As digital convenience grows in the form of the digital player, be it an iPod/iPhone, MP3 player or a network player, we in the industry have seen an explosion and re-discovery of what is becoming the most natural form of music reproduction our species has developed.
The almighty record player.
There has been a massive surge in interest in record players. The motivations for this are plentiful:
- In the evolution of music reproduction there's been a gradual dumbing down of our musical listening experience in the interest of convenience or portability.
Think Vinyl>CD>Tape>Cassette>Mini Disc>MP3>iPod>iPhone>...
- There is an appeal in both the retrospective, and the romantic aspects of listening to a record.
- The concept of owning something physical to admire and handle has great appeal. Right down to reading sleeve notes, getting free posters. Many new pressings give you a free digital download so you can have the best of both worlds.
- The care associated with handling a record could be symbolic of either the deliberate nature of listening to an album in full, or can be treated with the recklessness of the true rock stars from the golden age of vinyl, that ultimately lives and breathes in their music.
My Early "Hi-Fi"
As I was growing up, I had in my room some hand-me-down "Hi-Fi". I had my father's old Phillips receiver (I’ve tried to find photos from Google images, but it appears it’s a bit rare, and not to be confused with modern Philips equipment), that never got to breathe it’s full glory. My speakers, with their hand-built-by-my-brother cabinets and the “wide range” speakers in said box were ok in the mid range but not very good anywhere else. The best part about speakers set up was the hand built cabinet, a rudimentry affair, solid, but proudly showing off it’s particle board construction.
I quickly established there was detail missing and resolved it by turning up the treble. (That’s the only resource I had at the time). This not withstanding, my biggest frustration was dirty records and a dirty stylus and the fact that my record player (also a hand me down) got worse towards the end of the record. It’s no surprise (in hindsight) that I’ve ended up advocating the concept of investing in good gear!
A decent cartridge stylus upgrade makes a big difference to getting the information rather than noise off the record, but it needs to be clean first!
Enter Spin Clean.
Spectacular low cost record cleaning
As a result in our unprecedented levels of interest and therefore sales of turntables, at The Listening Post Wellington we’ve decided to hold “Vinyl Saturday”, where our shop music consists of playing records exclusively. (Currently on a Project 2-Xperience Acrylic Superpack with an Ortofon 2m Blue cartridge) throughout the day. Of course we’re still doing demo’s with whatever source you want!
We’ve got a few cool records around the shop but I decided to bring in a few classics from home. I was reminded how many of these are hand-me-downs from the folks’ collection from when I was knee high to a grass-hopper.
There was a large amount of distortion from either being over-played, or they were plain dirty.
Around the time of my birthday, Mother was ringing asking what she could do for that little gift. We had just started vinyl Saturdays and as I could think of nothing else, suggested a Spin Clean Record Washing System would be a great idea.
Spin Clean claims to remove dirt from the grooves of your record instead of trying to wipe it away or grinding it in. This reduces wear on your records and needle, but more importantly, it makes your records sound better.
How much better?
One of the records I brought in was a 20 year old Blues Brothers album that sounded, frankly awful. It was low volume, noisy, tinny, and the embodyment of all that people have against vinyl. It was the first one we gave the Spin Clean treatment to. Once we gave it a good bath and dried the record off, it certainly *looked* cleaner. The vinyl shone like new, with none of the faded or rugged colour often associated with older records.
But the real test is how it sounds, so we threw the record at our Project Xperience 2 (well, placed the album gently), and set the needle...
WOW. The vast majority of the crackle and pop was gone. The music jumped out, and you could hear the mean leaness was gone, and in it’s place was rhythm and musical vitality. Bass extension improved dramatically as did treble response and clarity.
Over the day, in between clients, we cleaned about 20 records, some newish, some over 40 years old. In all cases there was a dramatic improvement (I can only guess, but there’s probably manufacturing residues left on new ones). By the end of that, the cleaning solution was definitely in need of a new batch. Well done Spin Clean!!
If you have Vinyl, it’s go to be the best $199 you can spend!!!