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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:43 pm 
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Location: Grande Prairie, AB, CA
Over the past couple of years, I have been on a bit of a quest. I wanted to keep my vinyl clean, thus allowing my system to perform at its best, and preserve the playability what is essentially a dwindling finite resource. You guys all know the story. But I am also a bit of a cheapskate. I want it all, and on the cheap if I can get it.

So, it all starts with the $20 brush, because that should do it. Well, it didn't. So I splurged and bought the $49 cleaning kit, who knows what brand at this point, it was just a waypoint on my journey. Surely, that one should work. Well it didn't. So, that's it, I am spending big, no fooling around here, and bought a Spin Clean MKII, with extra solution, we're ending this right there. Well, it did work, somewhat. It got the surface clean, but the thing killed me. All this inching it along, getting maybe 10-12 records cleaned an hour and my hands feeling like they got run over by a tractor. My vinyl needed to be cleaned, the stuff I want is long out lf print, so it is all used, you guys know the drill.

That was it, I had it with that plastic devil. So, the seach was on for an automated machine. And, by fall of this year, I settled on the top-end Nitty Gritty. It was fully automatic, cleaning both sides simultaneously. I decided on it in September. The company shut their doors in August. Bummer. So, I started looking at who was left, Okki Nokki, Loricraft, Music Hall, and a few others. All of them were a brush and vacuum arrangement, some, you do all the cleaning manually, and the thing is a glorified vacuum for $1000, and you have to sit there, flip it over, scrub by hand, no thanks. I wasn't thrilled at the prospect of a $1000 machine and I still had to do all the work. I looked at the higher end units, and they were 1 side at a time, for a measly $2500-$3500. No thanks.

So, I walked into The Gramophone in Edmonton, looking actually not for a vinyl cleaning machine, but rather a new integrated amplifier to replace my old, faithful Cyrus Two. I was smitten with Mcintosh, and that was what I was looking at, cash in hand. Instead, I find a nice consignment Rogue Cronus, and I knew the owner once they told me who it was, so I walked out with it. Well, on my way out, what do I see, an Audio Desk Pro machine. So, I got a demo of it, it looked neat, seemed easy to use, just what I need. Until Brian told me the price. $4500. I was a little taken aback. This machine did not really come up on my radar, maybe a failure of Google and the lack of retailers close to me with experience in these matters. Whatever. At any rate, my mind was made up. There was no way I was spending that kind of money on a record cleaner, no damn way. I needed a new subwoofer to replace my 20 year old Mirage BPS-150's. Well, new subwoofer came, and I found I had about $2000 to spend on a vinyl cleaner. So, back to the scrub and suck units it was for me.

Well, the idea of those units was about as palatable to me as week old salad, so I researched the Audio Desk unit. Now, I am a service electrician by trade, and I am specialized in high-end equipment in telecom and light industry, it is nothing for me to hook up $500,000 laser generator the size of a suitcase. So I understand build quality, and when I have to tear apart a $100,000 piece of equipment and am left shaking my head and cussing for the engineering stupidity, I learn to look for the goods, and know it when I see it. So, ok, the reviews on the original unit from Glass were spotty, pump failures, leaky drains, unserviceable components due to sealed structure, you name it. Well, Glass learned from that and made some improvements, and price rose accordingly. Those Germans can engineer good stuff, we have all seen it. And an engineer that sees an error and improves has got my attention. So, I looked at it a little harder, but my God, it is $4500, plus consumables and wear items.

Well, I had to make a decision one way or another, I had $2000 set aside. Not enough. After a couple weeks of furiously clearing out all my old audio gear (some guys got smoking deals), I scraped up just enough to buy it. It was a little dodgy, raiding the coin jar, rifling through the couch, but I did it.

Well, I drove down and picked one up. Brian was great to deal with, tossed in a couple items for it at no charge, and I was on my way.

So, I set it all up last night, and started cleaning. Now, I had read a few reviews that said to prepare yourself for how good this thing cleans, and the differences it can reveal. And they weren't kidding. Even with a modest table (1Xpression Carbon Classic with 2M Silver), it allowed that table to perform well above its pricetag. A couple reviewers had noted that this machine was akin to going from a $500 table to a $5000 table in performance, and I believe it now.

I was able to take some $1 records that were unlistenable (I bought them just to try them out on this machine) and it made them usable again. Not perfect, but a 95% reduction in noise is sure helpful. Others that were pristine or very good, well, their performance jumped up several notches. No static, none at all, not like hitting my records with the Zerostat fresh out of drying from the Spin Clean. And super quiet on the table, not perfectly silent on all records, but reduced to the point that I don't notice it and it doesn't bug me.

Now, having reflected on why in God's name I would spend that kind of money cleaning records (my wife still isn't speaking to me), I absolutely made the right call. If you have a few dozen records, this machine is maybe not the best choice, financially speaking. But, when a few hundred are involved, maybe.

Would I buy one again, in a heartbeat. Would I go to another machine, not with what is currently out there.

Not to sound like a cheesy advertisement, but seriously look at the Audio Desk.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:52 pm 
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I know it's a great machine, a friend is in the used record business and everything gets a clean in the Audiodesk. It's expensive but nothing works better.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:24 am 
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I used my friend's KL Audio ultrasonic cleaner for several weeks, which is the "other" ultrasonic cleaner on the market in the same price range. I found the KL Audio gets records quieter than my regular vacuum based RCM, and of course it's much easier to use as it's automatic. Some really dirty records still benefited from cleaning on my vacuum based machine first (some contaminants require more aggressive cleaners), but I don't think there is any substitute for ultrasonic cleaning on vinyl.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:28 am 
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Location: Ardrosssan, AB, CA
That was a good read.

I have been tempted by the Audio Desk for many years but in the end just can't justify the price. I have checked out the various DIY ultrasonic projects and of course none are as elegant as the Audio Desk but the price is much more palatable!


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:04 am 
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Location: Waterloo, ON, CA
Very nice write up!

It's interesting that you are seeing such a huge reduction in noise. I pre-clean my records on a Squeaky Clean RCM before dunking them in a DIY ultrasonic bath. The ultrasonic step doesn't seem to further reduce noise for me although the records sound much better after the ultrasonic.

I wonder if I'm missing something? I somehow doubt it, as I sent about 50 records to Executive Stereo to clean on their Audio Desk and my DIY routine does a better job. Maybe the Pro is better? Or maybe the fluid wasn't clean?

Does anyone else have any experience comparing DIY to the Audio Desk?

Todd

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:12 am 
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toddc2 wrote:
I pre-clean my records on a Squeaky Clean RCM before dunking them in a DIY ultrasonic bath.


Probably sticking to the Spin Clean for now but if you shared your thoughts on the Squeaky Clean that would be great. My concerns with it are
1. The underside of the record gets dirty every time you lay it on the spinner
2. Adjusting the strength of the vacuum

It seems like with a few tweaks it could be a top notch device though.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:30 am 
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hollinger wrote:
toddc2 wrote:
I pre-clean my records on a Squeaky Clean RCM before dunking them in a DIY ultrasonic bath.


Probably sticking to the Spin Clean for now but if you shared your thoughts on the Squeaky Clean that would be great. My concerns with it are
1. The underside of the record gets dirty every time you lay it on the spinner
2. Adjusting the strength of the vacuum

It seems like with a few tweaks it could be a top notch device though.


1. If it is a really dirty record, some stuff will get onto the platter, just give it a quick wipe before putting the newly cleaned side on the platter.
2. There is a dial on the wand attachment to adjust the vacuum strength (pretty sure about that but it has been a while since I used mine).

For the money, it is really good. Plus Nick is really great to deal with.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:22 am 
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Demerara wrote:
hollinger wrote:
toddc2 wrote:
I pre-clean my records on a Squeaky Clean RCM before dunking them in a DIY ultrasonic bath.


Probably sticking to the Spin Clean for now but if you shared your thoughts on the Squeaky Clean that would be great. My concerns with it are
1. The underside of the record gets dirty every time you lay it on the spinner
2. Adjusting the strength of the vacuum

It seems like with a few tweaks it could be a top notch device though.


1. If it is a really dirty record, some stuff will get onto the platter, just give it a quick wipe before putting the newly cleaned side on the platter.
2. There is a dial on the wand attachment to adjust the vacuum strength (pretty sure about that but it has been a while since I used mine).

For the money, it is really good. Plus Nick is really great to deal with.



1. I use two mats, the second one only sees a newly cleaned side of vinyl.
2. Yes, there is a vacuum strength adjust knob on the pickup wand.

I get very good results with the RCM only and HIGHLY recommend it. For completeness, here is my process for using only the RCM:

Clean Side 1:
a. MoFi Super Wash scrub with brush 1
b. Vacuum with pickup wand 1
c. Disc Doctor Miracle scrub with brush 2
d. Vacuum with pickup wand 1
e. Saturate with distilled water and scrub with brush 3
f. Vacuum with pickup wand 1
g. Saturate with distilled water, no scrubbing
h. Vacuum with pickup wand 2 (yes, I purchased a second pickup wand for this step)

Swap out the "dirty" mat for mat 2 (the "clean" mat) and repeat for Side 2

This routine provides excellent results. Adding the ultrasonic cleaner is even better, but at a pretty high cost.

Todd

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Audio: VPI Classic 3 w/Lyra Delos -> Whest 2017 PS.30 RDT SE+ -> ARC Ref2 MkII -> ARC VT100 MkIII -> Magico S1. Cables are Siltech 550/770.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:37 am 
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See, this is where my mind was at with whole record cleaning thing. As much as I like to tinker, giving up countless hours of manual labour cleaning was just not doing it for me. I sold myself on the idea that if I had 500 records to clean now, at 10 per hour, that is 50 hours of work. If my personal time is worth $15/hr., that is $750 of just my time. But, to me, my time is worth much more than that.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:50 am 
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Doesn't rinse and doesn't suction away the dirt....that's two strikes against in my book. On the plus side, as an ultrasonic cleaner, it has at least some means of mechanical scrubbing, which most don't especially at the DIY level. Cavitation alone is not enough in my experience.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 pm 
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anyone in the west GTA is welcome to bring an LP by and i'll run it through our Audiodesk Pro display unit and judge for yourself with actual results.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 1:07 pm 
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ripblade wrote:
Doesn't rinse and doesn't suction away the dirt....that's two strikes against in my book. On the plus side, as an ultrasonic cleaner, it has at least some means of mechanical scrubbing, which most don't especially at the DIY level. Cavitation alone is not enough in my experience.


I agree with you. I believe the best way it would be to buy the ultrasonic tank cavitation device from eBay by it self and then either DIY a motor housing/holder to spin the record dipped in the ultrasonic bath for the recommended 15 minutes OR buy the attachment from Cleanervinyl (a little pricy) ,once the record has finished the ultrasonic cycle ,THEN remove and take the record over to the RCM to rinse and vacuum dry. In fact I probably will end up doing just that ,myself. Now I know this set up has too many gadgets and the room will look like a mad scientist lab but we geeks don't mind that.Right? LOL.
I mean the average Joe back in the day probably cleaned vinyl by spitting on it and wipe on his elbow sleeve.LOL.
The Audio Desk is way to expensive and I don't really like the spinning brushes on it,also from videos I seen it seems to be as noisy too.
George


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 2:21 pm 
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I find that my Okki Nokki RCM does a great job, not too noisy & I can finish both sides of the record in a minute or so. It is, of course, much less money than an Audio Desk but if the liquid is not vacuumed out after use, I think that a drawback to the Audio Desk. Many of the RCM's on the market are too noisy & will give you a headache after a while. I find the Okki Nokki that allows you to use different brushes which you hold at your desired pressure but just for a few turns & you can then reverse the motor direction a great machine especially as the sound level is not that loud & doesn't induce a headache. I am told that the distributor, Tri-Cell Enterprises, can barely keep it in stock.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:20 pm 
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Yiorgos wrote:
ripblade wrote:
Doesn't rinse and doesn't suction away the dirt....that's two strikes against in my book. On the plus side, as an ultrasonic cleaner, it has at least some means of mechanical scrubbing, which most don't especially at the DIY level. Cavitation alone is not enough in my experience.


I agree with you. I believe the best way it would be to buy the ultrasonic tank cavitation device from eBay by it self and then either DIY a motor housing/holder to spin the record dipped in the ultrasonic bath for the recommended 15 minutes OR buy the attachment from Cleanervinyl (a little pricy) ,once the record has finished the ultrasonic cycle ,THEN remove and take the record over to the RCM to rinse and vacuum dry. In fact I probably will end up doing just that ,myself. Now I know this set up has too many gadgets and the room will look like a mad scientist lab but we geeks don't mind that.Right? LOL.
I mean the average Joe back in the day probably cleaned vinyl by spitting on it and wipe on his elbow sleeve.LOL.
The Audio Desk is way to expensive and I don't really like the spinning brushes on it,also from videos I seen it seems to be as noisy too.
George

That's basically the route I went. The noise was bad enough I wore ear protection when I was near it. Also a mask to avoid breathing the cloud of water + surfactant that floats above the tank. You can't easily see it, but you sure can smell it. I suppose the rubber lips on the Audiodesk are there to reduce that.

Also, the modified paint rollers that buff the record are one good thing about it; as I mentioned earlier, cavitation alone is not enough. I tried something similar using CF brushes, but the wet bristles clumped up and I could see evidence of them scratching the surface in the dead wax.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:30 pm 
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Regardless of the type of machines, cleaning makes a huge difference in sound quality and enjoyment.

I had a vacuum machine and only cleaned about 50 LPs in 3 years... got the Audiodesk and I am at 400+ since mid summer!

Once the initial motivation is gone, putting 7-10 minutes to do it right per album on a vacuum machine gets boring. With the Audiodesk I have no excuse to play a dirty record.

Priceless!


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