes, and a good cleaning solution (s) with a vacuum to remove the liquids works best for me. I like the three step method from Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions of enzymatic formula, super cleaner and ultra-pure water. Takes a bit longer but it works for me. There are other good cleaners out there also. My point is the 16.5 works for me.
Hi Narrod
just check it out it's on my 'system'.

Hi Lak,
no question, even the Nittys work - mostly - of sorts.
How this can be an 'A rated' piece of equipment beats the hell out of me. I had the most expensive PRO2.
Good service, oh yes!
Well and ear defenders come cheap too. "All a matter of taste said the monkey, and bit in the soap" :-)
I suppose you guys don't want to hear about my $75, Hoover-based, lazy-susan, home-boy RCM. :-) It is every bit as loud as any commercial RCM. VPI has nothing on my plywood and cork Quasimodo machine. Hell, I even have the pleasure of spinning the LPs by hand. With enough liquid refreshment, the "motor" never gets even the slightest bit warm. No doubt about it! My Quasi sucks way more than a VPI! :-)
Hi Axel,
I have had the Hannl (from TW Acustic) for 2 years and I love it. Very quite compared to the competition.
I haven't got the roller power arm that you have.......but I gues it's retro-fitable to any Hannl machine?
>>> I haven't got the roller power arm that you have.......but I gues it's retro-fitable to any Hannl machine? <<<

Yes, it fits on any of their models. It's practically just a swap for the standard brush arm.
I just wouldn't ever want to go back to the normal brush --- but then most of vinyl is 2nd hand.
I can't find the roller brush on their web site?
maybe it's only on the German page? The english site seems to be lagging behind at times I seem to recall.