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Cleaning your vinyl records collection December 19, 2014 18:48

Now that we have a collection of vinyl records, how do we keep them clean and sound as good as the first day we bought them.

Fortunately, with the advancement in technology especially on the stylus and tone arm end, vinyl records are subjected to less wear and tear as in the old days when the needle slowly etched through the groves leaving microscopic debris adding very familiar pops and crackling crescendos to our music track as we play them. Some even got used to these pops and crackling, without which they said were not listening to vinyl records at all.

Despite all of the earlier methods of trying to preserve our precious records with Dust Bugs and the like, background noise always increased and there was very little one could do to stop the decline short of buying a record cleaning machine and these were only marginally effective at best.

There were and are many ways to clean our vinyl records. From soaking them overnight and wash them with detergents to sophisticated vacuum cleaning machines and purposed built spinning devices like the Spin :

There are many who have made up their own machines, some of them very good, but until the advent of the Audio Desk Vinyl Cleaner that ultrasonic cleaning again gain prominence as one of the better way to thoroughly clean a vinyl record.

Ultrasonic cleaning has been around since the 1950's when, like all new technologies, it was expensive and the effects regarded as almost unreal.

Ultrasonic cleaning consists of immersing the LP in a suitable liquid, switching on the ultrasonic generator for a time and after that, rinsing with clean water and then drying.

Ultrasonic produces the shock waves that creates microscopic bubbles in the liquid which implodes or collapses under the pressure of ultrasonic agitation. These waves impinge on the surface of the vinyl record and through a scrubbing action, displace or loosen particulate matters from the surface. The process by which these bubbles collapse or implode is known as true or vapor cavitation.

 

There are many ultrasonic cleaning machine for vinyl records in the market. The Auto Desk Vinyl Cleaner costing USD3,995 is one of them. Another is the fully automatic one with a dryer made in Korea for Klaudio costing USD3,999.99.


 

 

 

Ultrasonic Records assembles one for sale at USD1,800.


For those who want to assemble their own, we have put in place the different components necessary to clean your vinyl records with ultrasonically.

  1. A Ultrasonic Bath
  2. A holder on a spindle that rotate 4 records at a time at 1RPM.
  3. The clamping device to clam 4 records at a time.
  4. The liquid components:
  5. Distilled water
  6. Isopropyl Alcohol
  7. Surfacant (wetting agent)
  8. Drying cloth

The records are placed in an ultrasonic bath so that it is perpendicular to the direction of the ultrasonic transducer running at 40kH.  The ultrasonic energy when applied, provides a strong imploding action along the grooves of these records.

One of the problems encountered in ultrasonic cleaning is the very high cavitation intensities that can be produced in water. In order to decrease the intensity of the cavitation stress, a proportion of 25% of Isopropyl alcohol is added to the water. Please note that the alcohol is flammable.

A few drops of Surfacent to eliminate water marks when the records are dried. Detergents can also be used as a substitute.

 

The Process

Fill the bath with distilled water. The isopropyl alcohol, 25% portion and few drops of surfacant are added.

Turn the bath on and heat to 40° C. This may talk about half an hour.

Attached the Records clamped together onto the spindle.

Run the spindle for 10 minutes.

Unclamp the records and lay them out on a dish drying basket to dry. If needed, buy the vacuum attachment and use the vacuum to suck the water out.

You will be amazed with how clean the records are. The surface noises will be reduced and as if playing from a new record again.