OT - Vinyl cleaning

JazzyJeff

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Hi folks,

For those of you that collect and listen to vinyl, how do you keep the vinyl clean? Just a cloth and solution, or does anyone use a machine? I'm guessing that those machines are like anything else - a cheap one won't do anything that a cloth and solution won't do by hand, and the expensive ones aren't worth it...? I use a brush every time I spin one, but I'm here listening to My Spanish Heart by Chick Corea and am irritated with all the crackling and popping from this used album.

Thanks in advance for any insight!
Cheers
 

Paradiddle

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Expensive, but the $80 unit does a great job. You can spend a LOT more for a record cleaner if you want automation. My audiophile guitar player has one that cost over $1000. Is washed, and dries the record though, fully automatic.
 

ellaguru

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VPI 16.5

if you arent vacuuming the fluids off while cleaning, to me, there doesnt seem to be much benefit.

get one of these, too:

my simple reasoning for the investment was this:
If I had $20k worth of carpet installed, I would own my own carpet cleaning machine.
 

shilohjim

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Spin Clean works great. Use their special cloths to dry and be sure to replace your inner sleeves with MOFI ones.
 

dingaling

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That’s an open can of worms in vinyl forums. I also think a vacuum cleaner is the best. My friend has on that was around $500 but I forgot the brand.
 

underratedcowbell

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I just use a home mix of distilled water + isopropyl alcohol + neutral detergent. Before listening I use a carbon fibre brush just to clean surface dust and lint.

Pops and crackles may not be related to dust and debris; sometimes they’re just the consequence of micro scratches due to lower quality inner sleeves. The ones made of paper especially with higher weight are really harmful on vinyl surfaces!
 
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PressRoll

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I use two spin clean units. The first one has distilled water and Groovinator and the second one has distilled water and a tiny bit of the spin clean solution. I leave them to air dry on a bamboo dish rack I got off of Amazon. After they are dry I put them in a new MoFi plastic inner sleeve to keep them clean. It's a little bit of a process but the results are great!

IMG_20190201_214454759.jpg
 

el_37

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1. Have realistic expectations- 99% of LP's will make noise somewhere on the record. If you can't deal with this- buy CD's. Fully "cleaned" $75 Music Matters SRX Blue Note Lp's will still make noise somewhere.

2. I own over 2000 LP's. I started out using a DIY machine made from a $40 Shopvac. I now own a VPI 16.5. In the past I have had LP's cleaned on a friends Loricraft (at the time it was $3000) and the $4000 Audio Desk Ultrasonic Cleaner. All pretty much do the same thing. After many years of collecting- I find that simpler cleaning fluids and regimens do the most effective work. You can spend hours cleaning a single LP if you get to the fully involved level of Audiophile Nervosa Syndrome- and will have the same exact results as if you spent 2 minutes cleaning the record. Most people who say otherwise- are usually trying to sell you something.

3. See #1- only buy the cleanest vinyl you can afford. Trying to make a silk purse out of a sows ear is just as true with records. Yes hammered looking LP's can sometimes play silent- but I would say that is less than 1% of all hammered records, and is only worth bothering with when an original costs $500 in VG+. It is not worth dealing with horrible condition records when it is a common title that can be had in NM condition for under $20.

4. It all depends on how involved you want to get. If you own under 500 LP's- I don't see the point in buying a machine- just google DIY record cleaning machine. You can use a free junk turntable and a shop vac- and have exactly what a $600+ vacuum machine will do for $40. Or do what my friend does- he comes over and uses MY machine......

5. There is SO much written on this topic (90% of it is UTTER BS- complete with Audiophile pseudo science- be prepared to filter what you read) on the internet. But I will say after years of experimenting- you need a way to vacuum off whatever cleaner you used off the record. Most cleaners if left to dry- cause more noise than they removed. My technique now is to use the MOFI record cleaning brushes- one for each step. I use either 2 or 3- depending on visual grunge level, or my particular Audiophile Nervosa Level at the time. Basic steps is to buy lab grade water off on Amazon and MG Tech 99% Isopropyl and some photo wetting agent such as Ilford Ilfotol. Mix 800ml water, 200ml Alcohol, and 5ml of the Ilfotol. You will now have enough cleaner for dozens and dozens of LP's. Apply with a MOFI brush, swish it around and then vacuum it up. I then follow with a pure lab grade water rinse and vacuum that up as well. Then into a BRAND NEW (not used!!!) MOFI or equivalent sleeve. Sometimes I use a commercial cleaner such as Disc Doctor or Buggtussel Vinylzyme as the first step, but then still follow up with the Alcohol and the water rinse.

6. The above will just about make the record as clean as it is going to get. Some pressings are just noisy (i.e- 50's and 60's Atlantic's, New Jazz, anything MGM/Verve are glaring examples) and no amount of cleaning is going to get rid of the noise even on NM unplayed examples. If noise bothers you that much- stick with Japanese pressings- they are not mastered as well as the originals (IMO) but they tend to be about as silent as you are going to get- with some noise still slipping in.

7. I spent many years chasing magic bullets with record cleaning- I would hear all these insane declarations on forums and the audiophile media about records going from unlistenable to "dead silent" backgrounds- it is all BS. I was involved in the industry side at some points over the past 2 decades and have heard various six figure vinyl setups- and those "dead silent" records these idiots are carrying on about are just as noisy on those setups as it is on yours. There is a certain amount of listening through it one needs to practice- but some listeners cannot do it. I for one cannot wait for the day Digital gets there- because as much as I love LP's- the work involved is tedious if you just want to listen to music. Most "vinyl enthusiasts" are either way more into collecting the records themselves or fiddling with gear and setups than actually listening to music. But currently it does sound so much better- ON THE right system.
 

JazzyJeff

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Thanks everyone! A lot to digest here. I’m a neophyte for all intents and purposes so it’s all very helpful. I appreciate all the insight! Special thanks el_37 for the expansive detail!
This forum never fails to impress!
 

m_anderson

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I use the VPI HW-17. They don't make it anymore, but I still prefer a cleaner with the brush built into the unit. Nice vinyl cleaning units are expensive, but if vinyl is a serious hobby, they are well worth the investment. I have about 20,000 33-1/3 LP's and 3000 45RPM. They get cleaned once properly with the machine, then stored properly with quality antistatic sleeves, and I use heavy 5-mil polypropylene outer sleeve to protect the album cover. I have a really great Signet record brush from the 70's that is perfect for a quick dust swipe before playing.
 

tillerva

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Wow, I had no idea record cleaners existed. Certainly makes sense though!
 

Santino

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After multiple cross country moves, I shaved down my vinyl collection from 1,700 to about 80. Too heavy, and took up too much space. Every album was purchased new or slightly used so there was an emotional attachment (no bulk purchases). I love the vinyl I kept and don't miss the ones I sold.

I now have over 26k albums and they fit on a solid state hard drive. I know...souless. Perhaps, but lightweight and takes up very little space. I can also make a copy of an album in less than a minute.

As for the discwasher, I still have and use it despite it being obsolete.
 

studrum

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I visit a long-time extreme high-end audio store in Ann Arbor, Mich. They have the $600+ cleaning and vacuuming machine. They charge $3 per record, and they include a fresh, proper sleeve with the service. They do not like the Dishwasher stuff, which I used for decades. They do like Discwasher's stylus brush, but ONLY without fluid. Aside from the wash and vacuum system, they recommend using only a dust brush on your records - this one:
 

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studrum

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I visit a long-time extreme high-end audio store in Ann Arbor, Mich., Overture Audio. They have the $600+ cleaning and vacuuming machine. They charge $3 per record, and they include a fresh, proper sleeve with the service. They do not like the Dishwasher stuff, which I used for decades. They do like Discwasher's stylus brush, but ONLY without fluid. Aside from the wash and vacuum system, they recommend using only a dust brush on your records - this one:
Bear in mind that Overture sells turntables well north of $20,000.
Also, one thing I discovered when I got certain very old records cleaned was that the fingerprints and accumulated goop on there often ended up being the cause of what I thought were the "scratches." And I am not one of those super-anal audiophiles that others have noted in this thread. I have about 3,500 vinyl records and appreciate how much they've gotten refreshed by good cleaning, for those that needed it.
 

Grooovepig

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This is a very timely thread for me. I just got into vinyl recently with the purchase of a Technics SL-1200GR TT and Denon DL110 MC cartridge.

Here is my cleaning regiment that I've developed thus far:

1. Use spare carbon fiber brush to get off any loose debris while spinning record on the Oki-Nokki record cleaning machine.

2. Wet clean record using my Oki-Nokki record cleaning machine. I use the cleaning solution that comes with the unit and follow their instructions for mixing it with distilled water. I'm just using pharmacy brand distilled water no lab quality stuff at the moment.

3. Store vinyl in MOFI sleeves!

4. Spray GruvGlide to the included soft pads. Apply lightly to vinyl while on the turntable at 78RPM. This is a really good product that will remove any fine debris and also remove any static build up.

5. Store vinyl in the MOFI sleeve when not in use!

6. Use 2nd AudioQuest carbon fiber drop brush before playing any previously cleaned records.

This process works pretty well for me. New and Near Mint vinyl play almost dead silent with minimal background noise.

I will say that my former table equipped with a Ortofon 2m Black cartridge was absolutely ruthless when it came to background noise. It picked up everything unless your vinyl was in pristine condition.

Some of my best sounding records:

1. Donald Fagen - The Nightfly
2. Bill Evans - Sunday at the Village Vanguard
3. Bill Evans - Waltz for Debbie (recorded same dates as above).
4. Steely Dan - Gaucho
5. Joni Mitchell - Wild Things Run Fast
6. Ray Brown - Soular Energy
7. Oscar Peterson - Night Train
8. Miles DAvis- Kind of Blue

Happy Listening!!!
 


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