At the beginning of the year, a good friend called me over to his garage and surprised me with a gift of around 500 vintage vinyl records he had little patience to deal with. I gladly took them off his hands. When I got home and started sifting through the albums, I realized there were hundreds of original pressings of classic rock, jazz, blues, and classical titles. I was stoked. Except for one thing, I had long disposed of my last analog front end. Time to do some shopping, with affordable, low maintenance gear as a priority.
After taking suggestions from some industry pros, and I ended up with the new Rega Planar 3 for my main system, and the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC for my office. I also picked up some high-value phono stages from Lounge Audio, Graham Slee, and Lehmann. I started to enjoy the sound of pure analog after more than a 25-year gap. The main issue I found annoying, no different than droves of other vinyl lovers, is surface noise, dust, and static. The records I was so generously given were well cared for, but still had the usual fingerprints, surface residue, and the occasional grimy spot.
I attempted various DIY cleaning methods, I am sure like just about everybody else with a record collection, but this generally led to frustration and haphazard methods and results. Soap and water? Check. Various internet recommended mixtures? Check. Carbon fiber brushes? Check. In the end what I ended up creating is nothing but a mess, and a not very clean record. After watching Youtube videos of people washing their records in the sink with dish detergent, I knew there had to be a better way.
I did initially invest in a Spin Clean, probably one of the least expensive, longest in production cleaning apparatus on the market. The Spin Clean costs around $90 and comes with a cleaning solution, the contraption itself, and drying cloths. While I found it worked, it was very labor intensive, and you are left to dry your records manually. The manufacturer also recommends washing at least 25-30 records at a time so as to economize the fluid. While the Spin Clean does a pretty good job, the amount of work involved left me wanting something a bit more sophisticated.
In a meeting of opportunity and great timing, I was offered a review sample of the Okki Nokki RCM-II record cleaner and happily accepted. Okki Nokki is a firm based in the Netherlands, and the product is distributed in the USA by VANA Ltd and is available at numerous online stores and dealers for $499. The RCM-II comes packaged very professionally, with all the accessories you need to get started immediately.
Some of the features touted by the manufacturer include:
- Cool running turntable motor allows for hours of use
- Comes complete with record cleaning fluid concentrate and goat hair brush.
- Auto shut-off should the user forget to drain down reservoir.
- Forward and reverse motor for 'scrubbing' action.
- Vacuum tubes for 10" and 7" records available.
- Quiet vacuum motor.
- Available in Black or White finish
The unit is very well built and inspires confidence when you unbox it. It does not feel like a toy, like some other devices. There are sturdy feet to support the machine, and the fit-and-finish is solid. After a quick scan of the manual, dirty records await.