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Free Ultrasonic Cleaner Guide

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Professional Advice on Ultrasonic Phonograph Record Cleaning

A growing cadre of vinyl record enthusiasts is turning to ultrasonic phonograph record cleaning to restore classic albums such as the original Dave Brubeck Newport Jazz Festival series, Julie London’s original “Julie is her Name” album or early Mantovani discs – or even the jukebox 45s of Elvis, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers or you name it. Ultrasonic record cleaning is an important contributor to restoring sounds not duplicated on CDs, say the enthusiasts.

We spoke to Don in Minnesota about his use of a dual-frequency 37/80 kHz Elmasonic PH150EL ultrasonic cleaner and how he uses it to clean his stock of about 5,000 records collected over 40 years. Don readily admits that with a collection of this size, cleaning is pretty much an ongoing process. “I also admit I am somewhat of a fanatic when it comes to maintaining the collection,” he says, “but it is amazing to hear the improved sound after thoroughly cleaning vinyl records. The sound of newly purchased records is also improved greatly by cleaning due to removing the mold release chemicals from the disc.”

Tip: How to Sonically Clean LP Records.

Don devised a record support system by coupling a 6 RPH motor and shaft assembly to a modified Irwin bar clamp. The assembly is not attached to the ultrasonic cleaner which frees the equipment for other tasks (see below). Three records are cleaned at a time, separated by spacers at approximately 2 cm apart. This both protects the record labels and allows ultrasonic cavitation to reach the grooves.

The 1.5 gallon capacity ultrasonic cleaning tank is filled with distilled water to which is added 4 ounces of 190 proof grain alcohol and a few drops of Photo Flo. “I set the ultrasonic frequency to 80 kHz, the thermostat to 40?C, and activate the degas function to drive off trapped air while mixing the bath. When the on-board temperature indicator reaches 40? cleaning begins,” he says. “Records are lowered into the bath and rotate for 2 revolutions in 20 minutes – so slow you can hardly see them move. This allows ultrasonic cavitation to remove virtually all contaminants from the grooves.”

At the end of the cycle records are removed from the support system and allowed to dry.

"I found that the Elmasonic cleaner with its 80 kHz frequency and process controls is theoretically a much better choice than other available ultrasonic record cleaners,” Don says.

Going the Extra Step in Record Cleaning

“There is no doubt that ultrasonic cleaning makes a significant difference in cleanliness. I was amazed at the additional detail on every record – even those I cleaned earlier by different cleaning methods,” Don says. “For my own satisfaction, however, and confessing to be a perfectionist, I follow up the sonic cleaning by using my Loricraft record cleaning unit. It’s somewhat like an assembly line. Records are removed from the ultrasonic cleaner, dried, then transferred to the Loricraft, and the Elma PH150EL is reloaded to clean the next batch.”


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