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Vinyl vs Alcohol: Cleaning vinyl – New Research!

New Research! Paul Rigby looks at the very nature of vinyl, how alcohol affects it during cleaning and offers advice on how to use it during vinyl cleaning. This is the first in a (long?) series of vinyl cleaning videos

This video is a sort of tangent to a new, forthcoming series of videos. Before you take look at those, this is an essential primer.

To see the video, click the link below:

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  • Reply
    20th October 2019 at 12:34 pm

    Hi Paul. If we assume that most people in audiophile territory probably have higher education in common too, could you think about radically editing your script to camera. You could have cut to the quick and informed me of vinyl chemical variations in 2 minutes, such that I’d be more likely to watch the rest of the series. Too much rhetoric for your intended audience I suggest. Liked your Audio Desk review. Best, Neil

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      20th October 2019 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks for your comments Neil. Thanks for your kind comments re. the Audio Desk too. Can you elaborate a tad please? Too much detail? Where? Too much info? What part(s) did you think were superfluous?

  • Reply
    John Hall-Freeman
    20th October 2019 at 3:12 pm

    Hi Paul I have used very small concentrations of isopropyl alcohol in of my own LP cleaning regime since 1962 mainly to remove the vinyl pressing release gunk before playing a disc for the first time and afterwards just using purified water with in the old days offcuts of velvet from my first wife dresses and then finally progressed to Audio Technica 6012 record brushes which I’m sure have gone through many type numbers, but the brush remains the same.
    I took up using isopropyl during the reel to reel age because it cleaned the tape path so well, I own many turntables and about 8000 LP’s mainly Jazz I worked in the Hi-Fi industry in a sales capacity from 1965 in Londons Tottenham Court Road until I emigrated to the USA in 1972, I rammed around the world for many years and then became a Hi-Fi gun for hire with Douglas Hi-Fi in Perth in 1978 until I retired in 1990.
    I have crossed over to the dark side around 1990 and since that era have repurchased all my music + plus another 5000 albums in the CD format which have been downloaded to my iMac on various backup drives.
    I now still purchase LP’s but to be honest mainly for the album art and not like the old days when I would buy at least 10 to 20 albums per week, now and again I find an album or CD still factory sealed up to 35 years old! in shopping bags behind stuff from years ago I live on a farm “lots of endless space”
    Trouble is I find a bunch of albums that when they stick they stay stuck, like Miles Davis Kind of Blue/Bitches Brew or Herbie Hancock Maiden Voyage/Mwandishi and on and on, unlike that writer in the sixties with his “The The medium is the Message” IT really is the message the music that counts.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      20th October 2019 at 6:53 pm

      Absolutely, John – the music is the main thing. I’m less interested in hifi and more in music. To me, hifi is just a tool to extract as much info as possible, nothing more. Thanks for your memories and your vinyl cleaning regime.

      • Reply
        John Hall-Freeman
        21st October 2019 at 2:19 pm

        Paul thanks for your acknowledgment of my reply, I do look forward to your blog and I do get a sense from the way you write that it is the music that comes first, owning nice audiophile gear is just a real plus, as a very young man in the 1950’s listening to music broadcast to Eastern Europe via VOA voice of America was a revelation due to very tight broadcasting living in the UK. Mostly all you could hear in form of exciting music was on the juke box or coffee bars, in those days you could have a playlist that might include Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Matt Monroe, Liberace, Edith Piaf, Sidney Bechet, Chris Barber, Lonnie Donegan, Russ Conroy, Dave Brubeck, Eartha Kitt, and the brass band of the Grenadier Guards, what a playlist at my local in Blackpool I remember it well as it was where we had a afternoon “do” the day I married my first wife she is long forgotten that playlist still remains!

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          21st October 2019 at 4:48 pm

          Ha! Yes, I’ve had a few relationships like that 🙂 Hehe. Actually, that triggers thoughts of my love of old time radio. I have a lot of old radio recordings which allow me to plug into the sort of times you describe. I can imagine and – through them – feel the excitement and the sheer, glorious possibilities of hearing the music, at that time. For you, at that moment, it must have been very exciting.

            23rd October 2019 at 3:20 pm

            Hi Paul you might think I’m a very old man raving on about past musical glories, nothing could be further from that in my current listening world, my current faves from the UK would be Go Go Penguin, the Heliocentrics, Boards of Canada, The Cinematic Orchestra, Yazz Ahmed, Bill Lawrence, our local hero Australia Nick Cave and the even more local hero Bon Scott who has a life size bronze statue in the middle of our port city of Fremantle back in the late eighties I sold a very nice Hi-Fi system to his absolutely delightful mum and dad who were-both very short but not short on being humble and the most delightful company to be with.
            My wife got so sick of me playing Go Go Penguin over and over again, that along with my morning coffee in bed she produced tickets for the Go Go, Keith Jarrett, Snarky Puppy and Evan Parker, when you ask me about WAF forget it if they are not part of your music, I would say dump them for a new up to date model with a pair of ears !

          • Paul Rigby
            23rd October 2019 at 3:30 pm

            Hi John – you sound like an eminently sensible gentleman to me. So, not at all. A nice selection of favourites too. Boards of Canada and Cinematic Orchestra are firm fixtures in my collection too. And I do like some of Cave’s work too. Nice to hear from you and I hope you hang around. Be nice to hear from you again in the future.

  • Reply
    20th October 2019 at 7:26 pm

    No, not too much detail or info at all, just too much padding eg 1 little wave of the plastic beads and the fact that there are 50 companies with their own secret formulae would have sufficed before moving onto potential interaction with alcohol. I just wanted you to press the accelerator somewhat ie halve the length of presentation or fit in more technical info. Best,. Neil

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      20th October 2019 at 7:36 pm

      Thanks Neil – I saw this topic as potentially contentious so wanted to present as much detail as possible to back up my findings. I’ve had lots of response to this one and plenty of people who, how can I say this, needed some persuading 🙂 Which is why I suppose I might have been a bit on the pedantic side. No worries, though. I hear you. I suppose sometimes I try to find a balance because everyone seems to look for different things in these videos. So your criticism is someone else’s praise…and vice versa 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to post, though. Very nice of you.

  • Reply
    John Hall
    21st October 2019 at 5:27 pm

    Hi Paul, I agree with the others about being very wordy. I kept waiting for comments about the interaction at the chemical level of PVC and Isopropyl Alcohol (Iso alc), but you didn’t make any. I thought you may have poured some in the bag at the beginning and made a sticky mess but you didn’t. Since you are talking about a chemical reaction of two products I would have liked to have seen some technical evidence. I did a quick search in the chemical literature online to look at the reaction of Iso alc on PVC and the published results tell me that putting Iso alc. with PVC is not a problem. So the question remains, is the problem that you are trying to elaborate one between iso alc and the other reactants in the mix. That we will never know. It is possible to buy off the shelf cleaning solutions but they never publish their ingredients so we should treat them with care as they may cause damage, despite being cheered loudly by some reviewers. Regards John Hall

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      22nd October 2019 at 9:49 am

      Hi John – yes, you’re right, I should have been more specific about alcohol and the damage it causes. In large amounts, it *softens* vinyl, causing groove distortion. I have undertaken tests myself in which I have, as it where, cleaned vinyl to destruction using alcohol. This is not something I can readily prove in a video without the aid of a high powered microscope. Funds don’t allow for that, I’m afraid. Also, to repeat, vinyl records are not made from pure PVC. Which was part of the point of the video. And my tests have never involved pure PVC. Let’s remind ourselves that vinyl records are a concoction, a recipe – and not pure PVC. To reiterate, the contacts I talked about in my video will agree that alcohol is a potentially aggressive substance when used with vinyl recordings. No-one could be specific in terms of exactly when. I will add the ‘softening’ information in a future vinyl cleaning video, thanks.

  • Reply
    22nd October 2019 at 3:49 pm

    I liked how specific you wete with the setup of the prime concept .. we don’t know what EXAXTLY each record we own is made of… this is why it is impossible to know what chemical interaction there may be between our cleaning fluids and the records.

    I have also hold the technical information from thus discussion in high regard :

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      22nd October 2019 at 3:55 pm

      Thanks for your thoughts, Simon.

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