Vinyl Record Cleaning (Blog # 3) – The Time Factor
I have earlier shared posts about record cleaning and its impact on performance. What I have not covered so far is finding the time to do it. As your record library gets larger, the ability to keep up with the cleaning, equipment supplies and maintenance starts becoming a challenge, whether you are a full-time audiophile or pursuing analog audio as a hobby. After all, cleaning and listening simultaneously in the same or different rooms does not work. I struggle to find the time and I would instead use that time listening. I have often requested resellers of used and new records to provide a cleaning service before shipping a purchased selection, but the process is rarely available, and the quality is inconsistent. Hence, I was surprised to find a record cleaning service on eBay that used a very similar process that I use. I always prefer a vacuum cleaning followed by ultrasonic and then a new MoFi inner sleeve; see earlier record cleaning post.
Upon some research, I came across Pristine LP Grooves in Indio, California. They are a record cleaning service using a VPI 16.5 for the initial vacuum cleaning followed by the Audio Desk vinyl cleaner pro and finally the KLAudio KD CLN LP200(both ultrasonic cleaners), and then placed in a MoFi inner sleeve; very promising, especially with the 2nd ultrasonic cleaning using a different frequency. They go beyond what I expected, including an incoming inspection with variable LED light for pre-inspection, Zeiss microfiber clothes for handling, a labeling service, shipping insurance and custom packaging for the return shipment.
I sent a select sample of records to Pristine LP Grooves for cleaning; these included:
1) Patricia Barber Album; I struggled cleaning as it had a residue from the internal packaging that had deteriorated.
2) Van Morrison and Marc Cohn albums cleaned in my Audio desk ultrasonic but not vacuum cleaned with Okki Nokki.
3) Diana Krull Live in Paris release
4) Two Chuck Mangione Children of Sanchez albums. One was thoroughly cleaned by me and the 2nd not cleaned.
I packaged and shipped the ten records as a sample set for this initial run. Within a few days, I received all the records back, cleaned, and with new MoFi sleeves—the results, as one would hope, improved performance on all but 1 of the albums. The Patricia Barber album performance was clearly improved with more detail, something I was not able to do with my cleaning equipment, The Chuck Mangioni album that was thoroughly cleaned by myself before sending had some surface clicks at the start, but these got reduced, something else I was not able to do, Morrison and Cohn much improved as expected since I did not finish a complete cleaning process. Finally, there was no improvement for the Krull Live in Paris disc, but that’s because I had cleaned it thoroughly before I shipped it, just for a check.
To conclude, a better record cleaning service can help save you time and expenses of investing in your own cleaning equipment. In the future, I am considering having all my records sent to Pristine LP Groove to have them cleaned and re-sleeved, including new records purchased.
Vinyl has survived the loudness wars and the music streaming age, there must be something really good about it. Until next time...