Cleaning, Playing and Setup Advice

Record Cleaning Advice – An Overview

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Someone sits in this room all day, running the records through our proprietary multi-step cleaning process. Every Hot Stamper pressing has been vacuum cleaned on multiple machines using the Walker Enzyme system.

Walker Audio Prelude is the only fluid we recommend for serious SOUND ENHANCEMENT and cleaning of your LPs. You have never heard what’s really in the grooves of your records until you’ve cleaned them using Walker’s system. There is nothing in our experience that works as well.

We’ve also tried a number of “single step” record cleaning fluids and found that none were satisfactory. Disc Doctor is two steps, Walker is three (or four depending on whether you choose to use their new final rinse. At this time we do not). If you can’t see yourself using a three step cleaning process — no matter how much better it makes your records sound — then stick with Disc Doctor. For cheap records alcohol and water are fine. (more…)

Muddy Waters Folk Singer – Vintage Vinyl Vs the Analogue Productions Modern Remaster

One of our good customers has started writing a blog which he calls

A GUIDE FOR THE BUDDING ANALOG AUDIOPHILE

Below is a link to a comparison Robert carried out between two pressings of Folk Singer.

I will post a few comments down the road.

Muddy Waters’ Folk Singer: Analogue Productions Takes On the ’70’s Repress

I have never heard the AP pressing, and have no plans at this time to play one, mostly because not a single one that I have heard on my system was any better than awful.

You can read some of my reviews here:

Analogue Productions

 

Record Cleaning Tips – Walker Audio Prelude 3 Step Enzyme Cleaner

Walker Audio Prelude is the only fluid we recommend for serious SOUND ENHANCEMENT and cleaning of your LPs. You have never heard what’s really in the grooves of your records until you’ve cleaned them using Walker’s system. There is nothing in our experience that works as well.

We’ve also tried a number of “single step” record cleaning fluids and found that none were satisfactory. Disc Doctor is two steps, Walker is three (or four depending on whether you choose to use their new final rinse. At this time we do not). If you can’t see yourself using a three step cleaning process — no matter how much better it makes your records sound — then stick with Disc Doctor. For cheap records alcohol and water are fine.

Cleaning Hot Stampers

We here at Better Records believe it’s virtually impossible to make meaningful comparisons among used or new (!) records that have not been properly cleaned. We have this fact thrown in our faces on a near daily basis, as so-so record after so-so record reveals layer upon layer of magic in its grooves after a good cleaning.

In 2007 we purchased an Odyssey RCM MKV Cleaning Machine. At about $8000 it’s an excellent machine if money is not at issue. We still use our VPI machine in the early stages of our cleaning process.

Every record that we play in our Hot Stamper shootouts is first scrubbed on the 16.5 with Walker Enzyme fluid and then vacuumed with the Odyssey. Our cleaning regimen involves multiple stages and processes, some of which we have yet to reveal.

For more advice on record cleaning, see below.

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Record Cleaning Tips – Ultrasonic Cleaning

Ultrasonic Cleaning (Old Version)

We have not experimented with Ultrasonic cleaning, although we have heard good things about it from our audiophile friends and customers. It is simply not practical at this time to clean records the way we do — three steps of Walker fluids — and then add the additional steps required to bathe them in ultrasonic fluid and dry them. Our near-full-time record cleaning person can hardly keep up with the demands we make on her these days, what with shootouts going on five days a week. Making the cleaning process more time consuming is just not in the cards for the time being.

Ultrasonic Cleaning (UPDATE 2016)

We have now tried ultrasonic cleaning and are unable to see — read: hear — any benefit relative to the cleaning regimen that we have evolved over the last fifteen years of so.

Our take is simply this: No doubt it is better than nothing. It may be better than the VPI 16.5, or it might be better in conjunction with the 16.5. We leave it for others to determine how well any of these other approaches work.

We believe that the system we use does a dramatically better job than any other we have tested. It may not be cheap, but it really works, and it is worth every penny and every hour of what it costs in time and money.

For more advice on record cleaning, see below.

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Record Cleaning Tips – Recleaning Your Hot Stamper Pressings

We don’t advise it unless you can rinse them with the water we recommend below and use the Walker Step 2 for the final stage. Any other process will probably result in a loss of sound quality. It’s your record, do what you want with it, but after you’ve recleaned it it will more than likely not sound as good as it did when we first shipped it to you.

For comprehensive advice on record cleaning, see below.

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The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds: Analogue Productions Takes on the Hot Stamper

One of our good customers has started writing a blog which he calls

A GUIDE FOR THE BUDDING ANALOG AUDIOPHILE

Below is a link to a comparison Robert carried out between two pressings of Pet Sounds – the Analogue Productions pressing and one of our Hot Stampers.

Pet Sounds: Analogue Productions Takes on the Hot Stamper

I have never heard the AP pressing, and have no plans at this time to play one, mostly because not a single one that I have heard on my system was any better than awful.

You can read some of my reviews here:

Analogue Productions

I wrote a very long review of their disastrous Tea for the Tillerman which you may find of interest:

Cat Stevens / Tea for the Tillerman – This Is Your Idea of Analog?

Turntable Set Up Guide Part 1: Why You Need to Do It Yourself

One of our good customers has started writing a blog which he calls

A GUIDE FOR THE BUDDING ANALOG AUDIOPHILE

Below you will find a link to an article about turntable setup in which I am quoted on the subject. I would have loved to write something along these lines myself, but never found the time to do so.

Robert Brook took the job upon himself and has explained it well, so if you would like to learn more about turntable setup, I encourage you to visit his blog and read more about it.

Turntable Set Up Guide Part 1: Why You Need to Do It Yourself

Where Cheap Turntables Fall Flat – The Music of Franz Liszt

 

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Classical music is unquestionably the ultimate test for proper turntable/arm/cartridge set-up. The Liszt recording you see pictured is a superb choice for adjusting tracking weight, VTA, azimuth and the like.

One of the reasons $10,000+ front ends exist is to play large scale, complex, difficult-to-reproduce music such as Liszt’s two piano concertos. You don’t need to spend that kind of money to play this record, but if you choose to, it would surely be the kind of record that can show you the sound your tens of thousands of dollars has paid for.

It has been my experience that cheap tables more often than not collapse completely under the weight of a mighty record such as this.
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Set-up Discs, Part Two – Dialing in the Anti-Skate

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

I once adjusted my anti-skate while playing this very album, at the time dialing it in to a “T”. Over the years I’ve found that the best test for fine anti-skate adjustment is massed strings, and not just at the end of a side but right at the beginning too.

When you have all the rosiny texture, the high-end harmonic extension, the least shrillness and the widest and deepest staging, you are there, assuming that tracking weight, azimuth and VTA are correct as well.

Four variables to mess with is admittedly a bitch, but having the right record to test with is absolutely critical as well. Maybe we should call it five variables.

And if I only had one record to bring to someone’s house in order to evaluate their equipment, this would certainly be a top choice. If you can make this record sound the way it should, your stereo is cookin’. If you are having problems, this record will show them to you in short order. (more…)