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dcstep
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Cleaning my vinyl

After more than a decade without my vinyl I'm pulling it back out in style. I've got a nice collection of around 1,000 albums, going back to the late 1950s. The disks are mostly well cared for since I used to use a carbon fibre brush before every playing and I always had relatively good cartridges and turntables. (Grado/Lux).

I've got a Pro-Ject RPM 10 coming in later this week, with a Sumiko Blackbird mounted. I can't find my old Audioquest carbon brush, but I see them at The Needle Doctor. My old Groovstat anti-static gun seems in good working order, so I'm in pretty good shape for my cleanest records.

My question is, without buying a machine like VPI or NittyGritty, which manual system is the best for cleaning less than pristine records? I'm looking at Disk Doctor and LAST. What's giving the best results these days?

Thanks in advance for your advice.

Dave

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

Go to the DiskDoctor's site. There is an entire section on cleaning LP's without the use of a vacuum machine. I would discard the carbon fiber brush and use a microfiber towel. Unless you clean the brush under running water after each disc side you are just carrying contaminants from one disc to the next with the old style brushes. The microfiber towels hold on to the crud and offer greater clean surface area for a day/night of listening. If you have a problem with static, the towels will remove more "dust" than a brush and you really should be using a product such as a ZeroStat.

dcstep
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

Thanks Jan, I put an order for a DiscDoc brush and a quart of cleaning fluid.

Thanks,
Dave

dcstep
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

I went with DiskDoctor with great results. It's really easy to apply, remove and dry. Some of my oldest disks required two passes, so I'm going to have two cleaning bottles, one full-strength and the other diluted.

BTW, I'll report in more depth later, but my Pro-Ject RPM 10 with Sumiko Blackbird is amazingly revealing. Anyway, I'll start another thread and provide more details when I get back home and put some more hours on it.

Dave

highcurrent
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

I used cotton balls and water.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

The mechanical action of a brush is the most important part of thoroughly cleaning a disc. While there are more than a few record cleaning solutions they all involve more or less three items. The first is the liquid used to make the dirt/grime/release agents more soluble and then hold the dirt in suspension until it can be removed either by rinsing or vacuuming. This liquid is typically purified water or distilled water in most cases though some fluids go to extremes to purify the water. The second ingredient is a surfactant, or soap. The surfactant's job is to release the water's surface tension, allowing it to flow more easily and completely into the record groove. The detergent does not do the cleaning but facilitates the water's ability to dissolve the dirt and hold it in suspension until it can be removed. If you remember a simple science experiment you probably did or saw in grade school, a steel needle will float on the top of a glass of water due to the water's surface tension. A single drop of detergent will break the water's surface tension and the needle will drop to the bottom of the glass. Therefore, the amount of soap used in most record cleaning fluids should be no more than a few drops per gallon, just enough to break the tension without being so much that it becomes difficult to remove. Finally, most fluids will include a drying agent, which, in most cases, will be some form of alchohol. The drying agent can be left out and the fluid will still do its job equally well since the alchohol is not responsible for cleaning anything other than very difficult to remove materials. Since the alchohol is a drying agent it can affect the stability of the vinyl if too much is applied. Therefore, once again, the proportion of alchohol to water is very low. If you use a vacuum machine for your disc cleaning, I would even recommend leaving the alchohol out of any DIY solutions.

That leaves the brush or fiber towel you use to do the actual "scrubbing" of the groove. Most items are unsuitable for cleaning since they tend to ride on the surface of the disc and not down into the groove. This only serves to soften the dirt which then creates a slurry which settles in the bottom of the groove. This is similar to the old Discwasher pad which often times left more dirt in the groove than it actually removed. There are a few very good record cleaning pads available today or you can use a microfiber towel and change sides frequently if you're cleaning a lot of discs. Since the brush/towel will be what actually gets into the groove to remove the grime, it is most important you invest in something worthwhile. Otherwise, you will end up with more noise after the "cleaning" than you had before the process.

Personnaly, I would also suggest you switch to a microfiber towel for your day to day dry record cleaning. The carbon fiber AudioQuest brush and its variants tend to hold dirt on the fibers allowing the material to be transferrred from disc to disc over the course of a night's use. Get several microfiber towels from the auto detailing department of your local parts supplier and swap them out frequently and washing them (with minimal amounts of soap) after they get dirty.

Elk
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl


Quote:
Get several microfiber towels from the auto detailing department of your local parts supplier and swap them out frequently and washing them (with minimal amounts of soap) after they get dirty.

And just like when using them on cars, don't use any fabric softener on the towels. It leaves a smeary residue.

dcstep
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

Why.not use a micro fiber cloth to clean a carbon fiber brush? That seems more logical to me.

Also, what about using a Zerostat or similar device? In the low humidy of CO that seems very helpful to me.
Dave

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

You are certainly welcome to try the towel on the brush. My expectation is not high for the success of such a usuage but you might surprise me.

I wholeheartedly recommend a ZeroStat for its intended usage. The problem with the ZeroStat was simply people not knowing how to use it properly and still having "static cling". But the ZeroStat is really for daily cleaning only. My personal experience has been a well cleaned disc vacuumed with care and placed in a clean poly/rice paper/etc. sleeve will not require much in the way of further treatment for quite a few plays.

I'm somewhat in agreement with Roy Gandy of Rega in that record cleaning often does more harm than good if not properly carried out. Clean the disc once to remove the mold release materials and generic crud stuck in the bottom of the groove and then further cleaning should be minimal. Anything sitting on the disc that is large enough for you to see will simply be pushed out of the way as the stylus travels the groove. Most other attempts at "cleaning" usually only result in the redistribution of dirt from one portion of the disc to another or from one disc to another.

My VPI table has a very good clamp and therefore I wipe the large chunks of dirt from the side facing the platter before I clamp the disc down. Other than that I don't do much once I've vacuum cleaned the disc. If you would like to read my vacuum cleaning procedure, check the record cleaning archives in the "Analog" section of the forum. I really don't think there's any substitute for a vacuum cleaning system for removing the bottom of the groove crud. The Disk Doctor machine can be purchased for $199. A vacuum machine seems to be one item least seen on the used market. I suspect there's a reason for that.

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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

Don't you have the record cleaner , cleaner? It's yet another vacuum system that will clean the platter off the vacuum cleaner. No real audiophile is without such a device.

dcstep
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl


Quote:

I wholeheartedly recommend a ZeroStat for its intended usage. The problem with the ZeroStat was simply people not knowing how to use it properly and still having "static cling". But the ZeroStat is really for daily cleaning only.

Exactly. Start with a clean disk and then keep it clean with carbon fiber brush and the Zerostat.

I'm trying to understand, what is the advantage of a micro-fiber cloth vs. a carbon fiber brush for maintaining previously cleaned records? It seems to me that a carbon fiber brush has a better chance of reaching in the grooves to remove small particles. Seems like a cloth would just push things around. Of course, I'm contemplating that either will need to be kept clean.

I keep the ceramic platter of the turntable clean and neutralize its static charge, then put the disk on and neutralize it, then use the carbon fiber brush to clean the remants off previously cleaned the disk. It seems to work very well.

Thanks for your help and advice.

Dave

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl


Quote:
Don't you have the record cleaner , cleaner? It's yet another vacuum system that will clean the platter off the vacuum cleaner. No real audiophile is without such a device.

Sorry, dup, are you skipping over the big words again?


Quote:
If you would like to read my vacuum cleaning procedure, check the record cleaning archives in the "Analog" section of the forum. I really don't think there's any substitute for a vacuum cleaning system for removing the bottom of the groove crud.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

The carbon fiber brushes tend to hold onto the dust until you clean the next disc. They work with a static charge to attract the dust particles and don't release them easily when not in contact with something that offers the opposite charge. Running the brush over the base doesn't adequately clean the brush and the dust is redistributed to the next disc.

The microfiber towels do a better job of getting into the groove. Microfiber is used on several of the newer LP cleaning devices. It has to do with how the individual fibers are constructed rather than on a static charge like your AudioQuest/Decca style brush. Buy several towels and keep them rotated to a clean area of the towel. You can pick up microfiber towels at the $1 stores. Choose those that tend to "stick" to your hands when picking them up. I think you'll find less noise when you use a towel instead of a brush. I do.

tom collins
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

Jan: thank you for the great ideas for cleaning of LPs. i have been collecting them for 30 years and never had a good idea of how to actually clean one. i had the wife bring home some distilled water from her work. a bowl, a drop of liquid detergent, a fresh sponge, 2 microfiber towels and i was in business. i tried this on a number of albums, some from the 70s that had been played on not-so-good equipment that had a lot of surface noise and one that was barely usable. the results were very good to say the least, they were all better and the almost unusable one was actually good. i had been formerly informed that only a dry brush was good and i should never get an album wet, but this really helped.
thanks.

tom

Elk
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

Excellent!

Exciting, huh?

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

I'm trying to imagine your wife smuggling a single drop of liquid detergent out of her place of employment. Does she have a job with the Federal Government?

tom collins
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

actually, yes on the job, but i supplied the dish detergent. did a few more yesterday, this is fun and it has me listening to music i hadn't heard in a while. i have a pristine copy of dave brubeck's time out and it helped that one out nicely. the recording was really different in those days - you can just point to the instruments.
thanks again.

tom

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

You have discovered the secret of high end audio. You don't have to buy new components. You just have to buy old recordings.

tom collins
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

Jim: along the line of "old records" i have a record of hawiian music recorded on the Cameo label from the early 60s. it was recorded onto 35mm film. the label made a lot of claims for the better fidelity. at 45 years old, the sound still leaps from the grooves. i wondered if you knew anything about this technology, if there were other albums recorded this way, or if it was even used enough to be a fad. thanks.

tom collins

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

Some of the best were recorded onto 35mm tape.

http://www.soundfountain.com/amb/mercury.html

tom collins
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

i just read the article. i guess this type of recording was just too expensive to continue. it funny to think of a hobby where the peak of quality was nearly 50 years ago. i bet my record sounds much different on my solid state system with modern speakers than it did on my dad's old dynaco 70 system with the 16 ohm altec speakers of that era and the old rec-o-cut arm and table.
thanks for the article.

tom collins

dcstep
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Re: Cleaning my vinyl

Yeah, great link. Thanks for posting that.

As stated at the start of the thread, I just pulled my vinyl back out after more than ten-year. My new Pro-Ject 10/Blackbird combination is incredibly revealing. A couple of thoughts about comparing "modern" recording with "vintage".

First, the best old recordings from the 1950s and 1960s, particularly those made with a single mic (mono or stereo) with minimal knob twiddling by the engineer are incredibly revealing and often very realistic. Mics of the era could be a little bright, but there's much revealing information and very natural perspectives.

Early studio stereo, OTOH, shows some of the worst, with things like the piano hard-right and the drums-hard left and the bass floating in space. Every turn of the knob or push of a fader comes into full resolution with this new turntable. Thank goodness for the mono switch on my pre-amp.

On "modern" studio recordings, the process of spreading the sound the stage is much better understood and achieved, even though I can hear that the trumpeter is isolated, the piano is in the middle of a studio, the drums have six mics and the electric bass is DI. Even hearing that, modern studio recordings are much more listenable without resorting to mono.

Overall, with some beautiful exception, today's highs are more natural and even and the bass is much fuller are articulate than in the "old days."

I'm enjoying hearing my recordings from the 1950s and 1960s in a new light. I'm also buying new HD vinyl and enjoying that just as much. Unfortunately, the list of great artists available on vinyl leans toward the vintage. Still, there are some great new albums.

Ciao,
Dave

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