I've owned the NG 2.5FI, the VPI 17F and, now, the VPI Typhoon. I've not owned any other brands. In my opinion, any of the VPIs are superior to the NG which I also liked.
Records simply get cleaner and are left with a lower noise floor. The best fluid I ever used was Torumat but it is no longer available. I now use Record Research Labs and have been very satisfied with the results.
I second the VPI machines, but you may want to try the Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions products to clean with. They will be back on the market in a few days with supposedly the improvements of higher purity. The super wash is a little higher that the RRL, but the deep cleaner or enzymatic is lower in price than the RRL when figured by the ounce. I've used it for several years and it has worked for me better that anything else that I've tried. Their website is audiointelligent.com.
You may want to try the Record Research cleaners as well as Vinyl-Zyme with your 1.5 just to seee what it is capable of doing.
The VPI 16.5 would be a nice step up for you. I went to it from a record doctor. No comparison, the VPI is easier to use and quicker. Less time cleaning means more time listening. They show up here used all the time in the 300-400 range. New is $500 I believe.
The Loricraft is 4X the price of the VPI 16.5 but worth every penny if you can swing it. LPs become as quiet as CDs without losing any of their much loved musicality.
With out a doubt the Loricraft
If your budget allows, a Loricraft is indeed the answer. No RCM at any price (except a used Keith Monks, if you can find one) will compare with it.
Every other RCM starts with the same flawed design, vacuum wands and felt-covered slots. A record-straddling wand can't dry a warped record evenly or easily reach the the dirtiest portion of most used records, the area near a sloped lead-in groove. Felt-covered slots pick up contaminated fluid on every pass. You either clean the felts after every pass and replace them often or you get cross-contamination.
The Loricraft and Monks operate on completely different principles. They suffer none of the above problems and they're fairly quiet, no louder than your microwave oven.
Expensive but worth it IMO too.
I also second the RRL + Buggtussel Vinyl-Zyme recommendation. Vinyl Zyme is especially good at reducing sharp clicks and pops.
Thanks for all the suggestions. Guess you must be careful what you wish for. Went in with a VPI 16.5 budget and am now enticed by the logic and recommendations for the Loricraft. Suppose Junior could pay for his own college textbooks for a couple of semesters! Maybe some kind soul must part with a gently used one.
I'll echo the Loricraft recommendations. High build quality, easy to use, simple to maintain. The focused vacuum of the Loricraft yields more effective cleaning than an open slot wand like those found on the VPI or NittyGritty.
I consider it a component that expands my enjoyment of my record collection and measure its value accordingly. Besides the Loricraft, there is no other component in my system I truly regret not purchasing sooner.
Alas, they are rarely seen on the used market. If Junior can get those ISBN numbers maybe *he* can shop the used market. ;-)
Loricraft (best cleaner and a pleasure to operate.... incredibly quiet compared to other cleaners and worth every penny.
Use in combination with RRL super vinyl wash in combination with Heavy Duty cleaner, Premier (to remove mold release compound),and Bugtussel Vinyl-Zyme for older or poorly stored records.
Sorry to disagree, but I think the VPI will be fine. I agree the Loricraft is a pleasure to use and Terry only lives 10miles away, so I need to be careful, but I don't think it gets Lps much cleaner. Careful technique and a good cleaning solution(I use L'art du Son with distilled water afterwards), is much more important than which macine you use. Buy a new or 2nd hand VPI, or Moth as I did in the UK and spend the difference on vinyl.
I had a Moth for years. It cleaned nicely but I hated it. It was so damn loud I had to wear ear protection. The Loricraft is a no brainer for me. I can even clean a record while I am playing music. That is usualy the time you want to clean one. I will also say the Loricraft does a far better job of cleaning for me.