Following. Close to same boat with you. Absent better info, I ordered a Kirmuss. But still willing to consider Degritter if this turns up a better comparison.
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Careful, some of the power figures include the heater. The Kirmuss is essentially the iSonic P4875(II) P4875(II)-4T-NH (isonicinc.com) which is only 165 W ultrasonic power via three 60W transducers pointing upward. The Degritter has four 75W transducers - two on either side pointing directly at the record.
The difference in ultrasonic frequency alters the size of the cavitation bubble formed and 120-khz produces a smaller bubble which is good for very fine particles while the 40 kHz produce a larger bubble and is better for more generic type soils and particles.
Antinn2, thanks for the info! Very much appreciated!
I did know that stuff about the Kirmuss machine and some of what you mentioned about the Degritter. When I use my system, I don't use any heat because the cavitation process actually causes or produces a little heat, anyway. That's one of the things that concerns me about the Degritter. When I clean my records I set-up in the cellar, which is always cooler than the house. Even after hours of cleaning, the US tank water never gets even lukewarm. My records have always been in great shape. They go in looking shiny new and come out looking the same way. The only thing I care about is sonic or audible improvement(s) and I'm getting that with the system I have now. I don't want to pay 3 grand for something I won't be able to hear, if you know what I mean.
I've been reading and researching this stuff for, at least, 3 or 4 years now. I've written to several world leading manufacturers of ultrasonic cleaning systems and machines for hospitals and clean rooms for microchip makers, asking all sorts of questions about cleaning frequencies, etc. I've actually had a couple of bona fide scientists write back and both said 40 kHz should be very safe and effective on PVC or vinyl products. Of course, as bona fide scientists, both very careful to stipulate their opinions were based on the Physics involved, potential short term and long term damage to PVC products and things of this nature; not specifically oriented to how this would or might affect audio performance. What I didn't know and found fascinating was that the size of the bubbles generated in the cavitation process isn't what does the cleaning. It's the force produced when they implode. So, 40 kHz actually produces a more aggressive cleaning effect than 120 kHz . Degritter states their machine is more gentle and, if I recall correctly, effective enough at cleaning mold release compounds from new and, presumably, older records, as well. If that is, indeed, so, from a scientific perspective, that would be an interesting bit of knowledge.
Several articles I've read stated the best approach to cleaning just about anything and everything a record might pick up along the years (e.g. smoke; fingerprints; skin oil; etc.) is to use a variety of sweeping frequencies during the cleaning process (e.g. 40 kHz - 80 kHz - 120 kHz and even a little higher). CleanerVinyl has started selling US cleaning tanks like that, now. Expensive but not 3 grand expensive.
A few other articles I've read indicated it really doesn't matter where the transducers are located in the machine because the bubbles are created all over the bath and permeate the entire liquid medium, anyway.
It would be nice to find a handful of bona fide scientists who are also bona fide audiophiles and would put all of this to the test. Sort of an A/B shout-out of the various RCM on the market. The before & after electron microscope photos on he Degritter website are all very well and good but I've seen similar before & after pics on other websites with similar results. I think Last had or maybe still does have something like that on their site or maybe it was in some review I read.
Another question I would hope could be resolved is what US waves do to records or PVC on a short-term and long-term basis. One person I had an email back & forth with questioned whether overuse of any frequency, particularly lower frequencies, could potentially alter the structural integrity of the PVC canals in the tiny grooves of a record and eventually negatively effect audio performance. That kind of makes sense, to me, considering that is where the thickness of the PVC material is the thinnest. I've never used my US machine more than once on any record. Never felt I had to. I've always been of the opinion that this is a one & done type of thing. However, it would be good to know if repeated US cleanings could potentially be detrimental in any way.
Anyway, as you can, no doubt, see, I can get a little crazy about this kind of stuff! My records are and always have been my babies!
Sorry for the long post but inquiring minds what to know. And, no, I wasn't that little kid in school who always had his hand up when the teacher asked: "Any questions?" I should have been a scientist!
If you read this article Precision Aqueous Cleaning of Vinyl Records-2nd Edition - The Vinyl Press - at the end you can download the 145-page book for free; Chapter XIV is exclusive to UCM. There is a lot of information describing the variables associated with UCM.
The position of the transducers does make a difference, firing directly at the record will get the best cleaning performance. Fundamentally during what is called the ultrasonic rarefaction phase, the pressure drops below the fluid vapor pressure and essentially the fluid boils creating a bubble and over a period of rarefaction/compression cycles the bubble that is formed grows until the surrounding hydraulic pressure violently collapses it. The cavitation bubble duration is very short - about 4 milliseconds - check this video starting at about time 6:20 https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=ul ... %3DHDRSC3;. The collapsing toroid jet in an UCM is some what direction.
The KL Audio at 200W and the Degritter at 300W with their limited bath volume are very powerful and can be very effective with just DI-Water. The low power units such as the Kirmuss need some chemistry such as a surfactant to help with cleaning, but add too much chemistry (or spin the records too fast) and the 'cavitation intensity' decreases. I know of people who use the Kirmuss with some chemistry as a preclean and then final clean/dry with the Degritter. The Kirmuss with its spinner makes it very convenient to use with the Degritter. The Kirmuss unit can also be easily modified to add a good pump/filter system.
Otherwise, people have been using UCM to clean records and similar type plastics for >50 yrs. The biggest issue is over-extended operation and subsequent over-heating. If you read the Degritter manual Degritter-manual-v2.2-ENG.pdf - it has a cool-down process which will kick in after two Heavy cleanings. The nice option for the Degritter is spare tanks that can be used for rinsing (if using chemistry) or to improve process time when using the Heavy cycle.
I have both a generic 40 kHz tank and 135(?) kHz sweeping US tank from Vibratto. I use both, and noticed an improvement when I added the 135. I spin the records in the 40 first after applying disc doctor cleaner, and then in the 135 that also serves as a rinse tank. I use the basic first generation cleanervinyl rotisserie and filter the second tank. Air dry with a small fan. Definitely worth the price.
As an alternate thought, I believe that if you are gentle with the records, follow the directions and proceed carefully, all of the machines do a good job. From the most simple (spin clean, etc.) to the most expensive. What you pay for is how much time and effort you want to put in. In general, if you spend less money, you spend more time. And visa versa.
I haven't owned the Kirmuss but i did consider it seriously. I watched the manufacturers videos and read Michael Fremer's review. I believe it works well. But, the effort involved is quite significant. I own a Hannl Mera ELB. Very high end vacuum machine. It cleaned records very well. But to me it was too fiddlely (sp?) and time consuming. Set the hight of the brushes, apply the solution, wait while cleaning, manage the vacuum cycle to avoid static electricity, turn it over and repeat. In the end it worked well. The record was wet cleaned and static free. But cleaning several records waisted an entire morning.
The Kirmuss was a great price but the process seemed even more labor intensive. In the end I bought a Degritter and could not be happier. Set it up, turn it on, insert the record, push the button and do other things. When the chime sounds the record is clean, dry and static free. I actually like cleaning records now. Is it better than the other systems? I don't know. Does it clean the records effectively and efficiently? Most definitely. Is it easier and more enjoyable, absolutely.
You guys are great! Thanks so much for this additional information! May the music gods bless you all!
Actually, I have read and still have a copy of the Aqueous Cleaning 2nd edition thing. I guess I need to read that again more closely.
So, guys... bottom line... will 3 grand get me better audio performance over what I'm dong now or will it be just a time saver?
I too am deciding between the Kirmuss and/or Degritter.
Although one can save $ on a more home made Ultrasonic record cleaner solutions, the Kirmuss seem to perform with the best RCMs as reviewed by Fremer:https://www.stereophile.com/content/analog-corner-287-charles-kirmuss-vinyl-restoration-system
“….was left with a gleaming, shiny, like-new-looking record, even more brilliant than a similar record cleaned with the Audiodesksysteme G;läss Vinyl Cleaner.”
“All of these records sounded very good prior to "restoration," doubtlessly because I took good care of them and kept them clean using, in recent years, the Audiodesksysteme cleaner. Now their top ends sparkle as never before.”
“Best of all, when I played it—holy crap! The top end was fully restored, the backgrounds were superquiet, transients were sharpened, and the amount of inner detail—particularly the microdynamic shifts..”
So my conclusion is the Kirmuss is at least amongst the “best” at cleaning vinyl records.
ElusiveDisc often has a cheaper package deal while UpscaleAudio has a 3 LP version- both are on sale now.
The Degritter at $3k is cheaper and a newer design than AudioDesk.
KL Audio has exited the automatic RCM market likely due to high repair costs.
I thought about chasing which ultrasonic cleaning frequency is “better” or is “gentler” on the vinyl, but gave up as to not be important rabbit hole to chase- they both work great
If budget a concern, get the Kirmuss. If convenience a concern, get the Degritter.
Looking forward for your report on your new RCM. Thanks for supporting this forum community
Oldaudiophile, in case you did not know it, @antinn is a high class expert on cleaning technologies.
For relatively clean records I use 80KHz exclusively, although I have used 37KHz on some very dirty specimens with good results. Temperature is an issue, as antinn suggests. Body temperature is safe for vinyl, but colder is less good for cleaning.
@terry9, ...you are too kind.
@oldaudiophile, a few quotes from the book:
Chapter XII.6.a - "...The paper Adhesion and Removal of Fine Particles on Surfaces, Aerosol Science and Technology, M. B. Ranade, 1987 (38) shows for aluminum oxide particles, the force (acceleration) required to remove a 10-micron particle is 4.5 x 10^4 g’s, a 1-micron particle is 4.5 x 10^6 g’s and a 0.1-micron particle is 4.5 x 10^8 g’s. A simple brush or wipe is not going to get the smallest particles/debris that can ‘hide’ in the valleys between the groove side wall ridges.|"
But this is where UT has an advantage:
XIV.1....For ultrasonics there is a minimum power (wattage) necessary to produce cavitation. The higher the frequency, the more power is required. The minimum power required at 40 kHz is reported between 0.3 and 0.5 W/cm² (per transducer radiating surface). As the UCM tank volume increases, less power, measured as W/gal or W/cm³ is required to maintain cavitation throughout the tank. A very small 0.5-gal/1.9-L 40-kHz tank may require 125 W/gal while a 12.75-L/3.4-gal 40-kHz tank may only require 80 W/gal; noting that as the ultrasonic kHz increases so does the power required. There is a limit to increasing power above which no additional benefit (cavitation intensity) is obtained.
XIV.1.b The lower the ultrasonic frequency, the larger the bubble that is created. A 40 kHz UCM will produce bubbles about 75 microns diameter. These are not going to get into the record groove. A 120 kHz UCM will produce bubbles about 20 microns and these can get into the groove. But the larger bubble can produce more energy when it collapses/implodes (cavitation) so there is fluid agitation around the collapsing event that can provide cleaning. How violently the bubbles collapse is determined by the amount of power provided by the ultrasonic transducers. A low power 40 kHz unit may be safe for soft metal such as jewelry, while a 40 kHz high power unit may not. The smaller bubble by its size is limited to how violent it can collapse. A high powered 120 kHz unit has less potential for damage than a high powered 40 kHz.
XIV.1.c Further complicating the effectiveness of ultrasonics is the fluid boundary layer. The fluid flow at the record (or any) surface develops a static layer that is separate from the bulk fluid that is moving. The boundary layer thickness is dependent on the ultrasonic frequency (high kHz = thinner boundary layer), acoustic energy, and fluid properties (viscosity & density). To get the most effective cleaning, the cleaning process has to penetrate the boundary layer to remove the soil and particles that are contained within it. ...At 40-kHz, the boundary layer can be as thick as 5 microns, while at 120-kHz, the boundary layer can be as thick as 2 microns.".
I’ll just say, I had a Kirmuss and liked the end result, but I started getting royally pissed at it for constantly overheating and continuously sitting around for 20 minutes while it cooled off! I have an Audio Desk system now and glad I paid the extra for quality cleaning. I did start off my cleaning adventure with an okki nokki but moved up to ultra cleaning....imo.
I have a Kirmuss on loan right now. The Kirmuss method is as mentioned above, lengthy and involved. Therefore, i decided I wanted to see if the machine worked well with just distilled water and nothing else. At first, I had thought that the lack of drying would be the main issue, but this has proven not to be the case! The LP's don't get that wet, which really surprises me. The application of a good eye glass optic microfibre cloth seems to solve the drying issue. The problem is that the machine is not exactly a precision device, as such the potential for damage to the LP's as you insert and remove them from the spinner is considerable. To that, the results with just plain distilled water are nothing extraordinary. A generally clean record will come out a tad cleaner than before, but as Kirmuss points out, to really clean the grooves, one needs to do a multiple step process with multiple US insertions. This is a royal PITA. I am not even sure if the application of something like Gruv Glide will not give one the same result on a vacuum cleaned LP!
Then we have the heating issue, which has been touched on above, although I have noticed that the warmer the water, the better the result--to a degree. Clearly at some point the water is too hot and the machine needs to rest. Kirmuss doesn't believe in drying in the machine, which I think is his way of copping out and not figuring out a way for the machine to do this. BUT the bigger issue, as it turns out, is the risk to the LP on insertion and removal, get it slightly wrong and you can easily damage your precious vinyl...which gives me considerable pause and concern in regards to this machine!
I use an inexpensive "Record Doctor" cleaning mchine - but it doesn't do the actual cleaning.I use a mix of dishwashing liquid and 70% alcohol, and vigorously brush both sides of a record with a fine pure bristle paintbrush, then douse it with a good long spray of tap water.The Record Doctor isn't what cleans the record but does a great job of getting it perfectly dry. Results appear to be excelent. Shiny, spotless records, especially with some terrific used bargains I sometimes find, and considerably quieter surfaces.
While what you say is true, the alcohol, mixed with water and detergent, only stay on the surface of a record for maybe 20 seconds, tops, and is thoroughly rinsed away and then dried off. This process may only happen three or four times during the life of an LP - so any long term effects from the drying properties of alcohol are not likely to be a problem.
I am waiting for my shipment of a Humminguru Ultrasonic Vinyl Cleaning Machine that was launched by a Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2020: https://humminguru.com/ The tech/specs look good (40 KHz) and the machine also appears solidly built. I didn't get in on the ground floor but the price point seems very reasonable if it works as advertised. I'll keep you posted.
Tima uses the Elmasonic P120H (with pump & 0.2 micron absolute filter) and he has added a Elmasonic S120H for rinsing and recently switched to Tergitol 15-S-9 ( Tergitol 15-S-3 and 15-S-9 Surfactant | TALAS (talasonline.com)) with good results - read: tima's DIY RCM | What's Best Audio and Video Forum. The Best High End Audio Forum on the planet! (whatsbestforum.com).
FYI - Tergikleen does not foam because its a blend of Tergitol 15-S-9 which is water soluble and can foam and Tergitol 15-S-3 which is not water soluble and can act as a defoamer, but unless rinsed (as you do) can leave a residue. The Tergitol 15-S-3 exists only as a emulsion. The origins of Tergikleen are from the composition specified in The Care and Handling of Recorded Sound Materials, By Gilles St-Laurent Music Division National Library of Canada January 1996. Whether they still use it is unknown and the US Library of Congress does not use it - they use Tergitol 15-S-7 (which is not available to the public). But, 15-S-7 is not good for a UT tanks because of the low cloud point; and contrary to the urban-myth 15-S-3 + 15-S-9 does not equal 15-S-7.
@antinn, Thanx for your service!! I down loaded your book and will get started with it tonight. This took a lot of time and effort on your part for little if any financial gain, again thank you very much. To my knowledge there is no other comprehensive review of the subject by someone with technical expertise in this area.
I'll get back with questions after I finish.
It finally dawned on me why the handle "antinn" sounded familiar! When I re-read this thread, terry9's contribution suddenly helped turn the lights on! Thanks, terry9!
Antinn, first, my sincere thanks for your March 2021 second edition paper incorporating the subject we are discussing here. Very impressive, comprehensive and informative piece of work! Thank you!
I'm offering the following in the hopes I can get you to comment on my present labor of love. It's a little more detail about my present cleaning methodology. I'll try to keep it short and to the point.
I use an RoHS model 30A (6 liter) 180 watt US power, 200 watt heating power, 40 kHz US machine. I don't use heat. The tank fluid always stays around room temperature (e.g. 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit). I use CleanerVinyl adapters to rotate 3 LPs slowly (probably a little less than 3 RPM) in Mobile Fidelity Super Record Wash, advertised as an "alcohol-free" fluid incorporating "non-toxic, natural degreasers and dirt solvents in combination with quadruple-distilled, hyper-pure water base". They further state this fluid is a "high-surface-tension water composition". After US cleaning, my next step is rinsing the LPs, using a Knosti Disco Anti-Stat filled with distilled water. The Knosti is the German version of the Spin-Clean and uses brushes, instead of pads. Next, I lay the records on LP-sized high quality microfiber cloths for a pre-drying and, then, transfer them to the Knosti drying rack for complete air-drying. My final step involves treating them with LAST record preservative. Thus far, I've never seen grit, particles or accumulated dirt of any kind in the bottom of the US tank when I'm finished. I've also never seen anything like that in the filters I use (Melitta coffee filters) to drain the cleaning fluid back into their containers. I generally do 15 LPs at a time, which takes me around 3 hours from start to finish, including set-up, clean-up & tear down. I could probably reduce the time but I amuse myself in the interim periods.
As I indicated earlier, I'm getting what I consider great audio results. However, if the Degritter can achieve the same or better audio results, I would seriously consider it or, for that matter, any other reasonably priced cleaner or cleaning system. As another poster indicated, the HumminGuru caught my interest, as well, but this is still a work in progress and details are sketchy.
I guess I am “old school”. Use the legendary Keith Monks Discovery RCM. BBC, Library of Congress, etc. used to be a thread on nozzle at the end of a tone arm like moving arm. Now just a high suction devise using a very strong German medical grade pump. It vacuums one grove at a time well removing all fluid and dirt. And the KM fluid produces the white substance when brushed in. And the whole process takes a bit over a minute a side.
1. If you read the book Chapter XIV.5.3, and you apply your tank volume of 6L with 3 records, the fastest you should spin is 1 rpm. If you clean just one record at a time, then 3 rpm is the fastest you should spin. The problem with spinning too fast is that it agitates the fluid and if the fluid is agitated at >50% of tank volume/min, for lower frequency UCM such as 40 kHz, the cavitation intensity decreases and 3 records at 3 rpm in a 6L tank, the cavitation intensity could be 50% less. Note that if the spinner motor is 12/24VDC, you can buy a variable speed power supply such as these which should get the speed down to 1 rpm Amazon.com: SHNITPWR 60W Universal Power Supply DC 3V 4V 4.5V 5V 6V 7V 7.5V 8V 9V 10V 11V 12V Adjustable Variable Power Adapter 100V-240V AC to DC Converter 1A 2A 2.5A 3A 4A 5A with 14 Tips & Polarity Converter : Electronics or Amazon.com: SHNITPWR 3V ~ 24V 3A 72W Power Supply Adjustable DC 3V 5V 6V 9V 12V 15V 16V 18V 19V 20V 24V Variable Universal AC/DC Adapter 100V-240V AC to DC Converter with 14 Tips 5.5x2.5mm 4.0x1.7mm 3.5x1.35mm : Electronics
2. Mobile Fidelity Super Record Wash has no detailed MSDS so I cannot make any assessment - other than if its working and your happy with the results - if its not broke, don’t fix it. Otherwise, stating that the fluid is a "high-surface-tension water composition" has to be a typo. It should state "low-surface-tension water composition". A "high-surface-tension water composition" would not wet the record and overall be a poor water-based detergent.
3. Rinsing is important to reduce the risk of cleaner residue; and not knowing the constituents/concentration of the Mobile Fidelity Super Record Wash rinsing is prudent and using the Knosti Disco Anti-Stat filled with distilled water is a good process.
4. So long as the microfiber cloths are clean and lint-free, there should be limited risk. Knowing for sure they are lint-free is another story. Unless you are using a UV light as I address in Chapter II and IV, you may not know for sure. I made a dumb mistake by using a cotton towel to dry my gloved hands and when I inspected a ’clean’ record it was full of lint (under UV light). There was enough transfer from the cloth to my gloves (the cloths never touched the record) to contaminate the record - good-bye cotton cloths at any step.
5. The fact that you ’never’ see grit, particles or accumulated dirt of any kind..." in my world is a red-flag. If the cleaning process is truly efficient, you should on occasion see something. The fact that you see nothing - either your records are all exceptionally clean to begin with or your cleaning process has some weakness. As I address above, you may want to try cleaning just one record at a time and see if that changes the equation as they say.
The Keith Monks Discovery RCM is an awesome machine. I have worked with some people over at the VPI forum with VPI vacuum RCMs and the Loricraft™ PRC-4 RCM with the following cleaning process (as quoting from the book Chapter XIII):
XIII.4.a Pre-clean exceptionally dirty records with Alconox™ Liquinox™ at 0.5% (5 mL/L) - vacuum but do not fully dry. Depending on the record condition, two pre-clean steps may be required. Although the Alconox™ Liquinox™ will foam, most of the foam is collected in the brush as noted Figure 15.
XIII.4.b Rinse pre-cleaner with DIW - vacuum, but do not fully dry.
XIII.4.c Final clean with Dow™ Tergitol 15-S-9 at 0.05% (0.5 mL/L) - vacuum and do not fully dry. There will be some foam as noted Figure 17, but most of the foam will be in the brush.
XIII.4.d Rinse final cleaner with DIW - vacuum and fully dry. When drying be careful of drying too long that can cause static to form.
I purchased a Degritter just over a year ago, after using a DIY ultra-sonic setup for 3 yrs. with basically good results. I got tired of wasting an entire afternoon/evening performing labor intensive, noisy work to clean records, of which I own thousands- both LPs and 45s. I am extremely pleased with the Degritter. I generally use the medium length clean cycle, and generally get anywhere from 6-12 records cleaned before the cooling water cycle kicks in. I found if I use the quick clean (shortest) cycle, I almost never have the unit stop to cool. If I have a bunch to clean, then I can use the short cycle 2-3 times for each record. If you like, you can shorten the drying cycle with a quick turn of the knob, and make time between cycles even faster, and on the last cycle, adjust the drying time a bit longer. Not a big deal. Or you can leave it set, and just go about your business doing other things. I premix Tergikleen in a gallon jug of distilled water and add that to the tank. For a rinse cycle, I use distilled water with just a "splash" of 99.9% medical grade Iso alcohol on the short clean cycle. The records come out spotlessly, beautifully clean. This machine has saved me countless hours of cleaning records, and was worth every penny for me.
Neil, thanks again!
Firstly, I think you are correct about the MoFi Super Record Wash. It certainly doesn't behave like a high surface tension solution; quite the opposite. Rather, it looks and behaves like a solution containing a surfactant. I used Kodak Photoflo to manually clean my records years ago. However, Tergitol seems to be more popular nowadays. When I bought the Super Record Wash, I assumed it contained a surfactant and "high-surface-tension" had to be a mistake. The solution is odorless. What it contains by way of natural degreasers & dirt solvents is likely known only to MoFi and the manufacturer(s).
Secondly, yes, all the records I've run through the UCM were exceptionally clean. At this point, my predominant concern is removing mold release agents from new records and whatever might remain from earlier manual cleanings years ago. Hence, another reason why I wonder if the Degritter's 120 kHz might be more effective in this regard. An approach I'm contemplating is using LAST POWER CLEANER as a pre-cleaner, prior to the 40 kHz UCM.
Lastly, thanks for the tip on the power supply gadgets! I just re-read Chapter XIV. Despite being a straight A student all through high school and college, including Calculus, I wish I could confess to a solid grasp of that material. Guess this will require another read with calculator in hand.
Neil, thought you might find this interesting. I certainly did!
According to a representative of MoFi, Super Record Wash is, indeed, a "high-surface-tension water composition". The response I got to my question about this was that "the high surface tension allows it to be more easily removed from the grooves along with the gunk you are trying to remove, as it wants to bead up after being spread into the grooves by the brush." The "brush"? Apparently, it seems this solution was or is intended for use with vacuum RCM's and manual cleaning. Despite the good results I've been getting with it, I guess I will now be doing some research on a more appropriate solution.
The popularity of Tergitol 15-S-9 is that its a superior nonionic surfactant to Triton X100 (which I discuss Chapter XI) or Kodak Photoflo (which I discuss Chapter VIII).
If you read the first part of Chapter X, there is no real mold release compound. "X.1.5 Lubricant: 0.4% of an esterified montan wax. The wax also acts as a mold release. When the record is removed from the press without the lubricating effect of the montan wax ester in the compound, the grooves of the record are sometimes fractured, torn, and deformed by the removal. These faults in the groove produce noise on playback. Montan wax ester at the stated percentage is compatible with the resins and is homogenized into the surface of the record at the normal pressing temperature. If more than the stated amount of the montan wax ester is used, the excess amount is not absorbed into the surface of the record. Its presence results in non-uniformity in the surface of the record, particularly as related to the friction between the stylus and the groove. This non-uniformity produces noise when the record is played. Some of the many forum discussions on removing mold release may actually be associated with excess lubricant."
"An approach I'm contemplating is using LAST POWER CLEANER as a pre-cleaner, prior to the 40 kHz UCM." LAST POWER CLEANER is $280/4-oz Last - Power Cleaner | Shop Music Direct. I pre-clean (as specified in the book) with Alconox Liquinox ($21.99/Qt) Amazon.com: Alconox - 1232-1 1232 Liquinox Anionic Critical Cleaning Liquid Detergent, 1 quart Bottle : Health & Household; tech sheet here Liquinox_tech_bull.pdf (alconox.com) which is then diluted 100:1 for 1%. So, 1-qt will make 100-qts of cleaner.".
Mobile Fidelity did not do well on their answer; its not their swim-lane.
Tried the Kirmuss machine. Would NOT recommend it to anyone. Its an amateur and poorly designed component which sits in a generic ultrasonic machine. What I found was that it was easy for a record to slip out of the guide wheels while cleaning, but it will keep turning and pushes the record against the plastic slot it sits in, scratching and damaging a couple of records I tried. Also even if you set the temperature to minimum, the water heats up to a point that records warp... when the record cooled it seemed to return to mostly flat, but I was horrified. Picked it up in the afternoon, tried it on several records in the evening and followed all of the directions, returned the machine the next day.
I went from a VPI 16.5 (still have) only to a Vinyl Stack/Generic 40 khz Ultrasonic set-up to the Degritter (have had it now for a few weeks). IMO, each change was an improvement. I've done over 400 lp's on the Degritter in that time (heavy cycle) and have played several. Very impressed on how quiet the albums are and can hear more detail and better bass. That said, some of the albums I've listened to aren't completely noise free -- I've not recleaned yet to see if there is an improvement or if it's just now in the vinyl due to age or other factor.
The Degritter is so easy to use and a time saver. Drop the record in, start, and come back in about 10 minutes (on Heavy) to a clean/dry record. That said, using heavy cycle, I find the machine's cooling cycle does kick in after the 2nd record or so when I am doing a batch at a time (sometimes 20-30 per day as I'm recleaning my entire collection). It just adds a bit of time. No user interaction required.
Overall, I recommend the Degritter.
I can’t imagine using the Kirmuss system.. . Life is too short.
My understanding is that ultrasonic is not effective on removing grease and oils. Is this correct?
After trying various VPI type machines and a Degritter I use the Gem Dandy. http://hifigem.com/hydraulic-lp-cleaning-apparatusMKII.html. The others work, this is is just as good or better at a fraction of the cost
My records are dead silent. I took one over to a friends the other day and he got up to check after he dropped the needle because he didn’t hear any groove noise before the music started. I apply the cleaning solution then use a hand held steam cleaner to blast them before I rinse them with copious amounts of very hot tap water using the kind of hand sprayer most have on their kitchen sink. , so in my experience all the fuss about hot water is unwarranted. Thin records will actually warp during the process but go back to flat when they cool.
I do have a utility sink in the basement where I can splash some water about without concern. I would not want to do this at my kitchen sink.
BTW to keep my Degritter from getting too warm and going into cool down, as it used up the water in the tank I added ice cubes made from distilled water. You can also purchase a second tank.
If you handle records properly and remove the dust with a carbon fiber brush properly before each play, the need for a RCM seems to be greatly reduced. I guess if you buy a lot of used records that are very dirty, it could come in handy. How does grime get in there without fingerprints? Records are only exposed while playing,Then immediately put into MFSL rice paper sleeves.
I tried a RCM a while back (forget what type-around $700) on my oldest records (although they were in very good shape) and could not tell the difference after they were cleaned, playing them immediately before and after.
I remember a long time ago an engineer who ran a high end audio shop told me not to put any liquid on a record - just use a carbon fiber brush and it has worked for me for 40+ years.
I cleaned a number of Blue Note originals ( some of them scratched and therefore VG to VG+ copies) on the Kirmuss. I used only distilled water, nothing else. The results were interesting, a slightly cleaner looking LP, but SQ was exactly the same as prior US clean. ( I had cleaned all of these on my prior VPI 16.5).
Here's the thing, IF you are collecting older pressings, the probability that they are scratched and noisy is very high, no record cleaner can address this.Period. The Kirmuss method will not stop the record from sounding noisy if it is scratched or otherwise marred. Nothing will, IME.
Ultrasonic cleaning can be very effective against oils and greases, and the lower frequency units such as the Isonic/Kirmuss at 35-40 kHz are preferred. BUT, they need some chemistry to both lower the surface tension of the fluid to better wet the record & soil and to add some detergency to emulsify/clean oils and greases.
Ultrasonic cleaning can be very effective against oils and greases, ...... . BUT, they need some chemistry to both lower the surface tension of the fluid to better wet the record
makes sense, but many claim they are using ultra pure water to great effect which does not make sense if the record has oil (fingerprints) on it. In my experience with an ultrasonic machine and distilled water these fingerprints were not removed.
How does grime get in there without fingerprints? Records are only exposed while playing, Then immediately put into MFSL rice paper sleeves.
What we've been told over the years is that in the process of stamping a record certain chemicals are used to allow the stamper to easily separate from the vinyl. These chemicals should be cleaned from a new record for optimal playback. I have no way to verify that. I do clean all my new records and they sound great so I will continue to do so.
Here is my 2 cents.
I have used the Nitty Gritty, Okki Nokki, iSonic, and steam cleaning. I have used home brew fluids, and most of the commercially available fluids.
They all had their benefits, but NOTHING has cleaned my records easier or more thoroughly than my new Degritter! Nothing.
I have an original version of Duke I stole from my girlfriend in 1982. It was very well loved (like that girl was) over the years. In other words, it was trash(ed)! I cleaned it many times using all the methods listed above, then I got my Degritter. WOW! After one cycle I could hear the difference! Then I said, "Why not try more?" Two more cycles--more improvement.
Then I hit it with some TM8 manually and left it on. Back into the Degritter. CRAP! It is almost like a new record. Not perfect, but incredibly close.
Now I use 4oz of TM8 in the Degritter tank and get fantastic results all the time! No rinsing!
I just put a record in, and go into my listening room to enjoy tunes. 10 minutes later, the record is ready to play. If it is a used record, it may take 2 or 3 cycles to get really good, but I guarantee the Degritter gets your records the best they can be, period.
Isn't that what we really want, anyway?
All I can say to the skeptics of the efficacy of cleaning records, including brand spanking new records and those that have been fastidiously cared for since purchase, is that cleaning them does, indeed, benefit audio performance. Of course, like most things in life, a little knowledge helps and the more you know, the better your results will be. As such, I consider "Precision Aqueous Cleaning of: Vinyl Records" by Neil Antin (March 2021 Second Edition) indispensable reading! Not an easy read but worth every every second of your time if you are serious about high fidelity. If you've never cleaned your treasures before, no matter how well-cared for they are, whether you choose to clean them manually, with a Spin-Clean, vacuum machine, ultrasonic machine or combination thereof, you WILL hear an improvement in audio performance. Of course, this presumes you have a reasonably good quality turntable, cartridge, phono stage, sound system, in general, reasonably good hearing acuity, decent vinyl spinning habits (e.g. use of carbon fiber brush; stylus cleaner; record handling & storage, etc.) etc. Chances are good this is not an issue if your on this website.
I've been buying records (new) since the late 50's. My immediate collection is, predominantly, from the 60's through the 70's and 80's but I do have a few recent re-pressings. All of them are in high-quality anti-static ploy sleeves. I cleaned some of the older ones, manually, in the 80's. More recently, I've started using an ultrasonic cleaner and Knosti Disco Anti-Stat. Even using my present cleaning regimen, my records looked shiny, brand new, clean beforehand and came out looking the same way. So, I didn't expect much afterwards. I was SO wrong. The difference was/is surface noise is virtually eradicated, bass is very noticeably more profound, more tight, more accurate, as is the entire frequency response up & down the scale. Even with my 70 year old ears, I can readily and easily hear the difference.
IMO, Ultrasonic cleaning is definitely an improvement over a basic wet vacuum cleaning. I had a very noisy RCA Direct to Disc that I had assumed was beyond hope, yet after the US cleaning, it was much quieter and is now very impressive. I do think the US cleaning is a great way to go, question is which machine and method...
1st, please do not start blending cleaning agents unless you know the composition, there is always uncertainty to the results. So I recommend you do not add anything to the MoFi cleaner.
If you read Chapter XIV starting XIV.8 to XIV.12 you will essentially see how to assemble a cleaning process with various equipment and various cleaning agents, beginning with pre-clean.
Alconox Liquinox is a fairly aggressive/foaming cleaning agent and is used for pre-clean. If you do or need a pre-clean step, then by Section XIV.9 if you use an aqueous cleaning process is where Alconox Liquinox would be used and you have many options - manual clean, vacuum-RCM or separate UCM for pre-clean. The concentration of the cleaners is tailored for each method.
For your process, your UCM is for final clean and you have two options with the Tergitol 15-S-9:
-Tergitol 15-S-9 at 0.01 to 0.015%
-Tergitol 15-S-9 at 0.01 to 0.015% + 2.5% IPA
I haven’t owned or operated a Kirmuss personally so I want to be a bit moderated in my comments. But seems that a RCM overheating is just not right. Seems like a design flaw to me.
I had an Okie Nokki but it was just too loud and the record flipping seemed like double duty to me. Too many steps in the process and I got tired of wearing hearing protection when cleaning records.
So, ultra sonic. All point headed to ultra sonic. I now have the most recent upgraded Audio Desk Systeme (ADS) and simply love it. Easy to use, clean and the results are wonderful. Every time I change the fluids and filter I am always amazed at how dirty my records were.
It’s my understanding that the ADS has a propriety system with a variable US frequency during its cycling. This means the LP doesn’t get blasted with a high frequency for extended periods of time. I believe I have this right.
Frequency of the ultrasonic is not the only consideration when trying to not only surface clean, but restore a record by removing its release agent. Simply putting a record in a machine that uses sonic technology of any frequency and spin a record for a fixed period of time may perform a light surface clean, shine up the look of the record, but that is all. In selecting a frequency and a sonic, one needs to study the item being cleaned, in this case a soft item, a record, commonly contaminated with dirt, fungus, oily fingerprints, McDonald's french fries oil, and dust, but not of any concern, bacteria (microbes), which has nothing to do with sound reproduction and the needle action with the grooves. 1) Ultrasonic microbial removal benefits from a higher frequency. (sub micron particles). This for hospital tools, colonoscopic cameras, silicon chip substrates and the like. 2) In the case of records, particles of dust and dirt, fungus caught in the release agent of the record are only three to four microns in diameter. Not sub-microbial, not bacteria. Any ultrasonic manufacturer whether medical or otherwise will agree where one will require a lower frequency such as 35KHz to dislodge and remove the targeted 3 to 4 micron sized particles from a "sticky", "soft" surface. (In our case we also add a resonance of 70KHz. 3) Ultrasonics 101: Irrespective of the frequency and sonic model selected: to actually benefit from the effect of cavitation one needs to also change the charge of the record to be opposite to that of water to fully attract the wave created by the implosion/explosion of the microbubbles created by sonic cavitation. Both the record and water in the sonic's tank, with or without a cleaning agent added in the tank of distilled water, have the same charge. NOT GOOD! Like charges repel. To change this reality, in our case (Kirmuss), we apply a bipolar ionizing surfactant spray to the record. With the record now having a charge opposite to that of water, in the first cycle in the sonic we start the "surface cleaning" process removing fungus, surface dust and dirt from the record. As the record spins, we lose the charge after 3 minutes or so, ... that is why we need another cycle with ionizing agent re-applied to the record. One cycle alone of 2 or 5 minutes is not complete. With the record charged again a second time, we now see cleaning action start deep within the record, first now removing the microwelded dust that lodged itself at the factory into the newly pressed and "hot" record that just came out of the press. (Heard as pops when a new record is played for the first time). As once more the charge of the record reverts to that of water, yet another cycle is needed using the ionizing spray, (moving forward in time), is now required to remove microwelded dust that we have ourselves welded into the release agent via the heat generated by the dyne of the needle by playing the record and our heating up the release agent seeing dust around the turntable lodge itself in the grooves. Then, in another cycle, finally removing the release agent itself. End result: With the release agent removed, one will never create another pop into the record while playing it. (manual needle drops excluded, of course). 4) Validation: The above said, one can compare the results at a an audio dealer processing the same record with machine brand A, (high frequency), and then processing the same record using brand B, (lower35 KHz frequency) and using an ionizing agent on the record. Following manufacturer's instructions and completing the process, one can hear the differences as well as see the increase in signal gain by a VU meter on an amp, preamp, or tape deck, or see where one has to "reduce volume" between processes. Of course one can review materials readily available on the web (or contact me) that show before and after 3D images with measurements of dust and dirt removed, as well as the microscopic imagery of the removed "release agent coating" as measured from the same record as a "before and after" image. About 9 microns average is the thickness of the release agent. If someone is familiar with our process, the safe and small proportion of 70% IPA in 1.78 gallons of water is used to kill dormant and live fungus from records so as to not affect one's health, rather that being part of the cleaning process. WORD OF CAUTION: Never use the Kirmuss ionizing agent on any record unless used in a Kirmuss product. Higher frequency sonics with an ionizing agent applied to a record may see damage to the record occur. I rarely follow posts and the like but in this case wanted to bring some technical reviews of records and sonic technology.
1. Water is for all intense purposes classified as nonionic; ASTM D1193, Standard Specification for Reagent Water, Type 4 achieved by distilled water (condensation of steam) has a resistivity >200K ohms and a total dissolved solids <2.5 ppm.
2. In general, surfactants can be:
-nonionic (if you measure with TDS - there will no change),
-anionic ionize in aqueous solutions so that the hydrophilic head has a negative (-) charge. Anionic surfactants are the backbone of all general detergents.
-cationic ionize in aqueous solutions so that the hydrophilic head has a positive (+) charge. Cationic surfactants are not very good detergents but they can kill viruses so are very common in disinfectants and if a residue is left behind can acts as anti-static because they absorb water from the air making the record electrically dissipative to static, but this capacity decreases below 35% humidity.
-amphoteric can ionize in aqueous solutions so that the hydrophilic head, depending mostly on the solution pH, is either anionic (-) or cationic (+).
3. Ionizing the fluid in a general wash - such as laundry soap - helps to remove particulate from clothing by charge repulsion. However, particulate adhesion is governed by a number of factors. The paper Adhesion and Removal of Fine Particles on Surfaces, Aerosol Science and Technology, M. B. Ranade, 1987 shows for aluminum oxide particles, the force (acceleration) required to remove a 10-micron particle is 4.5 x 10^4 g’s, a 1-micron particle is 4.5 x 10^6 g’s and a 0.1-micron particle is 4.5 x 10^8 g’s. A simple brush or wipe is not going to get the smallest particles/debris that can ‘hide’ in the valleys between the groove side wall ridges. As fluid flows past a hard surface, such as a record, a boundary layer is developed and depending on its thickness (upwards of 5 microns) it will essentially shield any particles within it. So, agitation is critical in reducing the boundary layer to expose the surface with its particles to the cleaning fluid and the fluid velocity (shear force) that can remove them.
4. The lower the ultrasonic frequency, the larger the cavitation bubble that is created. A 35-40 kHz UCM will produce bubbles about 75 microns diameter. These are not going to get into the record groove. A 120 kHz UCM will produce bubbles about 20 microns and these can get into the groove. But the larger bubble 'can' produce more energy when it collapses/implodes (cavitation) so there is fluid agitation around the collapsing event that can provide cleaning. How violently the bubble collapse is determined by the amount of power provided by the ultrasonic transducers but only up to point above which more power has no benefit.
5. Further complicating the effectiveness of ultrasonics is the fluid boundary layer. The fluid flow at the record (or any) surface develops a static layer that is separate from the bulk fluid that is moving. The boundary layer thickness is dependent on the ultrasonic frequency (high kHz = thinner boundary layer), acoustic energy, and fluid properties (viscosity & density). To get the most effective cleaning, the cleaning process has to penetrate the boundary layer to remove the soil and particles that are contained within it. At 35-40-kHz, the boundary layer can be as thick as 5 microns, while at 120-kHz, the boundary layer can be as thick as 2 microns.
6. There are other variables, but depending on the initial cleanliness level of record, an ultrasonic tank with just a small amount of a high performance nonionic surfactant (such as Tergitol 15-S-9) can effectively remove light soils (finger prints, etc) and particles. However, for heavily soiled records (i.e. flea market), a pre-clean step using more aggressive cleaning agents (such as Alconox Liquinox which is a combination of nonionic & anionic surfactants) or a wide range enzyme (soak) cleaner is generally necessary.
7. As far as mold-release, the following is sourced from the RCA patent US3960790A - Disc record and method of compounding disc record composition - Google Patents for vinyl records which is probably the best knowledge we have for vinyl record composition: Lubricant: 0.4% of an esterified montan wax. The wax also acts as a mold release. When the record is removed from the press without the lubricating effect of the montan wax ester in the compound, the grooves of the record are sometimes fractured, torn, and deformed by the removal. These faults in the groove produce noise on playback. Montan wax ester at the stated percentage is compatible with the resins and is "homogenized" into the surface of the record at the normal pressing temperature. If more than the stated amount of the montan wax ester is used, the excess amount is not absorbed into the surface of the record. Its presence results in non-uniformity in the surface of the record, particularly as related to the friction between the stylus and the groove. This non-uniformity produces noise when the record is played. Overall, a good record should not have any mold release to remove. Otherwise, the discussions on removing mold release may actually be associated with excess lubricant which should not be common.
8. Big problem with old records is the buildup of residue from any number of sources be it detergent residue, hard water scale, tar from smoke, and who knows what. In these cases, as previously addressed, a range of different chemistries with different methods for pre-cleaning is generally required, let just say they may need a lot of love.
@antinn Thanks, that is very informative. One thing that I think is missing in this conversation is that IF one is buying old records ( flea market as an example) the potential for noise is going to be high, regardless of the cleaning regimen. Simply because the grooves are likely to be damaged beyond repair. Damaged by scratches, chunks missing, warping and the like. Nothing to do with detritus in the grooves! Therefore, IMO the regimen of deep cleaning ala the Kirmuss method, while probably a little helpful in reducing the overall noise floor, will do absolutely nothing to getting at the root cause of the issue, the damaged groove. OTOH, with vinyl that is say VG++ or better, the regimen would possibly give some benefit, BUT I believe the increase is fairly marginal compared to a simple US clean in distilled water. Plus, when we read about the fact that the frequency of the ultrasonic means different size bubbles, ( in the case of the Kirmuss at 40Khz--and therefore a larger bubble that cannot deeply impact the groove) this IMO goes a long way to explain why all other machines that are using higher frequency waves do not need the same regimen as the Kirmuss to perform what they do.
So, the big problem with old records is really not the buildup of residue, but the likelihood of poor handling and damage by the prior owner(s) who were using worn styluses and didn't have too much problem walking on their records with steel tipped boots......