In my former job in the Recorded Sound in the Library of Congress, I cleaned a lot of records, somewhere around 25,000. I've used a couple Keith Monks machines, a few Nitty Gritty units, and many VPI models. However the opinions I'm about to state should not be construed in any way as official Library policy or view. Because they aren't.
In my opinion, the VPI HW-17F can't be beat for the quality of cleaning in very little time. The Monks machines do a more thorough job, but they take a long time to clean each side. Nitty Gritty's I found hard to use and not that good at cleaning, so I don't recommend them at all. Some people swear by the Disc Doctor system. I've never tried it, but I believe that the Library rejected it for reasons of cost (over time, the cost of the chemicals adds up) and the high time per disc-cleaned ratio.
The advantages of the HW-17 are cost ($1100 list), durability, speed and high quality cleaning. It works with any cleaning fluid of your choice. It's good for pretty much all institutional uses, with the possible exception of cleaning a disc for highest-quality professional transfer. For that, you may want to stick with a Monks.
The biggest disadvantage of the HW-17 is its lack of flexibility. A single machine can be set up to clean different disc sizes, but it's not easy to switch back and forth between disc types. The Library has several HW-17F's outfitted for specific disc sizes and types and this works very well. But it's not a good one-machine solution. Again, that would probably be a Monks.
The bottom line, if your primary use of a cleaning machine is for conservation purposes * cleaning for rehousing and storage * then the VPI HW-17 is your machine. If your primary purpose is professional transferring or broadcast, then maybe you should hold out for a Keith Monks or something as good, if it exists.
There are other brands which may be good competitors with VPI and Monks, but I don't have any experience with them. Hope this helps some.
>>> [log in to unmask] 02/24/05 11:31 AM >>>
Does anyone out there have any recommendations or alternatives to cleaning discs
with a monk cleaner? are there other machines that would be of a similar
professional archival quality?