Record-playing Rituals?

I'm curious what everybody's riuals are when listening to albums. How often do you clean the records? Every Time? How often do you clean and lubricate the stylus? Every time?

Hi David,
My routine is to run an LP thru a wet vacuum machine(VPI hw16) before it gets played, used records getting a good wet scrubbing first.Record sleeves will be replaced with new or given a shot of compressed air.
After that, I use a Hunt EDA brush every couple of plays as needed.Most records will not require cleaning for about 20-30 plays provided that the LP is replaced in its sleeve soon after play.
I do not use nor recommend stylus/record treatments.
I'll rid the stylus of build up/dust bunnies every few sides with a benz-micro stylus brush as needed.That's it.

Well, my ritual is not unsimilar to Ken's. Every LP side, before being played, is put on the VPI HW 16, dusted off with a Hunt EDA brush and then given a good washing. After that, the surface is treated by a concoction made up of trifluortrichlorethane and molybdensulphate and when on the player, dusted off again. The stylus is cleaned and then I let her rip. (Even with pristine record surfaces you will get a better soundstage in width and depth as well as much more minute information from the groves after this treatment. That's why I do this ritual every time.) Cheers
We're all crazy. Someone's gotta say it.
Sure, Kubla, but who cares and besides show me another psychopathology with so much fun-potential which is on the safe side of the law. Generally, as Orson Welles used to say, all the good things in life are either illegal, immoral or fattening. Cheers again!
Kubla, Detlof -- a daily dose of lithium for all of us??? Together we could get a group discount.
Detlof, what's the actual mix you use (50/50%?). And how do you "treat" the surface? Thanks!
Cheers to all inmates!
before each play, i manually rotate the LP by its label with the index finger of my right hand while brushing in the prescribed rotary fashion with a dry discwasher in my left. note to belt drivers - try this at your on risk, hehe. then i deftly dedust the brush in the opposite direction over my left hip. in winter, following cleaning but before play, i lift the LP from the platter and touch the edge of it to the tip of my nose to remove static. i've never collected a dust bunny on my stylus and by using a dry brush accumulate no sludge. quite infrequently should i hear a pop during play i check the LP surface for tiny meteorites. using the business end of a 'heavy' plastic guitar pick usually dislodges the offender back into space.
Lithium impairs hearing acuity Greg, and should only be applied when we go repeatedly on buying sprees and are spending more than we can afford. The mix is about 2% of the molly to the rest of the stuff and I use it with a felt brush on which I apply appropriate amounts of the liquid with the help of a pipette. The trifluor stuff is actually what the Last record preservative used to be made of and the molybden idea came from a product called scratchfixer....and thanks Rockvirgo, I'll add the nose part to my ritual. Cheers,
Thanks, Detlof. No wonder I thought my system sounded OK. I'll go easy on the lithium.
I just want to say that I love you guys and am glad to see that others are having as much fun as me. My madness involves using 2 different disc washer brushes, one wet and one dry. I use a brush supplied with cartridge to clean stylus. I use too much liquid and then it takes forever to dry the disc which is usually followed by sludge build up on the stylus which must be cleaned off. On the second play after cleaning the record sounds like new. Usually, I can play the record several times before cleaning assuming the record is kept in the dust jacket. Usually I have to clean when I have left the record on the platter over night. Why I do this, I do not know except to say I get extremely lazy around bed time. The moly-sulphide concoction sounds both plausible and amazing. Thanks for a great thread and input.
Fellas, After using your preferred solution on the HW-16 or 17, you MUST use another uncontaminated nozzle and Distilled water rinse, preferably 2 times per side(drench the entire playing surface). The real sound of the record will emerge after the rinse. The record needs about 15 minutes drying time before the treble extention and purity reappear.
Believe me, the alchohol and chemical residues leave a sound signiture. I use 2 HW-16s, one for wash, one for rinse. The older I get though, the more I hope CDs become SOTA. Any one else do the rinsing?
Frap, I used to use the rinsing with distilled water method, and TOTALLY agree with your comments as to the sound quality improvement it provided. I now have a new method that does not benefit from this and will explain.

I use Record Research deep cleaner with my VPI 17F, and a pickup tube and mount with the number one marked on top. After three rotations in each direction with the fluid, I vacuum for six rotations. Then I use Record Research Image Restorer, three rotations as above and 6 rotations to dry. Then I apply Last Record Preservative with a small short nap applicator and after about 20 seconds, I replace the pickup tube and mount with one marked number two. I then re wash with Image Restorer and dry six rotations again.

If the LP was really dirty, I use First, (brand name) with it's applicator and brush into the grooves until all the dirt and mold release compound is dislodged. When First was banned by the EPA ( Freon based) , I bought about twelve bottles, but I am now running low.

On all the above procedures, I use the built in VPI brush for the number one session, and hand hold a brand new VPI brush for number two session. When complete, the LP goes into a new paper sleeve and I replace the record jacket's outer plastic cover. I have a labeling program in my computer and generate stickers that indicate the level of cleaning procedure ( simple check boxes ). I also label whether the LP is an original, an older reissue, or a modern reissue. I even have labels indicating Promo and/or DJ copy, and 45 RPM. Obviously these stickers are applied only to the protective plastic cover, and not on the album art.

A valuable aid in the restoration of old and sometimes very dirty LP covers: Buy the Plexiglas cleaner, Novus Plastic clean and shine Number 1 ( not #2 or #3!) and spray a light mist directly on the cover. Immediately wipe with a clean cotton cloth, until the surface is clean and polished. It is easy to restore a pretty nasty cover to almost new condition. The varnish and dryers in the inks used to print these covers are usually aged and become faded, in addition to drying out. The polish will not restore color where it is totally absent, but it will improve what is there by an amazing degree, and without any harm whatsoever. Old albums that appear to have a plastic like finish on top benefit the most from this, with the dull paper like classical labels with their absorptive open pore finish, improved the least. Hope this helps you as much as it has me!
Frap, you are quite right: Also my concoction leaves a certain sound signature....only I like it...hence no afterward rinsing. Besides, when I still used to rinse, I must have done something wrong, because even three times destilled H2O caused the record to crackle and pop more than it had in an unrinsed state. Could never explain that, so I gave up that part of my usual ritual cleansing. Regards,
I'm with Albert, Record Research is the best, and I've tried them all. I especially like the LP#9 stylus cleaner, what a difference it makes.
Good thread and I several neat things. I have to laugh at myself (and us) as I read the comments because this dance we do produces the great results "we" are looking for, but it quite funny actually as obsessive behavior. I'll add to this theme by admitting my VPI 17F reservoir only tastes distilled water and never any cleaning liquids. Yuck! I didn't like the idea of what cleaning fluids might leave behind in the tank. So I have to I squirt on the cleaning fluids with a hand held applicator even though I have this record cleaner. My wife just shakes her head. I do use post-its on each record's rice paper sleeve to jot down last cleaning date, number of times played, how I like the music/performance, and VTA + with anti-skate. Somehow, I hear anti-skate change effects when I do large VTA moves. Do you? Albert's computer generated labeling sounds very appealing as here on my PC, but then using the post-it seems so easy and just manual enough to be vinyl friendly. I really relate everybody routine here especially with the hip based move for flicking the record dust off the record brush and blowing compressed air into the record sleeve seeming to be important transition points for the very next move in the routine. Yikes, I've always found that the little bow job on the record sleeve has a certain emotional satisfaction just before sliding my vinyl treasure in its home. I'll finish by saying, "it's really about the music".
It's nice to hear that someone else also jots down VTA info for each record. Different records, different weights, and different profiles all determine where "proper" VTA is. And yes, many of us do know the difference, thanks for bringing it up. I'd hate to really get into my whole cleaning regimen, many would consider me overly anal.
This is a great thread!! Albert, that procedure is facinating. When I used Last preservative,years ago, I felt that it rolled the treble a bit, so I stopped (Stylast did the same thing) . Is that why you use Image Restorer as your final step? Does it maintain the positive LAST solution effect while restoring the treble and give you the transparency of the distilled water rinse?
The cover cleaning comments were real helpful, cant wait to try them. I wont tell you how I did it, but the name WINDEX and PLEDGE were associated on laquered covers. Dont shoot me, its the best I could think of.
Detlof , if you heard more noise, its possible that you dryed the record too much with too many revolutions. I like to dry the surface to the point of, still slightly damp. Of course, you may already know this.
Rcres, I also used to realign VTA with different thicknesses when I used the FR-64s Tonearm with the Incredible B-60 stabilizer. The knurled knob adjuster during play, should be required on all tonearms. Of course the Linn strategy that the pillar must be locked (white knucles)tight, is a philosophy taken by many tonearm designers, and one that I dont really agree with. The VTA adjustment issue was more important that that, in my opinion......Frank
Frap. Yes, the effect of the Last solution has already benefited the vinyl a few moments after application. The final wash with the Record Research fluid is a minor miracle in retaining Last's benefits, while removing the (solvent?) obscuring tonal balance.

I also understand that the Last Record Preservative is effective at getting "under" microscopic particles that are typically not dislodged with normal cleaning procedures. Once they are released, the final wash with Record Research fluid gets the LP clean to a microscopic level.

On the comments concerning a final wash. I know that the RR fluid is manufactured with lab grade water. This is typically hundreds of times more pure than the distilled water from the grocery store. Water is a powerful solvent at lab grade purity level, and combined with the cleaning agent in the RR solution, makes for a perfect final wash. I believe that an application of distilled water afterwards actually leaves behind more contamination that stopping after the RR fluid.

In either case, the sound is best when the Last treatment is followed by a short additional cleaning. Let me know if any of you try my Novus cleaning trick on the covers. Best to you all!
Albert, could you please give me a source for the RR fluid. That would be very kind. Frap, thanks for your suggestion, but its not the drying process, its the bad quality of triple destilled water, which caused the trouble. Albert is quite right there. Besides, I don't think we are compulsion neurotics, rather we are acting in a perfectly rational fashion, because our procedures, different as they may be in detail, do indeed serve succesfully to improve the sound of LP-playback. (Worrysome thought: Don't they say, that the truly crazy always think themselves perfectly sane?)Last thought: So what, main thing it serves the music. Cheers to all in this great thread!
Detlof, If you will e-mail me, we can exchange addresses. I have a sample bottle from the CES that normally retails for $25.00 that I will send you for free.
Great thread! I'm particularly grateful to Albert for the RR Image Restorer final wash recommendation, as I've liked the Last preservative but noticed the same treble rolloff as Frap and had accepted it as either my imagination or else a necessary evil. Albert's steered me right in the past on the RR LP No. 9. Gonna have to get some.
By the way, Albert, a very nice gesture on the RR fluid. I guess that was going to be one of the party favors at the BBQ that was to be held at your place till the fickle Khan moved it to the place with the more expensive system???
Khan, sorry, I blamed you incorrectly for Kitch 29's infidelity! My apologies, sir.
The name "Image Restorer" was replaced in 1994 with the name "Vinyl Wash". It just shows how long some of you have been using it! Thanks to all.

Kind regards,
Brian Weitzel
Record Research Labs
Sorry Brian. Of course you are right about the name change. I was one of the very first people to switch to RR fluid, having tried the home brews and name brands of the day. In fact, I gave away a gallon of a competitors cleaner after trying a small sample bottle of the Record Research.

I guess it has been seven years since this became my reference LP cleaner. My offer to share with Detlof was almost instinctive, I have given samples to many of my regular "music night" visitors. None of them ever cleaned an LP with another product after hearing the results.
Wow, Albert! Thankyou!!! I wished I had so much kindness in my instincts as well ! Cheers,
Not a problem, Albert. I've found myself calling it Image Restorer recently. I'm very pleased that it works well for you, and your music night friends. I am also impressed by your generousity, sharing with others, both at home and here at Audiogon.

jeez, i feel almost neanderthal - hardly *any* ritual when i spin winyl, tho to my non-audiophile friends, i'm anal-as-hell! i guess i should show 'em this thread! ;~) but, in my defense, i have records 25+ years old, that are still in good shape.

when i have a dirty record - either i got it used, it *looks* dirty, or i notice ticks-n-pops in the 1st cut, i hand-wash it, w/mild dish soap, luke-warm water & a sponge. then thoroughly rinse & dry w/a soft lint-free towel. this isn't done too often. most times, it's yust cue-n-play. but, i *do* use a keith monks record sweeper for every play - this li'l baby effectively tracks the record in time w/the stylus, keeping dust off the stylus. it also has tiny metallic hairs, & as it is all-metal, w/a grounding wire, static seems not to be an issue. prior to the keith monks record sweeper, i used a watts dust-bug. basically the same results, but not as elegant, & not-as-good static-protection. i also have a zero-stat gun which i occasionally use, but since i installed a *real* dehumidifier in my heating system last year, there's no longer a dry-wintertime static problem chez-sedon...

ok, time to go back to my cave... doug s.

I think someone should follow Albert Porter's example of generosity and send him a few bottles of First. He indicated he was running low and that he cannot buy it in his state since it is banned there. Perhaps be careful and change the label of the First before shipping to avoid Albert having to make awkward explanations to the postal system if inspected. --The only other obsessive ritual I can add to the list is moving the Shakti stones over from the digital to the analog equipment (I did not buy enough stones to cover both parts of the system), with the stone position on top of the TT motor transformer marked with a few pieces of tape. Aligning this particular stone is my way of practicing for the cartridge cueing that comes later on.
Having just shipped samples of RR cleaner to both Detlof ( in Switzerland) and Sedond ( USA) , I look forward to reading comments as to the outcome of their tests.
Thanks Albert, will report here as soon as I have tried it out.
A propos rituals: I just rememembered, that the great Enid Lumley before playing an LP( wonder what happened to her, she was thought nuts in the seventies for propagating tweaks, which are common knowledge now ) used to rotate the LP or her Mapleshade to a specific position to place the stylus on. A position she had found out to give the best sound.
tanks albert - i will report back w/my findings... ;~)

doug s.

You can call this a "ritual" if you like, but I think it is indispensable: My system is in a dedicated biogenically sterilized room. Before entering the sterile listening room, I spend exactly 27 minutes in a high pressure antiseptic shower, rinse another 9 minutes with reverse osmosis water, then don a cryo-pathogen full body suit with a tri-mix (oxygen, nitrogen and helium) rebreather. I'd rather not discuss the details of my system, since most people would find it somewhat extreme -- such as the fact that my turntable is micronically calibrated to compensate for the rotation of the earth in order to neutralize the potentially disastrous effects of the magnetic field upon the platter.

Unfortunately, all of my meticulous preparations usually take several hours and I have never had much time left over to actually listen to music.
You forgot to mention your EEG, Plasmatronic , which will monitor the state of your Delta brain waves, in order to tell you when, through careful breathing exercises, you have brought yourself into the right meditative state to be receptive for a musical offering.
jeez, i don't take that many precautions when i go into/out of the animal rooms w/the aids-monkeys... ;~)

doug s.

Doug, do you use them in the treadmill to power your recordplayer? Regards,
hi detlof, nah, no monkey treadmill for the 'table - too much speed-instability issues... ;~)

seriously, tho, i *do* have to suit up to go into animal rooms frequently in my real-life yob as a project mgr at the nih...

regards, doug s.

Hi Doug, yes I wondered about the instability, but thought you had perhaps a special training program. Regards,
hi david. used records are cleaned first with all-stop record cleaner with disk doctor fluid. then with clean brush apply distilled water to album and remove with my nitty gritty model2.I am expermenting with last cleaners now with
very good sucess. after albums are cleaned use oracle grounded brush for inbettween cleanings ( about 10 plays )
as long album is returned to jacket after playing.
thanks mike . ps \nice thread.
As you have read, Albert Porter has had the generosity and kindness to ship a bottle of the RR Cleaner together with a sample of the stylus cleaning fluid out to me. The parcel arrived two day ago. When it arrived, I happened to have a live recording of a big band (Buddy Rich, haven't got the label and number here at present)on the platter, which I had previously treated with my ritual plus concoction, as described above. The recording has a nice soundstage, both in depth and width, Rich's drumset has tremendous kick and sparkle, the double base is quite well rendered, the piano a bit too laid back, but the horns and reeds up front alive and vibrant. Even the audience is fairly well caught up, the ambience very alive. So it was a good record with plenty of parameters for trying to find out if anything would be different. My personal attitude was sceptical: I wondered if I would be able to hear any difference at all, even if there were one, which I also was sceptical about.
I first listened to the first two cuts on side one in its original state. Performances, I know very well. I then treated this side of the lp with the RR stuff, cleansed with my usual Nitty-Gritty fluid on the VPI afterwards, cleaned the stylus with RR and then let her rip, playing the whole side through. The same procedure then with the other side, as in side one.
My preliminary findings:
With the RR treatment the tiniest gauzelike veil seemed removed from the performance, something I had not realised was there before. This was consistent through both sides.
I use plasma tweeters - no material is moved here - just a flame - so my highs are impeccably fast, extended and pure and I never thought, they could be bettered in any way. Well it seemed, that after RR treatment just the tiniest of grain was removed here. One instant was especially remarkable: There is suddenly a very high pitched whistle from the audience to be heard, which after RR treatment hurt a bit in the ear, something it never had done before. ( I had not fiddled with the volume controls of course, nor changed anything ) That left me flabberghasted. The soundstage did not change, the soundspace was a bit more vibrant, the piano was bit less recessed, reeds and horns a tad "closer" as before.Perhaps there was more dynamics to the drum, but I cannot be sure. The only negative thing: The double base seemed just a tiny bit muddy suddenly and I suppose it was something which was masked before and I had not noticed this so clearly. Otherwise the boundaries of the instruments seemed to be drawn by a bit sharper pencil, if you like, as before, however not interfering with the bloom of them. The differences described are in no way large, but clearly to be noticed and to my ears clearly to the better. I think the stuff could make good recordings bloom, but also make bad ones ( especially in the violins ) sound worse.
Of course I still cannot be completely sure of the suggestibility factor----so more experimentation is needed.
But for the moment, I think this stuff beats all I know and have tried. The next step is to experiment with classical music,soprano voices, solo piano and solo string instruments. If you are interested, I'll keep you posted.
Incidentally, in the latest edition of TAS there is the letter of a reader, describing how much better LP's would sound unwashed in any way, painstakingly describing the differences. Goes to show, how different out tastes, experiences, ears and last not least our rigs are.
hi detlof,

albert was also kind enuff to send me a sample, but spring chores have so overwhelmed me that i haven't had a chance to inwestigate it yet. also, i don't have a record wacuum, & albert sez it really needs to be wacuumed after application for best results. he passed on to me a cheapskate trick i may try - yust get the vpi wacuum wand (awailable as a replacement part) & rig it up to a wacuum cleaner. isle have to do this! ;~)

regarding your comparison, i've heard ewe should let several hours pass - minimum - prior to replaying a record, as the intense heat generated from the stylus on the winyl causes some groove deformation, & ewe want to give it a chance to recover. dunno which frequencies mite be most susceptible to damage - perhaps the low frequencies? mebbe this is why your bass response got a bit muddier? comments from others here, would be helpful...

regards, doug s.

Doug, I know about this, so I only played the first two cuts on each side in its original state until I applied the RR treatment, cleaned and vacuumed. After treatment I played the entire side. The muddyness of the bass stayed on, so it was not because of the effect you had mentioned.
I just bought a second VPI 16 cleaner. One is used for really dirty records, the other for everyday use. After cleaning a really dirty one it goes to the everyday use machine for final cleaning. Felt on everyday machine will not get so dirty if no dirty records are cleaned with it. I can also clean 2 records at once, I buy a lot of collections. Really dirty records may take 2 or more cleanings. NEVER use a volatile alcohol (Isoprpyl, Ethyl, Methyl etc) 1.They damage your records. 2 Alcohol does not clean vinyl. The only use for alcohol is to get more of the surfactant into solution. I manufacture cleaning solution, so I'm not giving any more clues. Double and triple distilled water is a wate of money. By the time it's exposed to the air for 15 seconds it's just as contaminated as regular distilled water. Save your money to buy records. I used to use a preservative, made my own and sold it for $15 for 8 oz. At this point, I'm not sure whether preservatives help, hurt, or has no effect.
So exposure to the air will add trace minerals?
Detlof, glad to hear you are giving the Record Research fluid a workout. There are a couple of issues with testing these cleaners that should be considered. First, the fluid I sent you was part one of a two part solution. It is the heavy duty version, developed as a replacement for the (EPA) banned "First" which was a Freon based product. A second cleaning should be done with Record Research Vinyl Wash, the more dilute every day cleaner.

Do I understand from your post that you washed with the Record Research and then washed again with Nitty Gritty? If so, you have not heard the Record Research properly. You should wash off the Nitty Gritty with the RR and do no additional rinse for your next test. The only bottle of Vinyl Wash I had on hand was the 32 oz. size, and no small "clean" containers to make up a sample.

I will ask RR if they will send me sample size versions of Vinyl Wash, or mail me some clean sample bottles, and I will pour you enough for the test. I just wanted you to have the chance to hear this for yourself, and sent what I had on hand. Judging from your well written post, you appear to be (mostly) favorably impressed. Perhaps the follow up rinse with this additional RR product will provide the magic you are after.

Doug, Maicomike, Slawney, Deshapiro, and others, are you interested in trying this too? If so, I should know in advance so I can ask for some extras when I contract RR. Hopefully all of you will follow up with your own results if you wish to become involved.
There are more contaminants in the air than in the water. Even water that has been processed with an ion exchange filter is fine. In the 70s I had a system with several baths. Today that's not so practical. Trace minerals are so small, we're talking minimicrons, that they fit between gaps in the porous surface of the vinyl. Now if you have really hard water, there could be enough to hinder playback. Actually the biggest contaminant in the cleaning fluid is the surfactant itself. It tends to gum up brushes, because it is a very high molecular weight with a complex molecular structure. Dirt and dust and grease are what will hurt your records and cartridge. The type of brush is pretty inconsequential, I use a lint brush, a reccomendation from the vinyl asylum, for really dirty records. I use the last brushes, a little overpriced but not for audiophile stuff, for everyday cleaning. I clean the brushes regularly to remove dirt but more importantly the cleaner (surfactant) buildup.
Blues man, I've had the same trouble with aqua dest as you mention, even with ion exchanged water, so I've stopped using it a long time ago. Up to now, I've used the Nitty Gritty machine solution. Have now, thanks to ALBERT's suggestion ordered some RR Vinyl Wash and yes Albert, I'll report again, as soon as it has arrived and I've tried it.
Cheers to all,
I have tried a number of products and rituals over the years. I estimate that 90% of my listening time is vinyl, so I attempt to get the best possible sound that I can from the vinyl rig.

My current procedure is to use Disc Doctor (DD) in combination with VPI fluid and and Last Preservative. Any record that gets brought into the house (new or used) gets the same treatment. I put it on a VPI 16.5 and wash with the DD cleaner using the DD brushes. I vacuum with tube no. 0, then do the distilled water scrub with VPI brush no. 1 and vacuum with tube no. 1. I then apply VPI fluid and scrub with VPI brush no. 2 and vacuum with tube no. 2. After that I apply Last Record Preservative and vacuun with tube no. 3. I remove the record, change the mat and repeat for side 2.

At each step, I scrub for 6 revolutions and vacuum for 3 revolutions. My procedure only takes a few minutes per side. I usually get records on a buying binge, so I end up performing a cleaning marathon, doing all of the side one's then all of the side two's. Once the records are cleaned in this fashion I just use an old Decca brush to clean away the dust prior to playing.

I have not tried the Record Research products yet, but like others I have tried many products and many "homebrews" including washing the record with dishsoap.

Kudos to Albert for passing on a what sounds like a great product. I will give it a try soon. Regards, Doug
On an average night I'm not cleaning records. I walk toward my rack, wine in hand and open up the tray of my CD player which sits next to my turntable. I place the glass of wine on the open Cd tray and brush my record with an AQ brush and clean the stylus. I then grab my wine and sit back and listen. Who said CD players were worthless?
Well Longplate, if I had only known....Alas, I've got a toploader.
Geez, Longplate, I've been racking my brains for yrs trying to figure out why that thing popped out of the cdp! Thanks to you, I found use for the other cdp in the cupbord... electric coasters especially effective when listening to music with friends.

(Detlof, "top-loading": does that mean a shaker?)