Record cleaning strategies - much of a muchness?

by Stephen Price on December 06, 2020

Wrong. The essential truth about cleaning a record is that we can make the mistake of understanding the objective in the same context as other cleaning, e.g. the car, a window or a floor. The reality is that those levels of clean do not cut it when we're talking about preparing a record groove for play. At the infinitesimally small level of delay that is the engraving on the groove wall, if we want true fidelity then absolutely nothing must come between the stylus and those engravings, that sine wave on each groove wall that we want the stylus to faithfully track.

Any contaminant present will degrade the playback sound. Dust is the typical contaminant. It has been found to typically contain 12% jagged silica particles, 35% diamond dust, 40% miscellaneous particles, including soot, grit and particles worn from the record groove itself, the remaining 13% consisting of fibers and lint. For old record collections a further complication can be mould spores which have germinated. Add binder substances such as airborne fats, finger grease and nicotine which bind these particles to the groove walls and very quickly it becomes obvious that brushes and cloths will be next to useless for removing anything more than loose, large and typically visible surface dust particles. The real challenge for record restoration is ridding the disc of the very fine material that if not bound to the wall is lying quietly at the base of the V shaped groove, where the stylus does not reach.

The answer is therefore wet cleaning, where the task is the lifting of contaminants into solution. However the real challenge is then the 100% removal of the created 'slurry' else the finest of contaminants e.g. that diamond dust abraded from the stylus, will be deposited on the groove walls. It will be so fine that it may not cause hiss but it will mask the finest detail resulting in a muddying of the sound. And, being the world's best abrasive, diamond dust on the groove wall will greatly shorten stylus life.

Vacuuming as a removal technique for liquid will contribute to this effect by inevitably dropping solids as it is dried by moving air. High pressure sound smashing the groove walls may shake out particles but will struggle with those particles well-bound to the groove walls.

Being specifically designed to emulsify binding substances such as fats and oils, VRC Easy Spread n' Peel removes 100% of dissolved particles and binders by first breaking those binders thereby allowing all contaminants to be lifted into suspension. The liquid then dries to a removable skin and just like a peeled face mask, results in all dissolved impurities being removed.

The VRCS Method is contactless (no harsh scrubbing brushes or cloths), silent (ultra sonic machines should be used with ear protection) and requires no mixing or replacement of solutions (e.g. can be done in front of the tele rather than the laundry or garage). As there is no reuse of cleaning fluid each treatment of each record is discrete.

It is also anti-static.

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