Every vinyl-spinning audiophile understands the importance of maintaining clean record surfaces—not just for sound quality, but also for the preservation of the groove and the stylus. Basically, dust and debris spell death for an LP. That’s why every one of us probably owns at least one carbon-fiber record brush, and likely more. But in all my years I’ve yet to see and handle one quite like the brush from Ramar. Is it over the top? Ridiculously extravagant? At first glance, yes. But now that I’ve gotten my hands on one and used it countless times, the question becomes how much is too much when it comes to preserving a cherished vinyl collection?
Headquartered in Germany, Ramar specializes in audiophile designs and products that merge functionality and artistry. The craftsmanship is evident. The two-piece case is made of solid wood, milled from a single wooden blank then impeccably oiled and finished in a choice of walnut, cherry, or ash. The bristle cover is aluminum coated with electroless nickel. Included is a stylus-cleaning wand that magnetically attaches inside the case. A cleaning pad made from felt reinforced by a thin layer of cork is provided for whisking away the dust buildup from the brush.
Then there’s the brush itself—a unique mix of multiple double-rows of carbon fibers and two rows of goat hair, with an especially large, padded contact surface. In Ramar’s words its brush combines the best characteristics of brush types available. “The specific arrangement of the bristle rows ensures excellent dust absorption and dissipation of electrostatic charges.”
First, per Ramar’s instructions, use no cleaning fluids—dry use only, please. Next, while the record is turning, either with the turntable on or manually if possible, hold the brush lightly over the grooves. There is no need to press. This can be repeated in the opposite direction, as well. Also, you needn’t slide the brush to the edge of the LP and lift like so many of us commonly do. Just use a backward rotating movement and lift straight up.
Does this translate to a measurable difference in sweeping ability and dust reduction? To test this I left a few records out on our dining table for a day or two. Fine particulates collect amazingly fast. I compared my go-to carbon-fiber brush with the Ramar. Eyeing the results, I can only say that the Ramar visibly reduced or removed more dust particles from my vinyl than the $30 model. The record surface no longer reflected a dusty haze, but was restored to its original true black. Static electricity also seemed less of an issue. The Ramar brush won’t replace a vacuum record cleaner, especially for the dirtiest jobs (like LPs from used-record stores or yard sales). It wasn’t meant to. But you might find that regular use of the Ramar means less time firing up that noisy machine.
Ramar isn’t done yet, by the way. For those seeking even greater exclusivity (you knew this was coming), Ramar has developed a deluxe pair of brushes ($650 a pop) with remarkably finished high-gloss metal cladding over the wood, known as “Christo” (silver look) and “Tara” (gold look).
I’ve got to give Ramar credit. In one fell swoop it has elevated the prosaic record-cleaning brush into something far beyond what its humble origins ever suggested it could be. Would I buy one? Darn right I would. Extravagant, okay, but relative to the cost of your LP rig and vinyl library, this is one splurge that is more than worth it. A joy to use, Ramar has taken a tedious chore and made pampering a record collection a red-carpet ritual.
Specs & Pricing
By Neil Gader
My love of music largely predates my enthusiasm for audio. I grew up Los Angeles in a house where music was constantly playing on the stereo (Altecs, if you’re interested). It ranged from my mom listening to hit Broadway musicals to my sister’s early Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Beatles, and Stones LPs, and dad’s constant companions, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. With the British Invasion, I immediately picked up a guitar and took piano lessons and have been playing ever since. Following graduation from UCLA I became a writing member of the Lehman Engel’s BMI Musical Theater Workshops in New York–working in advertising to pay the bills. I’ve co-written bunches of songs, some published, some recorded. In 1995 I co-produced an award-winning short fiction movie that did well on the international film-festival circuit. I was introduced to Harry Pearson in the early 70s by a mutual friend. At that time Harry was still working full-time for Long Island’s Newsday even as he was writing Issue 1 of TAS during his off hours. We struck up a decades-long friendship that ultimately turned into a writing gig that has proved both stimulating and rewarding. In terms of music reproduction, I find myself listening more than ever for the “little” things. Low-level resolving power, dynamic gradients, shadings, timbral color and contrasts. Listening to a lot of vocals and solo piano has always helped me recalibrate and nail down what I’m hearing. Tonal neutrality and presence are important to me but small deviations are not disqualifying. But I am quite sensitive to treble over-reach, and find dry, hyper-detailed systems intriguing but inauthentic compared with the concert-going experience. For me, true musicality conveys the cozy warmth of a room with a fireplace not the icy cold of an igloo. Currently I split my time between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Studio City, California with my wife Judi Dickerson, an acting, voice, and dialect coach, along with border collies Ivy and Alfie.More articles from this editor
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