They do say pictures tell a thousand words, so have a look at the “BEFORE” and “AFTER” shots below of a clients record. And of course this is before it finds its way into the KLAudio cleaner…
In the next few weeks we will be adding the Clearaudio Double Matrix Professional Sonic to our arsenal of cleaning equipment. Your records are precious - we refuse to use DIY or entry-level products when it comes to our vinyl cleaning process.
No, this is not an identity disc made famous in the movie Tron, but rather an adapter that now allows us to offer 7" ultrasonic cleaning in addition to regular albums. Vinyl is safely held in place with three locking tabs in this anodized aluminum and brass adapter.
We had the chance to put one of the premium record flattening machines, the ORB DF-01i, through it paces last weekend, and the results are pretty darn impressive!
Having recently received a brand-new, sealed record from eBay's "importcds" (their service is terrible by the way - good luck getting replacements or even an email acknowledgement!), I decided this would be an excellent guinea pig for the task. The process takes four hours - two hours heating followed by two hours cooling (sometimes additional time may be required depending on how bad the record is).
Have a look at the video for a before and after. And no, the actual grooves are not damaged throughout the process, however my process is to clean both BEFORE and AFTER the flattening process. We hope to add this service in the coming months.
Should you clean brand new records?
In a word, yes!
All new pressings contain a susbtance known as stearic acid - a mould (mold) release chemical that is part of the raw vinyl formulation, designed to ensure your newly pressed, hot record separates cleanly (and by "clean" we mean with no physical defects) from the metal stamper. Removing this layer (it's not something you can see) should result in a noticeable improvement in macro detail, separation, and a more lively presentation, and of course limiting the effect of stylus wear on your expensive cartridge and needle.
At the very least, a basic clean using something like the Knosti or Spin Clean kits, in combination with the right fluids, should help in removing this.
Been cleaning some MoFi pressings for a client today. Well looked after and in excellent condition. However, even records produced by such companies require and will benefit from a deep clean.
In the photo below, the cleaning strip on the right shows coloration (as in DIRT) after only one clean through the ProJect VC-S RCM. Strip on left has just been applied. Just think that this dirt ends up on your expensive stylus and ingrained into the grooves!
At Perth Vinyl we are devoted to getting your records as clean as possible. The brush strips are replaced every 20 records.
With proper, diligent care and maintenance, your records should only ever require one professional ultrasonic clean. From this point on, let me recommend probably the only other cleaning tool you would ever need - a carbon fibre record cleaning brush. Not just any other brush, but Audioquest's new Anti-Static Record Brush. Most brushes don't have a good electrical path between the fibres and the handle, and that the print-protecting coating on the metal handle prevents a proper electrical connection to the user’s hand. The user is the “ground” for static electricity, so having a good electrical contact from fibres-to-hand is a big deal! This is where Audioquest get it right and so many others get it wrong.
The Audioquest Anti-Static Record Brush are available through your local specialized hi-fi dealers, priced around AUD$49.
All the record cleaning and care is a waste of time if you don't store your precious vinyl properly and in an uncontaminated sleeve! There are some great anti-static, scratch-proof sleeves available, but it's hard to go past the MoFi Electronics Original Master Record Sleeves. Every record professionally cleaned by us is put in a brand-new MoFi inner sleeve (along with a Blake outer for the cover).