Cleaning LPs, which I have done for many years, is one of the most vexing chores that any audiophile can encounter. I’ve spent many hours hunched over LP cleaning machines, wearing ear plugs, disbursing fluids, wielding brushes, aligning vacuum tubes—all in the pursuit of the perfectly clean LP. No longer. No, I have not given up on LP hygiene. Instead, I finally capitulated and purchased a highly touted beast that does it all for you—the Audio Desk Systeme Vinyl Cleaner manufactured by Reiner Glass in Germany.
A quick phone call to Robert Stein of Ultra Sytems and, presto, a small box was at my front door the next day. His only comment; “it’s a very nice thing to have.” Indeed it is. I had anticipated that it would ease the cleaning process, which it does. You pour about a gallon of distilled or lab grade water into the main slot, add a small cleaning vial supplied by Audio Desk, plop the record in, push a button, and the machine is off and running. It uses what is called an “ultrasonic” cleaning method, coupled with bi-directional microfiber cleaning drums, to clean a slowly rotating LP. Then its fan vigorously blows air to dry the record. Total time is about 6 minutes. Your only role is to put the LP in and pull it out upon completion of the entire cleaning cycle. Oh, and you have to push the start button. Simplicity itself.
What took me aback most wasn’t the ease of use, but the profound improvement rendered by the cleaner. I cleaned and played a new 180 gram Shelby Lynne LP from Acoustic Sounds. Darned if the bass didn’t sound as though it was going another half octave lower; it was richer, deeper, and better defined. Highs are noticeably purer as well. Overall, the LPs sound pure and pristine. It will take you all of about 5 seconds to discern the difference. My goodness, on a London Blueback of Kirsten Flagstad singing Wagner arias, her voice expanded effortlessly over the orchestra like I’ve never heard it before.
Obviously, this is not to say that the Audio Desk can remedy scratches. Nothing can. But I believe the Audio Desk takes the cleaning regimen about as far as it can be taken. Which is apparently very far.
This is a well-nigh miraculous product that produces results equivalent to a cartridge upgrade. It doesn’t come cheap at close to $4,000. But if you have a high-end system and oodles of LPs, this record cleaning machine is not an option. It is a must. Hats off to Herr Glass!