How to select a good record cleaning machine
There are now many manufacturers of record cleaning machines and the range is confusing, especially for beginners. With the following explanations we would like to give some suggestions on what to look out for when choosing a record cleaning machine.
Service and spare parts supply
A record cleaning machine is an investment for a very long time, possibly a lifetime. It is all the more important that your machine is tried and tested and that the manufacturer offers a reliable service with an appropriate supply of spare parts. This is most likely to be offered to you by a German manufacturer.
The housing of a record washing machine should not only look good, but also be resistant to a wide variety of liquids. Because inside the washing machine there is high humidity. DRAABE therefore uses waterproof carbon acrylic, which can be wiped off and is water-repellent. Some manufacturers use MDF as a housing material. MDF is a material made from compressed wood fibers and is not suitable for record washing machines. MDF often also contains formaldehyde in the adhesive, which is known to be carcinogenic. Since record washing machines heat up during operation, formaldehyde can be released. Therefore, find out exactly what material your future washing machine is made of.
An important and frequently used part of a record washing machine is the so-called record puck. Its task, among other things, is to protect the label from moisture. DRAABE supplies chrome-plated pucks made of solid aluminum for all machines. The puck is simply put on and the label seal is pressed on by the weight. We do not believe in turn-push or screw systems at this point. Although they are cheaper in practice, they are cumbersome to use. And ease of use should be important to you.
Fig .: Puck Nessie Vinylmaster with label seal
Fig .: Puck Nessie Vinylmaster with label seal
Cost of cleaning and consumables
Be sure to find out about the cost of the cleaner supplied with the machine in advance. Because you have to buy it later, at least as long as your machine is under warranty. We have already seen liter prices of € 60 (!). Prices of up to € 30 per set are also called for simple consumables such as microfiber strips. Such prices cannot be explained by anything.
One-sided or double-sided
There are now machines that clean records on both sides at the same time. With some machines, however, this advantage comes at the price of a drawback: Since there are physical limits, the application of liquid on the side facing down is often insufficient. The underside is then optically clean, but not deeply cleaned. For this you need a generous application of liquid that would drip off "overhead". With the new Nessie Vinylmaster II, the necessary oversaturation is achieved, among other things, by separate dosing pumps for the top and bottom. In fact, this machine is dosed to above saturation and dripping liquid is sucked off.
Surface extractor or point extractor
Surface extractors extract the entire width of the panel through a slot. Point suction, we move a tonearm over the surface of the record and suck off the liquid through a small hole. Point extractors are quiet, gentle, but unfortunately very expensive. They are also rather cumbersome and time-consuming to use. Today almost all manufacturers therefore work with surface suction. It is fast, powerful and gives good results. The disadvantage of the surface extractor is the higher operating noise of the extraction turbine. Therefore, good sound insulation must be ensured. Our machines are insulated with Basotect® in studio quality and are therefore considered to be the quietest machines on the market.
Does Ultrasound Provide Better Results?
Ultrasound is used for cleaning in industry and optics. In order for ultrasound to be effective, it has to target a very high level of sound energy to the record surface. We are not aware of any machines that deliver sufficient sound energy. Instead, the machines are then equipped with additional cleaning systems (e.g. rotating plush rollers). Ultrasound systems need a lot of liquid (up to 6 liters!) In which several records are washed. It is then dried with fans that blow room air onto the surface of the record. In the process, impurities dissolved in the water are dried up again.
Washing and drying separately
With good reason, “washing” and “drying” take place in separate functional arms on our machines. A high-quality wash brush and, if necessary, the liquid dispenser are built into the wash arm. The suction arm has a suction slot through which the liquid is sucked off. So that this works well and the record is protected, a small microfiber strip is attached to the suction slot on the right and left. Some manufacturers now do without a brush arm (for reasons of cost) and use the small microfiber strips on the suction arm to "wash records". The machines then only have one functional arm and no brushes. This is of course a compromise that comes at the expense of washing quality. Try cleaning your fingernails with a cloth!