Machines such as the Knosti Disco Antistat offer an effective, if time-consuming, way to keep small record collections clean and free from dirt, fingerprints, and many other kinds of contaminants. However, for those of us with large record collections, or who want the very best results, a vacuum record cleaning machine is a must.
The Moth MKII record cleaning machine is one such device. The principal is simple – fluid is applied to a rotating record, and scrubbed in either direction using a brush, allowing the fluid to penetrate the grooves. The record is then flipped over, at which point the wet side is vacuumed dry from underneath as fluid is applied to the dry side. Flip once more, and the second side is vacuumed, resulting in a clean record.
And, the machine itself is just as simple – atop the large wooden enclosure is stated a small, label-sized turntable platter, rotating on a gear-driven motor allowing for slow rotation and the ability to go in either direction at the flick of a switch. Next to the turntable sits the vacuum wand – a long, pipe-like device with a thin slit running across the top, lined with felt pads. The pads are self-adhesive, and can be replaced with the need arises.
On the front, you’ll find 2 switches – one to control the vacuum, and a bi-directional switch to control record rotation. There’s also a large drainage tap, allowing you to drain the internal reservoir
of any residual fluid.
Around back, you’ll find a standard IEC socket, a large fan grille, and slots for the hinged dust cover. This cover features hinges similar to those found on many modern turntables – though personally I tend to remove the cover during a cleaning session.
To operate, the machine relies on the vacuum seal of the enclosure. Essentially split into 2 internal box-like sections, air is drawn by the central vacuum motor through the reservoir mounted not eh right, and thence through the vacuum wand. Fluid makes its way down the wand, and into the reservoir – at which point it is caught by a foam filter, preventing any residual fluid entering the vacuum area.
The machine comes in 3 flavours. The standard, pre-built RCM MKII is the machine intended for the series record collector, and comes pre-assembled with everything you need to get started. The Pro MKII version adds a cooling fan, and is designed for more continuous use. And the kit version provides all the necessary components minus the enclosure – allowing those possessed with decent DIY skills to assemble their own enclosure using the provided plans. The kit version is supplied with an applicator bottle, but no fluid – I would’ve liked to have seen at least a starter bottle of fluid included.
I opted for the kit version, owing to the significant saving over the pre-built unit. I ran into a few issues with the included plans – however, SRM-Tech (my moth dealer) and Moth themselves were quick to respond to eMails and with their help and a few modifications the machine eventually came together.
The first thing you’ll notice when operating this machine is the noise. It’s louder than many domestic vacuum I’ve ever heard – in fact, it’s nothing short of deafening. Decent ear protection is a must, especially if you intend to clean records in a batch.
The second point worth mentioning is the heat. After cleaning just a few records, the machine was hot to the touch – and, after a few more, the casing became uncomfortably warm – and smelt it, too.
However, once you get the hang of it, cleaning records on this machine is simple and quick. Minimal mess is created, owing to the extremely small amount of fluid the machine requires – and the included applicator bottle makes applying the fluid a snap.
Results are fantastic. Every record, new and old, I’ve cleaned with the moth has come out better than before. Some, ruined by years of dirt and warn styli, became listenable once more – while some are now near silent during playback, allowing the music to be heard in all its glory. Static, pops and crackles are a thing of the past – and the machine is brought back the shine to old records, making them look new once more.
The Moth RCM MKII is a machine that enables you to get the best from your treasured record collection. Cleaning records not only improves the sound quality, but increases a records longevity – and that, alone, is worth the cost of this machine.
I do wish I’d opted for the pro version – and had I know just how hot the machine ran, I would definitely have done so. I’d also like to see a quieter vacuum motor used – the noise generated by this machine when compared to your average domestic vacuum machine is simply astounding.
Nevertheless, If you have the budget and the collection, I highly recommend picking up a Moth MKII record cleaning machine. You’ll be glad you did.