Enzyme Cleaners specifically for LPs...Really?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by JBryan, Sep 15, 2011.

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  1. JBryan

    JBryan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Baltimore/St Louis
    A few years ago, I met a fella in a thrift shop buying dirty LPs and he said that he was working on a record cleaning solution that would eat the organic material on records. I said that it sounded like he was mixing an enzyme cleaner and there were plenty of ready-made choices to be found on the shelves at the grocery store and Home Depot. He said his cleaner would be specifically made to safely clean records.

    Intrigued, I looked at enzyme cleaners for a while and found that the ones labeled 'Organic" or "Environmentally Safe" didn't seem to contain any substances that I would consider harmful to LPs but I didn't trust my chemical knowledge enough to try any on my records.

    Has anyone investigated using any readily-available enzyme cleaners or come up with a home brew yet? I'd like to give one a try but I just can't see why a enzyme cleaner has to be specifically formulated for records.
  2. rockitman

    rockitman Active Member

    I use Audio Intelligent Enzymatic cleaner. Completley safe for records as is all of their cleaning products. They also have a cleaner that is safe for old shellac records (Premium Archivist Formula) that contains NO alcohol.

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  3. JBryan

    JBryan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Baltimore/St Louis
    Thanks for the link. I guess I'm a bit skeptical of the "audio" designation in that the 32oz. bottle of AudioIntelligent's Enzyme cleaner costs $37 while an environmentally safe enzyme cleaner at Home Depot and such has no alcohol or solvents to damage LPs and costs less than $6. I'm sure there is some difference in formulas but I'm not sure the AI cleaner's mix justifies the price difference or even provides a less harmful record cleaner.
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  4. coffeecupman

    coffeecupman Forum Resident

    Caterham, UK
    I steer clear of the enzyme products, personally.

    Just saying what I do.

    I use Record Research Labs fluids.

    Somewhere I read the philosophy behind his cleaning fluids, and felt they made a whole lot of sense to me.

    Enzymes have never made sense to me. I have a friend who has a masters in genetics who couldn't figure out how enzymes could be beneficial, or activated in such a solution, or else capable of being stored normally, a bunch of stuff.

    Not saying it's wrong. Just we couldn't make sense of it. RRL makes sense to us.

  5. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan


    Sorry to disagree here but enzyme cleaners are one of the best new LP cleaners out there. Audio Intelligent and MFSL cleaners work really well. The results speak for themselves.
  6. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident


    FWIW I'm very familiar with the RRL/Mo Fi products having used them all, at one time or another, over a period of a couple of years. Their "Super Deep", their Enzyme Cleaner and their Super Vinyl Wash. Never used their Pure Water, which they introduced later, as my wife is a researcher and simply brings ultrapure water home from the lab for me.

    I currently use the AIVS #15, which is a combination enzyme/detergent first step cleaner. It requires a bit of soak time but is the best cleaner I have used, head and shoulders above the RRL/Mo Fi stuff IMO. I follow it with two passes/rinses with ultrapure water and I steam after the rinses as well.

    At first I thought the Mo Fi Super Vinyl Wash was an ok product, but after using both the Mo Fi Super Deep and Enzyme I found it to be a complete waste of money and detrimental, in fact, if used as a one step cleaner without a rinse with pure water (I don't think there is any one step cleaner out there that does a decent job and does not leave a sonic signature) and simply stopped using it. If used as a one step with no rinse, or the final step, the Super Vinyl Wash muddies up the midrange and rolls off the highs, masking all kinds of detail and info on the record.

    If you are using pure water as the final stage, you're ok, but if the SVW is the last stage unfortunately all your records need to be recleaned or rinsed if you really want to hear what they have to offer.

    I really like the AIVS 15. Uses enzymes (and still no alcohol like the RRL/Mo Fi products) and works extremely well.
  7. sberger

    sberger Grumpy(but grateful) geezer

    RRL (now owned my MoFi) makes their own enzyme cleaner. I use it on records that are dirtier/noisier than normal and have found it to be safe and does make a difference. Sometimes not a lot but a difference nonetheless.
  8. numanoid

    numanoid Forum Resident

    Valparaiso, IN
    I use the mofi enzyme cleaner on everything, old and new. I've noticed a big difference on dirty LP's. But I've noticed the biggest difference when I leave it on for ten minutes. Keep in mind that he bottle says to leave it on for 3-5 minutes. On brand new records I usually do about two minutes, but on dirty, used records I was doing five minutes and it made a noticeable difference. Then, I had a really, really noisy record. I figured what the hell, and left it on for ten minutes, with a second scrub at the five minute mark. That made a huge difference.

    I follow everything with the super record wash as a rinse. I don't see much need for the super deep cleaner anymore.
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  9. jdsher

    jdsher Forum Resident

    Plano, Texas, USA
    Second the Audio Intelligent products. I just received my second supply a couple of days ago. I decided to order a pre-cleaner no. 15. My system goes like this: I squirt no. 15 on for about 2 minutes, followed by no. 6, then the ultra-pure water. I use the RCM after each to remove the fluid and I use the Osage record cleaning brush to scrub after no. 15 has sat there for 2 minutes, and immediately after putting no. 6 on the record. The results are absolutely unbelievable.
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  10. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector

    I have also had great success with Audio Intelligent cleaners. I see no downside, except that they are expensive. Using the fluid not only gets rid of visual dirt and surface noise--often times the audio quality improves. The sound will get brighter and clearer. And, I swear the bass response can become more punchy and vibrant. Best I can guess is that the cleaner removes gunk that would impede the fine tracking of the stylus, so more bass information is retrieved. Sounds crazy, I know, but the results speak for themselves. It's unlikely that I will ever go back to washing records in the sink, etc., even really dirty ones.
  11. coffeecupman

    coffeecupman Forum Resident

    Caterham, UK
    Good stuff, guys. Maybe I need to revisit my strategy.

    Lots of people I trust here giving strong testimony.

    Blake, no worries about recleaning - I clean every side before playback, so after switching systems, eventually that would take care of itself.

    I had remembered it as RRL being almost 100% quadruple-distilled laboratory grade water, with just a few things in there for enhancement. I remember the developer stating that his approach was "less non-water chemicals is more". That's what I liked about his philosophy. In particular, his belief that most products out there put unnecessary surfactants in their stuff so that audiophiles could get a fuzzy feeling about the fluid "coating" the record as it spins. He said at the time (and this is all from memory, so take it for what that's worth) that the water makes contact with the dirt via the brush, and the beading up of the water on the record is a good thing, as it is drawing the dirt up out of the grooves, without leaving residue.

    What would be great is if someone with access to a good microscope that has a camera attached to it could take some nice high resolution groove photographs of:

    1. A brand new record, capturing the infamous "mold release compound" which everyone has always talked about (and many have doubted)

    2. An old dirty record. One with some mold would be nice.

    3. The same two records after cleaning with your fave product.

    4. Visual indication of residue left by RRL or other brands.

    I know some of you guys out there have lab access. This would be really valuable.

    I'm the last to suggest that "Everything heard can be seen". But if residue could be seen with a microscope, that would pretty much close the door on the argument, because I think we could agree that residue isn't desirable.

    Bonus picture suggestions : "before and after" pictures of records treated with Last record preservative.

  12. Josquin des Prez

    Josquin des Prez Forum Resident

    +1 for Audio Intelligent products. I am getting great results. Using Formula #15, plus the three-step. I use the #6 one-step for maintenance.

    Previously I was using the default Okki Nokki fluid in combination with a steamer. I no longer use the steamer.
  13. mikemoon

    mikemoon Forum Resident

    Atlanta, GA
    When using the enzyme cleaner does everyone vacuum off immediately? I usually dab dry with a soft cotton cloth. I don't want to put the dirty side on the RCM causing cross contamination. Once I've completed the enzyme process for both sides I then put the record on the RCM. I follow it with the cleaner and the pure water.

    Also, I've used a combo Step 1 and 3 Audio Intelligent solutions and used the Disc Doctor cleaner for Step 2. To me the results are good either way. Just curious if anyone else has experimented.

    When using the enzyme cleaner I usually scrub for about 1 minute and leave it on there for 10-15 minutes before anything dries. I was recommended to do this somewhere or by someone but the instructions indicate differently. I don't think it's caused any harm. The results tend to be good.

    What are the preferred brushes to use? I use the VPI brush for the Enzyme and use either a 2nd VPI brush or Disc Doctor Brush for the cleaner and a 2nd Disc Doctor brush for the rinse.

    Although expensive, I would recommend the Audio Intelligent Product line.
  14. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    Nice discussion, but no one seems to be addressing the OP's actual question. . .
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  15. jdsher

    jdsher Forum Resident

    Plano, Texas, USA
    If I remember correctly there was an insert with the direction sheet that mentions that they changed something in the pre-cleaning product that allows it to work much faster, ie ~2 minutes.
  16. Josquin des Prez

    Josquin des Prez Forum Resident

    That is correct. Presoak does not need to be longer than 2 minutes.
  17. vinyl anachronist

    vinyl anachronist Forum Resident

    Fairport NY
    I'm using the Walker Audio Prelude cleaning system which uses enzymes. I've been able to save a lot of LPs that I thought were too dirty, scratched or worn. It's amazing stuff and so much better than anything else I've tried. It's a lot of work but totally worth it.
  18. katstep

    katstep Professional Cat Herder

    I think the OP is not asking what audiophile enzyme cleaners we are all using. He wants to know if anyone has experimented with off the shelf, Home Despot type of stuff. I, like the OP am interested to know if anyone has fooled around with and created their own enzyme cleaner. Isn't this what the OP was asking? :confused:
  19. vinyl anachronist

    vinyl anachronist Forum Resident

    Fairport NY
    Nope. The OP asked:

    "Has anyone investigated using any readily-available enzyme cleaners or come up with a home brew yet?"
  20. breakdown7

    breakdown7 Forum Resident

    I have been using the Audio Intelligent No.6 one-step cleaner with a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine with good results. I have thought about purchasing the No.15 with the Pure Water rinse, but I am not sure if it will clean that much better than the one-step. Since you use all of these fluids, what is your opinion on this?? (by the way, all my records are cleaned with a Spin Clean prior to going on the VPI 16.5)
  21. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    IMO there is no one step cleaner on the market that will effectively clean a record. I believe that Jim Pendleton at Osage/AIVS would tell you the same thing. There is no vacuum on the market, including a Monks or Loricraft, that will remove all surfactants and/or detergents in a one step cleaner from a record.

    The result is a record that is not as clean as it can be using a high quality, high purity water rinse and a resulting sonic signature as a result of those surfactants and detergents remaining on the record.

    I use the AIVS #15 and it is the best first stage cleaner I've used, but I certainly haven't used them all. It does require rinsing.

    What most people don't realise is just how important a high purity water is, not just in terms of rinsing, but actually in terms of further cleaning records following a good enzyme/surfactant/detergent based first step. Ultra pure or reagent grade water is actually a very powerful solvent.

    With a lot of my favorite records, I've gone to an initial cleaning with AIVS followed by two rinses with ultrapure water. I'll then play the record a couple of times and go back and do one or two further rinses (or washes) with ultrapure water only. If you have a resolving front end you will hear the difference in many cases.

    FWIW, I would not purchase ultrapure from the record cleaning companies. Seek out ultrapure or type 1 reagent grade water from a scientific supply house. You'll pay about $60-$75 for 5 gallons (about 1/5 to 1/8 of what you will pay from the record cleaning companies) which will clean approximately 1500-1700 records.
  22. Josquin des Prez

    Josquin des Prez Forum Resident

    For new records I am using the #15 plus the 3-step, including the ultra-pure water. For my existing records, if they have never been on the Okki Nokki RCM they get the 3-step treatment and a new MFSL or QRP inner sleeve. I do not use the #6 one-step very often, but if I do, I follow it with an ultra-pure water rinse. I only trust finishing a cleaning with a rinse to make sure I get any potential residue off the record.

    I had problems with the Spin Clean leaving residue on records and sold mine when I got the Okki Nokki RCM. I was glad to be rid of it.
  23. Josquin des Prez

    Josquin des Prez Forum Resident

    Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places or using bad search terms, but I have not been able to find a supplier. Can you tell me where to get this?
  24. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

  25. Josquin des Prez

    Josquin des Prez Forum Resident

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