Ultrasonic cleaning with kirmuss and loss of high frequency details.
I just purchased the kirmuss US machine and diligently followed their instructions to cycle through minimum 3 cleanings of 5 min each with their surfactant applied each time. Upon testing my favorite vinyl and critically listening through my headphones I am convinced I’ve lost high frequency details. My background is completely silent and ticks and pops have been reduced by 95% or more. So cleaning wise it did the job. Anyone here ever experience loss of high frequency detail after repeated US cleaning? Now I’m worried I permanently damaged my favorite vinyl somehow. Please let me know, thx.
From my own reading, the consensus seems to be that it doesn’t do what your claiming. I have not noticed this phenomenon myself. I have noticed increased detail retrival. Although, one can argue there is no smoke without fire. However, every set-up is different. Perhaps try again with a record you do not care about. Quasi-scientific analysis needs multiple tests to confirm the hypothesis. One test is to stop the rotation, and let the ultrasonic burn away at the submerged part for 20 mins. Playback should not have a modulation of a frequency change every half cycle.
I have the same machine. I don’t do what they do. All I do (for brand new or never cleaned records) is to manual wash and vac with a traditional machine then throw it in for a 5 min cycle. Then rinse clean and vac dry. Works well and it unlocks an amazing amount of detail. Mostly spatial information. No detectable loss in high frequencies. For previously cleaned records, I just throw it in for a 5min cycle, then rinse and vac dry.
There is a sort of "scientific" way to ask this question, if you have an oscilloscope or a very high quality AC voltmeter and the requisite test LP. Play some of the pure tone high frequency bands on the test LP, record the amplitude of the AC voltages thus generated, which is easiest to do with a 'scope, and then wash the test LP one or more times in your machine. Then re-test at the same frequencies. It would be helpful also to have a second duplicate test LP that serves as a negative control, i.e., don't wash it in between the test procedures. But since this is pseudo-science, I guess the negative control LP is not mandatory.
I too have read the warnings about loss of hf with US cleaning. Seems to me it would depend upon the operating frequency and intensity of the US generator. In other words, I feel very confident that if the US generator were powerful enough and if it operated at "the wrong" frequency (whatever that is), then an LP could be damaged. Most manufacturers assure us that their particular machine is completely safe.
I have cleaned thousands of records with my US setup. What I hear is a reduction in high frequency content - but it is the hf NOISE which is gone. Like the hf tizz which is characteristic of low quality capacitors or resistors.
The US cleaning thread has lots of such information, like the test which I did to detect US damage. I didn't find any.
It might be subtly irritating to be around the US machine when it is in operation (via bone conduction and other ways we sense ultra high frequencies), but can your hearing be damaged by frequencies that are so far above the range of audibility? The frequencies are an octave or more above 20kHz, are they not? It's an interesting question.
What I was trying to say to the issue of damaging LPs is that there are dozens of machines on the market. They vary quite a bit as to the frequency at which they operate and to the energy imparted into the bath. No manufacturer wants to be associated with a product that does damage, but human error can be a b**ch, so caution is merited, IMO. A third factor that theoretically could contribute to a damaging effect and which is not under the control of the manufacturer is length of time in the bath.
I have the CleanerVinyl system. I like it. But if you are worried about high frequency noise from the ultrasonic machine damaging your hearing, then wear closed back headphones while you are near it. I might start doing that.
My Elmasonic is specced at < 105dB at 1 meter, with the cover on; that’s one hell of a lot of sound power in an enclosed space. And of course the cover is not on when cleaning vinyl.
It would depend on the middle ears’ being able to transmit US frequencies, something of which Tim Paravincini seems quite sure - he designs for it. I see no reason to doubt it - whether there are hair cells to vibrate at that frequency or not (and so initiate the sensation of hearing), the energy may still be there in the semi-circular canals, breaking hair cells and permanently damaging hearing.
Terry, "105db" at what frequencies? This issue of hearing damage from US RCMs makes me realize that I am not sure what part of the physiologic chain that results in "hearing" is damaged by prolonged exposure to high SPL in the audible range. Could be at the tympanic membrane or at the hair cells. Do you mean to say that your machine makes a lot of noise in the audible range while generating UHF (which you cannot hear) that actually does the cleaning? I could imagine that is possible. The 2 or 3 different US machines that I have been around were not dead silent but they didn't seem to be dangerous with no ear protection.
I just noticed something funny, which maybe others have already noticed, and almost certainly the OP has noticed. When this thread was initiated it was about loss of high frequencies on the LP, in other words damage to the LP from ultrasonic cleaning. And then the topic suddenly changed to damage to one’s hearing from being near to an ultrasonic machine. Those are obviously two entirely different things. Maybe the OP can put us back on track.
I simply raised the issue of whether the experienced high frequency loss was actually the record or hearing issues from the U/S cleaning if done without hearing protection. I do not know the answer. I have never used an U/S cleaning machine. I did not mean to take the thread off track.
@1stump. Exactly. @tubelvr1. No way, you are misinformed. I have a Kirmuss. And I have tried KLAudio and the other mega expensive unit. (Shh. I bring my records over to one of several friends, and clean on their dime. All I have to do is bring over some beer). Much easier than playing with the Kirmuss as I have a small apartment. None of them noticeably change the HF. What they do is change the balance somewhat, because the grunge/noise/ticks are significantly reduced in most cases (unless it is a pristine, super quality pressing, like some of audiophile pressings). In the case of a great pressing, the difference is not as noticeable. The advantage of the Kirmuss over many other US systems is that you can use your own "concoction" and are not required to use his pre-cleaning ritual, which I would certainly use on dirty records, but likely not 3 times, and likely not on clean records. I wish I had two machines - one to wash and one to rinse...I believe his pretreatment is glycol, which serves the purpose of a wetting agent. I still have a stock of photoflo, so I use a little of that in the wash. Or as we used in the days of bathroom darkroom, try one very small drop of Joy in the 2 gallons of distilled, deionized water. There are other recommendations in the great pf online article; I think he uses Triton X-100 as a wetting agent. So @tubelvr1: find a ritual that works for you, and there is no need to wash 3x, especially if the record was initially what we used to call "clean." You might also try a brief rinse with distilled deionized water.(Buy another Kirmuss. lulz) If you are concerned with the sound balance, so what was suggested: take 2 copies of the same record, overclean one, and compare to the uncleaned. Finally, the frequency of the Kirmuss machine is fairly low IIRC, about-35 kHz, and with a 2 gal tank, there is plenty of "room" to not be affected by washed off dirt, with reasonable fluid changes. This is more or lesss what every other US cleaner does. The big advantage of the Kirmuss is that the system hardware is equivalent to a good grade roll your own or some of the more expensive units out there, it looks better than a roll your own, allows great flexibility compared to a roll your own, and is priced only a little more than a roll your own - the big tanks that are well made are expensive. So if no other commercial US damages records, I would say it is virtually impossible for the Kirmuss to behave any differently.
I watched the video on the Kirmuss machine done during the 2018 RMAF. I have no issues with any of the claims made, but I would never ever be bothered to go through that ritual with every single new LP I buy. I already find that I waste a lot of time on "maintenance" (changing light bulbs, buying stuff for our house, fixing minor plumbing problems, etc.) These constant intrusions have made me understand why some want to be very rich, which for me would mostly mean that I could pay someone else to perform those onerous tasks, which would include cleaning LPs with a Kirmuss or any of several other US machines or even my trusty VPI HW17, which is also a pain in the arse to use. So, I need a butler, not a Kirmuss.
My research into ultrasonic cleaning of LP's has lead me to conclude that the 35kHz frequency of the Kirmuss (and even the 40k of other machines) is too low. 60k and 80k creates more gentle water molecule activity, a good thing considering the rather fragile and vulnerable vinyl composition of LP's. In addition, I'm unconvinced by the arguments made by the Kirmuss pitchman in regard to the removal from the LP groove of organic materials via their cleaning solution.
My experience with US cleaning leads me to conclude with @bdp24 on the frequency aspect. I own a Audio Desk and a DIY machine as @rushton proposed w/the filtering system. I recently saw a US machine with a frequency sweep mode, although it still operates at 40khz, seems to make sense. I’ve noticed from experience with my 6 liter tank and the Vinyl Stack spinner, that even with a 4 lp ability, I find the best cleaning is done with two lp at a time @ 45C, on the slowest rotation, for 40 minutes.
Kirmuss notes his positioning of his four devices as critical to the cleaning performance. That makes perfect sense in a way but as a layman, I’d question that somewhat, as these frequencies are being transmitted through water. It seems to me that water would break up the flow of these frequencies? So, this machine I saw on Amazon w/ the "sweep" mode @ under $300 makes sense.
Kirmuss makes a lot to do about the application of his fluid (with the same brush, over & over) yet says not one word about using the same fluid/water over & over without a filtering system. Very surprising!
Yes, wondered about his using that same brush multiple times in succession and then being surprised that he kept revealing that whitish deposit, which might well have come from the brush that was dirty from previous use. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt in that I assumed he cleaned the brush between uses without mentioning it. At least I hope so.
What I do with my VPI HW17 is to clean (using the built-in brush) in both directions with a mixture of distilled, deionized water + 10% propanol + a drop of Triton X100. Then dry with vacuum. Then squirt some pure distilled deionized water on the surface of the LP and use the HW17 brush and vacuum to get rid of the excess cleaning fluid that may have lodged in grooves. That last bit with unadulterated deionized water makes a difference. Takes me 2-3 minutes to do both sides of one LP. I compared my method to one particular US machine, cleaned by the owner of the company, at the Capitol Audio Fest. I chose one LP that had really good sonics but was stubbornly still a bit noisy after VPI cleaning. All I could say was that the US cleaning made no significant improvement, and I could guess (not prove) that the noise on this particular LP was due to previous groove damage with a bad stylus, not to "dirt". We sometimes forget that some LPs are not salvageable by any cleaning method. By no means, however, do I claim that my little experiment proves anything about what is the "best" way to clean. It only made me feel that I have little to gain by adopting the US method, which would add some aggravation that I don't need (until I am able to hire that butler).
Personally, I hope I never get to @lewm ’s feeling. I feel that the cleaning process brings me even closer to "the connection" I feel with any particular artist’ music.
Truth in advertising.... I struggle with this all of the time. This ONE thing that really keeps me from coming close to bringing any product to the public (in my dreams). It seems the norm is to exaggerate your products strengths, all the while knowing those so-called strengths are maybe 1% of anyone's (end user) best experience. I HATE thinking about it!
Those stating they hear a loss of HF content after US cleaning are very much in the minority among users. US cleaning has become almost mainstream in the audiophile community. At present, there is enough data of results spread across machine types, cleaning formulas, cleaning processes etc that if there were inherent problems with US cleaning we would have already discarded US cleaning, much as the community has embraced, investigated and ultimately discarded other tweaks. Harry Wessfield (VPI Owner) fully investigated the possibility of reduced HF content from US cleaning, and concluded the process is safe.
I set up a DIY US cleaner using a Chinese US tank, Vinyl Stack, and Rushton's cleaning formula. I pre-clean using a Spin Clean to remove large debris and most surface debris. I vac dry to remove any fluid or water residue. US cleaning is performed at 35' c, 0.3 RPM / 15 min, or 5 full revolutions in 15 min. My results are repeatable. I experience a significant reduction in background noise- often to a level below the noise floor of the rest of my system. MUCH better reproduction of transient response, "air", ambiance cues, and brass/string overtones. I also hear a virtual elimination of low level "shooooshhh-woooosh" noise. I theorize that a microscopic layer of debris is bonded to the walls of the grooves. The layer is just enough to blunt the leading edges of very fine groove modulations that contain all of the low level and background information I mentioned earlier. US cleaning removes this layer, exposing additional information to be reproduced. I think it is very possible, and very likely that before cleaning, this layer of grunge can be heard as HF distortion and may be perceived as additional HF extension. Removal of the layer, and removal of the grunge would remove any related distortion, and this may be what is heard by those who believe US cleaning reduces HF content.
Like I said here last week, the question of whether US cleaning harms LPs can be asked in a fairly scientific manner using test LPs that encode pure tones at known frequencies. There is no real need to guess or go on subjective impressions. Someone like HW is surely in a position to do the simple experiments.
One given principle is that excessive exposure to US, at the wrong frequency or for too long a time or at the wrong temperature or some combination of the three, has the potential to do harm. The question is where does that boundary between harmless and harmful lie, and how close does any good commercial US cleaner come to it.