Record Cleaning Machines -I am now a believer

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by mike catucci, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. mike catucci

    mike catucci Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I'm posting this because I had a revelation this weekend that must be shared and I also want to help out anyone who is as compulsive as me when it comes to researching a product. So I've been contemplating the purchase of an RCM. I have a Spin Clean and thought it did an OK job but after this weekend I realize just how mistaken I was about that assumption. I looked hard at the VPI unit but it was just a bit more than I really wanted to spend so I researched other brands to try and find a reason why they were not as good for a significant savings. At the end of my long journey I decided to purchase an Okki Nokki for 499.99 It had a full platter, forward and reverse speeds and plenty of solid reviews. Getting that reverse speed was something the other brands charged a premium for.

    My unit arrived last week and this weekend I put it through some solid tests. I have a few nice copies of Steely Dan's Greatest Hits. The mastering is a work of art on this album but even my best copy is plagued with snap, crackle pops in all the silent areas and there's a bit in most of the songs as well despite being cleaned in the Spin Clean. Nothing that takes away from the album as a whole but it is there nonetheless. After a solid cleaning in the Okki Nokki the entire album is now silent -dead silent. It was my first run through with the Okki and I have to say I was a bit overjoyed at the difference but braced for a let down with further cleanings. I'll sum up in that I cleaned 15 of my worst albums that were obtained from flea markets and garage sales. More than 10 are now like new. The other 5 went from hard to justify playing (think good condition where it plays through but there is way too much surface noise) to now they are more than acceptable (VG+) although not quite perfect. Chicago XI was the star of the afternoon, it even surpassed Steely Dan's GH because not only did it became eerily silent but that old expression "had a veil lifted off it" was never more true. I am hearing things in this album that bring it alive on a whole new level. The album is just clearer and the instruments sound a bit more lifelike in their presentation.

    Suffice to say I am more than happy with my purchase. At 499.99 the Okki Nokki does everything I asked of it and actually supassed my expectations. It also comes with features found on more expensive units. Lastly I think a key part of having success when using the RCM is a rinse with clean distilled or lab grade water after the initial cleaning.

    Yep, I know its long. But this was a real eye opener for me and I want to help convince anyone else on the fence wondering if an RCM is truly worth it. I heard people say it has done wonders for the sound quality of their vinyl and I now believe that as I experienced it first hand. An RCM may in fact do more for you than a cartridge, table or speaker upgrade. It was that defining. And you don't need to spend a ton of money on a unit either.
  2. cat9

    cat9 Forum Resident

    Congrats....glad you have been more then pleased.

    ....I know the feeling!
  3. Preston

    Preston Forum Resident

    KCMO Metro USA
    Congrats on your purchase: RCMs are a vital part of getting good sound from records. And wait until you get some experience. If I may, I would suggest that after spreading the cleaner on the LP, let it sit for 3-5 minutes before vacuuming off. It seems to loosen up the grime in the grooves. This suggestion came from these forums and it seems to make a real difference. Enjoy!
    bluejimbop and mike catucci like this.
  4. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Dedicated Listener

    New Mexico USA
    Buying a Nitty Gritty machine was a great step on my second go-round with vinyl, and for me it’s a huge plus to clean every record I buy, used or new, and not have to worry about whether or not dust and gunk are degrading the sound.

    I wasn’t aware of any dirt-cheap solution when I started up with LPs again in the early 2000’s (Spin Clean hadn’t been invented yet) so I spent a couple of years doing it by hand with the Disc Doctor cleaner and brushes. You don’t need a fancy RCM to reap the benefits of wet cleaning, but it’s a sweet luxury.
    SandAndGlass and mike catucci like this.
  5. Congrats and great decision! :)
    mike catucci likes this.
  6. kcblair

    kcblair Active Member

    Western Mass.
    Yep, that was the biggest upgrade I ever made. Nothing improved the SQ, more than a cleaning in a RCM. It took a while to re-clean 400 records, but what a difference. Enjoy the music.
    bluejimbop and mike catucci like this.
  7. Long Live Analog

    Long Live Analog Forum Resident

    Congrats on your purchase of the Okki Nokki! Clean vinyl is happy vinyl:righton:
  8. Jack Flannery

    Jack Flannery Forum Resident

    Houston, TX
    I bought a nitty gritty and concur. Great, especially on used records.
    Michael Rose and mike catucci like this.
  9. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 District Champ

    A very familiar story. It's often a hard decision to make but once it happens the first thought is always, "why did I wait so long".

    While there are plenty of people that will say their handwashing, glue method or spin clean gets their records clean enough, never have I heard someone that owns an RCM go back to those other methods as a default.
    iloveguitars, clhboa, sturgus and 6 others like this.
  10. Muzyck

    Muzyck Just another anonymous canine Beatle fan

    Congrats on you purchase. My Nitty Gritty is key to me. Over time I found that certain cleaners / brushes work better than others. Cleaning 50 year old records that have never had any cleaning other than a swipe with a Discwasher can really make a big difference.
  11. michanes

    michanes Active Member

    I am still in evidence-collecting mode with my Okki Nokki and have a little more ready to report since my last posting. But to my acoustic evidence, presumably not subject to placebo effects, I am not seeing big improvement. Most of what I am seeing is my best records get a little noisier, the "normal" ones have some shift in the amount of background noise but not a reduction overall.

    I can't dispute your experience, just can't share it - yet... still working on technique and gathering data...

  12. mike catucci

    mike catucci Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Let me add that I used the cleaner supplied with the machine. I diluted the entire bottle into a liter of distilled water. I also scrubbed the record for at least 2 minutes in forward mode and another two minutes in reverse mode. My scrubbing method consisted of letting the record simply turn with slight and then heavy pressure from the brush running length wise across the album. I then proceeded to actually scrub vigorously back and forth and in a circular motion. I used the camel hair brush supplied with the Okki Nokki. I then vacuumed the record. Then I rinsed in both directions for at least a minute each way. I used a MFSL record cleaning brush and plenty of distilled water in a squirt bottle for this procedure. A final vacuum, no drying time and into the MFSL clear record sleeve.

    I hear what you're saying loud and clear but my results on this outing were nothing short of stellar. I purchased from Amazon so I could easily return if the process was not much better than the Spin Clean I own. This unit will not be going anywhere. The difference was night and day especially with Steely Dan and Chicago XI.
  13. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 District Champ

    If your RCM (or any cleaning method) is making your records noisier, something is likely being left behind. The rinse with distilled water needs to be happening or happening differently.
  14. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Forum Resident

    Orlando, FL
    Try it with Todd the Vinyl Junkie Vinyl Zyme. It's by far the best fluid I've found to use with my VPI.
    Satrus and mike catucci like this.
  15. PATB

    PATB Well-Known Member

    San Jose, CA
    My Record Doctor V is the best upgrade I have made to my TT :).
  16. kenwood61

    kenwood61 New Member

    Bend, OR
    I enjoy the VPI 16.5 ... got a few years ago. Sold the solution and the brush to buy The Disc Doctor supplies. Better applicators (w/convex surface), and replacement pads for both applicators and vacuum wand strips. I also use the Miracle Record Cleaner, along with a small amount of augmented solution for those challenges bits of unknown matter that do not always want to "melt" and wash away.

    The comment above about letting the solution sit for 3-5 minutes is important. But if you live in a really dry climate like mine, I can't do. The solution will start evaporating after 2 minutes.

    The thing I like about the Disc Doctor brushes and solution is that I don't need a reverse speed. My process follows keeping the record still and moving the applicator back and forth in a quarter arc motion. I use the motor to advance the record in blips, which is all it takes. This way, I can feel when the loops in the pad material is seated in the grooves. Press too hard or too light, and the applicator will not feel "seated". I also use a second lighter rinse to make sure chemicals are off the record. As for comments about stuff still in the grooves, I have found that in some cases, I need to play some records a couple of times to allow my stylus to "finish" clean out residue from the very bottom of the grooves. I dust before and after every playing each side, and dry clean my stylus, so I don't get build up issues.

    I agree with Dennis ... I went through a little learning curve with getting my technique down, and during that time, my results weren't as consistent. However, it is important to remember that some vinyl will never sound great, no matter what you clean it with.
  17. kenwood61

    kenwood61 New Member

    Bend, OR
    Personally, I think the short looped fabric in pads like MFSL and Disc Doctor make more sense. They fit in the grooves better than any bristle can. Also be careful not to be too vigorous. Doing so can push contaminants deeper into the groove. I have done it so I know.

    Are you rinsing off the wand after each cleaning? It may seem like overkill, but consider that some contaminants that are lifted off the record, can stay on the vacuum wand strips if you don't rinse them off. I know, I'm anal about this. Which is why I don't clean often as it takes me about one hour to clean 10 albums.

    Another thing. Do NOT put vinyl in sleeves until the disc is completely dry. I give mine about 15 minutes. And put in clean anti static inner sleeves, which you are doing, but in case someone else isn't :)
    SandAndGlass, Kyhl and mike catucci like this.
  18. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    I think the rinse step is essential to fully remove the contaminated fluid residue from the record. Does the Okki allow you to use separate vacuum wands that can be changed out easily? That's also a good practice on the VPI- one for cleaning fluid, one for rinse. And agree about cleaning the wand surfaces periodically as you are cycling through-- I do the same with my brushes and applicators- I use a little 99% isopropyl diluted with lab water, and a toothbrush and rinse the brushes or wands with lab water. Good point about not putting a damp record in the new sleeve.
    I'm now experimenting with those MA Records inners. I don't think they leave any lint, which is nice. We will see.
    SandAndGlass and mike catucci like this.
  19. Wngnt90

    Wngnt90 Forum Resident

    Mine proof that they clean as well as machines costing much much more.
    CCrider92 likes this.
  20. mike catucci

    mike catucci Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Have not thought to rinse the wand. Great tip -thank you!
  21. mike catucci

    mike catucci Forum Resident Thread Starter

    It does allow for separate vacuum wands and very fast swapping of the arms. They lift right out and drop right back in.
    SandAndGlass and michanes like this.
  22. Catcher10

    Catcher10 I like records, and Prog...duh

    I concur about RCM...I bought the Project VC-S and the fwd/reverse motor is a huge plus. The vacuum is very powerful and leaves the record dry ready to play.
    Now just looking to find the best solution......
    mike catucci likes this.
  23. I'm still rolling with my trusty ol' Spin Clean...but I must admit that your Okki Nokki story is a hell of an endorsement. Will put this in the Hopefully in the Near Future department!
    H8SLKC and mike catucci like this.
  24. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan


    Now you can start saving for an ultrasonic cleaner. ;)
  25. ssmith3046

    ssmith3046 Forum Resident

    been using my ON for about three and a half years and love it. I use AIVS one step formula #6. Empty the contents from the vacuum tank into a bowl after your next cleaning session and look all the junk.
    bluejimbop, GyroSE, michanes and 2 others like this.

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