Neil Antin's Aqueous Cleaning of LPs- 2nd Edition

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Bill Hart, Mar 2, 2021.

  1. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin
    A lot of you know Neil from discussions here on ultrasonic and other cleaning methods- he digs deep, starting with a very basic manual cleaning using relatively inexpensive, available chemistry and materials. His basic cleaning techniques do not require buying expensive equipment. There is also no voodoo here-- Neil was not only trained as an engineer, but developed precision cleaning methods for life-critical systems in naval submarines, among other things and devoted his career to applied science in an environment that demanded consistent, foolproof results. Now, less than a year after its first publication, Precision Aqueous Cleaning of Vinyl Records has undergone a substantial revision.
    This, the Second Edition, expands substantially on a number of topics including ultrasonic cleaning chemistry and methods, which should be of interest for many of you.

    To be sure, this isn't light reading. But it may be the only single source currently published that contains a step by step analysis of chemistry, materials interaction and effectiveness of various approaches to record cleaning, starting from a basic manual cleaning and advancing through the various processes of cleaning in a methodical, scientific way. This doesn't replace your own experimentation or methods, but is meant to inform. I think you'll find it invaluable as a resource, and I'm proud to publish it. You can find it here:

    [​IMG]jong-marshes-79mNMAvSORg-unsplash by William Hart, on Flickr

    Precision Aqueous Cleaning of Vinyl Records-2nd Edition - The Vinyl Press
     
  2. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    That is a LOT of data packed into 145 pages.

    WELL DONE Neil.

    Thank you Bill.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
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  3. pacvr

    pacvr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    Thanks Phil, PS -its 145 pages
     
  4. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Sorry, didn't intend it as a slight at all.
     
  5. pacvr

    pacvr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    None taken.
     
  6. Thrilling page turner! :laugh: Thanks to Neil and Bill for their time and talents. I'll be reading this between my work tasks. Very well laid out. :righton:
     
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  7. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin
    Neil did all the heavy lifting. I just published it.
     
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  8. This is an invaluable resource and I very much appreciate the effort put into making it a reality. It was literally yesterday that I was introduced to it and some of the insights I’ve lifted from it already make me kick myself because I should’ve known better with my current practices. I kind of pride myself on hand cleaning my lps to a high level of effectiveness for pennies . My methods require a good level of self control and nuanced technique because I do use a fair amount of mechanical force. Having a background in medicine (sterile technique) and film photography (chemical darkroom work) aided in the development of that self control (negatives are as fragile as vinyl). Using my dark room anti static gloves and adding a rinse with distilled water today did further improve SQ! I’m all for allowing better use of chemistry to make the grunt work of record cleaning easier and more effective.
     
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  9. A question, if I may. The biggest struggle for me when cleaning my lps is getting the lead ins and first 60-90 seconds of play as clean as the rest of the sides. I attribute some of this to those being the most abused areas of the records (fingerprints, past bad needle drops, etc), and some of it could just be the inferior vinyl formulas of the time and sloppy QC. My 1st uk pressings of DSOTM and Meddle and my 1963 mono of KOB play VG during these phases and -NM for the remainder of the sides. I also wonder if the fibers on my brush can’t penetrate as deeply into the grooves in this area due to the cupping of the records’ most outer rims. Do you have the same issue with your method? If possible, I’d like to remedy this as much as possible and any advice would be appreciated.
     
  10. pacvr

    pacvr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    What brush are you using and what chemistry are you using? As I wrote in Chapter XII, the manual process in Chapter V is based on using a brush that does not penetrate deeply into the groove, and instead develop agitation/cavitation with the brush to make the chemistry work better. Otherwise, the outer grooves have the highest stylus velocity and any debris or pressing deficiency is going to be essentially amplified - see para XI.4.7.a and XI.4.7.b for the analogy.
     
  11. Currently I’m using the black mofi brush for mechanical scrubbing and the mofi general purpose cleaner. Adding now the distilled h2o rinse. Using a multitude of lighting I can often visualize micro debris still in those grooves after cleaning and 100% drying. I live in the Midwest so the humidity is high except in winter, so static isn’t much of an issue. And, except for those areas, once 100% inner groove dryness is achieved there is no static whatsoever and micro debris on the rest of the sides easily clear away, even if still in the grooves. It’s just that outer edge...

    while the mofi cleaner doesn’t cavitate, the brush does a great job agitating it in the grooves where the brush can penetrate deeper. I can see the fluid trace to and fro as I scrub.

    are you able to achieve a high level of success in these areas with your method? Or do you find that, despite your method, you still have issues related to other causes? I’m sure the increased centrifugal force doesn’t help at the start of the record... mostly I’m just curious about this point for peace of mind.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2021
  12. To put the last bit another way, do you find that despite getting the outer grooves clean those areas still sound rougher because of other common issues effecting those areas.
     
  13. pacvr

    pacvr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    Mobile Fidelity sells 4 different cleaning products. Essentially you are only doing a Final Clean step. My process is Pre-Clean, Rinse, Final Clean, Rinse. I do pre-clean with Alconox Liqinox 1% for all records - so every record - new or otherwise gets one pre-clean step; and on some not so clean new records its makes a difference. I do not know how much the MoFi solution foams but the Alconox foams quite a bit and that is good as I say V.Step 5; "The foam that is developed by the cleaning process is beneficial. It helps to lift debris and soil from the record groove. The Nylon brush adsorbing the foam assists with lifting the debris and soil from the record minimizing the risk of grinding debris and particles into record.".

    Also, I am not a fan of the MoFi brush - I used one for a time but consider that the brush handle is rubber and I saw some breakdown after a period of time and the pads which are adhesive backed do not last that long and I cannot work the fluid like I can with the Record Dr nylon brush Amazon.com: Record Doctor Clean Sweep Brush: Home Audio & Theater, and the MoFi brush cannot adsorb the foam like the Record Dr brush.

    Even with my process, do I have some records that still have issues - yes - read para III.6. However, I may now know what I am seeing, and I am currently experimenting with an addition pre-clean step to remove it - more to follow on that.
     
  14. Deuce66

    Deuce66 Senior Member

    Are we any closer to determining what is the best way to clean vinyl records?
     
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  15. A problem for me buying used OOP pressings is that you don’t know the abuse/care history, making dilemmas like this hard to figure out!
     
  16. It’s a practice. There will always be room for improvements.
     
  17. WesB

    WesB Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida, USA
    Thanks for sharing! I'll be sure to save this to refer to in the future if I ever get into ultrasonic cleaning.
     
  18. psulioninks

    psulioninks Forum Resident

    Location:
    KC Chiefs Kingdom
    I clean a lot of records prior to ripping them. I think this is pretty much the norm based on listening to my rips with headphones/dac after they have been cleaned (but not yet de-clicked and finalized).
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2021
  19. pacvr

    pacvr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    Paraphrasing the book Forward - "... there are a number of “off-ramps” which enable you to take advantage of certain processes described here or improve some aspect of your cleaning regimen without entirely changing what you do (Cleaning a vinyl record is similar to the overall audio upgrade journey in this respect—you can make changes incrementally with certain elements remaining constant to have some control over results). At its simplest there is a core approach outlined in Chapters II to VI..." which is an inexpensive manual process.

    After that, you can advance to vacuum-RCM; Ultrasonics and then combinations thereof and many people have. But, as stated "XII.13 The final chapters of this document will discuss machine assisted cleaning methods: vacuum record cleaning machines (RCM) and ultrasonic cleaning machines (UCM). It’s important to consider that machines are generally developed for two primary reasons – reduce labor and improve process efficiency. Process efficiency can mean faster (higher throughput) and/or higher probability of achieving quality or achieving a quality that manual labor cannot produce. Manual cleaning in the appropriate environment with appropriate controls can achieve impressive levels of cleanliness, but the labor, skill, time and probability of success generally make it impractical for manufacturing environments. But for the home audio enthusiast; depending on your attention to details, adopting machine assisted cleaning may or may not yield a cleaner record. However, the ease of use and convenience provided by machines can be very enticing and cannot be denied."

    But as stated in the Forward - "All cleaning procedures specified herein are presented as only “a” way to clean a record. No claim is made there is only one way to approach the process. All methods/procedures specified here present opportunity for experimenting with different cleaning agents, different cleaning brushes, different drying cloths, and different cleaning equipment...".
     
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  20. Neil, I think our approaches are basically doing the same thing in different ways. I don’t worry too much about my mofi pad absorbing the dirty cleaning solution, my disc washer brush, that I use to dry the album to 100% inner groove dryness, does that. Part of that process involves occasionally swiping that drying brush the opposite direction on my cotton cloths to release the dirty solution from the brush, effectively drying and cleaning it. I’ve never had any issues with lint being transferred from my clothes to the brush to the record. And, once 100% inner groove dryness is achieved there is virtually zero static and any remaining debris is easily swept out/away. If the record is dirty enough I’ll wash is 2-3 times, basically mimicking your 4 step prewash, rinse, final wash, rinse sequence.
     
  21. pacvr

    pacvr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    Have you ever used a UV light for inspection; you may be surprised what you see. Otherwise, our processes are actually quite different. You are using brushes to get into the groove and I am not using any brush to get into the groove and the only brush I use is 100% nylon with no fabric & no adhesives, easily rinsed and and with white light and UV light I can verify the brush is clean - free of any visible (WL + UV) particulate.

    Also, the Alconox is a pretty aggressive cleaner - likely closer to the MoFi Super Wash and maybe better but much cheaper - Amazon.com: Alconox - 1232-1 1232 Liquinox Anionic Critical Cleaning Liquid Detergent, 1 quart Bottle: Industrial & Scientific. Also, with the label protector and flowing tap water I get a lot of shear force that at each tap-water rinse + brush removes soil that the clean step may have only loosened. I know that cotton absorbs the best of just about any fabric; but when I was doing precision cleaning with the Navy we had to triple wash 'lint-free' cotton cloths to actually get a lint free cloth - you can buy cleanroom cotton cloths that are mostly lint-free; but I have found the PVA cleanroom sponge I now use to be superior for the 1st dry and its proving to be very efficient - I need only one sponge to dry any # of records - as it absorbs too much water I just squeeze it out and then I store it wet.

    But, ultimately there are many ways to clean a record; and if you are happy with what you have, as they say - if its not broke no reason to fix it.
     
  22. I tried my black light that I use for UV dependent exposures for some alternative photographic processes, but there’s no where near enough uv to work for this type of inspection. But my phone has a good macro setting that give a convenient visible light spectrum glimpse into the grooves.

    Perhaps a better/additional cleaning solution is needed, not sure. Ultimately I hope to trend my process more towards what you do, but, you know, these changes have to be slow, methodical and precise for the safety of those grooves.

    It’s too bad we can’t demonstrate our techniques to one another in person and compare results.

    it’s been great chatting, thanks for the advice.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2021
  23. pacvr

    pacvr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland
    This is the UV light I use, at 10W its pretty good and its not expensive - Alonefire SV005 10W LED 365nm UV Flashlight Blacklight Portable USB Rechargeable Black Light Full Metal Case Pet Urine Detector with UV Protective Glasses, 18650 Battery Included for Resin Curing - - Amazon.com. Just use in a dimly lit room - light from an adjoining room is fine. I use the UV light to inspect all records prior to play and then use the Kinetronics tiger cloth to lightly swipe away any dust/lint I see. Caution - If you suffer from severe audionervosa you may not want to use a UV light - it will show dust on you (any polyester fleece) or your table that could drive you crazy - so use with caution :laugh:
     
  24. Is it possible to get a safe magnified view of the grooves under UV light without burning your retinas out? That would probably show us all just how futile our efforts are! It’s bad enough looking at records that play cleanly with my phone under the visible spectrum. Thankfully most of the tiniest specks don’t register much, if at all.
     
  25. My one steps, which have the quietest background I’ve ever heard on an lp, cd quiet, have gobbledygook in their grooves. I’d share a picture but this overly archaic system seems to make it all but impossible.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2021

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