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ORB DF-01iA record flattener - Help*

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Stereolove, Sep 12, 2019.

  1. Stereolove

    Stereolove Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Help ! I have just received my disc flattener, and of course ,all the instructions are in Japanese. Does anyone own one of these units? I have found some basic instructions on other websites, but I have some additional questions. 1. Does this model support discs up to 180g. 2. Can you flatten 180g-200g vinyl. 3. Can I buy an adapter for this unit, for records over 180g? Any help would be appreciated.
  2. oregonalex

    oregonalex Forum Resident

    This is an old post, but maybe my info will be of general interest.

    There are two DF-01 series models: DF-01iA and DF-01iA+. The only difference between the two is that DF-01iA+ includes plastic adapters that allow flattening of record without groove guards. Groove guard is the thickened rim of the record designed to protect the play area. Most 180+ gram modern pressings do not have groove guards. So the issue is not the record weight but the contact of the flattener plates with the record area.

    It has been suggested to me that the "Groovy Rings" sold by vinylflat.com could be used with the DF-01iA model to protect the grooves of a guard-less record.

    I have not used either model but am interested. I have not been able to find the adapters for sale anywhere. The DF-01iA+ itself is hard to find.

    Here is the mfg comparison of the two models:
    ORB co.Ltd. [DF-01iA+]
  3. Stereolove

    Stereolove Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I have not been having issues flattening 180G records. I don't have the + model. I've found the medium heat setting best, and find that the vinyl compound will more often not will determine whether the record can be successfully flattened. Most times, one 4 hour session is sufficient. Other times it can take a few sessions. Overall, I'm thrilled with my unit.
    oregonalex likes this.
  4. Stereolove

    Stereolove Forum Resident Thread Starter

    If you have a spare $5K sitting around, I would also highly-recommend the Audio Desk Ultrasonic record cleaner. Just magnificent.
  5. oregonalex

    oregonalex Forum Resident

    My new Orb DF-01iA+ record flattener arrived a few days ago. I bought it domestically from mockingbirddistribution.com so it has the proper US voltage and cable. I decided to get the Plus version with the adapters for groove guard-less records. They do not stock this version, the importer opined that the plastic adapters are not worth the extra cost, but I decided to go all out anyway and I am glad I did. Even as a special order from Japan it arrived in less than three weeks to my house, which was pretty remarkable under the current circumstances.

    I was surprised how well built the unit is. This is no flimsy contraption - well designed, robust and great looking. The only fly in the ointment is that it does not have feet on the back side and cannot be stored vertically when not in use. I believe some of the rebranded models allow that. As it is, it takes up a lot of space.

    The unit has three temperature settings and a separate setting for 7 inch singles. The manual recommends Medium temperature for most records. The cycle is 2 hours heating + 2 hours cooling.

    I have read a lot of decidedly mixed opinions about flattening records and have resisted getting into it for a long time. Frankly, I did not expect much from this unit. Surprisingly, here are the results so far:

    UK Warner Bros 1977 press, 118g, edge warp - Medium temp, now perfectly flat
    UK Charisma early '70s press, 133g, edge warp - Medium temp, now perfectly flat
    UK Apple early '70s press, 135g, edge warp - Low temp, now perfectly flat
    US Harvest 2014 press, 186g, dish warp - Medium temp, now perfectly flat
    US Classic Records 2001 press, 202g, severe taco warp - Medium temp (with adapter), now perfectly flat
    US Columbia late '60s press, 127g, severe wavy dish warp - Low temp, now perfectly flat
    US Harvest 2016 press, 173g, severe edge warp - Medium temp (with adapter), now perfectly flat
    UK Discipline 2013 press, 189g, dish warp - Medium temp (with adapter), now perfectly flat

    By perfectly flat I mean perfectly flat. No vertical tonearm movement at all. All of them flattened in a single cycle. And none of these records have any negative effects from the flattening process, visual or audible. It may be only beginner's luck and I still have some 50 or more to flatten (that I know of off hand), but if it goes like this, the unit will pay for itself pretty soon. Thinking of the literally dozens of great records I did not buy or returned because of warps, I only wish I bought this flattener a long time ago.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
    GeraldB, Satrus and ScottRiqui like this.
  6. Soundslave

    Soundslave Forum Resident

    I would add my experience as well just for info.
    I had two warped records - one was The Doors MFSL 1981 vinyl I got off Ebay, and the other was Megadeth - KIMB... The Last Kill from 2018 (180g).
    The Doors was dished a bit and also had a bad double warp on side B, so I could only safely play Side A without any additional stuff to mechanically keep the record flat.
    KIMB was the opposite, no dish but a huge warp on side A (like 1/4th of the record).

    Couple years ago I heard that a record shop in Moscow had a flattening service using ORB DF-01, so I was eager to try that out, especially since they guaranteed some kind of "insurance" if Orb won't work or even damage your record.

    Long story short - KIMB was perfectly flat from the first try, The Doors became almost flat. The latter was kinda a bad case, as shop assistants said to me, so it needed at least 2 or 3 cycles from Orb to be good. Nevertheless, it worked wonders to me and I'm really happy that such things and services exist.
    oregonalex likes this.
  7. Satrus

    Satrus Forum Resident

    Cork, Ireland
    I have 2 Disc Flatteners, an early Air Tight DF-01 model which has served me really well over the past 15 years. I got 3 new records yesterday from jpc. in Germany. One of them, a U.S. pressing, was warped. My Air Tight DF-01 came to the rescue yet again as it has on numerous previous occasions. I got an ORB DF-03 model in 2016 and I can honestly say that I have never really been happy or comfortable with it. It is very 'temperamental' and will melt certain records. It hasn't done damage to any irreplaceable records but I use it very infrequently, for the aforesaid reason. When it works, it works well. The DF-01iA+ is very interesting.

    Does anybody know what the U.S retail price is, with the adapters? My DF-01 has been tremendous for me, over the years. It fixes records without Groove Guards and records with Groove Guards, equally well. I have 'corrected' numerous records in my own collection and a few for others as well. I might just be interested in a DF-01iA+ unit and maybe move on the DF-03 which frankly has been a disappointment to me. To anybody who can afford the necessary expense, I would say go right ahead and purchase. It will pay for itself over and over. Importantly too perhaps, it will remove at least some of the 'anxiety' involved in buying new and used records.
    oregonalex likes this.
  8. oregonalex

    oregonalex Forum Resident

    DF01iA+ is $1,300 at Mockingbird Distribution.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
  9. Satrus

    Satrus Forum Resident

    Cork, Ireland
    That is in the realm of affordable, I think?
  10. oregonalex

    oregonalex Forum Resident

    Depends on how many warped records you have, I guess. But as you said, it does remove some purchase anxiety. I have many times decided against a record purchase thinking 'it will be likely warped anyway'. When the Classic Records label went out of business, I had a chance to buy a pile of great records. I bought two, both warped, so I gave up on the rest. If it were today, I'd buy the lot.

    BTW, this morning I pulled out the first US pressing of Let It Bleed from the flattener, again perfectly flat. I was half afraid that I would jinx it with my earlier post, but luck seems to be holding :).
    Satrus and ScottRiqui like this.
  11. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Personal Survival Daily Record-Breaker

    Are there any Youtube videos detailing how to use it? Especially if the instructions are in Japanese... o_O
  12. oregonalex

    oregonalex Forum Resident

    I have found only general overview videos, nothing detailed enough to be helpful with operating the unit.

    That said, the instructions I got with the unit were in English, not terribly detailed, but quite sufficient. Additionally. Mockingbird has their own instruction PDF file that they would email you if you asked.
    Strat-Mangler likes this.
  13. vinnn

    vinnn Forum Resident

    Assuming you have a smartphone or tablet, install the Google Translate app. It can translate text in real time using the camera and yes, it supports Japanese to English translation.
  14. GeraldB

    GeraldB Forum Resident

    @oregonalex: Would you be able to upload photos of the adapters that came with your DF01iA+? Is this the one for flat-edge records?


    I'm looking at one of these myself, but the fellow from Mockingbird is recommending the Vinyl Flat Groovy Rings or parchment paper (!) instead of getting the "+" model. I'm still having trouble visualizing how these adapters work, and/or their purpose, given the information that this unit only heats the center and edges of the record. I do quite a few flat-edge records to flatten, so I want to be sure I've got what I need to do that safely.

    Has anyone used the Groovy Rings with the ORB or Furutech?
    patient_ot and Strat-Mangler like this.
  15. oregonalex

    oregonalex Forum Resident

    Yes, the picture above shows the adapter deployed. It is a thin plastic disc with raised edge and center. Without it, the working surface of the flattener is just flat glass with a spindle.

    I have used the adapters to flatten four guard-less records, all new 180g-200g releases. In all cases, warps were fixed perfectly with no ill side effects.

    I also have the Vinyl Flat Groovy Rings. The results were more mixed:
    • Jethro Tull - Warchild - 1974 US early pressing , 95g. Orb specifically warns against attempting to flatten records from the oil crisis era lighter than 115g, but this one was unplayable anyway, so I had nothing to lose. I used the Orb at the lowest temperature setting and used the Groovy Rings to further insulate the record from the heating temperature. Still. the record came out dimpled and unplayable.
    • Jethro Tull - This Was - 80's US pressing, 112g.
      • 1st cycle, plain Orb, low temp - no change
      • 2nd cycle, plain Orb, medium temp - some improvement, but playing surface left wavy
      • 3rd cycle - Orb with Groovy Rings, medium temp - only very minor playable warp left
    • Starcastle - Fountains of Light - 1977 first US pressing, 113g. Orb with Groovy Rings, low temp - playable wavy warp fixed perfectly.
    Overall, I am glad I got the "+" model, and I am still thrilled by the flattener. The unit has already easily paid for itself and I am through only a part of my collection. Most records flattened perfectly in one cycle. A few needed two cycles. Normally I use medium temperature, low temperature on light or very rare records.

    Total tally so far:
    • 34 records flattened perfectly
    • 4 records have residual minor playable warps
    • 1 record dimpled and destroyed (Warchild, see above)
    • 1 record (Rush - 2112, 1976 US pressing, 105g) - lost shape and destroyed on low temp
    • 1 record (Procol Harum - Grand Hotel, 1973 German pressing, 122g) - severe hump warp unchanged after three cycles (medium, medium and high temp)
    Hope this helps.
    GeraldB likes this.
  16. oregonalex

    oregonalex Forum Resident

    With the "+", you get three pairs of adapters (for 12", 10" with raised center and edge, and 7" with raised edge only), and a small adapter for 7" large hole 45s.

    All adapters in their cardboard foldout pack:

    With 7" adapters removed from the package:
    GeraldB likes this.
  17. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    I just went to the Mockingbird site and the English language instructions are there in plain text and as a pdf download.
    I have the DF-2, which is now discontinued as far as I know. It handles pretty much anything. I haven't kept track of the number of records I've flattened, but it has been a lifesaver for me.
    I buy mostly older records, some may still be in shrink or sealed (yeah, I know but sometimes, a rare record comes up that way), ranging from thin to thick, rimmed and undimmed, from the pristine to the ugly. Thing works. Sometimes, I will do more than one cycle and occasionally, the record itself is cockeyed. It isn't just warped, it was pressed off-center. My success rate is better than 85% if I had to guesstimate, so while it is a luxe good, it is also an essential one of you buy a lot of older, difficult to find records. It has paid for itself.
    If this new model, with the additional rings, does the same, it is well worth the retail price in my estimation, and the distributor notes that he will offer a discount to people who do this for a living.
    Any archivists out there? :)
    It's a good product and that's a decent price for something that should last. (Knock wood).
    GeraldB and oregonalex like this.
  18. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    South West, UK.
    Analogue Seduction in the UK have the DF-01iA+ version for £1420.
    oregonalex likes this.
  19. GeraldB

    GeraldB Forum Resident

    That's fabulous information, @oregonalex! Thanks! And the pictures are super! Although, I guess I'm thick, but I'm still not getting how you use them. Could I trouble you for a photo of the adapters "in action", next time you are using them?

    More importantly, would you recommend getting the "+" model, for the adapters, or do you think they would be easy to replicate using poster board, as the distributor suggests?
  20. oregonalex

    oregonalex Forum Resident

    Using the adapters is easy. There is a pair of them for each record size. Place one adapter disc on the ORB spindle profiled side up. Then place the record on top of it. Follow with the other adapter disc, smooth side up. Close the Orb lid (DO NOT LOCK THE Orb lid when in use!). The record is sandwiched between the profiled sides of the adapters, held between the raised areas. That creates a small gap above the play area, preventing the groove from getting squished when the record is hot. At least that is the theory. Below is the relevant page from the manual.

    I am sure one could create a couple of cardboard rings to place under and over the edge (run-in) of the record while being flattened. The top ring would be fiddly to hold in place while the Orb lid is being lowered, though.

    I guess it depends on how many guard-less records you expect to flatten. Only a minority of new issues are groove-less. I only came across the new Pink Floyd reissues and some older 200g Classic Records pressings without guards. As it is impossible to buy the adapters afterwards as an accessory, I figured that it would be safer to get the Plus model and I am glad I did.

    Manual page:
  21. oregonalex

    oregonalex Forum Resident

    I meant guard-less. Groove-less ones are indeed a rarity ...:)
    Strat-Mangler likes this.
  22. GeraldB

    GeraldB Forum Resident

    Ah ha! That's just what I was looking for! That's sort of what I was thinking, but couldn't square it with the claim that the unit only heats the edges and label of the record.

    But the heating element is shown as a square sheet, so presumably (if I'm getting it now) it heats the whole record area, but is only supposed to make direct contact with the edges and centre. The adapters recreate the air gap that would present with a beaded-edged record, and keep the pressure (though not the direct heating) on the rim. Makes much more sense to me now. A million likes for that one!

    Also, on the point about not locking down the cover when flattening, I read that in the new instructions, but noted in a video for the older DF-02 model that they do close the latches. I found it a bit odd that they left the latches on the DF01iA when you aren't supposed to use them, and I would have thought that the extra pressure would help with the flattening. I wonder why the change.

    I actually have a groove-less record! Someone gave it to me, told me it was for setting anti-skate, but other sources have said that it not a useful test. So, there it sits.
    Vinyl Archaeologist likes this.
  23. oregonalex

    oregonalex Forum Resident

    The latches would create uneven pressure on the record favoring the front. The lid is heavy, it needs no additional help.
    GeraldB likes this.
  24. kiwi_pressing

    kiwi_pressing New Member

    Austin, TX
    There is some great info here. Thanks to all that have posted (especially with results!). Many of my new purchases often have dish warps or wavy warps and this flattener looks like a great investment.

    Could someone who has the groovy rings please post photos of what these look like? It is impossible to tell on the Vinyl Flat website what their thickness is and how they compare to the adapters included with the DF01iA+ (e.g. do the groovy rings have raised edges like the Orb adapters?). I am tossing up between the two Orb models and, like others who have posted, Phillip at Mockingbird has also indicated to me that the groovy rings would do the job fine. There is just enough doubt though, and I'd like to make the best possible purchase decision. Thanks!
    Strat-Mangler likes this.
  25. richbdd01

    richbdd01 Forum Resident

    At some point, I’m thinking of picking one of these up. However, I think they could really do with some competitors, as there doesn’t seem to be many alternatives to the ORB unit. I’m sure these could be better priced and maybe more alternatives would bring prices down. I mean, I wonder how much one of these costs to make?

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