Previously on Audio Appraisal, I reviewed the Spin Clean Record Washer system – a simple manual record cleaning machine let down by the cleaning fluid. The provided fluid collected on the records, failing to evaporate fully and eventually collecting on the stylus. This resulted in a significant reduction in sound quality, static build up on the records themselves, and excessive wear and dirt build up on the stylus.
I quickly returned that machine – however, that left me with a problem. I had cleaned several batches of albums with the spin clean, and its fluid was now stuck in the record grooves, rendering those albums unplayable. And I still had hundreds of records in my collection that required a good cleaning to sound their best. Being unable to afford the astronomical cost of a decent vacuum record cleaning machine, I began researching other manual cleaning options. And so it was that i came across the Knosti Disco Antistat.
At around £40 from most UK retailers, the Antistat is half the price of the Spin Clean system. However, the principle is similar. The record is rotated in a trough of cleaning fluid between a pair of thick brushes. The provided record clamp not only protects the record label, but also provides a means to rotate the record in a perfect circular motion within the fluid. The clamp also includes a centre adapter for 45 records which are missing their centres.
The records are then placed on the provided drying rack – a plastic rack not unlike a dish rack, designed to hold 8 records. If you have a lot of records to clean, you may wish to pick up a second rack – as in its standard configuration, the Antistat machine allows you to clean only 8 records per batch. The drying rack slots neatly into the underside of the main unit, making the machine extremely portable and easy to store.
Supplied with the Antistat is a 1 Litre bottle of reusable cleaning fluid. A plastic filter allows you to pour the fluid back into the bottle after use, so it can be used to clean several batches of records. Knosti claim that the fluid dries within the space of 7 minutes – user reviews suggest that this is extremely optimistic. It’s important before playback that your records be 100% dry – so the more time they spend in the drying rack, the better.
It’s important to note that I opted not to use the supplied fluid to clean my LPs, as I had previously read reports of it leaving a residue on the records similar to that left by the Spin Clean. Instead, I opted for a simple approach – using only distilled water to effectively rinse off the LPs that had previously been cleaned. Logic suggests that the thick brushes will be enough to dislodge any dirt from the grooves, and I was more than happy with the extended drying time that pure distilled water will require. That said – I do intend to experiment with various fluid formulae to see what works best, as pure distilled water takes an inordinate amount of time to dry fully.
Usage of this machine couldn’t be simpler. The trough is filled with your chosen fluid up to the top of the brushes. Next, a dirty record is screwed between the 2 halves of the record clamp. Protruding from the outer sides of the clamp are 2 pegs, which sit in slots atop the Knosti machine. The vinyl is then rotated by hand – I recommend 3 turns one way, then 3 the other to insure fluid coats the entirety of the record.
Once the record is removed from the machine and the stray drips have been shaken off, the clamp must be removed. The clamp is fairly tight, as the removable part tends to get stuck on its peg. Once removed, the record is carefully placed in the drying rack, and left to dry.
Once you’ve finished with the machine, it’s important to dispose of the fluid. If you’re using a reusable fluid, use the included filter to return it to its container and then proceed to clean the machine – if not, simply empty the machine out. I tend to leave the machine filled for 3 or 4 batches of records before replacing the fluid – but this depends entirely on how dirty your records are. Cleaning the machine is as simple as rinsing it out – there appears to be no way to remove the brushes, so it’s best to let it air dry before replacing it in its box.
Results using this machine have been extremely positive. Records previously cleaned by the Spin Clean have come out shining, with all of the Spin Clean fluid successfully removed. Records sound quiet and clear, with excellent extension in the high frequencies and exceptionally low surface noise.
Static prevention isn’t a strong point of pure distilled water – and that’s been an issue here. However, a combination of an anti-static gun and new poly-lined anti-static sleeves have effectively resolved that issue.
In terms of time – cleaning a batch of 8 records takes no more than 15 minutes. Drying takes a number of hours (which is to be expected using only distilled water) – but the results are more than worth it.
Knosti’s Disco Antistat is a simple, effective manual cleaning machine that does an admirable job cleaning your vinyl. It’s great fun to use, the results are extremely rewarding, and all for only £40? It’s an absolute no-brainer.
I like mine :):) A WHOLE LOT and I make my own fluid !!
This is all a bit over the top. I use the original Knosti and the thread long since went making it impossible to have the clamp tight. I simply hold my left index finger against the left clamp as I’m spinning. Nice and tight and even. Simples.
It’s shop stock rather than my own collection. I’ve never been able to afford a vacuum machine and wouldn’t want one now anyway. The Knosti plus my fluid produces great results. The fluid in the set is not good, leaves a residue and drying marks behind.
Maybe it’s the fluid that’s not getting in the grooves, or more accurately, just falling straight out if the groove immediately. I had this issue with some fluids I used before I developed my one. I can’t fault the Knosti machine, it’s helped me clean 10,000 records so far.
I think if the collection were that big i’d certainly looking at a vacuum machine as they achieve far better results.
I have just started using a Knosti, and once you get a system going it becomes quite quick and enjoyable to use. Jumping in without reading the instructions resulted in my making a mistake with the first record by reversing the rotation after a few clockwise turns. This caused the label clamps to loosen, which allowed my mix to run all over both sides of the label. Only then did I read the instructions, and the reversal is of course mentioned in the instructions as a way of loosening the clamps grip. Doh! However when the record was mainly dry, there was absolutely no trace of a watermark. Beginners luck, and possibly a testament to my ingredients… The records do look pristine now, but I will wait a few hours to ensure they are bone dry. I have the antistatic sleeves ready and waiting, and will report further after extended listening.
Well, I can report that the second generation Knosti is a huge success at cleaning records. I have only cleaned 50 so far, because for one thing I wasn’t absolutely sure either the machine or my own recipe solution would do the job to my total satisfaction, and in addition I didn’t realise how quickly the job could be completed; so I only bought 50 antistatic sleeves to begin with, and also bought an additional drying rack which certainly allowed much quicker progress, allowing 14 records at a time to be cleaned and dried. The new turning handle and redesigned clamp worked a treat too, and any stray solution on the labels dried without a trace. Playing even my older but cleaner records has become much more of a pleasure, with minimal background noise of any kind. All frequencies seem more defined and better focussed, and thus more enjoyable to listen to, plus the stylus is still clean when the records finish. A huge success then, and well worth the £58 spent (not including solution and extra rack).
Excellent, I’m glad it was a success. The main issue with manual cleaners such as the Knosti and Spin Clean is the residue left on the stylus following cleaning, but providing you give them enough time to properly dry as you clearly have, the results can be excellent. What fluid are you using?
Hi Ashley, my recipe is a very cheap 4:1 mixture derived from the content of several authors;
99.9% Isopropyl Alcohol 10%, De-Ionised Water 80%, and one tablespoon of Rinse Aid surfactant.
It dries within an hour and appears to leave no trace on the labels or stylus. I’m more than pleased with it and the resultant sound. I discarded the supplied Knosti fluid on your advice.
The Knosti fluid is OK in a pinch but best avoided. I used to use the same mix as you, but recently switched to a non alcoholic fluid (currently the Pro-Ject fluid but will be experimenting with others). Sadly such fluids are unsuitable for manual machines as they don’t air dry particularly well, but they offer exceptional cleaning performance when a vacuum machine is being used. Either way thanks for sharing your experience with me and others, I’m glad the cleaner is working well. Out of interest from where are you getting your sleeves? I get mine from Covers33, who also offer a range of polythene outer sleeves of which I use the 250G variety and are the cheapest in the UK as far as I can determine.
I obtained my round-bottom Nagaoka-type HDPE sleeves, 50 for £11.99 delivered, from an eBay seller called uetec. I’m pleased with them, and they were quickly despatched. They seem fit for purpose, sliding in and out of jackets with ease and no discernible static generation. A pack of 100 from them is £21.99 delivered.
I’ve read that the high density polyethylene these sleeves are made of is the best material for the job. However, I only need another 200 sleeves now, because in a fit of pique a couple of years ago to gain space I very foolishly sold another 200 albums I wish I still had a good proportion of…my new hobby now the turntable is sorted is visiting every charity shop wherever I go…
That’s really not a bad price and very similar to the sleeves I use. I’ve never really found a difference between the plastics used in inner sleeves, though there’s certainly a difference with outer sleeves. I stick to the loose fitting 250G outer sleeves, as i like many have found the thick 400 and 450G sleeves have a tendency to stick to the artwork, eventually causing damage to the LP cover. I do wish 250G sleeves were sold in gatefold form, though the ones from Covers33 at least are plenty big enough to hold a gatefold album. It’s amazing how much protection an outer sleeve can offer, despite having been moved many times my records are all in brand new condition thanks to them.
There are some real bargains to be had on vinyl if you shop around. Sites like eBay shouldn’t be discounted either, as though many sellers do tend to overprice things you can find some really good deals if you shop carefully. The advantage to owning a cleaning machine is that even the dirty ones generally come up like new, though perhaps that’s just luck on my part. Antibacterial kitchen cleaner works wonders on the outer sleeves too, and doesn’t damage the printing if you’re careful.
I’ve owned a huge majority of my albums for over forty years now, and unfortunately all but one of the outer sleeves have never been protected. Some even older sleeves, like the first 1963 Beatles (unfortunately yellow label, not gold) and the first 1964 Stones albums are extremely worn, having been hawked around Dansette parties in the early sixties – owning these particular LPs and being prepared to take them to parties made me extremely popular with the ladies. Needless to say I wasn’t always on hand to look after the discs and sleeves…at that time they were only a means to an end… In hindsight I regret my lack of protection at that time, but just looking at and holding these sleeves brings back happy memories. Of course the answer would have been to buy two copies of every album and keep one of them unplayed and protected – I wish… Unfortunately as a typical teenager I had more urgent priorities. This is just long-winded background to say outer cover protectors would, at this stage, be a waste of money. I have only purchased three new LPs in the last thirty years, amongst many ‘pre-loved’, but since the resurgence of vinyl in the last couple of years these have been protected, as will be every new one from now on.
If you ever need insight into any of the more ancient record-playing equipment, I’ve owned quite a lot of it at one time or another… and if I haven’t owned it I will either have a personal opinion on how comparable it was at the time, having visited numerous hi-fi exhibitions in days gone by and purchased gear following exhibition auditions, or I might even have an old magazine article about it somewhere. I have in the past been astonished by some of the old stuff’s musical ability, Yamaha NS-1000M speakers immediately spring to mind; I read just this last week some lucky hi-fi fanatic still owns a pair, all these years later. They were out of my price range at the time unfortunately, but what an incredible sound!
Keep up the good work Ashley.
I think that memories are of greater importance than the physical condition of any physical media. Being a collector of only a few years i have kept mine in good shape, and am usually quite selective of what i buy. Though for me, music should be enjoyed as should the media on which it is contained.
I have a copy of Bat Out of Hell that has been through hell and back. I bought it as part of a job lot, and later found out from the original owner that he’d once used it to test a method of scratch removal involving 1500 grit wet and dry sandpaper. But with a couple of cleans it plays extremely well and amazingly with no distortion, just a gentle crackle in the background that actually adds to the album. I later used that method on a couple of LPs that were destined for the bin and it does actually work, though were it not for owning a vacuum cleaning machine capable of extracting the sand from the grooves I probably wouldn’t have attempted it.
Thanks for your offer above. I do actually plan to dedicate some time to the ‘retro review’ series here as it seems to be extremely popular. The difficulty is obtaining the old equipment. A few years ago you could get anything you wanted for next to nothing but now the availability of old kit has dried up, and what is available is being sold at a premium price thanks to the trend towards owning vintage items simply because they’re ‘cool’. I do have a few ideas and always have my eye out for interesting things to showcase, and ideas are always welcome too. I’m also considering a section of the site whereby users can register and post their own opinions, stories and reviews. This is a community blog after all, and I receive stories and experiences by readers on a frequent basis that should, I think, be shared. Perhaps that’s something you may be interested in?
Thank you for your kind offer Ashley; I would be pleased and privileged, upon request, to impart any knowledge and/or opinions (to do with reproducing music!) obtained over the past 54 years. Since purchasing my first Radio Dansette on the never-never in late 1961, I have never been without low, mid and hi-fi equipment, and have a list (and memory) of every item I have ever owned – or heard.
Whilst ‘Knosti-ing’ my discs, I came across a genuine Nagaoka-stamped round-bottomed inner antistatic sleeve I had forgotten about, and after comparing like with like, I’m pleased to report the uetec copies are every bit as good as the originals in every respect.
I noticed that after cleaning and drying the first batch of discs that the results were not quite as I was hoping for noise-wise. Upon paying attention to the progress of the next batch, I noticed that the spindle skewering the discs was moving from side to side in the notches as I turned the handle, which was causing an intermittent depth of contact with alternating brushes. I cured this by resting my forefinger lightly against the clamp just above the notches as I turned the handle, thus keeping the record in close contact with just the right-hand brush, and then utilised a very old “party susan” turntable to rotate the basin, lifted and turned the disc, and repeated the pressure to clean the other side of the record. This has proved to provide the result I was looking for.
That is a downside with the Knosti. The Spin Clean is better in this regard, because the downward force you place on the record when spinning it around presses it against the rollers and keeps it rolling in a smooth circle. Sadly the brushes are nowhere near as good on that machine, as they tend to wipe only the record surface and don’t penetrate the grooves. Somebody should manufacture a set of thicker brushes for the Spin Clean, as its brushes are easily removable. Interesting comment on the sleeves, it’s not something I’d ever considered though I’ve always been very impressed with my modern sleeves.
Cleaned about twelve records before realising my ill-thought out slight pressure to ensure good depth of clean, then turn and repeat, only served to deep clean the same side of the record twice. I then resorted to increasing the turns (one way) to twenty with no additional pressure, which appears to successfully clean all round of both sides of the disc but takes longer and is labour intensive (read boring); however, before cleaning my final 100 discs I’m now considering applying thin shims to each side of the clamps, in an effort to neutralise or at least reduce the side to side movement. I realise this will increase friction, and perhaps the effort required to turn the spindle, but of course the number of turns should be greatly reduced. I’ll experiment and report further.
I’d probably be careful with that idea so as to not press any dust into the record and risk embedding it further into the groove or scratching the record. That said providing your shims are sufficiently thin to centralise the record in the brushes but not increase the friction to the point where the record is difficult to turn, I see no reason why it wouldn’t work. Rather you than me, I’d probably have given up by now. Never again will I underestimate the convenience of a vacuum machine. 🙂
The shim idea proved to be too thick; however, three layers of black electrician’s tape round the spindle area/hole on each clamp proved to be perfect, with no discernible extra friction due to its shiny surface, but also minimal transverse movement. As a bonus it also blends in fairly well with the black plastic of the clamps. Because the turning handle tended to come adrift from the spindle with use, I had already utilised this same tape to keep the handle firmly in situ, so it wasn’t a huge leap to figure out the best way to increase the width of the clamps slightly. Of course a small amount of sideways movement is necessary to facilitate the holding clamp’s removal via a short reverse turn.
I take on board your comment about the convenience of the vacuum machine, but we impecunious pensioners are forced to resort to modified cheaper machines to achieve a (hopefully) similar result!
John Garnet: To avoid the clamps loosening with reversed rotation take the record out of the bath and flip it so the other side faces you and spin in the same direction. That is, if the “A” side faces you while turning clockwise, the “B” side is turning anti clockwise. After 3 spins flip the record so the “B” side faces you and spin clockwise 3 more times. No loose clamps and both sides are cleaned in both directions.
Jeffrey Jenkins: Of course this had been thought of and tried, but it did not negate the slight side-to-side movement of the disc whilst turning the handle, which results in irregular intermittent contact brushes-to-disc. The whole point of the exercise being to deep clean right down to the bottom of the groove across the whole record both sides at the same time..
Vinyl Shelter fluid is superb!
Thanks for the recommendation.
Does anyone find rusting occurs on the crimped metal that hold the brushes ?
I never experienced any rusting, though I did dry the machine out after use.
Cheers. I have also started doing this with a hair dryer on cool / warm (not hot) setting. Hopefully it will not get too bad. If it does I will replace the basin and brushes which for £20 is the same price as the spin cleaner brush replacments anyway ! 🙂