Record Doctor VI Record Cleaning Machine Review


Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Digs deep to leave records sparkling
Far more effective than brush cleaners
Affordable
Minus
Hands-on manual operation
Loud vacuum motor

THE VERDICT
The Record Doctor VI is a bare-bones wet record cleaning system that delivers superb results at a bargain price.

It's easy to dismiss the recent resurgence of interest in vinyl records as a youth-driven phenomenon, with millennials embracing vinyl more for its hipness factor than for the great sound that it can deliver. But in the course of my day job setting up and maintaining high-end turntables, I'm finding that much of the rekindled attention is actually coming from my fellow Boomers and Gen-Xers. Some of us never stopped playing our records. Others, it seems, simply stashed theirs in the basement decades ago when CDs seemed so convenient and are just now pulling them out to appreciate all over again.

Vinyl enthusiasts know that cleanliness is next to godliness when it comes to their records. So how do we deal with all the accumulated gunk resulting from decades of storage? Another problem is not having a clue where those mucky used records snapped up from record shops, garage sales, and thrift stores have been. Heck, even brand-new records can benefit from a good cleaning to banish the gritty debris that floats around in pressing plants and often ends up on the vinyl.

Wet or Dry?
Record cleaning methods can be split into two basic categories: wet and dry. In the latter category are cleaning tools like brushes and pads, with dry brushes in particular doing a decent job to remove loose surface dust and leftover weed particles from that crazy frat house party 40 years ago. Wet cleaning systems, meanwhile, use a liquid to release and suspend the muck, which is then removed using some kind of vacuum system. For removing more stubborn grime like fingerprints, mold from damp storage, and even pressing plant residue, there's no beating a good wet cleaning system.

Splish, Splash
Wet cleaners, too, can be split into a few distinct categories. At the most basic level there are hand-turned bath-type devices like the Spin Clean that sell for around $100. These do a good job of cleaning the grooves and suspending the dirt in a cleaning solution, but because they don't vacuum away the solution, some of the dirt will inevitably settle back into the grooves as the record air-dries. At the other end of the spectrum are what are known as cavitation machines such as the German-made Audio Desk. These are astonishingly good at cleaning records, but at an average cost of a few thousand dollars, they are hard to justify for all but the most committed vinylphiles. Taking up the middle ground are vacuum-type cleaners such as the Record Doctor VI under review here that typically range in price from a few hundred up to a few thousand bucks. These saturate a record with cleaning solution and then use a brush to scrub the dirt out of the grooves, suspending it in the solution. Next, a vacuum system sucks the dirty fluid away, leaving the record clean and dry.

420recdoc.2

Suck It Up
While there are numerous ways to vacuum a record dry, the most popular method uses a slot that sits under the wet rotating LP and sucks the dirty fluid into a catch tank inside the machine. Fresh fluid is used to clean each record, and once you've completed a couple dozen LPs, you simply drain the collected dirty fluid out of the machine.

COMPANY INFO
Pangea Audio
866-984-0677
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
brenro's picture

I had the V for a short time and it was definitely very loud.

jeffhenning's picture

A few thoughts:

• Now that my whole audio library is on a SSD and backed up to Carbonite, I never handle my CD's so cleaning is not an issue

• To all of the people saying that records don't wear out, I'm very confident that testing the "dirt" removed in the cleaning process would reveal that a decent bit is minute vinyl particles left from each play - friction is real

• I went through this for my first 20 years buying & listening to music. I'm really glad I no longer need to use products like this.

• It seems that Discwasher is still around (maybe) - it would be interesting to compare the efficacy of the two

Question: what happens to the used fluid vacuumed off the discs? Is there some type of "spittle" tank you need to empty?

X