what to keep analoge system perfect working?


the intent of this thread is to expand a bit more the subject on how to set the cartridge, keep it cleaned and keep your LPs in a good shape.

I came out with the following list of tools:

1) strobe disk to fine tune the speed, wherever it is possible to do so.
I was thinking of K-A-B Strobe disk that seems to be a very precise tool

2) clean off dust from the records.
At first I was impressed by the Nagaoka roller, but after researches I found it not to be as good as I though and all in all the carbon fiber brush seems to be still the classic solution for dust

3) vinyl cleaning machine.
There are several solutions out there but they are pretty expensive.
I found a DIYs to be much cheaper but yet as efficient. It just needs an old TT and a wet/dry vacuum;

3a) for the liquid fluid a diy version should work fine. Unfotunately the fluids on the market are quite of expensive and if you have a wide selection I guess this is the way to go:
- 3 parts of distilled water
- 1 part of Isopropyl alcohol
- few drops of photographic wetting agent

3b) brush for the cleaning duty.
To spread the liquid, it is supposedly better to spend few more bucks and get the VPI HW-17/17F brush than having a cheaper solution that won't least as long will start shading soon and won't be as efficient

4) keep stylus clean.
I found a very inexpensive solution for it. It is called Mr. Eraser ME. It seems to have gathered a lot of follower among all the people that have been using it for long time

5) perform cartridge alignment.
I found Mint LP to be the best custom made tool. Unfortunately it is costly. (does it also have a mirror to check the azimuth?!)

6) digital stylus force gauge

7) level to check if the platter is flat

This is what my understanding of what's needed for a perfect analogue front end set up and maintenance till now.

Please feel free to comment each point and give suggestions.

isn't Mr Eraser ME better than zero dust and lower price though?
An extremely bright illumination source for doing cartridge alignment. I use a goose neck laboratory fiber optic illuminator which is a delight - the Dolan Jenner Model 190 Fiber Lite. Indispensable.

The other thing you need is patience. Lots of patience.

I agree with everything except the cleaning fluid.
I don't like IPA on vinyl and think there are a few commercial cleaning fluids that are worth the cost. A little does go a long way.
I use a carbon fiber and a Mobile Fidelity Record Brush for wet cleaning.
Then I steam clean twice to rinse the fluids off.

I also agree with the zerostat gun and I use a humidifier during our winters when static from the dry air and carpet is really bad.
sorry...I just realized that zerostat gun is not zero dust :)

I mean I just followed the recipe on internet that people have been using for years...i don't know.
The cleaning with the solution seems to be pretty neat.
I know a professional solution would probably clean better but it fun to DIY :)

I am afraid of cleaning the delicate stylus with Mr Eraser or everything...I don't know....
Stylus cleaning does indeed require care, attention and calm, steady fingers. Good eyesight helps too.

There are risks, but you should also be afraid of NOT cleaning your stylus, particularly a ZYX stylus.

A major part of a ZYX's performance is due to its fine contact ridges, the finest used by any cartridge manufacturer. These gunk up VERY easily, at which point your cartridge will stop sounding like a $3K LOMC and start sounding like a $100 MM. I guarantee this will happen if you use inadequate cleaning solutions, poor vacuuming or fail to clean the stylus after EVERY SIDE.

As the founder of the Magic Eraser as stylus cleaner, I've been using it on ZYX UNIverses, Atmos's and other cartridges for 6+ years. No accidents so far and my styli are as clean as the day they left the factory. That will not be true if you use a ZeroDust (and definitely not if you use a ZeroStat!) ;-)

P.S. You aren't getting many responses because this has all been covered before. Do a search. Your Mint question would be answered with one glance at their website. No offense, but do a little homework. That can be fun too. :-)

thanks for your reply.
I have read a lot of information and done a lot of "homeworks" :)
I wasn't worried about the little replies although I thought this might have been an interesting thread for analogue fascinados, like everything you need to know about setting your analogue source and having the right tool with the brand's name and everything...maybe I was wrong about the interest, whatever.

Anyways it's good to know that if I won't clean the stylus after playing each side my nice $4K ZYX 4D will start playing like a $100 MM.

Now you worried me a bit about the vacuuming process and the solution I have made up. :)
I followed the recipie you can find everywhere on internet i.e.
3 parts of distilled water
1 part of ISP (I found one at 91%)
few drops of kodac photo-flow.

I also try to vacuum really carefully.

One question:

I see on DIYs cleaning machine that people put velvet on the surface contact of the tip attached to the vacuum.
When I vacuum the record I use a small transparent tube and I go from outer to the inner part.
Should I plug the opening of the tube with a small piece of velvet and vacuum with that while touching the surface of the record?
Re: cleaning solutions, many here like steaming. I've tried it and it didn't work very well for me. I've found nothing better than the enzyme-based solutions from AIVS (or Walker or MoFi). But they are expensive and slow to use.

Your DIY solution and good vacuuming should get the record clean enough so it won't be damaged during play. If there's any trace of residue it'll cling to the stylus. The ME will remove it if used regularly.


Your vacuum device sounds like a manual/DIY version of my Loricraft or a Keith Monks. (Scroll down 1-2 pages to the section "How is the Loricraft different".) Great idea!

Those machines use a thread to maintain a tiny gap between vacuum nozzle and vinyl surface (check the closeup pictures). The thread is advanced a few mm after each sweep so the bit touching the LP is always clean.

I think you need something like this to avoid having your tube opening making a seal with the LP. That could scratch the record.

Without seeing your DIY device it's hard to say what the best material would be. Thread? String? A bit of soft cloth? Whatever you use, change it frequently to prevent contamination.

Keep on thinking, you're doing some good stuff.
thank you very much for your response.
I will try some improvements soon to see how it works.
Unfortunately the vacuum just smoked last night and I don't why since it was supposedly a wet/dry type.
I will proabably use a normal vacuum and a bottle for recupation of the liquid part.

Thank you again Doug, your post are always high content!

I will post again when modifications to the maschine have been made.
There is lots of information and opinions re: record cleaning fluids. IMHO the claims are largely exaggerated - most of them seem to work fine, more or less.

I do not have a problem w/ IPA in the RCM solution; it does seem to help with certain kinds of gunk.

But I do think that the key is to use clean (denatured or RO) water as a first and *most importantly* last wash or rinse.
I didn't do the rinsing part. I was assuming that washing with the solution and vacuuming would be enough.

Perhaps I will add the rinsing step with distilled water and than vacuuming again.
Sorry just one consideration/question.
I have tried to put two holes on a jar to attempt to separate liquid when sucking it off the vinyl to prevent damages to the vacuum.
Apparently it looks like the vacuum is still sucking the liquid off (part is being deposited on the jar and a good amount is still sucked off from the vacuum).
Do you guys know if there is anything (size of the tubins, lenght) I should be awared of?