“Record cleaning only scratches the surface (pun intended),” writes Hi-Fi Plus’ Andrew Harrison. “Every aspect of vinyl replay can come in for scrutiny.” A good part of this comes down to the nature of the technology itself: “dragging a rock through a groove and translating these movements into electrical signals” is naturally prone to errors from rotation, geometry, mechanical movements, the ingress of dust and dirt, etc etc. Thankfully there’s “a vibrant world of vinyl beyond the turntable and the record itself” to help keep everything running smoothly, and Harrison has chosen a selection of some of the best.
Harrison kicks off with the Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine, which at just £435 is “the best vinyl cleaning machine for the money.”
Next up, a pristine record needs a clean stylus. There’s a plethora of techniques for achieving that, including “a different high-tech approach” from DS Audio in the form of its ST-50 stylus cleaner. The ST-50’s cleaning pad is made from a transparent urethane resin that was specially developed for semi-conductor engineering cleanrooms. In the same way that it prevents dust from contaminating the cleanroom by absorbing micro-level dust particles, it effortlessly removes particles of dust and dirt from the stylus tip. “A good investment for squeaky-clean style care,” concludes the magazine.
Harrison then moves on to cartridge calibration, noting van den Hul’s Tracking Force Meter which offers “the benefit of reading to three decimal places, making it easier to see if a nominal 1.75g downforce is actually set closer to 1.745g or 1.754g.”
Record brushes to look out for include Furutech’s ASB-1 anti-static brush, which “proved a most versatile brush, good for the most delicate of vinyl sweeping as well as dusting around delicate fixtures like tonearms and cartridges.” And then there’s Furutech’s DeStat III: “A hand-held ioniser running from four AAs, this lightweight gadget includes four balanced-ion generators that ionise surrounding air, and a silent fan that wafts the charged molecules toward your object of interest.”
And finally, the Clearaudio LP Drill “is a simple tool to ream out the centre hole on any record that has been issued fractionally undersize…. so if you find too many records are just too tight for comfort, use this drill to gently enlarge the hole.”
Check out Andrew Harrison’s full selection of essential vinyl accessories in issue 172 of Hi-Fi Plus