I reviewed the wonderful Nitty Gritty 2.5FI-XP record cleaning machine ($899) in the December 2009 edition of Enjoy the Music.com. I loved it, and would have kept it but both of our cars have required some rather expensive repairs. A couple of weeks ago I happened to see the Spin-Clean Record Washer System featured on the daily industry news portion of Enjoy The Music.com. Saw the price and what the system comprised of: a bright yellow plastic container that the record is placed within that holds the cleaning solution, a pair of hard plastic rollers, and a pair of cleaning pads. The record is placed between the pads and rotated by hand to clean it, then dried by using the included drying cloths. Sixty bucks? Are you kidding? It can't be true. I did a Google search and found a great thread over at the Audio Karma discussion board. The guys over there seemed totally stoked, so I made arrangements for a review sample.
A couple of other things to point out: first, the Spin-Clean can clean records of all diameters from 7 inch singles to 12 inch LPs. The unit is bright yellow for a reason: it allows one to see the amount of crud that has been removed from the grooves, as the dirt will rest at the bottom of the Spin-Clean Unit. Spin-Clean states that each batch of cleaning fluid can clean up to 50 records. Because very little of the cleaning solution is used along with the distilled water, the four ounce bottle will clean hundreds of LPs.
Spin Clean Record Washer In Use
The Spin-Clean instructions recommend that records be cleaned in batches, so that's what I did. I went into a cleaning frenzy. I took a few breaks, drank some orange juice, listened to an album side, and went right back to cleaning. Everything I listened to, from a clean garage sale copy of the original soundtrack to The Sound of Music (that I bought for a dollar) to some mint Deutsche Grammophon classical LPs purchased in the mid 80's sounded superb. All of the records I cleaned with the Spin-Clean, save two garage sale finds, had been previously cleaned either with the Disc Doctor Fluid and brushes and my KAB EV1 or the Nitty Gritty 2.5FIXP. Without exception, the Spin-Clean Record Washer System removed additional dirt from the grooves. While all of the pre cleaned LPs looked and sounded good before a bath in the Spin-Clean, they all looked and sounded even better afterwards. I saw (and heard) no differences between the LPs that had been previously cleaned and the two that had not once they had been bathed in the Spin-Clean: they all seemed equally clean.
Although the Spin Clean instructions state that 3 spins and a dry are all that are required to end up with a clean LP, I have taken to 7 to 8 spins and cleaning the LPs twice. Necessary? Probably not, but I feel better that way. The worst thing that will happen is that I will end up buying more replacement supplies from Spin-Clean. I am sure that Mark Mawhinney (the head honcho at Spin-Clean) won't mind. Like the system itself, the replacement supplies are very reasonably priced.
I also counted -- I am averaging thirteen albums per batch of cleaning fluid. Even though the dirt falls to the bottom of the unit, I get to a point where it bugs me, so I change the fluid and clean out the bottom of the unit with a paper towel. Even at that rate, the fluid is still extremely economical compared to all of the other "audiophile approved" cleaning concoctions.
One last observation: I use an Audio Quest dry brush (you know the one with the silver handle and reportedly a "million" soft bristles) to remove any surface dust just before playing. After using the Spin-Clean, I feel much less friction with the Audio Quest brush. Less friction equals less record and stylus wear. That alone makes the Spin-Clean worth far more than sixty dollars.
It Up A Notch