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Nahash5150

Best Vinyl Record Cleaning Machines

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For years I used a VPI and it did an acceptable job on records that were in decent condition to start with. I had a chance to play with 3 variations on the cleaners with ultrasonic tanks and even the cheap one did a significantly better job than the VPI.  Side by side, the Audio Desk cleaner was more automated and "tinker free" but didn't do any better than a basic ultrasonic. There are a few similar fluids available that do a great job or if you will use a large amount of it you can mix your own. As long as it contains Tergitol (both 3 & 9) it should work well and be safe. (If you need to clean records that have been left to mold in the basement there is an anti-fungal additive that is recommended but I haven't used it)

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Spin-Clean, made in Pittsburgh and used at the Smithsonian. $76 last I knew, I took mine to CF'18 and cleaned 40 LPs in short order. Now there are motorized units but the cost is huge. I'd prefer to spend the $$ on new vinyl, TT an arm or new cart.

 

ray   

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Posted (edited)

I also use spin clean and I also use Tergitol as a cleaner, recommended by library if Congress for archival recordings!  Greg Viggiano gave us all samples of tergitol at one of his open houses!

 

One of these days I plan to build an ultrasonic one similar to what Paul (HappyTrails) has.

 

barry

Edited by BarryG
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 It is important to use the right method correctly. Being a bit of a fanatic about cleaning in general, I see everything from mopping floors with a dirty mop and water, to cleaning lenses of your glasses with a dirty shirt. Today, I sat at a freshly cleaned table in a sandwich shop that had a thick film of soap in the place of dirt....... So, in cleaning an album one concern that I would have with a brush type method, is not to push the debris along as you clean. Unfortunately, the list gets longer. I too, owned a VPI machine, and for more than one reason was not impressed. The machine had suction all right, enough to pull the brush tightly to the vinyl! Not that the old Discwasher brush is the best method either, but you can 'roll' the brush as it sweeps the dirt out of the grooves. Spin clean sounds like a viable method. I would have to try it first. 

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I just purchased a spin clean for $125.00. I did a listen before cleaning my wife's original Hey Jude album and after. The spin clean brought this album back to life for sure.

 

The only other step would be to discharge the static, then it was almost completely free of clicks and pops. I used one of those inexpensive static discharge brushes.

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 Worked for me. A lot of old records were brought back to life with black silent backgrounds. Once you set up your cleaning area and have a helper it only took me a couple of hours to clean maybe 2 dozen records. These were all very old and dirty never had been cleaned LP’s. Some of them had to go for a double treatment. Full disclosure though-I have not tried other methods.

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3 hours ago, oldtexasdog said:

 Worked for me. A lot of old records were brought back to life with black silent backgrounds. Once you set up your cleaning area and have a helper it only took me a couple of hours to clean maybe 2 dozen records. These were all very old and dirty never had been cleaned LP’s. Some of them had to go for a double treatment. Full disclosure though-I have not tried other methods.

 

James - what product worked for you?

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I watched a woman 'clean' 45's taken from a jukebox that was left in a barn. Yes, beyond dirty. She used soap and water while wiping across the grooves (just like dishes, right?) It was just too late by the time that I saw her. The rag wasn't even that wet, so there you have it, muddy, scratchy, even more ruined, records. 

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Posted (edited)

I have a spin clean, and it works OK. I picked mine up somewhere on sale for $60-$70. 

 

There's a man on the Polk Audio forums that makes a stainless steel ultrasonic unit from time to time. The last batch was $350, and it doesn't include the tank. His last post in the thread was on Jan 3, and he said it will be quite some time before he gets around to another batch.

 

The cleaners are very well reviewed, and I'm on the waiting list when he gets around to making them again. @Bean gave them a thumbs up too.

 

Edited by Sk1Bum
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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Magnaryder said:

Spin-Clean, made in Pittsburgh and used at the Smithsonian. $76 last I knew, I took mine to CF'18 and cleaned 40 LPs in short order. Now there are motorized units but the cost is huge. I'd prefer to spend the $$ on new vinyl, TT an arm or new cart.

 

ray   

 

Following on to Ray's recommendation, here are some bits of wisdom and words of experience (nice way to say I'm lazy).  Cleaning records is like taking an entire Saturday to detail your own daily driver... (If I had a collector car, I could see spending a day a month..., but I don't.)

 

I have spin-cleans because I like the speed - and I have TWO of them that I use at the same time.  More on that below.

 

A couple of earlier comments posted prices - there are two models (someone mentioned a motorized model, but I haven't seen that one) the difference between the $~79 and $~$129 models (really kits) involves the number of drying rags, the amount of fluid, and a replacement set of pads.  (there is a "clear" version - not yellow-opaque..., but I wouldn't pay for that.)

 

Why TWO?  Records from various sources have varying amounts of dirt to clean.  I've found that with only one spin clean, after 3 or 4 records, your fluid is just redistributing the dirt to the next record, and the pads are getting clogged fast.  Some say that the design allows this to "settle out," but in my experience, spinning the record keeps a lot of dirt in suspension.  So, I instituted a second "rinse" unit, that once the dirty fluid unit has done the dirty work, I run the LP through a second unit with fresh fluid.  That fluid in the second rinse unit stays remarkably clean, which makes me feel like I've done a good job.

 

There are religious arguments about the spin-clean damaging records vs. an Ultrasonic unit, but the religion goes both ways.  I opt for the speed of the spin-clean.  Hell, if one of my records can't be cleaned with a spin-clean, I'll look for a bargain replacement at the next record-swap show.  Again, YMMV.

 

Last thing I did was build a drying rack.  It's simply a piece of 1x6 about 40 inches long (pine), with dowels inserted down the center, and on the left and right edges in inch from the edge.  The dowels on the edge are only 1.5 in high.  The row down the middle are 6in high, and align with the hole in the LP.  In the rack, the LP's lean slightly back based on placement of the dowels.  Makes for a faster process.

 

[Did I say I hate cleaning records like I hate washing my own car? LoL 😎]

 

One more suggestion..., I was going to pick up my spin-cleans from SleeveCity.com (I like them and buy record supplies, MoFi sleeves, etc from them) during one of their holiday 15% off sales.  Then I saw a seller on Ebay, with a "Make Offer" option on his spin-cleans that he was selling over 100 available.  I made a ridiculous offer, for two units of the deluxe model with the extra fluid, accessories and parts..., and he took the offer!  "Shop around" is the lesson here.

 

If money and time were not a controlling factor..., I would build one of those ultrasonic units that Happy Trails built and shared on this site.  Holding off on that project until retirement...

Edited by AndrewJohn
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20 hours ago, Nahash5150 said:

The Spin-Clean seems like a good start.

 

But it's okay - I have some very um, affluent clients, so the expensive machines are fine for suggestions if anyone has used one.

Are you going to add record cleaning to your services......for those that can afford it?

 

ray

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8 minutes ago, Magnaryder said:

Are you going to add record cleaning to your services......for those that can afford it?

 

ray

 

It's possible. But I get asked about cleaners from time to time. I don't have any records yet, but I'm working on it. I have TT now at least!

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AJ,

 

    Finally, someone out there gets it. Yes, a second Spin Clean does make good sense, just for the reasons that you mentioned.  Think microscopically when cleaning the grooves of a record.... I thought that I was the only guy who used a soap bucket, and a separate rinse bucket for general household cleaning. No, it's not an exact analogy, but the principal still applies.

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5 hours ago, Nahash5150 said:

 

It's possible. But I get asked about cleaners from time to time. I don't have any records yet, but I'm working on it. I have TT now at least!

Becoming a dealer for VPI, Grado or Spin-Clean might work in your favor. Check out what it'll cost to dip your toe in the water. Get to Axpona and chat up some of the manufacturers.

 

ray 

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8 minutes ago, Magnaryder said:

Becoming a dealer for VPI, Grado or Spin-Clean might work in your favor. Check out what it'll cost to dip your toe in the water. Get to Axpona and chat up some of the manufacturers.

 

ray 

 

Sounds good to me! I just have to stop being dirt poor to get out there.

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On 3/20/2019 at 12:42 PM, Magnaryder said:

Spin-Clean, made in Pittsburgh and used at the Smithsonian. $76 last I knew, I took mine to CF'18 and cleaned 40 LPs in short order. Now there are motorized units but the cost is huge. I'd prefer to spend the $$ on new vinyl, TT an arm or new cart.

 

ray   

I agree with Ray.

I did do the microscope test on the SC and it performed quite well.  If I recall correctly almost enough for me to not use the DIY ultrasonic setup.  Actually, I clean with the US rig first, then use my SC as a rinse then air dry.

 

My biggest issue currently is static, which will soon improve.  Carpet, wool socks and me shuffling my feet added to cold temps can send blue flames out my fingertips.  It is now common practice for me to discharge before I touch my equipment LOL

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4 hours ago, HappyTrails said:

I agree with Ray.

I did do the microscope test on the SC and it performed quite well.  If I recall correctly almost enough for me to not use the DIY ultrasonic setup.  Actually, I clean with the US rig first, then use my SC as a rinse then air dry.

 

My biggest issue currently is static, which will soon improve.  Carpet, wool socks and me shuffling my feet added to cold temps can send blue flames out my fingertips.  It is now common practice for me to discharge before I touch my equipment LOL

Watch where you discharge.....

 

Happy Trails said<< Carpet, wool socks and me shuffling my feet>>

I can hear my late father 'pick up your feet when you walk Jr.'

 

ray

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A while back we had a member that sold LP's in his E-Bay store.

His member name was effgjm or something like that.

He sells a lot master and first run LP's.

He can decifer the writing thats in the runoff at the end/center of an LP

I found his E-Bay site =  ClevelandVinyl.com

He has a 8 step process, ultrasonic, steam, then a VPI machine.

It was $4.00 per LP, not sure, I think site members may get some kind of a price break, its been a while not sure about now .

Check out his site interesting stuff.

 

 

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I would love an ultrasonic machine but I don't want to spend the money.  I use the VPI HW 16.5 and it does a wonderful job.  For those garage sale albums that it won't completely clean, I use wood glue.  It does a deep cleaning and it's fun if you have the time.  plus I love peeling off the dried glue.  It's like peeling dead skin from a sun burn.

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