- Written by Michael Jude Galvin
- Published on 10 May 2012
Introduction to the Spin Clean Record Washer
Grabbing CDs for my car one day, I was struck with the realization that I hardly ever played CDs in my home system. And while I knew I should at least start the process, having acquired a brilliant 24/192 DAC with asynchronous USB, just the thought of burning all my CDs into my laptop was exhausting. I was too busy (or lazy) for an undertaking of that magnitude. I had another thought. Vinyl.
Playing records had never been part of my life and while I know someone out there reading this just gasped, being turntable-free never bothered me. Sure, sure, I had heard tell of vinyl's superior fidelity, but I just assumed that couldn't really be correct. And anyway, vinyl was really just for oldsters who refused to buy the same music again, audio nerds who loved agonizing over things like anti-skate, or hipsters who were only too anxious to have yet another thing to be condescending about. I didn't see myself as any of those. I hate tweaks. As I thought about it more though, it had been a long time since I bought a CD or, for that matter, a new piece of audio equipment. I guess it all started to feel a little too stagnant, so I started looking into vinyl. I really blame that movie, High Fidelity. It seemed like they were really into music and maybe, perhaps, vinyl had something to do with it? Questions need answers. After a bit of research, I decided to dip my toe in (rather than dive in) the murky analog waters. I ordered a Rega RP1. It was going to take a few weeks to arrive. In the meantime, I decided I needed to find some records.
On the first Sunday of every month, Pasadena City College (just outside of Los Angeles) has a flea market. One of the more notable attractions of the flea market is the record swap. I had heard of this through a DJ friend of mine years ago and decided to go check it out. Putting aside the 8 a.m. Sunday morning aspect of it, you can load up here, no matter what your budget is. And I did. I picked up Blondie, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Neil Young, The Pretenders, and The Carpenters. Just now, I stopped writing so I could play the Carpenters. Writing this review seemed disingenuous without some vinyl actually playing. Wow. Listen to "Superstar" and tell me Karen Carpenter's voice isn't one of the most amazing things that has ever existed. The funny thing is, it doesn't sound like she is wringing her heart out. Her earnestness might be contrived, but her voice, her instrument, it's breathtaking. It's so moving on its own that her commitment to the material is irrelevant. That's why the pollyanna lyrics don't matter. Congratulations to whomever had the wisdom to record that voice.
The Carpenters record skips, but I don't care. Maybe the record was too emotional for its previous owner and the tonearm got whacked off the record in the midst of full-on sobbing. I don't know. Maybe that's too dramatic; this is supposed to be a review, not a play. Some might think skips trigger too much awareness of the recorded medium and somehow lessen the connection with the material, but they don't, not for me. I've seen Todd Hayne's documentary. I know Karen Carpenter is dead (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=622130510713940545). But I also know when she lived, she had this crazy-distinctive voice that I connect with instantly. So does Neil Young. He tells me "only love can break your heart" and his friend "hides his head inside a dream." And I wonder, if you believe in something so much and so deeply, do you do anything to protect it and should you maybe not do that? After the Gold Rush sounds ragged, but now I think that's sort of the point.
SPIN CLEAN RECORD WASHER MK. II SPECIFICATIONS
- The Package Contains:
- Washer Basin and Lid
- Washer Fluid 4oz
- Washer Fluid 32oz
- Two Pair Brushes MKII
- One Pair Rollers MKII
- Seven Washable Drying Cloths
- MSRP: $129
- SECRETS Tags: Vinyl, LPs, Record Cleaners, Record Washers
There's no getting around the physicality of vinyl. The stylus digs the music out of the record's grooves. That's just how it works. This suggests the surface condition of a record is infinitely more important than that of CD. Clean records seemed a no-brainer. I'm also anal enough (I use a paper towel to turn the handle of every bathroom I exit) to not want all that crud building up on my new needle. I wanted, no, I needed clean records. At the very least, the peace of mind that clean records bring is worth something. I figured it was worth about $150 to me.
The Spin Clean Record Washer
Enter my new friend the Spin Clean Record Washer Mk. II. Yes, it looks like a play toaster you'd find at a toy store - think bright yellow fisher price. In reality, it's not much more complicated than a child's toy. It's completely manual, sort of like a hot wheels carwash I used to have. Google it. This is really simple. Drop the guide rollers in, slide the two velvet cleaning brushes into place, fill the reservoir to the line with distilled water, add a few capfuls of the supplied cleaning solution concentrate and you are ready to clean 20-50 records, depending, of course, on how filthy they actually are. Unlike most record-cleaning contraptions I've seen, the Spin Clean cleans both sides of the record simultaneously. All you do is manually turn the record a few times and you're done. Pull the record out, dab it with the supplied lint-free cloths and let it air dry. I used my dishwasher.
Conclusions About the Spin Clean Record Washer
I didn't play any records before I cleaned them so I can't satisfy the typical audiophile nervosa A-B, but wow, the records looked smashing after they came out of the Spin Clean and there was gunk in the water below. Brilliant. For whatever reason, the Siouxsie records were really dirty even into the grooves. The Spin Clean melted all that away. Maybe even more significantly, I cleaned a bunch of brand new records and you know what? I looked down at the bottom of the Spin Clean and there swam a whole family off those black vinyl curly Qs the lathe had left behind. That convinced me. New or old, I think you have to have some kind of record cleaner. Start with this.
Focal Electra 1008 Be 2, Naim Nait XS, Rega RP1, Rega Fono Mini, Oppo DV-980H, Wyred 4 Sound DAC 2, NAD C545BEE, XBOX 360, Signal and Power cables by Synergistic Research.