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Tuesday
Jul252017

Cleaning Records with the Orbitrac 3

In this video I try my hand at cleaning some old records plagued by crackles and pops using the reintroduced Allsop Orbitrac 3Pro vinyl cleaning system.

Amazon US  http://amzn.to/2tYc7Av

Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2fNx38Q

Manufacturers website: http://orbitrac.allsop.com/

 

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Reader Comments (17)

Hi Mat, been meaning to say "Hi!" for awhile now, love your HiFi gear, 14Y/O me was a Technics fanboy in the early 80s, aaahhh, good times... Re your record cleaning gadget, it seems like a bit of a faff for a not-so-effective device in the end... I used to use a NEW washing-up bowl: add distilled water (crucial) and a single drop (crucial again, zaps the surface tension of the water so it gets to the thinnest grooves) of washing-up liquid. Hold record by the edges and gently shake in the bowl, turn over and repeat. Rinse with distilled water (also crucial) and hang to dry (using the handy hole in the middle of the record) in a warm, air-current free place. Results guaranteed! Earth the record to an earthing point before putting away. Static electricity is the vinyl afficionando's No. 1 enemy.
For regular maintenance nothing beats a purpose-built carbon fibre brush held lightly above the record as it spins on the turntable, NOT FORGETTING to touch a finger of the other hand to the spindle to discharge static electricity (although I bodged a lead from the carbon fibre brush to the earth connector of a spare socket just to be sure...).
All worked a charm, with no spare pads or spray juice to be re-ordered...
Now got my eldest (19) hooked on vinyl, some great gear for not too much dosh out there, compared to the 80s ;-)
Max

July 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMax

Discman came out with a record cleaning brush and fluid back in the late seventies, and still have mine. As far as cutting back on the crackling, use an anti static mat on the turntable.

July 27, 2017 | Unregistered Commentertj treinen

I shall certainly order one of these when it becomes available in the UK next month. I currently use a two part spray with a micro-fibre cloth which works reasonably well, but certainly doesn't reduce crackle to the extent that this new kit appears to.

Have you seen the guys on YouTube using wood glue to clean records? It makes sense that it would well, but the cost of the glue must approach the typical cost of the second-hand record, so I wonder if it is worth it.

Regards,

Roland

July 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRoland

Hi Mat,

Speaking of of record cleaning kits, you might want to do a video on the The Record Vacuum.

July 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike Williams

STOP TOUCHING THE RECORD CLEANING PADS!!!!

Would you finger your record that way?

Aren't you trying to REMOVE finger oils and dirt? Or - are you trying to put more gunk in?

What's wrong with you?

Fingering a record cleaning pad is actually worse than touching record grooves - cause it means that you'll be spreading - efficiently - your finger oils and acids via to pad to every record it subsequently touches.

Did that ever occur to you - Mr. Vinyl Expert?

If you're going to ignore common sense and finger everything within reach, then you may as well clean your records by spitting on them and wiping with your shirt sleeve.

Bet you push in every dome tweeter you see, too.

July 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNeward Thelman

I realise this is difficult to do an exact A/B test, but I'd be very interested to know how this home cleaning kit compares against a professional service. I have any 'special' pre-owned records I buy cleaned just once before first play by a professional (using a Keith Monks machine I think) which costs £2. I wondered if this home kit is anywhere near as good?

July 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJ Peters

Trying to find two identically dusty records would be a problem you're right - but I'm intrigued about the service you use. Could you share more details for anyone else here who might want to use something like this.

July 28, 2017 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Thanks, I can't add an awful lot. I live in Cornwall and I use a HiFi shop in Truro which offer this service. Many specialist Hifi shops will offer this, but obviously don't expect this service from your average electrical chain store. The price of £2 per clean may be out-of-date as I haven't used them for a couple of years (long story but I'm doing major cottage renovations so the HiFi has been packed away). Some places give you a new inner sleeve as part of the service.
Many such shops use a Keith Monks record cleaner as they are something of an industry standard, though other brands exist. Some collectors have their own KM cleaning machine - but they cost about £1,600.
I only buy vinyl to digitise - for example things you can't get on CD like an obscure German Christmas Carol LP I had as a child which I recently managed to find a clean copy of. My goal is therefore to get just one good, clean recording out of them at the highest possible quality. For me, paying £2 for a cleaning service is worth this before I do the recording, even just for peace of mind.

July 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJ Peters

J. Peters: " I'd be very interested to know how this home cleaning kit compares against a professional service".

There's no comparison. I can tell you that unequivocally right now. Here's the deal:

1. The OP is completely off-base and wrong about vacuum cleaning. His poor result simply means that he either screwed it up and did it completely incorrectly - or he had a gouged up record - meaning a physically scratched and damaged disk - which - duh - no amount of cleaning can repair.

2. With that in mind, the Orbitrac will do one thing very well and that's loosen film, grit, and grime and remove some of it. That's why he got the exact result that you see in his [inept] video. Orbitrac will remove a layer of dirt, oil, etc. and loosen it - but not completely. So - the Orbitrac is just a step along the way. The next step is ----->

3. Vacuum cleaning. In order to finish the job and completely remove all of the crud - the fingerprint oils [which the OP smeared right in by touching the Orbitrac pad with his filthy fingers], the nose boogers, the butt-scratch feces, the masturbation gunk, the bacteria-riddled sludge, the ebola puke - in short - ALL of the disgusting crap that people have crawling all over their hands and fingers - in order to get rid all all of that amazing crap - you have to have some way of sucking it all out. And - the best way to do that is with a solid vacuuming using a decent, alcohol based fluid.

4. You may then finish the job by vacuum rinsing with distilled water.

My post may be blunt - but that's the only way to combat the misinformation spread by self-appointed "experts" such as the OP.

For more info, search on the internet for the Tracking Angle article on how to truly clean vinyl records. The system isn't the only way, but it's one of the best.

August 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNeward Thelman

Hi Mat, I have an idea for your next viny.l record player it is about a portabel record player that can be powered by 6D cells or 220V 50/60 hz and it was only sold in Switzerland, Austria and Germany and it is called: philips 22 gf 633 and it is a nice player for not much money and perfect for beginner's.

August 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPascal

"...record player that can be powered by 6D cells...

Yep - that sounds like a real wow and flutter winner. Awe hell - who cares about speed and pitch stability? That's just - so digital.

August 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNeward Thelman

A little information on te site it has 3 speeds 33,45,78 and has a tone regulator and i payed 15€ for it in a yard sale.

August 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPascal

And built between 1967-1970

August 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPascal

D'oh! I was just about to point out you should have been wearing a surgical face mask and latex gloves, but got beaten to it. No wonder your records still sound a bit crackly. But it raises the question, who does get to appoint the experts if not oneself? And who appoints THEM?

August 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRoland

Roland roars: "should have been wearing a surgical face mask and latex gloves"

You're correct. Records should be handled just like frisbees. You can slap your fingers on any piece of vinyl without any concern whatsoever. That makes records sound better. If you get the urge to clean a record - for some weird reason - all you need to do is what I pointed out above: Just spit on it and wipe that off with your sleeve. Job Done - Mission Completed.

"No wonder your records still sound a bit crackly"

You're correct. Records SHOULD sound crackly. Noisy - and most importantly - distorted. Distortion is good. In fact, there's no such thing as "distortion". It's all good. Rocking Roland.

Hell - the other guys above are jumping for joy chimpanzee-style over a battery powered, high wow and flutter portable record player. Yeeeeee Haw! If you wanted clean, clear, low distortion sound, you'd be listening to digital. No way.

"who does get to appoint the experts if not oneself? And who appoints THEM?"

That's the best statement I've read this year. Wow. I had to gulp once - then twice - then I had to lie down. As they used to say in the 1970s - Whoa, meeeeyan. Far out. Far effing out. Whoa - that's like - so - like - like - like - deep - meeeeyan.

You're correct. That makes 3 for 3. Betcha you're a Mensa member, or a sub-genius, or something such as that. So - let's take a look at your little bit of - genius.

Who appoints experts? No one. Cause - no one knows anything. So, there are no qualifying examination, or professional review boards. There's no body certifying air plane pilots - anyone who wants to fly one can. Same thing with nuclear scientists - anyone can run a nuclear power plant, or build a car - or rebuild a transmission. Or be a medical doctor - or a brain surgeon. Hell - you're beer swilling, beer-bellied best bud can perform neurosurgery on your ---- skull. Specially after 10 or 20 beers.

Uh - oh - wait a minute. Uh - what you're saying is that no body knows anything. Right - yep. It's all made up. There aren't any experts in anything - all lies. All made up.

Rock on.

August 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNeward Thelman

Does anyone know how many records a cartridge or pad will clean before needing to replace and buy new ones? I know it depends on how dirty the vinyl is etc. but just a ballpark? I have about 250 records that need cleaning and i wonder how many i can clean before having to buy replacement pads/cartridges?

thanks
vance

September 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVance

Vance:

It depends entirely on how much grease and grime are on the record or records you're attempting to clean. A single super greasy record could turn the Orbitrac pad black and brown with whatever filth is on it.

I once cleaned a record that came from a cigarette smokers house. You wouldn't believe how much yellow gunk [tabacco tar, I guess] came off of just one record. It was as if I'd dipped into a public toilet. Of course, some people aren't bother at all about that [see Roland above]; think about how many guys emerge from taking a dump at work and don't even wash their hands [assuming they - uh - wiped at all (again, see Roland above)].

There have been 3 iterations of the Orbitrac. I haven't used the new one, but I've had experience with the prior one. With average used records, the pad starts turning yellow after about 3 to 4 records. It turns noticeably dirty a few more records after that.

BUT - you shouldn't go that far. Consider that by the time you see an actual soiled pad, you've already been wiping crud and crap on your records. Even after the very first wipe, you've absorbed motel-bedspread level contaminants. So, applying the record cleaning concepts pioneered in The Tracking Angle, if you're using an Orbitrac - or any other cleaning pad system - it ought to be only the first step in a multi step process.

The next step after wiping with the Orbitrac should be some kind of vacuuming. That way, you may continue using a pad such as an Orbitrac for the initial loosening and removal of the top layer of gross crud. Subsequent vacuuming will then suck up the remaining dirt and crud. If you've wiped with a soiled Orbitrac pad, at least you know that what's left behind has a chance of being removed. For dirtier records, several vacuumings may be needed.

Note that finger prints - and most used records have them - are the hardest to remove. The reason is that they're embedded not just physically, but chemically as well. Decades old finger prints have been the most difficult contaminants I've encountered. One method that's been suggested is blasting a stuck-on finger print with steam from one of those fabric steamers. I haven't tried that yet - I'd be cautious at subjecting delicate vinyl grooves to super-heated steam - it's very likely to deform tiny high frequency undulations [goodbye air and detail and all of those things that makes vinyl sound like vinyl and why you buy vinyl in the first place]. If you do have stubborn prints and decide to try a steamer, be sure to use the purest water you can get your hands on - the last thing you want to do is steam-blast hard contaminants directly onto your record grooves.

September 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNeward Thelman

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