Monthly Archives: November 2012

The digital edition of the December/January 2012/2013 issue is now available in the Digital Editions section.

Features inside this issue include:

  • Good Vibrations: Understanding How Vibrations Impact the Sound of Your System and How to Eliminate Them
  • An Introduction to Phono Stages
  • Annual Holiday Gift Guide from Editors Suave Kajko and Neil Underwood

Reviewed inside:

  • Bryston BHA-1 Headphone Amplifier
  • Samsung UN55ES8000F 3D LED TV
  • Chord Electronics Chordette QuteHD DAC
  • MK Sound MK150THX 5.1 Speaker System

Click HERE to jump to the Digital Editions page

iPad/iPhone/iPod touch users – please open the CANADA HiFi App on your Apple device and you will now see this new issue on the home page of the App (pull the home page down with your finger to update if the latest issue doesn’t appear automatically). If you haven’t downloaded the free CANADA

Krell Industries, LLC, has announced that the 2014 Acura RLX will be the first-ever automobile to offer a premium audio system produced in collaboration with Krell Industries.  Krell Industries purports that this new automobile-based system will be able to replicate the same high-end performance Krell is known for, within the luxurious interior of the 2014 Acura RLX.

Acura embraced Krell Industries’ philosophy of musical detail, three-dimensional sound presentation and extreme volume capability.  The system’s most important main amplifier channels feature the same robust, high quality bipolar power transistors used in flagship Krell home amplifiers. The result is an amplifier that has 1/3 less distortion than a leading competitor’s flagship luxury car amplifier and power and headroom to meet the obstacles that the road will throw in its way.

The system’s tweeters are composed of lightweight magnesium cones that create extraordinary musical detail and extended high frequencies without any trace of harshness. The speakers employ metal grilles that are inherently stronger than the plastics used for most car audio systems. With this strength, the grille can have more open area without compromising its integrity or sound performance. Metal grilles also vibrate less than typical plastic grilles, and this combination yields a grille that is as close as possible to nothing at all.

Even more impressive are the system’s six mid bass drivers that are made from Zylon – the world’s strongest super fiber. This very rigid material is perfect for speaker manufacturing. Zylon responds very quickly to a musical input but more importantly than that; it stops moving when the musical signal stops. Polypropylene cones, which are used in the vast majority of car audio speakers, continue moving well after the music stops. With less unwanted vibration, the sound quality is much cleaner and more detailed with Zylon based speakers.

Rounding out the speaker complement is a potent carbon fiber composite subwoofer. The dedicated 100 Watt subwoofer amplifier insures that low frequency music is reproduced cleanly and with substantial impact.

The 2014 Acura RLX will be on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show, November 28 – December 9, 2012, held annually at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Look for more information, please visit www.krellonline.com.

Chord Electronics, out of the U.K. has just released their anxiously awaited DSX1000 - high-performance digital network streamer.  The new DSX1000 incorporates Chord’s latest-generation Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) architecture found inside the DSX1000, is the same advanced technology used in the highly acclaimed QBD76 HDSD DAC and the Red Reference MkIII CD player, giving the DSX1000 a significant sonic advantage over ordinary network players with off-the-shelf DAC chips.

The FPGA handles all the digital data decoding, clocking, WTA filtering and the 5th generation Pulse Array DAC. Improvements to the Pulse Array DAC have been further complimented with an enhanced power supply design and layout, giving the very best digital-to-analogue conversion available. The DSX1000’s streaming engine is directly coupled into our own DAC technology, which carefully re-clocks all data, removing many of the jitter issues that can affect other products where the DAC is coupled into the main streaming chip.

The DSX1000 features UPnP/DLNA access and control and is capable of transforming the sound of MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, ALAC and FLAC files, with 24-bit/192kHz support where available, and follows the success of our debut streamer, the Chordette Index. Key features include an inbuilt analogue volume control circuit, as used in our CPA8000 Reference preamp, which gives highly accurate volume adjustment without the problems and low-level distortions associated with digital volume controls normally found in streaming products.

The player also boasts both volume-controlled and line-level analogue outputs which feature both balanced XLR and RCA phono connections. The network connection is via a fixed-wired ethernet port due to the bandwidth limitations of Wi-Fi for 24/192kHz support (ethernet-over-mains connections can also be used if required).

The DSX10000 has a full-colour 3.5-inch TFT front-panel display showing album artwork, set up options etc. and conventional control is via a unique front-panel cursor button that illuminates depending on the button pressed. Remote control is also available. The unit can also be enjoyed using many of the UPnP apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices. We will also be offering a custom version of SongBook for the DSX1000, which will be available to download from iTunes soon. An Android version may also be available later on.

The DSX1000 is hand built in Kent with an advanced chassis and casework machined from aircraft-grade aluminium. The unit’s top-plate has been carefully machined to reveal the technology beneath and an elegant internal lighting system compliments the aesthetic.

Technical Specifications:
• Harmonic distortion: < -103 dB (1kHz, 24-Bit @44.1kHz), -110dB (100Hz, 24-Bit @ 44.1kHz)
• Signal to noise ratio: > 120dB
• Channel separation: > 125dB @ 1KHz
• Dynamic range: 120dB
• Network input: 1 x RJ45 100 base T Ethernet
• Supported formats: wma-9, mp3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, ALAC, AIFF (96KHz), FLAC, WAV
• Analogue outputs: Stereo RCA phono and balanced XLR line-level direct outputs; stereo RCA phono and balanced XLR volume control outputs
• Supported sample frequencies: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192kHz
• Line level output: 6V rms balanced; 3V rms unbalanced
• Output impedance: 75? (short circuit protected)
• Dimensions: 420mm x 355mm x 88mm (width x height x depth)
• Power consumption: 30W
• Operating voltage: 85 – 270V AC (50-60Hz) auto switching
• Weight: 12 kg

The new DSX1000 is now available at a MSRP of $13,000 USD.  Look for more details on this product at: www.chordelectronics.co.uk/products-info.asp?id=84.

 

Sony Electronics has announced a new 4K Ultra HD Video Player.  The 4K Ultra HD Video Player is a hard-disc server that connects easily to Sony’s 84-inch 4K LED TV (XBR-84X900) allowing consumers to view 4K resolution video content, such as movies and videos.  This new Ultra HD player is made available as a bonus loaneer exclusively to U.S. customers purchasing the Sony 4K LED TV, the Video Player comes loaded with content, including full length movies and demonstration videos.   Sony will be the first electronic product company to offer native 4K content for the home.

As a standalone unit, the Sony XBR-84X900 TV already upscales all video inputs, including the more than 7,000 Blu-ray Disc titles currently in distribution, to a near-4K resolution through the use of Sony’s proprietary 4K X-Reality PRO three-chip picture engine. Now, with the new video player, consumers can for the first time enjoy true native 4K Ultra HD video in the home.

 The 4K Ultra HD Home Experience includes the 84″ 4K LED TV, the Video Player, and an Xperia Tablet S that serves as a remote control through an easy-to-use app. Pre-loaded onto the Video Player will be the following first ever collection of 10 full-length feature films presented in native 4K for the home:

The Amazing Spiderman
Total Recall (2012)
The Karate Kid (2010)
Salt
Battle Los Angeles
The Other Guys
Bad Teacher
That’s My Boy
Taxi Driver
The Bridge on the River Kwai

In addition to the full length features, the Video Player will come pre-loaded with a gallery of 4K video shorts.

For further details, please visit: www.store.sony.com and www.sony.com/4KTV.

Meridian’s research team has been able to achieve a number of performance upgrades. Products such as the 808 Signature Reference Compact Disc Player, 818 Reference Audio Core and 861 Reference Digital Surround Controller have been upgraded, resulting in the release of 808v5, 818v2 and 861v8. The DSP7200 Digital Active Loudspeaker has also had a performance upgrade.

Meridian is also able to extend an upgrade path to existing owners of their 808.3, 818 or 861v6 products. The upgrades are said to deliver smoother and cleaner performance for both new and existing products.

The DSP7200 Meridian Digital Active Loudspeaker was introduced in 2007. Using improved technology and components including a new tweeter design, it is claimed to provide even purer audio performance and with new DSP developments, additional features have been added. These new features include new music modes and, in the Horizontal Centre version, Centre Elevation, a new psychoacoustically-based feature to allow the adjustment of image height in home theatre applications.

Meridian’s 808 CD player, in its Version 5 includes improved technology and components that enhance audio quality in a number of areas. There is also a plate commemorating 30 years of the format along with the signatures of Meridian’s co-founders.

The 861 Digital Surround Controller, 861v8 now includes improved technology in a number of areas and the addition of brand new features such as the ability to manage centre-channel height imaging in conjunction with the new DSP7200HC loudspeaker.

818 V2 Reference Audio Core combines the multiple input capabilities of a high-performance pre-amplifier – including a Meridian Digital Media System audio end-point – with a full suite of Meridian’s proprietary resolution enhancement technologies. It connects directly to Meridian DSP Loudspeakers via SpeakerLink.

Existing owners of Meridian 808.3, 861v6, 818 and DSP7200 will be able to upgrade their products to the new specifications. To do this will require both hardware and software upgrades.

Though pricing has not been release – more details can be found at: www.meridian-audio.com.

by Suave Kajko & Neil Underwood

Under $50

Blu-ray 3D Movie, $35-$40
Surely there’s a 3D movie fan on your shopping list this year!  2012 witnessed the release of many new 3D movies ranging from computer animated flicks to mega superhero films.  Some of the titles to consider – Up, Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, Puss in Boots, Hugo, The Avengers and Ice Age: Continental Drift.

Beatles Record (2012 reissues), $25-$30
The entire Beatles album collection is for sale… again!  All 12 studio albums, plus the Magical Mystery Tour and Past Masters complications, were released this fall on 180g vinyl.  The new masters were copied from analogue to digital using 24-bit/192 kHz resolution and offer significantly improved sound quality.    Most of the clicks, pops and sibilance from the original tapes were removed.  www.thebeatles.com

DeoxIT D5 Cleaner, Enhancer and Lubricant, $16.95 US
This is the ultimate product for cleaning and conditioning all your AV connections from RCA connectors and jacks to AC plug prongs – now with a new environmentally friendly formula.  The amount of atmospheric contaminant build up on your connectors is mostly invisible and when you see the black gunk that is removed with a tiny amount of DeoxIT D5 you will “see” and hear the improvement in your signal chain. www.caig.com

WEARCOM Touchscreen Gloves, $19.50 US
This is a great stocking stuffer for anyone that uses a capacitive touch smartphone or tablet… which is just about everyone.  These gloves will keep users connected with their mobile devices while keeping warm this winter. The conductive fingertips will allow them to swipe and pinch at a touchscreen with pinpoint accuracy.  Available in black, camel, charcoal and gray. www.alphynind.com

Mobile Fidelity and Analogue Productions SACD Remasters of Classic Rock and Jazz, $30-$45
Both of these audiophile labels have embarked over the last couple of years on remastering a wide variety of classic rock and jazz titles, employing the best mastering engineers and using the latest remastering DSD gear.  Thanks to little or no compression and utilizing only the original analog master tapes allows us to hear these recordings as they were meant to be heard. www.mofi.com and
www.analogueproductions.com

Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour DVD/Blu-ray, $30
The Beatles made five movies during the 1960s but only one of them was filmed by themselves.  In 1967 John, Paul, George and Ringo picked up some cameras, jumped onto a bus and filmed their own adventures.  The result was the Magical Mystery Tour, capturing the unique personalities of the guys.  And now it’s finally available on Blu-ray!  www.thebeatles.com

Led Zeppelin Celebration Day Deluxe Edition (Blu-ray/DVD/CD), $35 approx.
The legendary rock group Led Zeppelin regrouped in 2007 for what was arguably the most called for reunion of a rock band since John and George were still with us.  The show performed at London’s O2 Stadium is presented here with a 1080i encoding and DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2 channel LPCM soundtrack options.  An absolute must have for all rock fans young and old!  A DVD and 2 CDs are also included with this deluxe edition.
www.ledzeppelin.com

Gift Ideas $51-$100

PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 Game, $60-$70
The production quality of many of the latest video games matches and sometimes even surpasses big Hollywood films.  When played on a big screen and a good 5.1 speaker system, the gaming experience can be nothing shy of spectacular.   If you’ve got a gamer (even a casual one) on your holiday list, surprise them with one of the hottest games available today – Forza Horizon (Xbox 360), Call of Duty: Black Ops II (PS3 or Xbox 360), Halo 4 (Xbox 360) or NHL 13 (both consoles).

Movie Poster for the HT or Entertainment Room, $30-$100
Movie buffs love to outfit their home theatre rooms with favourite movie collectibles and art.  A new or classic movie poster is a perfect way to recreate the authentic atmosphere of a real movie theatre.  If you can find an original poster for a reasonable price all the better, although a reprint will work just as well.

Cardas Protective RCA Caps, $60 for a set of 12
One of the most overlooked areas of AV maintenance or preventative measures are the exposed RCA inputs and outputs on our AV gear.  Not only atmospheric contaminants can enter uncovered RCA jacks but stray electrical fields can also be picked up by them and passed through to audio components.  The Cardas protective caps are a simple and highly effective approach to keeping the dirt out of the equipment jacks and also prevent any unwanted EMI/RFI from entering our gear. Most effective when plugged into unused preamp or AVR inputs.  www.cardas.com

Belkin Conserve Switch AV Power Bar, $49
Nearly all audio video components and electronic devices draw power even when turned off or in ‘stand by’ mode.  A surge protector/power bar like the Conserve Switch AV helps to save energy and money by allowing you to completely turn off the power to 8 of its energy saving outlets via the supplied remote.  Two Always-On Outlets are included for devices that need continuous power, like PVRs. It also provides power surge and coax protection.  www.belkin.com

Charlie is My Darling Super Deluxe Edition, $99
The Rolling Stones are celebrating their 50th year of rocking and rolling and what better way to view their career then taking a look back at when the band was a radically groundbreaking troupe with a touch of innocence and naivety.  This archival collection allows us a glimpse of the band in 1965 on tour in the USA and gives us a perspective of what we could anticipate given hindsight.  The Super Deluxe Set includes a 1080p Blu-ray, DVD, LP and 2 CDs covering all analog, digital and video needs.
www.rollingstones.com

Apple iTunes gift card, $100
Your gift list most certainly contains someone who loves their Apple device.  Whether they’re into apps, games or music, a $100 gift card can go a long way in the app store.  Plus it’s always easier to spend someone else’s money!  We would recommend a gift card for Android owners… but they don’t exist.  Available at various retailers.  www.apple.ca

Pyle Retro Home Telephone Collection, $89 US +
These retro phones resemble old-fashion rotary models, but they feature simple-to-use buttons for answering landline and smartphone calls. Users can easily switch between the two devices, merging the simplicity of a landline with the feature-packed smartphones of today. The collection consists of four different models handcrafted from real wood and adorned with brushed copper parts.  Using the handset also helps to shield you from up to 99 percent of the radiation absorbed when speaking directly into a smartphone.  Compatible with all 3.5mm jack phones and tablets.  www.pyleaudio.com

Gift Ideas $101-$500

Paradigm SHIFT E3m Earphones, $139
Dedicated music listeners will most certainly appreciate the clean midrange and more detailed audio from their smartphones, tablets and other portable audio devices with the SHIFT E3m from Paradigm.  The E3m in-ear headphones (reviewed in the June/July 2012 issue) are tuned to Paradigm’s high-end Signature series speakers and offer a built-in microphone and smartphone remote.  What else could you ask for?  www.paradigm.com

Kimber Kable PK14 Powerkord (6 feet), $240
The PK14 power cord will help to unleash the full potential of someone’s audio or video components.  This cable’s specially optimized copper, chroma free conductor dielectric and Wattgate economy connectors promise a super quiet background, a rhythmic sonic articulation and an enhanced bass resolution.  www.kimber.com

Focal Spirit One Headphones, $279
These compact around-the-ear headphones are designed for those on the go.  Their closed-back design means that they’ll keep unwanted ambient noise out while giving you the pleasure of listening to the Focal sound.  The headband includes two pivot points ensuring a comfortable fit for ears of all shapes and sizes.  A remote embedded in the cord is designed for iPhone users to make calls, and manage playback of music from all Apple devices.  www.focal.com

Nintendo Wii U Gaming System, $299 – $349
The Nintendo Wii found its success with families and casual gamers.  And this holiday season you can finally play Super Mario Bros. in full 1080p glory on the new Wii U system.  Included with the console is the new GamePad which offers a second window into the video game world with its 6.2 inch screen.  The GamePad includes motion control, a front-facing camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, rumble features, a sensor bar, a stylus, and support for Near Field Communication (NFC).  Now go jump on some Koopas in Super Mario’s HD world!  www.nintendo.ca

Nippon Indoor/Outdoor Antenna, $108-$250
A Nippon antenna is the perfect gift for someone who doesn’t spend a lot of their free time watching TV, in which case paying the astronomical prices for cable or satellite TV doesn’t make sense.  These high quality antennas will allow you to pick up most of the major TV networks in your area and get an amazing, crystal free HD picture – without any of the nasty compression artifacts that cable and satellite pictures suffer from.  www.karmond.com

Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 DAC, $399
The DacMagic 100 is the latest improvement over the original highly rated DAC Magic and costs $50 less than the original unit!   The new unit offers an asynchronous USB input meaning all clocking of data is done within the unit which allows for better data transfer and improved sound quality.  The unit processes sampling rates from 16 to 24 bits and up to 192 kHz via its two coaxial, single optical and USB inputs.  Audio output is offered via left/right RCA outputs.  This is an excellent means to upgrade playback from your PC or Mac music files!  www.cambridgeaudio.com

OPPO BDP-103 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player, $499 US
The BDP-103 is the most recent product from the company that has produced the best bang for the buck in universal players for the past few years.  This player is one of the best performers for audio/video playback with two dedicated HDMI outputs – one for audio and one for video.  The player supports Blu-ray, DVD, SACD, DVD-Audio, network streaming, Netflix, Mobile High Definition link for mobile devices and offers triple USB inputs.  The really cool feature is the inclusion of two HDMI inputs which means you can run other HDMI devices into the player and take advantage of the OPPO’s advanced video processing. www.oppodigital.com

Gift Ideas $501-$1000

Paradigm Aera AirPlay Speaker System, $599
This high quality speaker system allows you to wirelessly stream music from an iPod, iPad, iPhone or computer using Apple’s AirPlay.  It also lets you listen to many popular on-line music streaming sites.  A combination of two aluminum dome tweeters, two 4” bass/midrange drivers and a Class-D amplifier produce a clean, room filling sound.  USB and 3.5mm auxiliary inputs allow for the connection of just about any portable media device.  Using iTunes as the source, you can wirelessly stream different media to different Aeras placed throughout the house.   www.paradigm.com

Cambridge Audio Minx 215 Speaker System, $899
These speakers may look tiny but they have the power to transform a small space into a private cinema.  Each Min 11 speaker is a mere 3 inch cube and uses a 2.25 inch BMR driver.  The included subwoofer employs three 6.5 inch woofers (one active/two passive) and prides itself on being able to deliver an amazing amount of bass, while blending perfectly with the satellite speakers.  Available in gloss black or white.
www.cambridgeaudio.com

Sonos Music System, Price varies by choice of components
Setting up a wired or wireless multi-room music system has never been easier or more affordable.  A custom Sonos system can stream music from any home computer or NAS and is assembled by choosing components that best suit your needs.  Five different components exist – the PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 all-in-one players, the BRIDGE module (allows all players to connect wirelessly), the CONNECT module (turns any existing stereo into a music streaming system) and the CONNECT:AMP (turns any pair of speakers into a music streaming system).  A Sonos system can be controlled using a smartphone or a tablet.  A Sono SUB can be added to any module for improved bass.  www.sonos.com

NuForce DDA-100 Direct-Digital Integrated Amplifier, $599
The NuForce DDA-100 digital amplifier represents extreme value for a 50 watt per channel amplifier.  This amp converts the digital audio signal into analog form at the last possible stage (the PWM amplifier output) offering a level of performance normally achieved by more expensive gear.  Its suite of inputs consists of four digital-only inputs including a USB, coax and two Toslink optical.  There is also a single optical output.  Audiophile performance at a budget price point!  www.nuforce.com

Marantz SR5007 AV Receiver, $929
The SR5007 may be the company’s entry level AVR but it is packed with features and supports all current and up-coming trends.  This AVR has 7.2 capability, at 100 watts per channel, with 4K video pass through and up-sampling as well as 3D pass through. You can stream music to it wirelessly via Airplay or use the USB port on the front to attach any Apple device or USB flash drive.  Download the free Marantz Remote App and control the AVR and other Marantz products from your Apple or android device.  Great value!  www.marantz.com

To view additional gift ideas (and contribute your own), please visit the CANADA HiFi Forum at http://canadahifi.com//forum/showthread.php?865-2012-Audio-Video-Gadget-Holiday-Gift-Ideas!&p=6198#post6198

Audience has just announced an upgraded Au24 SE RCA interconnect cable, which is said to provide a significant step up in sonic performance over its previous offering.

The new Au24 SE have been improved from previous interconnects with ultra-low-mass, high-purity copper connectors.  The new connectors allow a greater degree of low-level information to be revealed.  The new Au24 SE interconnects are an upgrade over the existing Au24e.  The Au24 SE is designed to preseve a greater degree of decay and subtle reverb cues for instruments and vocals, wich provides a greater sense of the room environment and dimensions on a recording.  Overall, there is said to be a richer sound across the frequency spectrum.  

The Au24 SE interconnects will be featured and demonstrated at T.H.E. Show 2013 at the Flamingo Las Vegas in January 2013 but are now available at prices beginning at $1,190 U.S. for a one-meter pair.  Owners of Au24e and Au24 interconnects can have them upgraded to Au24 SE for $220 per pair.  The Au24e will continue to be made available.

For more info, visit the Audience site: www.audience-av.com.

 

Atlas Cables, in response to customer demand and leveraging the R&D performed to create their Element High Speed HDMI cable, has developed a ultra high performance USB cable – the Atlas Cables Element USB interconnect.

The Element cable uses Atlas’ proven technologies, tested materials, R&D, and thorough listening tests to deliver the highest level of performance that technology currently allows Atlas Cables to deliver.

The Element USB interconnect features silver-plated wire, which through testing revealed was an optimal material for digital signal cables, if not for analog cables.   Jitter reduction is part of the objective of the cable architecture and they cables have also been designed to reject interference in order to make your enjoyment of music the more exciting and captivating.

The new Element USB interconnect will be available this December 2012 in A/B forms and A/B Mini, ranging in lengths from 0.5 metre to 5 metres.  U.K. pricing (including VAT) is as follows:

0.5 metre – £35.00
1.0 metre – £37.50
1.5 metre – £42.50
2.0 metre – £47.50
3.0 metre – £57.50
5.0 metre – £77.50

North American pricing and availability are yet to be announced.  For  more information on this product, go to: www.atlascables.com.

GIK Acoustics has just recently announced what they claim to be a new breakthrough option in their absorption product line - the Scatter Plate.  With the new Scatter Plate, scattering / diffusion can be added to all GIK broadband bass traps and acoustic panels. 

The Scatter Plate, is a wooden plate crafted with a mathematical sequence of slots that add one-dimensional scattering / diffusion. The Scatter Plate is built-in between the fabric and the absorption material on GIK Acoustics’ 242 Acoustic Panel, 244 Bass Trap, Monster Bass Trap, Tri-Trap or ArtPanel.

The concept of the Scatter Plate comes from mimicing the treatment in professionally designed control rooms, which typically utilize wooden slats along the walls in front of broadband absorption to give an even balance of absorption, diffusion, and scattering.

GIK Acoustics’ broadband bass traps and acoustic panels are designed to provide high performance at reasonable prices and when coupled with diffusion and scattering by way of the Scatter Plate, can help you to achieve a completely balanced sound without over-dampening high frequencies, in your room. The GIK Acoustics Scatter Plate sequence prevents periodicity, while giving great scattering from 2.5 kHz up to and above 10 kHz.

The Scatter Plate option is available as a built-in addition for only $49 U.S. / panel.  Look for more details at: www.gikacoustics.com.

Records and LPs are making a strong comeback in the music world and that’s no lie.  I have personally re-introduced myself to playing records recently, thanks to the purchase of the fantastic sounding Rega RP3 turntable.  My current record collection consists of some 100 LPs and has been growing consistently.  As any self-respecting turntable owner, I want to take the best care of my growing record collection, so I started looking into record cleaning systems that would allow me to deep-clean my LPs, especially those dusty, well used albums that had not been played in years.  That said, most of the record cleaning machines or kits that I have come across are usually far too expensive to justify for a small LP collection like mine.  My search for an economical and easy to use LP cleaner led me to the Spin-Clean Record Washer, a kit that has been manufactured and hand assembled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA) since 1975.  After 35 years on the market, the new Spin-Clean Record Washer MK II started shipping in June of 2010.  Major improvements were made to every aspect of the system -  everything from redesigning and refinishing the molds, to developing higher precision rollers, to manufacturing fluffier and more gentle drying cloths.  To my knowledge the Spin-Clean Record Washer MK II appears to be the least expensive thorough record cleaning and washing system available in the market today.  It retails for $79.99 US and includes everything you will need to start washing your records except for water which you should be able to find easily enough.  Besides the low cost, there are a couple important items that make the Spin-Clean different from most other record cleaners.  The record washing system requires no power at all as the cleaning process is performed completely by hand.  Another feature that makes the Spin-Clean unique is that each side of the record gets cleaned simultaneously – most other cleaners will only clean one album side at a time.  One more item to note, not only does the Spin-Clean accommodate your regular 12-inch records it will also accept and clean your 7-inch (45 rpm) and also 10-inch special sized albums (including 78 rpm).

The Spin-Clean Record Washer MK II was neatly packaged inside a cardboard box which containted a washer basin and lid, 4 oz washer fluid, a pair of brushes, a pair of rollers, two washable drying cloths and the owner’s manual.  The instructions suggest that it is best to pre-wash the supplied drying cloths before using them for the first time to make them fluffier and more absorbent.

I must admit that I was anxious and somewhat excited to get started and clean my LP collection.  Some of my records date back to the 1970s and had not played in eons.  I set up the Spin-Clean as per the included instructions. I started by inserting the two rollers within each side of the washer basin to match the album size that I would be cleaning.  Next, I inserted the two brush pads, which slide tightly into the sloted midsection of the washer basin.  Then I filled the Spin-Clean basin with distilled water – it took about 650 mL of distilled water to fill the basin to the level indicator mark.  The final step was to pour three capfuls of the provided washer fluid directly over the brush pads.  The supplied record washer fluid is a flocculant – it works by encapsulating the dirt and forcing it down to the bottom of the cleaning basin.  This prevents any dirt and debris from being suspended in the cleaning bath and being re-deposited back onto the record while being cleaned.  The Spin-Clean washer basin is a brilliant honey-bee yellow colour for a reason -  the bright colour allows you to easily see all of the dirt as it accumulates at the bottom of the basin.  This will help you visually assess when it is time to replace the water and cleaning fluid.

The owner’s manual suggests to use distilled water rather than ordinary tap water to wash your vinyl records. Distilled water can usually be purchased from a local grocery store and a 4 Litre jug will typically cost about $2.  However, the Spin-Clean owner’s manual also indicates that if distilled water is not available, tap water can be used as a substitute.  I definitely recommend using distilled water since tap water often contains salts and other dissolved minerals that may cause water spots and streaking, or a build up of tiny particles that can get trapped within the grooves of the records.

To test out the Spin-Clean record washing system, I started with about one-third of my album collection, or about 35 LPs.  The records I selected for cleaning varied in age and condition from new, with very little play, to well-used, dusty and streaky LPs.  The record cleaning process is very simple: gently push the LP in-between the cleaning brushes and down into the washing basin; rotate the LP 3 times clockwise and 3 times counter-clockwise; then wipe the LP dry with the drying cloths.  The record cleaning system holds the LP securely and tightly in place, so in order to spin the album, press your inner palms firmly on the outside edges of the record and rotate.  Remember, you don’t want to touch the surface of the record.  Once the LP had been cleaned, I used the two supplied drying cloths (one in each hand and folded in half) to carefully lift and remove the freshly cleaned LP from the record washing basin.  The final step in the cleaning process is to wipe the record dry in a circular motion using the drying cloths.  To make sure the LP was completely dry, I let it air-dry for a few minutes on each side.  As an optional cleaning step, I zapped the freshly cleaned LP records with a Milty Pro Zerostat 3 anti-static gun priot to returning it  to the record sleeve – to make sure the record does not pick up any dust.  Voila!  You now have an incredibly clean and shiny as new record, that certainly doesn’t visually appear to be 30 years old.  Once I got into the swing of record cleaning I found that the whole process went by fairly quickly and it only took about two to hours hours to thoroughly clean 35 records.  That’s not too bad for accomplishing this level of deep cleaning. The instructions indicate that the bath water will be good to clean up to as many as 50 records. The actual amount of LPs that can be cleaned will vary somewhat, depending on how filthy or not your records really are.  I found that after cleaning 35 records (some which were quite dirty), the bath water was ready to be replaced.  The amount of dirt and sediment that had collected at the bottom of the basin was absolutely remarkable.  Who knew that my records were so dirty?  The cleaned records looked like they were fresh off the press.  Seeing all this dirt at the bottom of the basin really confirmed that the Spin-Clean does a very thorough job deep cleaning vinyl records and left me with a smile on my face.

The difference between the original and freshly washed records was remarkable.  My Supertramp record looked like it came fresh off the press!

I was very impressed with not only the visual appeal of the pristine shine on all of the cleaned records, but more importantly with the improved sound quality after the record cleaning process. My records, especially those that are most dear to my heart, now sounded fantastic!  After cleaning the records, surface and background noise were hardly noticeable – seemingly pushed deep into the background.  All that was left to do was to sit back, relax and enjoy my old albums all over again. If you don’t mind putting in a little elbow grease to clean your records, the Spin-Clean Record Washer MK II will do an excellent job of thoroughly cleaning your records.  Note that because of the preparation of the kit and the cleaning method itself, the Spin-Clean is best suited for washing several records at a time.  I give a strong recommendation of the Spin-Clean record cleaner to all value-conscience vinyl enthusiasts.

Giovanni Militano is the editor of
www.diyAudioProjects.com.

Spin-Clean International
www.spincleanrecordwasher.com
1-800-931-5850

Spin-Clean Record WasherSystem Mk II
Price: $79 US

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