Two quick record cleaning methods - enough?
After getting back into vinyl a couple of years ago, a record-buying-and-cleaning frenzy followed. Then followed a research-about-record-cleaning frenzy (things having channged a bit since I last cleaned records in the 80's).
And, suddenly, burn-out followed, which is probably almost inevitable when you're messing with cleaning methods that take 20 minutes+ per record.
Here are 2 methods that I think work very well, and that take less than 4-5 minutes per record, using a VPI 16.5 record cleaning machine:
1. Brush Mo Fi Super Deep clean on with a VPI brush while the RCM platter is going. Brush back and forth like a paint brush. Don't need to (and probably shouldn't) use much pressure. Vacuum after 45-60 seconds. Then use Mo Fi Super Record Wash for 15-30 seconds, spread on with a Mo Fi brush, but don't brush. Vacuum, and you're done.
2. Brush Audio Intelligent One Step cleaner onto the record, again while the platter is rotating, but use an Osage record brush, brushing back and forth like a paint brush. After about a minute of that, vacuum, and you're done.
Why the VPI brush? The bristles are fairly stiff, and I (and some others--see my recent thread about brushes) think it does a better job of getting down into the grooves.
Why not use the VPI brush with the AI fluid? The AI people warn against scrubbing, and the Osage brush seems to have been developed for the AI fluids. It is like the VPI brush, but not as stiff, and you simply can't scrub with it with any vigor. (I'll assume their concern about too heavy scrubbing is valid, and I don't scrub hard with the VPI brush in method 1. I've discovered some synergy between the MoFi Super Deep Clean and the VPI brush, by trial and error.) Honestly, I haven't tried the VPI brush with the AI fluid. I just use the Osage brush because that's what AI apparently likes, and it certainly seems to work in this context.
What about multi-step processes, heavy-duty enzymes, ultra-clean water rinses, etc.?
First, what I've found with either of the two methods described above is that, if there is still a noise problem on a record after that, you've got a big problem. In my experience, this means you've probably got a record that will never be noise-free, and may well never get close. Have I been able to reduce noise with additional, longer cleaning using enzymes, etc.? Yes, to some degree, and very occasionally, to a surprising degree...but only occasionally. What I've finally concluded after many hours of dealing with the various multi-step processes, is that, at least for me, it is rarely worth the effort.
I buy a fair bit of 50's and early 60's vinyl (classical and jazz, mostly). How I proceed now, if I've got a record that is still noisy after the quick cleans described above, is first to examine the record very carefully under different lights. Where there is noise, there is often light scratching, but sometimes it's pretty hard to see. If I can find evidence of light scratching, I usually give up, unless it's a really, really important record. If I can't find scratches, a good second step is to try whichever one of the quick-clean methods you didn't use the first time. If there is any improvement (and sometimes there will be), then I think the next serious step is a long enzyme soak, which can be largely unattended (so it won't make you crazy). The AI website has a good description of how to do it, and has good enzyme fluids, and Mo Fi is now making an enzyme fluid which I will eventually try, that I am told is good. (I should add that, as between the long enzyme soak, and the multi-step processes, I seem to get better results with the long soak, AND (very important) the multistep processes require much more work and attention. (A typical multi-step process is described on the AI webpage, and can also be done with Mo Fi fluids, and other fluids that I haven't tried.)
If I do a 2nd short clean as an experiment, and obtain virtually no improvement, the problem is probably in the vinyl itself, and I think the best move is to give up (again, unless the record is really important).
Recently, I came home from the Austin Record Convention with two boxes of records. I have been using this methodology in dealing with these records. I am finding that my record-cleaning-sanity is slowly being restored, AND, I have more time to listen.
Full disclosure re: what I've tried and haven't tried: I've only used AI, Mo Fi, and VPI fluids, and AI/Osage, Disc Doctor, and Mo Fi brushes. I should add that I always brush superficial dust and debris off of records before I do any of the cleaning described above. I also always examine the records, at least superficially, and if there is an obvious bad scratch, I usually toss the record. However, whether a mark is going to "sound" is not always easy to predict.
For those of you who, like me, have found themselves driven crazy by the urge to try cleaning "just one more time," consider the above. And I'm sure there are others who have simple, quick, yet effective processes they might like to share.