I suppose I’m a lot like a great many vinyl fanciers. I don’t own an archival collection but it’s a good assortment with a mix of personal faves and nostalgia, and occasional killer super-discs. While it would be cool to have a full, honking automated-record cleaning machine, I don’t have the extra space to dedicate to it and I wouldn’t use it often enough to justify the expense. What I need is something light, efficient, and easy-to-store–not another noisy appliance.
Meet my new best friend, Spin-Clean. This record washing system is a bare-bones, manual design. Note, it’s a system not a machine-the human body does the "heavy lifting" here. Sublimely easy, there’s nothing to plug in– just fill the unit with distilled water up to the indicated fill-line and add a capful of the cleaning solution (a non-alcohol based liquid), slide the record between the opposing micro-brushes in the tub with the records edges just resting against the adjustable rollers (for 12”, 10” and 7” records) and give it three full rotations. (In fact one of the reasons that the unit is bright yellow is to make it easier to see the dirt collecting at the tub’s bottom.) Remove the record, let the residual solution drip down into the tub and apply a few circular passes with the supplied lint free cotton cloths. The air in the room does the rest of the work. The result is a disc that is suddenly as black and shiny as the day you brought it home–maybe more so in the case of a pre-owned purchase.
Does it work? Does it ever. On a prized direct-to-disc recording like the Atlanta Brass Ensemble’s Sonic Fireworks [Crystal Clear] which to my knowledge has never been cleaned (although well cared for overall) in over thirty years the difference was marked by an overall reduction in background noise, a removal of most tiny snaps and crackles from the lead-in groove right through to the end. Quieter surfaces translate to improved dynamic range and low level resolution. Is it as convenient as the fully robotic machines? Maybe not, but on balance I frankly feel a bit better about myself in kind of the same way I do when I polish my car on a spring morning. I could take it in for "detailing" but I just wouldn't have the same feeling of satisfaction. That, and the fact that this is a truly "Green" product, all the energy expended is totally off the grid. Look for my full review in an upcoming issue of TAS. The basic kit includes cleaning solution and cloths but replacement supplies are readily available. Price: $59.99 store.acousticsound.com or see the demo at garage-a-records.com.