Vinyl Gear Review: The Vinyl Vac

Cleaning your records is probably the most important thing you can do for the life and longevity of your collection.  It is also one of the most overlooked and under thought about parts of owning vinyl records.  Many people may not think there is a need to clean their records, but if they buy albums then they should be cleaning them.  I'm not talking about just used records either, I'm talking used albums, new albums, and albums you may have owned for years.  You would be amazed what a good cleaning can do for the sound and experience of a vinyl record.

There are many ways to clean vinyl records.  You can dry clean them with a velvet brush.  You can wet clean them with a brush and spray.  You can vacuum clean them with a special vacuum device.  You can even sonically clean albums.  What it comes down to is what you want to invest both moneywise and timewise.

To start, let me tell you how I have been cleaning my albums.  I have a couple methods I use, and it really depends on a few things.  First, has the album been cleaned thoroughly before? Second, is the album brand new? Is the album used, and if so did it come from a shop that cleans their albums first, or did it come from a garage sale, online purchase, or dollar bin? Once I have identified where the record came from, my plan for cleaning is set.  I am a wet clean fan, so any time I clean I use a solution of some sort.  For new records, I have created my own cleaning solution from distilled water and isopropyl alcohol.  For used records, I use the Spin-Clean device and their solution.

Here's what comes with it (wand, extra
velvet pads, o-ring, suction reducers,
felt washer to protect your label)
My method has always been the same:  Wet clean, towel off, and then air dry.  For a while now I have been looking into a quicker way to dry my albums after a cleaning.  I have wanted a vacuum device, but most of them are pretty expensive.  I researched a few options, but I kept coming back to the Vinyl Vac.  The unit itself is pretty simple in design.  I piece of plastic with a cap, a spindle hole, and a slit surrounded by velvet pads.  You attach the unit to a small vacuum device and go.  The unit is a wand style device, so you will need to use one hand to hold the Vinyl Vac in place as you use your other hand to rotate your record.  There are other devices that have mounts and other options, but the price climbs substantially at that point.  The Vinyl Vac retails for $30, and you may be thinking to yourself that you can probably build one instead for less.  I would say that you may be able to do that, but the slit and spindle holes need to be exactly right for the suction to work properly and that can be a daunting task.  I opted to let the pros build it for me and save myself a headache.

Another thing you will need is an old turntable that you don't mind using for cleaning, or a lazy susan type unit that you can spin as you vacuum.  I went with the old AT-LP60 turntable that I currently use in the garage, but am actively looking for an old turntable that doesn't function to use instead.  Once I completed wet cleaning my album, I simply placed it on the AT-LP60, placed the wand on the spindle, fired up the wet vac, and slowly turned the platter as the vacuum sucked up all the water and leftover residue from cleaning.  It should be noted that even though you have cleaned the album, there will be residue left in the grooves that a simple microfiber cloth won't get out.  The Vinyl Vac will be able to extract those particles and give your album a much more thorough cleaning.

I have to say that I was very impressed with the results of the Vinyl Vac.  I had a bunch of dollar bin albums that were caked in dust, dirt, and grime that I ran through the spin clean and then used my new Vinyl Vac to remove the water and residue.  After inspecting the albums, I would never have known they came from a dollar bin.  They looked brand new minus the superficial scratch here or there.  I put a couple on the turntable to see how they sounded and was blown away by how nice a quiet many of them were.  The combo of the Spin-Clean and Vinyl Vac gave new life to these otherwise discarded albums.  I was able to clean, dry and sleeve the albums in mere minutes, saving me time waiting for the first batch to dry before moving on to the next batch.  Needless to say, I am a fan of the Vinyl Vac.

If you are looking for a nice way to vacuum dry and clean your vinyl records, I can't recommend the Vinyl Vac more.  It's an inexpensive way to achieve the desired results, and your albums will sound and look better than they have since they were brand new.  The Vinyl Vac is perfect for both wet and dry cleaning.  I use it for wet cleaning, but it can also be placed on a dry record to get any dust, dirt or debris out of the grooves.  In all, you are looking at an investment of about $60 ($30 for the Vinyl Vac and $30 for a small wet/dry vacuum cleaner) to get started down the path to renewed life for your albums.  I purchased my Vinyl Vac from the company's Amazon store which you can find here.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks Brian for kind words about our product and for taking the time to write this detailed review. I really appreciate it! If anyone has any questions or comments regarding our product please feel free to contact me at info@vinylvac.net. - Ron Miller


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