Which Record Cleaning Machine?

I have a discussion forum buddy in Belgium who runs a video rental store. He's a big jazz-on-vinyl enthusiast, and vinyl playback in Europe is pretty popular--popular enough that he has trouble finding any used jazz LPs on vinyl for sale over there.

Anyway, he was thinking of installing a record cleaning machine in his shop to attract more customers and to provide a service to fellow vinylphiles.

His question to me is which RCM would be the better choice within his budget--the $1295 VPI HW-17F or something from Loricraft?

Thanks in advance.
If he will be using this in his store then he may be cleaning quite a few LPs at any one time. He will need to address the issue of potential cross-contamination. He will also want to avoid chasing out any customers due to the noise of a vacuum system. With these concerns in mind and the fact that he can get a much better price than what we can here in the US, I'd advise him to get a Loricraft, and get the model with the better vacuum pump, the PRC-4.

He may also want to consider finding a steamer to use as part of the cleaning process. Steaming and cleaning with a Loricraft, I doubt anything would get the records cleaner.
you took the thoughts right out of ye olde brain! I was going to post exactly as you did: Loricraft PRC-4 plus steamer!!
The string based machines (Loricraft, used Keith Monks or Odyssey) are superior in both build quality and cleaning functionality to any VPI. I've cleaned 35 LP's non-stop in a single session on my Loricraft. I was worn out but it would have kept right on going with no deterioration in peformance from gummed up vacuum felts or overheating.

If your friend anticipates enough business and wants really satisfied customers, he needs a serious professional machine.
How about the Clearaudio Double-Smart Matrix? Those are very pricey over here, but he lives in Belgium and may be able to get a used one for under 2K Euro.
08-31-08: Johnnyb53
How about the Clearaudio Double-Smart Matrix? Those are very pricey over here, but he lives in Belgium and may be able to get a used one for under 2K Euro.
Check that. It's even better. He can get the same model Abso!ute Sound reviewed at $4400 (and awarded a 2008 Editor's Choice) NEW for 1100 Euro, and tax-free because it's for his business.

Now what do you say?
I like my VPI but am curious about the price of the Loricraft PRC-4. I'm guessing well over $1000.
Isnt any serious Vinyl guy going to have his own RCM? Even if music lovers need to use the service is gonna take an awful lot to justify and then you have a bunch of guys who will only be there for the RCM, take up space and still not add anything of value to his bottom line IMO.
VPI 16.5, has been great for years. Jallen
I wouldnt trust my 16.5 for mass marathon cleaning sessions, I do 10 at most and let it cool.
08-31-08: Chadnliz
Isnt any serious Vinyl guy going to have his own RCM?
No. I'm a serious vinyl guy and I don't have one. This statement is based on the assumption that being serious about vinyl has more to do with your love and devotion to the medium than your ability to spend money on it. I had to stop working and it's enough of a challenge even acquiring new vinyl. I use record cleaning fluid and a bundle of napped microfiber rags from Sam's Club. If they're really bad I use a Walgreen's handheld steamer from the "As Seen on TV" shelf. An in-store RCM gives people a chance to hear what a good RCM can do. Once they learn of the purchase price, many of them will bring more records in for cleaning, and a few will buy their own. Win win.
Isn't the loricraft rather more than $1.2k?? Another brand of RCMs i think worth considering would be those from Hannl. German so perhaps better priced again over there in Europe.....

Quiet in operation.
Here are my thoughts based on a quick survey of the RCMs mentioned. I'm not including any VPI in this.

Clearaudio Matrix $3600 USD
Hannl Aragon $3995 USD
Loricraft PRC-4DL $3725 USD

Both Hannl and Loricraft have cheaper models but I tried to compare similar features. Also, I believe the Clearaudio is still just as noisy as a VPI. There is no reason that I can find to think that any of these could not stand up to cleaning hundreds of LPs at a time. Not that many folks could clean hundreds at a time, but I think all three models are built for it.

Both the Clearaudio and Hannl offer mounted brushes and suction pickups that are, I guess, supposed to be removed and cleaned after each LP. I believe that with any cleaning system the user has to make sure the brush is clean. The Loricraft (and Monks) have a suction tube that rides on that tiny thread. Time for the next LP? Just play out a small amount of thread and you have a clean surface ready for the next one. For a home user, maybe not such a big deal. For a business, I would think the less steps to prepare for the next record to be cleaned would be a great benefit.

If your friend is also interested in carrying a line of RCMs then there are many other considerations that a business owner should consider. I'll leave that to him.

For the rest of us, you can build an RCM at home for less than $100 and do as good or better of a job than the VPI or Clearaudio RCMs. It will be noisy and you may have to turn it by hand, but it will get the job done very well. I've been using my DIY RCM for several years and I have no desire to go for a commercial unit. This is especially true since I added one of those cheap, Walgreens steamers to my cleaning ritual.

So maybe your friend can stock a good line of cleaning products and supply his less-well-healed customers with the idea, or maybe even plans, for building their own RCM. Or, make arrangements with a local craftsman to build one for them. This makes more sense to me because I don't think anyone is going to sell quantities of those commercial units.
I like the idea of the Loricraft type machine but $3700 is probably about 4 times higher than I could justify spending on a cleaning machine right now. I could buy a mint Blonde on Blonde mono, a Robert Ludwig Led Zeppelin II, and every other Lp I've lusted after and have plenty left for replacement vacuum strips and cleaning pads on my 16.5 for life.
Sonofjim your thoughts above are so true. I use a 16.5 with my steaming method for superior sounding results. Most of my lps are from the used bin. I receive these lps in all types of condition. I normally wait for 25 or more and clean them all at once. I dont know if its because i have a newer model of 16.5 because i have never had a heating problems only a sure fired way of getting my vinyl clean for great sounding play. Yes it does make the sound of a vacuum cleaner when used, its loud i deal with it. Do as you say buy more vinyl music to clean with the money saved.
The Loricraft PRC-3 will clean a record as well as the PRC-4, imo. $2570.

The dollar/euro difference has really hurt the cost of British goods in the US and the prices of the Loricraft machines have skyrocketed in the last few years. It will be interesting to see if Smartdevices lowers the cost when the exchange rate turns around.
Hannl also makes some very good machines and are based in Germany. They clean very well and are much quieter than the VPI. The styling and build quality is excellent and they would look great in any shop.
Sorry, not trying to steer the thread in another direction, or dispute the hierarchy of RCM's.

My VPI 16.5 has just recently turned 1 year old. According to Motor Decals, with a date of 5-2007 it is what I consider "recent build".

I sort of doubt much variance has taken place since then, with using a Dayton Platter Motor, and Eletek-Lamb Vacuum Motor. Run the 16.5 long enough, and it will get warm-hot. Mine did, quite considerably.

Do this simple check, which takes all of 2 minutes to do: Clean about 6-10 LPs with a 3-step cleaning process. Drain Tank. Flip Unit on its side, and remove the four screws which hold Bottom Cover on the RCM. Now feel the Motors. More than likely, you won;t be able to keep your hands on either for more than a couple seconds. You will find them to be searing hot.

Once getting approval from VPI, that a fan addition would be beneficial, and would not harm my warrantee, I set out to alleviate the 16.5 shortcomings. They are real issues, if not, VPI would've never made the 17F (with fan) or the Typhoon (which I believe also has a Fan)

One can go to the AIVS Website, Jim P has placed my 16.5 fan mods there in full detail, in the Mueaum Section I believe, with a couple of pics showing the installation.

If I wanted, I could now run my 16.5 for countless hours on end continuous, motors stay cool, and spindle stays at room temps.
good idea Mark, my and others 16.5 could use some help in the cooling dept.
I have read this in other threads concerning a cooling fan for 16.5. Sounds like a great idea and glad its working for you Mark and all else. Thats what makes this site so good for all. The more minds the better the ideas.
I would like to mention that the addition of the cooling fan did have one downside. And that is, it made the 16.5 even louder yet. Yes, this addition of another hole serves as an exit for sound more easily leaving the machine. It cannot be helped, unless this problem is adressed in some other way, with perhaps lining the machine with some sound deadening materials,

The loud vacuum sound has went from a horrid muffled roar, to almost a gun-shot startling experience when hitting that Vacuum Motor Switch.

Other ideas that come to mind, is a stand that somehow encases the machine, but of course the easiest, is a pair of headphones tolisten to some tunes while you clean.

I did a two hour run this morning in fact. Regardless of the loud sound, I have no regrets buying th 16.5.
I think any loud RCM must be relegated to the back room of a store or for after hours cleaning with earplugs in to protect hearing.

The only RCM I have seen at record stores are VPI's and they are used in back rooms.

I think the visual aspect of having other customers see the cleaning of an LP happen is crucial for marketing the service, and educating people as to the sonic benefits and longevity of clean vinyl.

I'd definitely put the thing in full view and clean LP while people are in the shop - if necessary put a mirror mounted over it so people can really see the action.

In this instance I think the Loricraft PRC3 (or 4) with a lucite cover fits the bill.

I recently saw someone's Loricraft machine that was filthy - which defeats the purpose. I paid the extra $200 to get my PRC3 with the lucite cover. It keeps it clean and makes it look quite a bit nicer when not in use than a blue printer cover.

For an individual I understand the cost may be prohibitive, but for a business, I think it's the only way to go - unless money is no object than by all means suggest the Keith Monks.
Well the OP talked about the 1.2k VPI 17 or a loricraft.... so i'm personally confused about the budget available.

I've seen/heard the loricraft in action and it's one gorgeous piece of machinery. Quiet too.

I'll repeat my plug (no relation) for Hannl. Seen the mini in action and was suprisingly quiet. Believe this goes for low 2k. Maybe a good alternative if budget doesn't stretch to a loricraft or keith monks.

Thanks for all the suggestions, it was very interesting reading.

I went for the Clearaudio double smart matrix, it's now also available in the US market.

I have a KM RCM (the "Classic") and the sound of my records is improved in such a way by I can't do anything than recommand it to every serious vinyl lover.
I think, when he wants to show it to his customers, he should go for a silent one ---> Loricraft.
I knew some dealers who offered a cleaning service, they had a VPI 17, a good unit too.
The industry standard: VPI