A new version of Audio Desk’s ultrasonic cleaner has sneaked into the wild, the Pro 2019. Paul Rigby gets to grips…
This new version of the Vinyl Cleaner Pro (more on the name below) has hit the streets and brings with it a host of changes. Some are larger than others but it’s good to see that the company is putting thought and resources behind this record cleaning machine. A machine that, I have to say right now, is my favourite method of cleaning records.
I did give the original RCM a full review and the basic design and cleaning methods remain the same so I’m not going to repeat myself here. To learn of how this machine works, the background and nature of ultrasonics as a cleaning technology and a couple of informative videos to boot, I urge you to check that out HERE. Then come back to investigate the Pro 2019’s improvements.
And they are?The new Pro 2019 cleaner apparently has an improved ultrasonic generating system that utilises less actual energy. Audio Desk, as a vinyl cleaning company, prefer to ‘go gentle’ in terms of the force that is used to clean records. Other companies out there disagree but, because there is zero research in terms of potential (if any) long term damage from ultrasonic use, I err on the gentle approach and would advise the same to you. Why risk it?
The 2019 version also has a larger aperture to assist with removing the LP at the end of the cycle to avoid contacting the microfibre barrels. The earlier version was prone to touching the internal, rotating barrels which could mean lifting the vinyl record and adding a smear of water to the vinyl surface. Having gone through a cleaning cycle only to remove the vinyl with a slight smear was so frustrating. It didn’t happen all of the time but enough to cause irritation. This new design tweak was done to prevent this accidental addition. I have to say that I did not encounter any smearing on this new version – I did on the older version. So thumbs up here for the Pro 2019!
You’ll also note that the wiper blades fitted in the vinyl slot, seen on the right as you look from the front, are black and not white. Apparently, they have a coating on them to extend longevity. I have no idea if that is true and by how much but I do know that they appeared to be more efficient in terms of wiping away excess liquid.
I did notice too that, inside the slot, one of the main record supports had changed from a narrow brass notch to a larger plastic/aluminium notch with central revolving wheel. The reason for that is to prevent accidental damage with the vinyl knocking the brass holder. I found that the new support held the vinyl more firmly in place too. On my older model, even when carefully placed in the slot, the vinyl sometimes didn’t ‘catch’ in the rotary system and didn’t rotate. A quick nudge on the edge of the record would push it into place and all would be well. I never had that issue with the new model and, I’ll tell you what, what a blessed relief that was! Now I could get the cleaning going and walk away and not hang around for an extra 30 seconds in case the vinyl hadn’t caught properly in the machinery.
Other minor changes include a slightly embossed name plate on the side of the RCM and a slightly large window to view how much liquid is in the RCM’s bath.
And finally? You know, sometimes…sometimes hi-fi companies just make things harder for themselves. Why? Well, I’m puzzled. If there are so may tweaks, changes and improvements, why is it that Audio Desk has not add a Mk.II, Mk.2, V.2 or some such to the name of this thing? Surely, someone in and around the company flagged up this important marketing point? As it stands, the company risks confusion, risks losing sales and demands more (and unnecessary) work from its world-wide distributors to explain that this new version is exactly that, a new version. More than that, the new machine has the words ‘The Original’ on its control plate! It patently isn’t original at all. It’s a brand new version! I imagine that the ‘Original’ tag relates to the longevity of the company in the ultrasonic cleaning business. But not everyone will get that point.
Hence, when buying this machine, I’d advise asking for the latest, Pro 2019 model. Just to prevent confusion.
Noise is supposed to be reduced on the new Pro 2019 and it is. It’s not whisper quiet but you can hold a conversation during the sequence. The older model was not too bad but there is an enhancement here. So we’re travelling in the right direction.
There are four colour options are available: grey, black, white and red. The black is more of a dark grey than a solid black – an anthracite or graphite colour. Grey is a solid, mid grey colour, the white is also solid. Red sells in small numbers and generally only a few will be stocked or is to order.
CLEANING 7” SINGLES
I did fear this test because I thought that fitting the adaptor would be a chore – not at all! The adaptor arrives in a neat aluminium/glass case and totals four sturdy pieces. Two hold the offending vinyl single in place and each one of those two pieces includes a roller to facilitate rotation while cleaning. The other two fit inside the RCM’s cavity and are easily located by strong magnets. There’s no manouvring, screwing on or in or twisting or anything awkward. The parts almost find their own locations because of the strong magnets fitted within.
You then slot in the 7” and proceed as normally. Because 7” singles are odd beasts: arriving in slightly odd shapes and thicknesses, you might be wise to keep an eye on the cleaning progress because the disc may stick briefly, requiring a nudge to get it going. That said, I tried six singles and didn’t have an issue.
Also, because of the format’s idiosyncrasies, you might find a little bit of excess liquid on the surface after drying. Again, though, it depends on the single.
The resulting sound quality was definitely worth the effort. It’s so tough to properly clean a 7” single because there’s little room to work with but Audio Desk has found a solution I’m happy to work with.
More than that, unlike some of the potentially damaging and rather clunky third party devices for the Audio Desk, this system is easy to install/deinstall, is elegant and a breeze to use.
I did do a sound test, using the older Pro model and several LPs. My original machine was released a few years ago now. To do the test, I used a surfactant on each record and chose an extended five minute RCM cleaning cycle.
I applied the surfactant and ran the five minute cycle on five separate occasions. Twenty-five cycles in all, to get to a point where no apparent sonic benefit was to be had by further cleaning. Then I transferred the LPs to the new Pro 2019 and repeated a single surfactant/five minute cycle and listened.
The result? Improvements! I was pleasantly surprised by this but the changes were certainly there. How did they manifest themselves? Clarity principally but as a result of lower noise. Sound had a great 3D effect, detail was solid, almost as if the information presented to the ear was embossed. The sense of clarity added a sense of authority to the sound, a command that was imposed gently but firmly. Music flowed very easily.
Well, I’ve fallen in love all over again. The original Audio Desk Vinyl Cleaner Pro was a superb performer – and it still is, I might add. The Pro 2019 is that much better. It not only corrects some of the wrinkles from the original design, it cleans 7” singles properly and (mostly) efficiently but it improves upon the basic sound quality.
Should you buy one? If you have a non-Pro version of this design, grab the latest Pro version now. It offers many upgrades. If you have an old Pro version and have the cash then it depends on your own priorities and circumstances but there’s reasons to upgrade in terms of 7” play, the design enhancements and sound quality. As for anyone who hasn’t tasted the pleasures of ultrasonic cleaning? Oh yes. After hearing the sonic results from cleaning with the Audio Desk Vinyl Cleaner Pro, you’ll realise that you’ll need to clean your entire collection, all over again. I know, I know but once you’ve heard the results, there will be no going back.
AUDIO DESK PRO 2019 ULTRASONIC VINYL CLEANER
Includes two Cleaning Fluid concentrates, one bath filter and one set of four Microfibre barrels. Delivery with insurance to UK mainland £28 by next day courier.
Consumables and accessories:
Cleaning Fluid £14 (dilute to 4.5 litres with distilled/de-ionised water, change every 100 LPs).
Microfibre Cleaning Barrels (set of 4) £55 (change every 500 LPs).
Cleaning bath filter £14.50 (change every 500 LPs).
Wiper blades – set of 2 £16 (change approximately every 500-700 LPs).
Drive rings – set of 2 £18 (change as required but usually around 1500 LPs)
Fan filters (set of 2) £61 (dependent on environment used change as required but recommended around 800-1000 LPs).
Acrylic cover over bath filter £27
7″ singles adaptor official audiodesksysteme PRO cleaner £235.
Tel: 0118 981 9891
GOOD: overall design improvements, 7″ single cleaning facility, installation of the same, sound quality
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