I use a DIY solution in my RCM - 80% by volume distilled water, 20% by volume 70% isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and a few drops of photographic wetting agent (photoflo). Works very well on my old Moth RCM and it's cheap!
I've consistently had the most superior results from Walker Audio Prelude recording cleaning fluids. I've found the Walker Audio Prelude better than Disc Doctor, RRL, and L'Art du Son which I've used. Disc Doctor made a significant improvement over the DIY formula described above that I'd used for many years, but the Walker Audio Prelude is even better. Others here like Audio Intelligent, but my vote goes for the Prelude four step regimen.
I agree with Topo and Axel's mix. I even go a little stronger, but it leaves things a little "squeaky". (Is bright clean? I don't know) I also use Audio Intelligent, which, being enzyme based, makes me think it's a little cleaner, as it's getting to release agents and other possible organic stuff like fungus. AI is clearly smoother sounding. No, I don't have my system in a room where fungus is growing...
One of these cleaners is more correct. I don't know which. They definitely sound different. I do know which one costs more: ) Photoflo actually put a warning on its bottle years ago not to use it as a surfactant for anything but photos. I've used it for years and have a pretty nice front end: things still sound great on my analogue stuff. I think I would know from years of use if I were doing any harm to my albums.
Hell, I even use Torumat, which has some sort of lubricant in it. George of Stanalog and AJVDH give a wink and a nod to Torumat. It wins the static contest over my other two cleaners: far fewer static issues and records stay clean while they play, instead of attracting dust with every rotation.
Nobody that I'm aware of has done a significant study on the use of alcohol based cleaners: we know they strip vinyl stabilizers, but no one has agreed at what % and at what rate and therefore, how much is too much.
Labratory grade alcohol? No, I use Everclear 20%, 80% triple distilled ionized water and 2 drops photoflow per 8 ounces. If I'm not using near 100% alcohol, then I want to know what adulterants it has in it. Everclear is pretty free of extra "stuff".
With any alcohol, I have never gone stronger than 1/5 by volume, esp. if I were driving;)
I love the Audio Intelligent the best so far, over RRL and MOFI. It's just made my records quieter. Can't comment on the static factor. I use the #15 and then their water rinse. They do have a 3 step, but that and the Walker 4 step would prevent me from cleaning at all.
One thing, do not put anything in your path that prevents you from using your RCM, or table for that matter. I learned that from the great Gene Rubin years ago.
Compared to my experience with Audio Intelligent,Disc Doctor & VPI fluids, Walker Prelude is best by a very noticeable degree. I hear improvements on LPs that were cleaned with AI. Also, I find that Walker Prelude is fast, even though there are 4 steps. Each step is fast. With AI, I had to leave the enzymatic solution on far longer to get it to be effective. I am no scientist, but perhaps there is merit to the idea of mixing the enzyme powder w/water fresh each time you use it, as I do now with Walker Prelude. Cheers,
Walker Audio Prelude gets my vote. Despite the fact that I use a thread based RCM, and the Walker product is a four step process (making for 8 passes per LP), the results are worth it. My LP collection is large and has a very high sentimental as well as intrinsic value. The results are well worth the time and effort. Once a record has been cleaned with all 4 steps, it is only a matter of the occasional step 4 rinse to keep them at their best. I also use the Walker Talisman before each spin.
Hiendmuse, I can understand your desires to garner opinions, and perhaps bypss lengthy, and also costly experimentation.
But, as you can already see, by the few responses, you'll have as many answers, as there are posters. And no two seem to indentically agree on anything! This is just one of those sort of topics, where there are too many variables invloved, too many blanket staements, no real testing to back up claims, and then lastly, to what degree-level do you wish to persue cleanliness? And as well, to what level-degree does you equipment achieve?
Asking (forcing would be a better word) Rushton to go back to a mediocre DIY, with the quality of front end, and the desired quality of playback he wishes to achive, would be like asking a prime steak lover to substitute instead, a can of spam for dinner.
Not that the products you have tried are not good, they are, but I do believe others here have shelled out the moohla, done the lengthy experimentation, and when they say products such as Walker Prelude, and AIVS products have no peer, I believe them.
These products didn't get to be highly regarded award winning products by "magic", or "luck". Much testing, research, miscroscopic analysis, beta testing, and a strict adherence to consistency make these products what they are.
And what I believe they are, are two of the finest record cleaning products that have ever been designed, and manufactured.
I believe both Walker, and AIVS, to get the full benefit of such products, should be used in thier either 3, or 4 step processes to achieve the very best results. If you skip a step, either of those products will lose thier synergistic effectiveness.
There are good one step cleaners available today, but the industry has basically recognized that different formulas handle different tasks, and address the different common contaminants found on records.
As has been mentioned a long time ago, by some well informed posters here (justin_time comes to mind) that certain cleaners, whether DIY, or Commercial may sometimes contain certain ingredients that are not desireable upon a record. As he so smartly recognized, all one is then doing, is adding just another form of contaminantion-residues upon the grooves.
We as end users, have little to rely upon, as far as laboratory testing equipment to confirm what Walker, or AIVS find with thier testing, but we do have one thing going for us, our ears!
From the two products I previously mention, I feel that you can not go wrong using either one, and that you will find them to be considerably superior to the products you have already sampled. Hope this helps, MarkD
I tried a few and ended up preferring the Nitty Gritty "Pure 2". Sometime after that I had a record cleaned by a record shop that also uses the NG machine but they used a popular homebrew formula. Not only did that not work very well but it added a layer of haze to the playback. After I took the LP home and cleaned the "clean" record again with the normal Pure 2 formula I found it was able to both clean the record and remove the gunk from the hommade stuff. YMMV but you can't really sell me on anything else at this point.
Thank you Markd51 and all who have contributed. All good information, with varying results from different cleaning products. I prefer using a one step process with no rinse, and use Buggtussel when faced with a record with potential mold or fungus. I shall continue to try other products and post my experiences.