Q: What do you recommend for cleaning vinyl LPs?
A: Good record cleaning devices start under $50 and go up into the many thousands of dollars. My favorites range between $40 and $1,000.
First up is the Allsop Orbitrac 3 (allsop.com). You put the record on the supplied nonslip pad, spray it with the included record cleaning solution, then put the Orbitrac brush into the record hole and rotate it around the record. It is easier to use and more effective than using a brush and record cleaning solution, and the rotating design ensures that the entire record surface is cleaned. It lists for $59.99 but can found online for under $40.
The Spin-Clean Record Washer (spinclean.com) is my next recommendation. It works as well as much pricier options but sells for as little as $79.99. It has a trough that contains a cleaning solution, brushes in the trough that are immersed in the solution and rollers on the edges. Put the record in and rotate it a few times. The brushes and solution clean the grooves deeply, and the dirt and grime settle on the bottom of the trough so they don’t contaminate the next record. After cleaning, you dry the records by hand. For effective, cost-efficient record cleaning, the Spin-Clean is king and my most frequent recommendation, although I suggest upgrading to the Deluxe Kit for $124.99 because it includes extra cleaning solution and drying cloths.
The $299.95 Record Doctor VI vacuum record cleaning machine (pangeaaudio.com) is next in the pecking order. It not only is one of the most affordable vacuum cleaning machines, but one of the nicest. Using a brush and cleaning fluid, you rotate and scrub the record, aided by a smooth roller bearing. Then you flip over the record, turn on the vacuum and rotate the record to suck the dirt and fluid out of the grooves. Repeat for the other side, and you are finished. Once you have one of these, you won’t want to go back to your previous cleaner.
If you are mentally pairing the Spin-Clean with the Record Doctor VI, you are smart, because it is a great combo. Use the Spin-Clean to give your records a deep immersion scrub, and then put them on the Record Doctor VI to dry them. It is less work than scrubbing on the Record Doctor and dries much more effectively than a cloth.
At the top of my list is the $970 Kirmuss KA-RC-1 Ultrasonic Record Restoration System (kirmussaudio.com). This system rotates your records in an ultrasonic cleaning bath of distilled water and a small amount of alcohol for several minutes, then you remove the records, spray and brush them with a surfactant and repeat the process. After the last application, you brush a bit of surfactant on the record, and the process is complete. Kirmuss recommends you repeat the process up to six times, depending on the condition of the record. That is time-consuming, but when you are finished, you’ll hear details and depth from your records that you never knew existed.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.