I like my Nitty Gritty because it has a less industrial look. It works fine for me. Others here have different opinions. Do a search, there has been much discussion on both models.
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I am very happy with my new VPI 16.5 record cleaner. (Thanks to Mike and the guys at Audio Alternative in Atlanta). I compared it in the shop to the Nitty Gritty machine in the same price range, and while both seemed to clean well, the VPI seemed more practical. It is larger, but the extra size allows more work space around the cleaning platter for the inevitable drips of excess fluid. Also, the cleaning brush and other small items can be stored under the lid. Having a lid provides another big advantage over the Nitty Gritty, because it allows you to leave a disc on the platter, covered and protected, if you are interupted for any reason in the middle of cleaning.
The "industrial" look works fine for me, and reflects the fact that it is built like a tank. Primarily for space reasons, I keep mine in my upstairs office, away from the listening room. The major downside of the cleaner is that it is noisy, but this is also true for the Nitty Gritty.
I think it depends on what you consider to be better. I owned a NG 1.5FI and washed about 4500 LPs and 700 45s on it. During that time, I replaced the record spindle several times, the V drive puck several times, the cleaning lips many times (every 150-200 LPs), and had the vac unit rebuilt once. It is still in-service for a friend of mine and working fine. I currently have a VPI 17H and am up to about 400 LP cleaned. Given the methods I use, both machines seem to clean to the same standard. The differences I see are that the VPI spins the record faster, has fewer parts that require routine replacement, and can be in-use for more extended periods of time. As stated above, the VPI is a larger unit; that can be a plus or a draw-back, depending on your situation. Used fluid is easier to deal with on the VPI (IMHO). Both units were purchased new; the NG was $350 and the VPI was $900. The VPI is just a bit more quiet in its operation. I think the situation the unit is used in determine which is 'better'.
I just purchased a KAB unit which is a licensed nitty gritty 1.0 without the vacuum, you hook up your own vacuum the only real complaint I have is the cheap felt brush they give you. Buy a good brush and more fluid somewhere else. Here is their website if you are interested. $139.00 plus shipping. http://www.kabusa.com
Both companies make a good product. I've used a Nitty Gritty 2.5 since 1987 - - works great/quite reliable. If I were in the market for a new record cleaning machine, however, I'd go with VPI - -slightly better design (see Lucishow@yahoo.com post) - but not enough of a difference for me to "trade up."