I have been enjoying my first turntable setup for about a month now, and have recently acquired a lot of used, classical and jazz LP's. While the music and performances are all fantastic, I was less than enthused with the condition of many (if not most) of these LP's. I was growing numb to all the surface noise I was hearing, and began to accept it as one of the drawbacks of spinning vinyl. In my mind, the benefits of analog still outweighed the shortcomings of digital, even with the ticks and pops.
After reading up on some DIY vaccum cleaning designs, I picked up an old Pioneer direct drive turntable, and a wet/dry vacuum from Home Depot. I then constructed a customized attachment and hose, and bought some distilled, de-ionized water. I gave a few of my dirtier records a thorough wash with the distilled water (2 washes per side), and vacuum dried them (2 rotations were sufficient to make the records appear dry, then I did another 2 rotations for good measure). Upon playback, the surface noise was reduced a good bit, and the lower background noise did allow me to hear more low-level detail. And the records certainly looked a LOT cleaner. All in all, I was happy with the results, and thought the whole process was worth the time and (minimal) monetary investment.
About a week later, Albert Porter graciously sold me two bottles of Record Research Lab cleaning fluids--the Super Deep Cleaner (SDC), and the Vinyl Wash (VW). Per the instructions on the bottles, I used the following cleaning routine: (1) Application/wash with SDC (2) 4 rotation vacuum clean (3) application/wash with VW (4) 4 rotation vacuum clean (5) re-application/wash with VW (6) 4 rotation vacuum clean. Time consuming, but from the very first record I cleaned, the results have been quite dramatic. Several records which I had written off as being hopelessly worn out or dirty are almost silent. In addition, the frequency extremes immediately opened up, particularly the highs. The drop in background noise was much more significant than with the distilled water, as was the corresponding increase in detail and transparency.
I haven't used any of the other cleaners out there (e.g. Disc Doctor, Nitty Gritty, etc.), so I can only make direct comparisons to the distilled water I had been using. However, I can say that the RRL fluids have made a tremendous improvement on every record I have cleaned with them. I have read about others' positive experiences with RRL fluids in various threads, but was surprised to see that there has been no formal review posted. So, I thought I would get the ball rolling. Hopefully, others who have been able to compare the RRL fluids directly with other cleaning solutions can chime in here. For me, I am very pleased with the results I've gotten with the SDC and VW. First, it's allowing me to enjoy my LP's at an entirely new level, and second, I'm much less hesitant to buy used records. The level of improvement on the older, dirty records I had acquired is nothing short of astounding.
Hope this review is helpful, and happy listening to all.
-EricAssociated gear Click to view my Virtual SystemSimilar products