March 16, 2022
Get into the grooves.
Let’s face it: if your records are dirty, it doesn’t matter how good your turntable is.
Not only does keeping your records clean ensure the longevity of your collection and your needles, it allows you to have the best listening experience too.
There’s a vast amount of options to clean your records out there. Anti-static brushes, cleansing solutions, and record cleaning machines are all valuable options, and in truth there’s no do-or-die, ‘correct’ way of going about things – so don’t stress too much. You just need to assess how dirty your records are, how many you want to clean at a given time, and what you’re comfortable spending.
An important thing to remember is that if you’re buying used records that have taken a battering, or have discs that are dirty to the point of no return, cleaning your records will not magically bring them back from the dead. Prevention is always better than cure.
Previously, we covered off some of our favourite budget options for vinyl cleaning.
Moving up in price, you’ll find that manual options like solutions and brushes are not as common. What you’ll come across more often are record cleaning machines. They serve as a more viable option in ensuring dust and unwanted particles within the grooves of your records are eliminated completely.
While different manufacturers promise different experiences, most record cleaning machines offer a system that involves some kind of fluid, a brush to spread the fluid, and typically a vacuum to suck gunk out of the grooves and dry the record.
What typically drives up the price is how involved you have to be in the process, and the overall build quality of the machine.
With anything we recommend, we always advise that you read up on what is being offered and make sure it aligns with what you’re looking for.
Pro-Ject VC-E Record Cleaning Machine
Pros: Cleans records in about two rotations
Verdict: If you’re looking for a fast and efficient record cleaning machine that won’t make your wallet weep, you’ll be more than satisfied with Pro-ject’s VC-E model.
Pro-Ject already make outstanding turntables, so it only makes sense that they make a machine that ensures spotless records too. The VC-E promises to clean your records in about one or two rotations, and to leave them dust and debris-free. It does this in seconds, meaning you can not only listen to your records faster but clean through your entire collection in less time too.
Okki Nokki One MK II
Pros: Can handle 7″, 10″, and 12″ records; quiet; easy to use
Cons: Dust cover and clamp are not included
Verdict: The Okki Nokki One MK II is an easy-to-use and quiet vacuum record cleaning machine that will leave your records so clean you could eat off of them. (Please don’t actually eat off of your records.)
This Dutch brand specialises in offering a single-control, simple-to-use, bi-directional vacuum cleaning machine that ensures your records are so clean the only thing you’ll be hearing is what was recorded in the studio. It’s also really quiet, particularly when compared to other machines at this price range.
VPI HW 16.5 Vinyl Record Cleaning Machine
Pros: 30 years in the game; deep clean
Cons: Boxy, dated design
Verdict: If you want to make sure your records are cleaned to a microscopic level, then the VPI HW 16.5 is what you need.
VPI dropped the original HW 16 three decades ago. The newer 16.5 model offers an upgrade to that lengthy legacy, and does the same job – cleaning records – very well. It takes about 35 seconds per side to clean a record fully, which is a little on the slow side, but what you’re left with will look like a brand new record. It’s also super sturdy, has a crazy high torque 18 RPM turntable platter, and sports a vintage old-school design which will appeal to some.