Finally Decided To Get Serious About Record Cleaning

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by HiFi Guy, Feb 8, 2016.

  1. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Well-Known Member

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    image.jpeg For years, I've been cleaning with a record vacuum (KAB EV-1) until I discovered the Spin Clean and realized that everything could be cleaner still. Then I discovered Mobile Fidelity Pure Enzyme Cleaner and found out things could be even cleaner, as evidenced by the stuff floating in the bottom of the Spin Clean.

    My cleaning regimen looks like this now:
    Mobile Fidelity Pure Enzyme Soak, 5 minutes per side
    Vacuum each side after 5 minute soak with EV-1
    Spin Clean, fluid at double strength using Aquafina
    Vacuum
    New sleeve

    The fluid gets changed after every 10-12 records. This works so well that I've been in the process of re cleaning my entire collection.

    I still had some issues though. Records cleaned at the end of a batch weren't as clean as the first ones due to the water in the Spin Clean. This can plainly be seen as those LPs look slightly dull in comparison to ones cleaned at the beginning of a batch of fluid. They do look good again after one play and they sound good too.

    I also am not a fan of the carbon fiber brush that I've been using before and after play after the records are cleaned. It works but I wanted better.

    I decided to buy a VPI HW-16.5 record cleaning machine along with some Audio Intelligent #6 one step fluid to use on each LP right before it hits the turntable- each and every time.

    This will remove any remnants of the Spin Clean fluid that may have been left behind. I've been doing lots of research and have determined that the Audio Intelligent #6 is probably the best one step fluid out there. Basically, it is comprised of enzymes (I'm a fan, they work) detergents and ultra pure water. This should continue to loosen and remove more contaminants from the LPs over time.

    My thinking is that over time even cleaned LPs will become dirty again due to dust, etc. The before play cleaning on the VPI will solve this. Once my entire collection is deep cleaned, all I'll have to use is the VPI moving forward. The only time I'll need to deep clean (which takes about 20 minutes per LP) is when new LPs are added to my collection.

    Unfortunately, the VPI isn't inexpensive ($650-700) and most places don't discount. I was able to find a reputable dealer that sold me one for $555. If anyone decides they want one, PM me for the dealer's info.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2016
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  2. Corycm

    Corycm Well-Known Member

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    Wow. That's quite the regimen - should keep your collection in awesome shape for a long time.

    I always wondered why record shops never offered deep cleaning for a buck or two. I'm not sure of the math involved per clean, so maybe that's not realistic, but I'd definitely pay when I got an album to run it through before I left.
     
  3. mcherry

    mcherry Spam Slayer ☠️ & Moderator Extraordinaire

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    That is an awesome idea. I would totally pay for this.
     
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  4. Corycm

    Corycm Well-Known Member

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    Or just tack an extra couple bucks onto the price of used stock. I think my local place vacuum cleans or Nitty Grittys their used stuff - they consistently have clean/good condition used stock.
     
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  5. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Well-Known Member

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    There is a guy on eBay that offers a cleaning service using a regimen similar to mine, but uses the VPI cleaner at the beginning and an Audio Desk ultrasonic cleaner ($3300) at the end. Expensive though, and there is shipping involved.
     
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  6. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley Well-Known Member

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    A couple of shops in London used to offer this as a service. One place had a pair of giant Loricraft cleaners which would bring pretty much anything back to life. Generally, they cleaned stuff before it went on sale and charged a small premium on the understanding anything you bought would be good to go.
     
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  7. Corycm

    Corycm Well-Known Member

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    It's a smart model for a shop - I'd have a lot more confidence in their buying, too, if I knew each record was getting that level of handling before hitting the shelves.

    PS Nice post on the lacking nature of the entry-level set up market, @Ed Selley . Echoing thoughts I've had for some time.
     
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  8. Kris

    Kris Well-Known Member

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    I think my shop does this. They tend to be $1 more than everyone else, but I can guarantee that the records will be clean. I'll ask them the next time I go in. I still Spin Clean them at home anyways, but it's nice that they're already clean. They do a pretty good job of weeding out anything below VG+ too.
     
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  9. Nicholas

    Nicholas Active Member

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    I have a Spin Clean, and I've often wondered how well their solution rinses off, so thanks for the intel on Audio Intelligent #6. Worth the extra step.

    Might look into some of their other products for the actual cleaning step, if anyone has any recommendations.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
  10. Tyr

    Tyr Well-Known Member

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    That is a great cleaning regiment. There's a very famous gentlemen I know of on the torrent scene who uses a VERY similar process. You wouldn't happen to be PBTHAL would you? :cool: If no, then nevermind. If yes, thank you for all of the wonderful rips.

    I think, as my collection grows, I'm going to have to start looking into a more in-depth cleaning solution. As you say, the state of some of the newer releases leaves a bit to be desired in terms of cleanliness off the press line. I've noticed an increase in my new releases needing a thorough clean before they hit the table.
     
  11. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Well-Known Member

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    There's a slew of cleaning fluids out there. I've tried a few and researched tons. Here are my observations:

    Spin Clean: More effective mixed double strength. Cheap enough that using twice as much fluid won't break the bank. Half goes on the pads, half in the water. Caution: do NOT do this if you don't have a way to vacuum off the fluid. There have been reports that extra strength mixtures will lead to increased surface noise if the fluid is manually removed or the LP allowed to air dry.

    Nitty Gritty Pure 2: Contains isopropyl achohol, which is an effective cleaner, but is said to leech vital lubricants from vinyl. That said, I've read that radio stations used isopropyl alcohol for years, because it is cheap and works well, apparently with no ill effects. As with anything in life, YMMV. I avoid anything that contains isopropyl alcohol. It came with my KAB EV-1 and was my go to fluid for a while until I did some research. It works well, and I can't discern any ill effects from using it.

    L'Art du Son: Very highly regarded, but no personal experience. Comes as a concentrate to be mixed with distilled/purified/reverse osmosis water (take your pick, I prefer Aquafina, purified 4X reverse osmosis, cheap and available anywhere.) Because it's a concentrate, shipping costs are lower. MUST be stored in brown glass bottles and stored away from light. If you store it in plastic, it will grow mold and slime.

    Nitty Gritty PurEnzyme+: Works ok. Meant to be used as a first step before Nitty Gritty Pure 2. Mobile Fidelity Pure Enzyme works better, as evidenced by quieter grooves and more junk being removed with the Spin Clean.

    Mobile Fidelity Super Record Wash: Isopropyl alcohol free one step fluid, again highly regarded. Judged to be 90-95% as effective compared to Audio Intelligent #6. No personal experience, but I swear by their Pure Enzyme Cleaner as a first step.

    Disc Doctor's Miracle Record Cleaning Solution: Very highly regarded as well. I tried it years ago and hated it. I gave it away with a warning. It actually increased surface noise. It must be rinsed with water, unless using their one step product, which given my past experience, I won't try.

    Most companies make multi step systems for cleaning. I prefer not to use this method, instead purposely using products from different manufacturers. I believe that using products from different manufacturers will attack the problem from different sides of the equation.

    When using any enzyme based cleaner, it must be allowed to loosen the dirt from the grooves. Let it sit and do its thing: time is your friend.

    And there is nothing wrong with a Spin Clean. I'll keep using mine. One thing you could try is applying purified water with one of those foam painting brushes as a rinse step to remove any residue. It's worth a shot and certainly cheaper than any of the above fluids.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
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  12. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Well-Known Member

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    Nope, I'm not that guy, sorry. I came up with system though a process of trial and error, research, and a bit of luck. I don't have time to get to the rips that friends and family have asked for. I've deep cleaned 6 IKEA cubes worth of LPs (at 3 LPs per hour) and still have 4 cubes to go. :confused:

    If you are looking to get started with a vacuum cleaning machine, check the KAB EV-1 and the Disc Doctor record vacuum from Audio Advisor- which isn't the same Disc Doctor that makes the craptastic fluid I mentioned in a previous post. Both are under $200 and based on the Nitty Gritty 1.0. Maintenance parts are cheap, and they work well. Once you hear the difference with a record vacuum, you will wonder how you lived without one. Records become quiet enough that you can literally hear the difference in vinyl formulations. For example, Hot Chip (poor vinyl formulation, very noisy) vs. Nada Surf (fantastic and quiet.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
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  13. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Well-Known Member

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    I would KILL for a Loricraft! I just can't justify $2000.
     
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  14. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley Well-Known Member

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    I know the feeling- I spent some time with a Clearaudio Double Matrix recently and it was comfortably the best device of its type I've ever used. I'd do bad things to own one.
     
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  15. TimmahTao

    TimmahTao Well-Known Member

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    That is a handsome thing.
     
  16. captainfog

    captainfog A Prince Among Men And Moderators

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    I neither have the time nor inclination to put that much effort into cleaning records.
     
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  17. Nicholas

    Nicholas Active Member

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    Wow. Is there a way to save posts on here? Great stuff, man. THANKS!
     
  18. Taylor

    Taylor Well-Known Member

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    Man, how do you have the patience to do this stuff every time?
     
  19. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Well-Known Member

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    I hate surface noise. This kills surface noise. You only do this once. The VPI and the Audio Intelligent #6 will be my maintenance step. Takes less than 90 seconds.
     
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  20. Taylor

    Taylor Well-Known Member

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    Your hatred for surface noise knows no bounds.
     
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