Pro-Ject’s VC-S is arguably one of the best value record cleaning machines on the market today. I reviewed the original machine at launch and bought my review sample, so impressed was I by the performance. The principle behind the VC-S is simple; cleaning fluid is applied to a rotating record, and vacuumed away along with any contaminants leaving the record spotlessly clean. The same principle has been used by record cleaning machines for decades – but smart design tweaks give the VC-S the upper hand in terms of vacuum pressure and rotational speed, leading to improved cleaning performance when compared with competing designs.
Now in MK II iteration, the new VC-S retains the same basic design of the outgoing model with improvements across the board. Gone are the sticker labels which indicated the function of the controls, replaced by printing which shouldn’t fade or peal over time.
The fit and finish is improved too with caps hiding the gearbox screws beneath the platter. And a revised record clamp features an improved screw mechanism with a rubber grip on its larger handle.
There are more changes under the hood. A re-designed arm flange allows a little more play in the vacuum arm assembly than the previous design. Though I never had any issues with the original, I’m told that early MK1 machines occasionally had issues with the vacuum arm seizing, and the new flange aims to correct this. I’m told that there is no loss of vacuum pressure due to the new valve system in the arm base, and my tests confirm that to be the case; if anything the new model has slightly more pressure, though the difference doesn’t seem hugely significant.
The platter motor is new too, with a smoother, quieter gearbox than the older model. Crucially the new gearbox maintains the same high torque and the same 30RPM rotational speed, meaning that a record can perform a full rotation in as little as two seconds. The new motor also supports forward and reverse rotation, as did the old. A new long-life brush is provided – similar in design to that of the outgoing VC-S, but with a larger plastic handle and more cleaning fibres.
The VC-S MK II is otherwise original to its predecessor in both form and function. The supplied accessories are identical too, including the vacuum arm for 12” records, spare arm strips, a drainage spout, IEC power cable and the record clamp. A mixing bottle is supplied for the included 100ML Wash It concentrate, which must be diluted with distilled water at a ratio between 10:1 and 20:1, depending on the level of record contamination. The latest Wash It fluid contains no alcohol and does a fantastic job, with the added benefit of a pleasant citrus smell as opposed to the often strong alcoholic stench of similar fluids. I dilute the fluid at a ratio of 10:1 as I have found that to offer the best results on a range of records, and if used properly the fluid meets or exceeds Pro-Ject’s quoted figures for the number of records that can be cleaned with a batch.
Cleaning performance is of course top notch. The new VC-S vacuum seems slightly quieter, though I haven’t conducted any scientific tests to confirm whether this is indeed the case. I have used the original model extensively however and can say with certainty that the new model maintains the same stellar performance as the old. If anything its performance is slightly improved, thanks no doubt to the improved mechanics of the vacuum arm.
There is little that can be said about the performance of a piece of cleaning apparatus – it either works or it doesn’t. The VC-S does exactly what it says on the tin and in my mind remains the best value wet record cleaner on the market. Thoughtful tweaks to what was already a terrific machine have made the best even better, improving usability, performance and value across the board. Every vinyl fan should own a VC-S, I simply can’t recommend it enough.