Acoustic Sounds
Record cleaning webinar
By: Michael Fremer

April 23rd, 2023


Industry News

Watch the MusicWatch Sponsored Webinar "Fundamentals of Vinyl Record Care"

three record cleaning product manufacturers weigh in on their cleaning tech

On Wednesday April 19th I moderated a MusicWatch sponsored webinar titled "Fundamentals of Vinyl Record Care". The panelists were Spinclean's Mark Mawhinney, Finesound's Jeff Coates and Kirmuss Audio's Charles Kirmuss Each represented one of the three basic record cleaning methodologies: manual wet-vat, "velvet lip" vacuum and cavitation. Finesounds imports and distributes Pro-Ject record cleaning machines. The two others are self-explanatory

Communications Research's Marc Finer did the introductions and I took it from there. I was tasked with providing a brief history of records from the Edison cylinder to the 33 1/3 LP record and do it in a few minutes. I did the best I could do and then opened the discussion, with each panelist describing their record cleaning technology.

The webinar was aimed at record store owners, to try to get them to encourage their buyers, especially the young ones, to take good care of their records, and make them aware that if they do so, the records will outlive them and continue sounding great to whomever they pass them down to well into the future.

The webinar posts with the kind permission of MusicWatch. One interesting fact I discovered in my research: Edison manufactured cylinders until it shut down in 1929 but in the mid 1900 decade it made thick, flat discs called "Diamond Discs" that sold for around $1.50. A $1.50 back then in today's dollars is the equivalent of around $34.00! Keep that in mind when you read stories claiming high prices today will kill the vinyl resurgence. No it won't because the cost is in line with prices throughout record production from the early 1900s through today.


  • 2023-04-24 06:28:50 AM

    Jennnifer Martin wrote:

    Mr. Kirmuss just can't help himself. I love his product, but I wish that he could relax a little. Good job, Michael.

  • 2023-04-24 07:35:32 AM

    SeagoatLeo wrote:

    I own a VPI 16 (16.5 upgraded) since 1981 and a Kirmuss 4 slot/3 size for over a year. I have cleaned about 80 LPs (out of 28,500) on the Kirmuss, about 20 using the full process. Only once did I see a whitish film. Otherwise, 5 minutes in the machine. About 20% of the LPs sound worse after cleaning in terms of noise (pops & clicks). Every LP sounds either a little clearer or significantly clearer/better on my VPI TNT VI mod/SME IV heavy mod/Dynavector 20X2L/Zesto Allesso SUT. Unfortunately, after the Kirmuss cleaning, those 20% of LPs which become noisier are probably due to uncovering the damage in the grooves (pressing or use by others) which were covered over by "dirt." None of my 80 LPs were visibly "dirty"; but rather, not cleaned and apparently not subjected to prior cleaning (especially the dreaded silicone treatments of decades ago. Damage is damage and cannot be undone. Alternatively, the sonic sound improvement is delightful at what I consider a reasonable expense (especially with my collection, mostly purchased or inherited "used." I have found that after the first 30 LPs, drying the LP after on my VPI 16.5 after cleaning insures a completely dry and clean LP, after which I remove and destat with my Furutech DeStat III gun.

    • 2023-04-25 05:45:49 AM

      bwb wrote:

      "Unfortunately, after the Kirmuss cleaning, those 20% of LPs which become noisier are probably due to uncovering the damage in the grooves (pressing or use by others) which were covered over by "dirt." "....... ... ... .... I'm having a real hard time buying into that. A pop/click has to be either a defect (hole or scratch or pit or the like) or something stuck to the surface.. Seems impossible to me that dirt would fill in any defects that are causing pops and clicks. Much more likely the record was damaged in the cleaning process or something was added that stuck to the surface to cause the increased noise.

    • 2023-04-25 10:44:03 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      I find it incomprehensible that only once did you see a whitish film. And sounding worse after the process is 100% opposite of my experience.

  • 2023-04-24 07:37:45 PM

    Tim Ware wrote:

    So whatever happened with the "controversy" about using a sticky stylus cleaner gel to clean your stylus? Folks started saying it left a terrible residue on the stylus. Since then, I've not heard a thing. Any update on this? Thanks!

    • 2023-04-25 10:48:33 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      It is a genuine controversy, not a "in quotes" controversy. J.R. Boisclair and team are working on the chemical spectral analysis but for now the safest thing to do is replace the Onzow annually because the problem is caused by the breakdown of the gel for reasons they are also working on but time and use are factors. If you have an Onzow, gently rub it on a mirror. If it leaves a trail, well that's what's being deposited onto the stylus. Don't forget the pressure at the tip even at grams, is considerable.

  • 2023-04-24 08:41:19 PM

    cracking resonance wrote:

    hmmm, with all the additional cost for expensive machines (the ultrasonics with cash release surfactants), all that shipping cost that basically adds 30-100% to the record, the new sleeves, ... the nightmare on courier-street hassle, etc. I wonder if the future is in digital highest resolution shipped digitally to the collector, then analog home-recorded. Good that reel is much more expensive and shorter lived, more sensitive.

    • 2023-04-25 10:50:46 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      The machines are not all that costly, the whole point of cavitation is that you don't need a "surfactant" and only if you wish to fully restore a record do you need Kirmuss's fluid. I have no idea what a courier steet hassle has to do with this, or what that even is!