The vacuum removal of fluid provided by a record cleaning machine will improve your results, but is not absolutely required. The key to using the Disc Doctor Miracle Record Cleaner solution, and most others, is very thorough rinsing. (And the more pure your rinse water, the better your results.)
If you use a double rinse, and blot well after each rinse, you will still have some residual from the cleaning solution left in the grooves, but that should clear after a couple plays. A vacuum RCM improves the results. (Keep in mind that any groove damage already present will remain after cleaning.)
You don't need a record cleaning machine. Some records will never be rid of surface noise, even records that look clean and glossy. If used records were played with a less than quality stylus or with a cartridge that was not properly aligned, the groove wear will not be visible to the naked eye and no amount of cleaning will remove the surface noise created by it.
I cleaned a record the other night (VPI 16.5) and when I played it, I couldn't believe how much better it sounded - never heard it sound that good. After I took a better look, I realized I cleaned it with distilled water instead of record cleaning fluid. I had cleaned the disc with Disc Doctor Miracle Cleaning Fluid probably a week before (last time I played it). I never rinsed with distilled water before but now I do as the improvement was pretty incredible.
Yes, you need a record cleaning machine. You just don't need an expensive one.
I have found that record cleaning is fine to do (does anyone realize that most of one's entire life is cleaning--house, car, self, etc.) however, I found that proper cartridge setup with a good cartridge is far more important for the cleanliness of the final sound event.
The problem I have found with the Disc Doctor cleaning fluid is that it takes a few plays before it sounds good. I have rinsed and rinsed and still have found the record to sound a little dull on the first play. I don't use it anymore because of this. Maybe what Rushton says about it taking a few days for it to clear up works but I usually want to play my record shortly after cleaning. It seems like the DD fluid might be best for really dirty records that need scrubbing to remove the gunk? I prefer the sound and quick use of the Record Research Labs products. I think they go by another name now (Mobile Fidelity) but it is the same stuff. It is a two part process if you have dirty records, but most of the time I just use the quick rinse cleaner and the records usually sound great.
Jmoog08 get a small shop vac and use the 4 inch attachment with a good cotton wash cloth around it, cut a small slit in it. Use a lazy susan to spin the LP and hold the vac head on the surface to get the fluid off of the LP. I used this method for quite awhile with fine results.
As far as Disk Doctor fluids i have not encountered any problems with sound using it. In fact of the fluids i have tried Miracle cleaner is my favorite.
I have had very good results with the fluids made by Audio Intelligent. I just use the cheapest Nitty Gritty cleaner, and it does make a tremendous difference in the sound of my records, unless it's just a bad pressing, as unfortunately happens much of the time.
for the VERY best cleaning, steam is the ONLY way to go. Try it you'll like it.
Learsfool, I agree 100% with your approach. Probably because I've been following it myself :-) My first manual Nitty Gritty was in regular service for 20 years. The second one (actually a Record Doctor clone) I bought here on Audiogon for $80 and have used for 4 years. The first one is in the closet, still functional, but I figured it couldn't last forever. And the Audio Intelligent stuff is great. Dave
I do the steam cleaning on the ubiquitous 16.5 and AI fluids and generally have a 50% reduction in noise, often more.
Agree with the Learsfool and Dopogue. AI fluids beat Disc Doctor or the old RRL fluids hands down IME.
Do you need a RCM? Well, how clean do you want your records?
IME it takes more than toweling to get scummy cleaning solutions out of the grooves. If you let any residual fluid just evaporate, suspended contaminants are left behind, right where they started. I've recleaned many hand-washed records on my Loricraft. The liquid that ended up the collection bottle was anything but clear. That's not to say you need a $2K RCM. Even a home built RCM is better than nothing. In the end it's a matter of how clean you want your records and how much time and money you're willing to spend to get them there.
Scroll down until you find the steam cleaning thread on this forum.
Snap , crackle and pops?
Are dead silent back grounds achievable with analogue play back?..Easy.
I second Stringreens suggestion regarding proper alignment of your cartridge.
For absolute precision at a reasonable price go to MintLp.com
The next step I will refer you to another on going thread here in the analogue section.
Titled...Does The Step 4 Final Rinse For Walker Prelude Help?
The Audio Intelligent and Walker "active enzyme base" cleaners are far beyond other products on the market.
For the price of a MintLp arc tractor and the enzyme soak method for cleaning, they are equal to a component upgrade.