Loricraft PRC-4 Deluxe Record Cleaning Machine mini review

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by fmuakkassa, May 7, 2008.

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  1. fmuakkassa

    fmuakkassa Dr. M Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    This is my mini review of the Loricraft PRC4-Deluxe Record Cleaning Machine. I have been using it now for almost one month so I have a fair idea on how the machine works. I am not a professional reviewer. This is an end user review. A lot of the information about its physical characteristics I got from various web sites and I will include when deemed necessary. I did perform my own measurements too to supplement this review. The US importer Smart Devices have links to professional reviews if someone is interested:
    http://www.smartdev.com/loricraft.html

    Description of the machine: The Loricraft PRC4 is a big machine 18”W, 11”H (with acrylic cover on) and 16” D and weighs about 35 pounds. What distinguishes the PRC4 Deluxe from the PRC3 is a hard acrylic dust cover (can be added to the PRC3), adjustable leveling feet, vacuum arm rest, and a very expensive German made industrial double headed vacuum pump. If the suction power of the PRC-3 is graded as 1, then the PRC-4 suction value is 2.2 and the PRC-4 Deluxe has suction value 3.7 (two pump heads). Therefore, you would need 3.7 PRC-3 pumps to create as much vacuum as a PRC-4 Deluxe. The design engineers discovered that the PRC-4 Deluxe cannot be operated in a room where the temperature is below 60F. The vacuum is so intense the nozzle will freeze from the air velocity and record cleaning fluid!
    The machine is built like a tank with beautifully finished cherry wood sides and black shiny acrylic top with nice tactile feel to the switches. The arm is made of shiny brass (the machine comes with a can of British metal polish wadding). There are three switches, one runs the “turntable” forward or reverse, one runs the arm motor and one the vacuum pump. The machine can be operated for hours and hours at end without any problems. In addition, it has a 5 year warranty and can be repaired in the US.

    Assembly is easy and can be done in 10 minutes.

    The arm mimics a turntable arm. It has a downward weight of 2.5 gram set at the factory (my measurements were 2.38 g using an Acoustech Digital Stylus Force meter). The arm has an inner and outer tube. A nylon thread, fed from a spool at the base of the arm assembly, travels from the back of the arm to the front via the inner tube. At the tip of the arm (where a stylus would be) there is a nylon nozzle with a hole in the middle where the nylon thread enters at the tip and exists at the top to travel back along the arm’s top external small tube. At the end of the tube, a small 3 mm vinyl tube attatches and leads to a bottle that collects the suctioned cleaning fluid and the spent nylon thread. The collecting bottle is then attached to the suction pump inside the machine by a 6 mm vinyl tube. The jar has to be emptied when 2/3 full. This basically lays out the principal concept behind the design and function of the machine.

    How does the machine works (In a nutshell)
    1. Put an LP on the platter
    2. Apply your favorite cleaning liquid, turn the platter motor on (the turntable runs at 80 RPM) and spread the liquid with a brush.
    3. Stop the platter motor and wait for the liquid to work as recommended by the manufacturer
    4. Place the arm over the edge of the record label (inner grove) then turn on the platter motor, arm motor and pump motor.
    5. Watch as the powerful vacuum pump sucks out the fluid through the tip of the nozzle and into the collection bottle as it travels from the inner grove to the outer edge of the LP. The arm traveling time is about one minute.
    6. While the vacuum pump is one, turn the nylon spindle about 5 mm and the dirty thread will be sucked by this amount into the collecting jar.
    7. Turn off all motors and rest the arm in its designated spot with the clean nylon thread at its tip and you are ready to repeat the cycle for side two of the LP and so on. Why nylon you may ask. Because it does not generate static electricity so the LP comes out clean and static free. 8. Ah, one more thing. Place the cleaned LP in a clean inner sleeve and don’t forget to listen it after all this work!

    What about noise? I can’t compare it to any other machine as I’ve not seen or heard any. The Loricraft is my first RCM (used an Orbitrac before it). It is quite enough to do anything you want while it is working in the background. You can carry a conversation at normal levels. If music is playing I can’t hear it even standing next to it. With everything on (turntable motor, arm motor and vacuum motor) my sound level meter registered 60 dB on top and center of the turntable, 56 dB at 1 meter (or close to ear level while cleaning an LP) and 50 -51 dB at my listening position (about 3 -4 meters away). So if I am listening to music at 72-74 dB the Loricraft will be a faint hum in the background. I don’t hear it when listening to music at 80 dB or above. I checked a vacuum cleaner at home and it measured 90 dB of noise (ouch!).

    What is my current method of cleaning?
    Here there is no one glove fits all. The cleaning method and solutions used depend on how dirty the record is. After one month of trying, my current method involves the following and takes about eight minutes to perform.

    1. Place the record on the platter and start the platter motor forward. Use a carbon fiber brush to clean dust and large particulate matter. Reverse direction and do the same.
    2. Turn motor off. Protect the label (I use a rubber ring that came with the machine). Spray LP with Vinyl-Zyme Gold solution. Turn platter motor on and evenly spread solution with a 2 inch painter’s sponge brush. Reverse directions and spread solution. Wait 45-60 seconds for solution to work.
    3. Turn platter motor, arm motor and vacuum motor on. Vacuum solution off. Turn nylon thread spindle 5 mm to provide new thread.
    4. Apply your record cleaner solution of choice (I use L’Art Du Son) and spread evenly over LP with a dedicated nylon brush that came with machine. Repeat in reverse direction. Turn platter motor off and wait for solution to work. Two minutes in my case. Here, I found that a two minute glass timer is helpful. Turn all motors on and vacuum as above. Advance nylon thread 5 mm when done.
    5. Apply a water rinse. I use Reverse Osmosis/De-ionized water and spread with another nylon brush used for the water rinse only. Vacuum water off. Record is ready to play as it is dry and static free.
    N.B. If the record is new, I skip the Vinyl-Zyme step.

    The Results:
    Physically the surface of the record is restored to "as new" shiny black look. Most finger prints are gone in one cleaning cycle. Some very dirty records need more than one cleaning cycle or waiting longer for the cleaning fluid to work (the LP may partially dry and you have to apply more cleaning fluid).
    The LP has much less surface noise and if in excellent shape the background could be dead silent. Some LPs will continue to have surface noise (very minor and in soft passages) even with multiple cleanings. So if you expect your old beaten-up LPs to sound "near mint" you will be disappointed. The machine cannot restore damaged, abused and scratched LPs with groove wear distortion.
    As I have used the cleaning solutions that came with the machine, my results will vary from other Loricraft users and mine later as I experiment with different methods.

    Summary:
    Pros: The machine is beautifully built, very quite, easy to use (but not too automated), fun to watch as it works and does an excellent job at cleaning records. The dust cover is a must as after all you want to keep the cleaning machine dust free. It can clean 33 1/3, 45 and 78 RPM records. Very minimal cross contamination from record to record. Easy to empty spent fluid and thread.
    Cons: Very expensive. The cleaning fluid will spill on the surface of the machine (but it can be easily wiped off). The collecting jar at the side of the machine is ugly (but practical). Expect to spend a lot of time cleaning your collection!

    Some pictures to follow:

    LC4 with cover on.jpg
    Loricraft PRC-4 with cover on

    LC4 with carbon fiber brush.jpg
    Cleaning with the carbon microfiber brush. Notice the black rubber ring protecting the label (wish it was 3-5 mm wider)

    LC4 with nylon brush.jpg
    Spreading the cleaning solution with the supplied nylon brush

    LC4 wand cleaning 2.jpg
    The arm vacuuming the fluid. Notice how dry the record is (inner side)

    Cleaning fluids.jpg
    The cleaning fluids. L to R: RO/DI water, mixed L'art Du Son fluid, concentrated L'Art Du Son bottle, Vinyl-Zyme, Premiere.

    Thank you for reading my first mini review. I'll be happy to answer questions and post more photos in this thread and post updates on my cleaning methods.
     
    scottpaul_iu, jazdoc and LeeS like this.
  2. JoelWat

    JoelWat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dubai, UAE
    Very nice Loricraft review - thanks

    Very clearly written. I enjoyed the read. Having moved from a entry level Nitty Gritty to a Clearaudio SmartMatrix I can fully appreciate how indispensable a record cleaning machine is. Ultimately it is worth the expense to get the best in this regard. I am certain a Loricraft is in my near future. Therefore I have read your review with more than the usual interest.

    Regards,
    Jw
     
  3. paul cbc

    paul cbc Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oregon
    Nicely done!

    Thanks for taking the time to explain and share.

    A question:
    How much thread is used (per side) to clean a record?

    Thanks again! :thumbsup:
    Paul :)
     
  4. Paul Chang

    Paul Chang Forum Old Boy, Former Senior Member Has-Been

    Farid,

    Thanks for the review!

    The Smart Devices web site mentions:
    Is yours eqipped with this new pump?

    In my own cleaning procedure, the pre-cleaning for dirty records is performed off the record cleaning machine. And I always put the last pre-cleaned side facing down on the machine. This may reduce the level of cross contamination further.

    The pre-cleaning is done on the MILTY Work Mat but other kinds can do the job. It is a rubber mat with a matirx of several hundreds raised rubber dots on one the top side. I think the design is meant to let the dusts fall into the space between the dots and later be washed off when the mat is too dirty. But I always keep a cheap tooth brush handy.
     
  5. Paul Chang

    Paul Chang Forum Old Boy, Former Senior Member Has-Been

    I would play the record fresh off the RCM, the reason being side one may catch some dust/debris after side two is cleaned so I clean it on the TT with a record brush before playing. I will brush both sides at the flip and then again before storing the record in the inner sleeve.
     
  6. Paul Chang

    Paul Chang Forum Old Boy, Former Senior Member Has-Been

    :)
     
  7. Stax Fan

    Stax Fan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest
    You lucky dog. I've been wanting one of these for a long time. :)

    Thanks for your impressions, and with pictures no less. Excellent job. :cool:
     
  8. seed_drill

    seed_drill Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tryon, NC, USA
    I've wanted to upgrade to one of these from my ragged out 16.5 for years, but things like home repairs, car repairs, need of a new car, child care costs, need for new clothes, gas tripling in price (and I drive 45K per year) . . . kind of put this on a backburner. :D
     
  9. dogpile

    dogpile Generation X record spinner.

    Location:
    YYZ - Canada
    Farid. Your model looks gorgeous... congrats :righton:
     
  10. Tony Plachy

    Tony Plachy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pleasantville, NY
    Farid, Great review!:righton: :righton: :righton: :righton:
     
  11. Mike in OR

    Mike in OR Through Middle-earth...onto Heart of The Sunrise

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Great review and a great read......enjoy that baby. I want one!
     
  12. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Great review Farid. I'd really like to own one of these one day.
     
  13. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Surprise, AZ
    Maybe one day if Santa is good to me :)
     
  14. quicksilverbudie

    quicksilverbudie quicksilverbudie

    Location:
    Ontario
    You seem like a pro to me, great review.
     
  15. Ski Bum

    Ski Bum Happy Audiophile

    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Great review. I'd like one, but I can't bear to part with my VPI HW17 which has been a reliable (but loud) performer for about 20 years.
     
  16. pbda

    pbda Forum Resident

    Location:
    London, England
    Excellent review; thanks for taking the time to do this.

    I've had my eyes on one of these for a while, but until the dollar weakens vs. the pound I'll have to sit tight.
     
  17. thorbs

    thorbs Active Member

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks Farid, excellent job!!

    Looks and performs nicely. I'm still cleaning by hand but I'm tempted.
     
  18. fmuakkassa

    fmuakkassa Dr. M Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    Thank you all for your kind remarks and encouragement for my first review.

    I have more pictures that did not fit in the first post:

    LC4 with foam brush.jpg
    The painter's foam brush I use to apply Vinyl-Zyme.

    LC4 with nylon spindle.jpg
    The nylon thread spindle. Note that I marked the spindle with a red marker to help me when I advance the thread. Usually one quarter turn.

    LC4 with hour glass timer.jpg
    A two minute hour glass timer to keep track of things. Also note the rest for the arm (not present on Loricraft 3 series)

    LC4 control switches.jpg
    The control switches. Note the collection jar on the right.

    Cleaned record.jpg
    A cleaned final product. A UK 1st press of Heartbreaker by Free.
     
  19. fmuakkassa

    fmuakkassa Dr. M Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    About a 1/4 inch per record. The nylon spoole is 100 yards. Enough to clean thousands of records.
     
  20. fmuakkassa

    fmuakkassa Dr. M Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    I called Smart Devices today ans asked that question. I could not get a specific answer. They said the PRC3 and PRC4 are getting upgrades. The PRC4-Deluxe that I have already have the most powerful motor Loricraft uses. They said it is more powerful than the PRC6.

    May be an email to Loricraft in London can help me answer this question.
     
  21. Paul Chang

    Paul Chang Forum Old Boy, Former Senior Member Has-Been

    My VPI HW-16.5 also measures 90 dB from where I sit in front of it at ear level. Like I said in the other Loricraft thread, it sounds like a vacuum cleaner.
     
  22. fmuakkassa

    fmuakkassa Dr. M Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    Thanks for taking the measurement and reporting back. That IS loud.
     
  23. fmuakkassa

    fmuakkassa Dr. M Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    Update to my current method of cleaning
    Now it takes 6-7 minutes to clean vs eight. I found out that I don't have to vacuum after the Vinyl_Zyme step. Instead I just add my cleaning solution on top of it then vacuum both.

    1. Place the record on the platter and start the platter motor forward. Use a carbon fiber brush to clean dust and large particulate matter. Reverse direction and do the same.
    2. Turn motor off. Protect the label (I use a rubber ring that came with the machine). Spray LP with Vinyl-Zyme Gold solution. Turn platter motor on and evenly spread solution with a 2 inch painter’s sponge brush. Reverse directions and spread solution. Wait 45-60 seconds for solution to work.
    3. Apply your record cleaner solution of choice (I use L’Art Du Son) over the Vinyl-Zyme and spread evenly over LP with a dedicated nylon brush that came with machine. Repeat in reverse direction. Turn platter motor off and wait for solution to work. Two minutes in my case. Here, I found that a two minute glass timer is helpful. Turn all motors on and vacuum as above. Advance nylon thread 5 mm when done.
    4. Apply a water rinse. I use Reverse Osmosis/De-ionized water and spread with another nylon brush used for the water rinse only. Vacuum water off. Record is ready to play as it is dry and static free.

    N.B. If the record is new, I skip the Vinyl-Zyme step.
     
  24. normo

    normo New Member

    Location:
    New England
    Does the small thin label cover and the plexiglass unit cover, come with the machine? I have had a loricraft to ~3 yrs and it is clearly the best investment I have made in my vinyl journey. Mine did not come with either of the two items I mentioned above. But as they say, it could suck the chrome off a bumper. Norm And, nice review BTW.
     
  25. fmuakkassa

    fmuakkassa Dr. M Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio
    Yes they do for my model. You can get an after market acrylic cover or one from Loricraft (more expensive) for your machine if you wish.
     
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