One difference between the VPI models is that an HW-17 comes with a cooling fan to allow near constant use without overheating. If used continually, an HW-16.5 can shut down until it cools. Also, an HW-17 has a system for applying fluid to a disc. An HW-17 cabinet is made of marine grade plywood to prevent it from swelling up if exposed to water, as a record cleaning machine may well be. Finally, an HW-17 turntable revolves in both directions which may make groove scrubbing more effective.
By the way, VPI recently introduced a new model, the HW-27, with a stronger vacuum and metal chassis. It also has a much better, IMHO, record clamp; easier to use, harder to lose. Some of you who have a VPI may want to invest in this new clamp even though it isn't cheap.
For someone who is just going to use a machine to clean a record, listen to it, then clean another record and so on, an HW-16.5 or one of the Nitty Gritty machines should be fine. But for commercial or institutional use, a professional grade machine is more suitable.
I know that some ARSCers have a strong preference for one or another brand of record cleaning machine. (In a similar vein, I like Coke, my sister Pepsi and never the twain shall meet. However, during visits, in the spirit of sibling harmony, we stock our fridges with the other's soda of choice.) I, for one, am happy that there are several record cleaning machines still available. Competition stirs innovation and helps maintain quality of both product and service.
By way of full disclosure, companies for which I worked in the past handled, in alphabetical order, Keith Monks, Nitty Gritty, and VPI record cleaning machines, so I am fairly familiar with those brands and have used all of them in an institutional setting going back over 30 years.
>>> Robert Cham <[log in to unmask]> 8/14/2009 7:26 PM >>>
Thanks a lot to you and the others for the responses. I'm willing to
go to the expense of a vacuum system machine, just not the top of the
line. $1300 is a lot of money for the VPI 17. What exactly are the
differences from the 16.5? Looking at the website, it just looks as
if the brush is automatic on the 17. Does that really make it worth
The Moth cleaning machine has a turntable only under the label.
This should solve the complaint about the VPI. In Britan at least it
can be had for $750 or if you're willing to build the cabinet, about
$425. It seems roughly equivalent to the VPI 16.5 if I understand
that machine rightly.
The Okki Nooki sells for about $570 in Britan, and seems equivalent
to the 16.5. Haven't found a US dealer yet. I wonder where Jan
Myren bought his, or is he in Europe?
Thanks again for the feedback.
>One man's experiences, etc.
>You can do just fine with the lower-cost VPI, which involves you
>applying the cleaning fluid and brushing by hand and the machine
>handling the "velvet lips" vacuum system. I personally favor a
>vacuum-wand system because my experience is that's the best way to
>clean out the bottoms of microgrooves. I use a VPI 17 system, which
>has a fixed brush and pump-spray system to wet the records. Filthy
>records get a bath in the sink first and a pat-dry with a shammy
>One complaint I've heard about the VPI in various quarters -- which
>is legit but can be worked around -- is that the cork turntable is
>something of a collection point for grit from the dirty side of the
>record, so then the clean side is pushed against this while the
>dirty side is cleaned. As said earlier, my MO is wash filthy records
>(ie large amounts of visible grit) in the sink first. If you don't
>want to do that, get a water spray bottle like is used to spritz
>plants or with an electric clothes iron. I recommend distilled or
>reverse-osmosis filtered water for this -- Pepsi's Aquafina is
>cheaper than drug store distilled water most of the time, per
>gallon. Use the spritzer to wet the filthy record enough so the grit
>runs off it, then pat dry with a shammy cloth. Then clean it on the
>VPI. Regularly wipe the cork with a clean cotton cloth, and don't
>forget to clean the velvet lips on the vacuum wand after each record.
>There are lower-cost vacuum machines than the VPI but note that the
>Nitty Gritty with the "best of" awards is more expensive than the
>low-cost VPI unit which also gets the "best of" awards from the
>golden-eared press. My opinion, based on experience, is that any
>vacuum with a clean velvet-lipped wand is better than none because
>it really does lift the last level of crud out of the bottom of the
>groove in a way that ordinary brushes and scrubbing won't do without
>un-gentle contact. That said, most records won't be so dirty as to
>have major amounts of stubborn crud down at the bottom of the groove.
>If you want to go even lower cost, this contraption has received
>some favorable press:
>And, I haven't seen this before:
>This might be a very good solution for a first wash of grimey
>records, followed by a VPI or other vacuum-wand cleaner. The only
>thing I'd say is, if you wash a total basket case (for instance
>something that had sticky stuff and sand on it), you'd definitely
>want to change all the liquid and make sure the brushes have no sand
>on them before cleaning another disk.
>-- Tom Fine
>----- Original Message ----- From: "Robert Cham" <[log in to unmask]>
>To: <[log in to unmask]>
>Sent: Friday, August 14, 2009 3:06 PM
>Subject: [ARSCLIST] Record Cleaning Machines, was: Fluid for
>cleaning 78 rpm records
>>Which brings up a question that I've been thinking about. What are
>>people using for record cleaning machines to clean LPs? This is
>>for home use, but it's a distinctly nerdy home. Please don't tell
>>my long suffering wife that I said that!
>>I doubt I'll ever find the time to build a Keith Monk's copy as
>>delineated in "Audio Amateur" years ago. The Okki Nokki looks like
>>a knock off of the Keith Monks. Then there are the various VPIs
>>and the Nitty Gritty. I've only read about a kit from England
>>called the Moth.
>>I've got about 10K LPs after 50 years of collecting, and I do buy
>>used discs. I fondly remember using the Keith Monks at WHA back in
>>the '70s and the difference it made in even new LPs. Price,
>>unfortunately, is a very real issue here.
>>So what are folks using for cleaning LPs, both machines and fluid?
>>Any advice or comments would be most appreciated.
>>>Have just bought me a Okki Nokki automatic record cleaning machine.
>>>Any suggestions about cleaning fluid for use for 78 rpm's?