Pro-Ject VC-S2 ALU Vinyl Record Cleaning Machine Reviewed

I’ve championed the Pro-Ject VC-S as being the best value for money vacuum record cleaning machine on the market since the introduction of the original model. The second generation brought some welcome improvements with only a slight price hike. In typical Pro-Ject fashion, the VC-S has always been a well made, well featured and keenly priced machine. And with the launch of the next VC models, of which there are now two, the bar is raised to new heights.


Vc S2 Alu Top View

The two models of machine now available are the VC-S2 ALU (£399 SRP) and the smaller VC-E (£299 SRP, available in October). There’s a £100 difference between the two machines at retail accounting for the improvements of the VC-S2 ALU, though the two machines are principally very similar. A record is spun at 30RPM on a rotating platform barely larger than the label, and fluid is applied with an included brush. The fluid is then sucked away by the vacuum into either a 500ML (VC-E) or 2.5L (VC-S2 ALU) tank. Both machines include the necessary accessories to clean 12” and 10” discs, and a 7” cleaning kit is optionally available at £110 (UK RRP).

Vc E Top

While printed lettering and a few screw caps were the only real cosmetic changes between the original VC-S and VC-S MK2, the new models have undergone a significant facelift. Now made from sheets of an Aluminium/PE composite with engraved switching and fluid scale trim plates, the aesthetic is quite a welcome departure from the veneered wooden box of the previous machines. It eliminates the possibility of excessive fluid spills damaging the chassis. It also reduces the weight considerably, the vacuum motor now being by far the heaviest component within. This is certainly a welcome change for those of us who have to store and move our machines between uses.

The basic design of the VC-S has otherwise remained the same, with the same robust vacuum arm and a slightly revised valve assembly with a central separator preventing fingers reaching the motor beneath.

Power is still via a rear-mounted IEC jack and the control layout is identical. So too are the accessories provided in the box, including the clamp and platter, vacuum arm for 12” discs, a draining spout, a spare pair of strips for the arm, a goat’s hair brush and a 100 ml bottle of Pro-Ject’s excellent Wash It cleaning concentrate with a mixer bottle also provided. Even the packaging is vastly improved, with a sturdier box and far better internal packing material. It’s a far more premium first impression.

The remainder of this review will focus on the VC-S2 ALU, making some comparisons with the VC-S MK2. Physically the new machine is roughly 10 mm smaller in width and depth, and less tall at only 210 mm to the top of the case as opposed to 230 mm (approx). Naturally, the most obvious difference is the aluminium casework, though there are some welcome alterations too. For example, the drainage hole is now covered with a permanent grille as opposed to the poorly fitted removable grille of the older VC-S models. I noted also the lack of hinge screws for a dust cover.

Initial Impressions

Actual measurements (width x height x depth) are 415 x 325 x 272 mm (fully assembled), with a weight of 8KG. The VC-E is more compact at 310 x 266 x 210mm (fully assembled) and lighter at 6.5 KG.

The machine is nicely made, with the front, side and rear panels being a single folded piece, rebated into both the top and bottom panel. The large dome-head Torx screws in each corner do detract from the machine’s aesthetic appeal, but the machine otherwise feels well put together. There is some flex in the aluminium if you’re picky enough to pull on the panels, but nothing that is of any concern if the machine is used properly and carefully. Out of the box, my machine had a slightly loose front right foot which was easily tightened but didn’t affect operation in any way besides a small panel rattle. This is one of the first models off the line, however, so I’ll allow some leeway as I’m confident this is a one-off.


Contrary to what is sometimes stated, I’ve never found the VC-S to be an especially noisy machine – far quieter in fact than the competition. Being a vacuum it’s never going to be silent, and it’s not as quiet as a Numatic Henry, arguably the most widely recognised consumer vacuum machine. But I’ve always been able to use one quite happily with music playing and without hearing fatigue.

The new machine is perhaps a little quieter than the old model but not significantly so. The wood did resonate somewhat, making the vacuum perceptively louder. The aluminium does vibrate, but it can be felt as a physical vibration more than heard. I don’t think the noise level between the two is so significant as to be the deciding factor in justifying the upgrade, but any reduction in noise, however slight, is always welcome. The new casework does have some modding potential in terms of adding sound deadening material, which is something I might explore should I feel the need.

Vc S2 Alu Side View


Moving from the original VC-S to the MK2 I did note a slight improvement in cleaning performance, though the difference in the new model is a far bigger jump. You can hear the fluid being sucked through the arm, though as the Wash It fluid is quick to evaporate it would take some considerable use to fill the tank. Air exits through the tank and gradually warms as the machine is used, so any fluid that’s in the tank is likely evaporated into the air by the passing air. Because of this I’ve never seen the need for such a large tank in these machines, though I suppose if one were to use an alternative fluid it may be necessary.

I use the wash It fluid exclusively on my collection and have done since the purchase of my original VC-S. It’s an eco-friendly, alcohol-free fluid which a pleasant fragrance, but most importantly of all excellent cleaning performance and lasting anti-static properties. I mix at a 1:10 ratio with triple distilled water and leave the fluid to sit on the record for 30 seconds or so before vacuuming it away.

AA reader John recently tried this fluid in a manual cleaning machine and reported great success without an undue increase in drying time over the alcohol-based recipe he was previously using. Though the debate surrounding the use of alcohol on vinyl has never been definitively concluded one way or another, I do prefer to err on the side of caution where my collection is concerned and prefer not to use an alcohol-based fluid unless I’m testing one for a review. I certainly wouldn’t discredit or discourage them entirely. Just as there is no definitive proof showing that alcohol is a safe ingredient, there is none to prove it isn’t. I’m sure that Pro-Ject’s choice to remove alcohol from their formula is at least in part related to the restrictions on shipping alcohol-based products, as their original Wash It formula was an alcohol-based mix. Mine is just an opinion, and the fluid you use is a matter of your own opinion and preference.

This new VC-S2 ALU does an exceptional job at bringing dirty old discs back to their shiny former glory. It seems to get deeper into the groove than ever before and copes admirably with records of varying thickness. I cleaned 120, 180 and 200-gram discs in a single session without any adjustment and all came out perfect.

It takes only a couple of rotations to completely dry the record. Pro-Ject recommend one rotation in forward and one rotation in reverse. I usually double this, and though I don’t fully see the advantage to vacuuming in reverse I do tend to do so as I’ve become so used to the VC-S that muscle memory now takes over the switching action.


This is another evolution of Pro-Ject’s excellent vinyl cleaner line. The two new models bring more welcome improvements to what was already a top-class product. It’s lighter, better looking and quieter than before, and raises the performance bar even further. This is one of the best investments you can make if you’re serious about vinyl. Highly recommended.

By Ashley

I founded Audio Appraisal a few years ago and continue to regularly update it with fresh content. An avid vinyl collector and coffee addict, I can often be found at a workbench tinkering with a faulty electronic device, tweaking a turntable to extract the last bit of detail from those tiny grooves in the plastic stuff, or relaxing in front of the hi-fi with a good album. A musician, occasional producer and sound engineer, other hobbies include software programming, web development, long walks and occasional DIY. Follow @ashleycox2


  1. Hi Ashley. I purchased an original VCS and then the VCS2ALU when it came out a few years ago. I enjoyed using both.

    As a long-term user, I wanted to alert you and others of two issues I encountered.

    First, after about 1 year, the vacuum in the VCS2-ALU unit got way louder. Uncomfortably loud. This did not affect the operation of the unit – it still works the same as before, cleans as well as before. I googled it and found other VCS2 owners who’ve experienced the same, and on eBay I saw a VCS2 unit for sale advertised as “works like new – but it’s a lot louder”. My unit is in the warranty period, so I sent it back to my retailer who is evaluating it for a possible replacement.

    The second issue concerns not the machine but the included cleaning fluid, Pro-Ject Wash It. I have discovered that cleaning a record with the Pro-Ject cleaning fluid leaves a tiny bit of dried fluid residue, not visible to the naked eye but definitely there. Perhaps this is a “feature not a bug,” for example to provide some anti-static property to the record. Or perhaps it’s unintentional. After a fair amount of research, I’m uncomfortable with anything that leaves any residue on the record, though I cannot discern any degradation in sound quality when I listen to records I’ve cleaned with the Pro-Ject fluid. But those with more resolving systems or better hearing than me might.

    How I discovered this: A few months ago, I bought an ultrasonic machine (the Degritter). When I cleaned *some* records, the machine produced excessive foaming on the records. This problem seemed to occur randomly and I attributed it to the machine, at first. But after many hours of research and experimentation, I discovered that the problem only happened when I was cleaning a record that I’d previously cleaned using the Pro-Ject cleaning fluid. It didn’t matter whether I’d previously cleaned the record a month ago or years ago. But there was a 100% match between excessive foaming and whether the record had been cleaned with the Pro-Ject fluid.

    The residue left by the Pro-Ject cleaning fluid somehow interacts with the cavitation process of ultrasonic machines in a way that generates foaming. I have not found a list of the ingredients in the Pro-Ject fluid but I suspect one of them is a detergent.

    For many people who use the Pro-Ject fluid, this will probably not be a problem, in practice. If you can’t here any degradation in sound quality, then why worry about it?

    But two groups of people should take note. First, people who have or may acquire someday an ultrasonic machine. You will need to thoroughly rinse any records that were previously cleaned using the Pro-Ject fluid before cleaning them in your new ultrasonic machine. Second, people who are concerned as a matter of general principle about any product that leaves an unintended, invisible residue on their records.

    I still heartily recommend the Pro-Ject VCS line of machines. But I’d strongly advise to do careful research about cleaning fluids instead of using the supplied Pro-Ject Wash It fluid. The Steve Hoffman forum has many members who know vinyl cleaning way better than me, and has been a terrific resource (as has – and I’m grateful to both!)

    Hoping you and your loved ones have remained safe and healthy through the past 18 months.

    Ron Cronovich
    Kenosha, WI

    1. Thanks Ron for your continued support and feedback. What mix ratio were you using with the VC-S fluid, and were you using distilled or deionised water? I haven’t noticed any residue myself, though admittedly I’ve not tried re-cleaning the records on an ultrasonic machine. however I will certainly test this to see if it is an issue.

  2. HI Ashley, I love reading the reviews on your site. Keep up the good work. I’ve just ordered a VC-E which I assume is quite similar to this model (VC-S2) and was just wondering if know whether it will be sufficient at cleaning mould that’s deep within the record grooves and whether their supplied alcohol free cleaning solution will kill it? Sadly a lot of my old records have been recovered from a garage in a mouldy state and I’d like to try and save the majority as they’re rare and valuable. I’ve read of people using wood glue but that seems a lot of work. This would be much more time efficient. Thanks in advance.

    1. Thanks for your kind words on the reviews. I would probably use an alcohol-based fluid like Clear Groove and then clean a second time with Pro-Ject’s Wash It fluid. If the sleeves are damaged, you can find mould cleaners in most DIY and homeware outlets. With care you can clean a record sleeve with fluids. I have also heard of a method whereby the sleeves are put into an old freezer, and the mould frozen before they are gradually brought up to room temperature and then cleaned by hand. It will take some work but will be worth it.

  3. To Ashley or any other owners of the VC-S2 ALU:

    I’m having an unpleasant issue with mine, and wondering if anyone else is having the same issue or has any thoughts that might help.

    Had mine since December 2019. For the first year, it worked beautifully, I cleaned around 200 records and was super happy.

    For the past few months, the motor noise has been MUCH louder, and sounds like a jet engine when revving up. I am not someone who is generally unhappy with the vacuum motor noise of this type of machine. I had an original Pro-Ject VC-S, and the noise level never bothered me; the noise level of the VC-S2 as Ashley noted in her excellent review is a little lower than that of the original VC-S, and that was my experience – until a few months ago.

    I’m guessing it’s out of warranty, being 1 year and 2 months since I purchased it. Though I can’t find any information about the warranty in the manual or Pro-ject’s website, other than “modification or change to any part of the product by unauthorized persons will void the manufacturer’s warranty,” so I’m reluctant to open it up until I’m sure the warranty has expired.

    Thanks for any help or suggestions!

    And most importantly, I hope you all are healthy and safe and as comfortable as possible.

    Warmest regards,

    1. Hi Ron. To my knowledge Pro-Ject products carry a 2 year warranty, so I would suggest contacting your local distributor. It sounds to me like the vacuum motor is failing. See what your retailer or local distributor has to say regarding a repair or replacement. Let me know if you have any issues getting it fixed and I’ll see what I can do.

      1. Thanks Ashley! You’re right (of course!)

        I explained the issue to the retailer I bought the VCS2 from, and they are happy to inspect it for possible warranty repair or replacement.

        But they are very backed up with warranty issues. They told me it would take 12 to 16 weeks before they could get to my unit.

        I don’t want to live without a record cleaning machine for that long. I could buy a spin clean or similar to hold me over, but I had a spin clean once and kind of hated it. It’s messy and slow compared to the VCS, and it doesn’t clean as well.

        Or i could purchase a new VCS2 and then sell it in ~4 months when I get back the unit I’ll be sending in for warranty repair/replacement. I would probably take a loss of 25% or more.

        Or I could live without a cleaning machine and just use my record brush and milty zero stat.

        What would you do?


        1. Where are you based? I would contact Pro-Ject directly or the local distributor. 12-16 weeks for a retailer to look at a problem is unacceptable. If they have no time to repair it, they should replace it and they can then fix it at their leisure. If you buy a machine and it fails within its warranty period, you are entitled to have a fix within a reasonable amount of time. Swapping the vacuum motor in the VC-S would be a matter of half an hour at most, it is not a difficult fix. I would complain to your retailer and ask that they reconsider their priorities in respect to customer service.

    1. Awesome, MGW is providing free copy-editing service. MGW, I have a manuscript that needs copy-editing, what’s your address?

  4. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has used this machine and supplied cleaning fluid with shellac records. Would the cleaning fluid damage a shellac record? Also, labels on many 78 rpm records are smaller than on LP records and I wonder if the spindle clamp would cover any inside grooves of a 78.

    1. The provided Wash It fluid is fine for use on Shellac 78s as it doesn’t contain alcohol. Cleaning Shellac 78s on these machines works well providing you do so with care, remembering that shellac won’t flex like vinyl will and can crack or shatter on impact. So go gentle with the brush, leave the fluid to sit on the record for 30 seconds to a minute and don’t lift the vacuum arm from the record until it has almost spun down completely. It’s also a good idea to check the platter height as 78s are usually quite a bit thicker than a standard vinyl LP.

      As for the clamp, I’ve never found it to be an issue though I believe the labels on early 78s varied a little in size until they were standardised, so to a degree it depends on the specific records. The position of the final groove in relation to the centre label can also vary. If you find the provided clamp too big, you could always purchase a 7″ kit and use the clamp from it but I’ve never found the included clamp to be a problem.

      The only other consideration is that when cleaning a 10″ 78, you will find about 2 inches of the vacuum arm slot is left open and a lot of suction is lost as a result. Covering this with a strip of plastic or card wrapped around and taped improves cleaning for both 10″ 78s and 10″ vinyl.

  5. Hi. I just bought the VC-S2 ALU. Build seems to be nice and solid. I use the Wash-it in a 1/10, maybe 1/12 Ratio. First wash was very good, but when the lips at the vacuum get wet, they leave some traces on the record, not immediately, but when I switch vacuum off. Okay, the liquid evaporates / vaporizes (not sure about the right word), but there are still traces of the (dried) fluid. And – and that’s the strangest thing about it – there is more noise / crackle / rustle / sizzle at the start of the record. I tested it with 2 or 3 near mint records, which had no noise before washing but now have very heavy noise. Do you have any recommendations on that?

    1. Firstly, I presume you’re using proper distilled water, not the type you buy for car batteries.

      Secondly, what is your cleaning technique? I vacuum in both directions and then switch the vacuum off with the record still spinning. When the vacuum is almost spun down I lift the arm from the record, still with the record spinning. I don’t get any traces of fluid left behind with this method. You never want the vacuum arm to sit on the record when the record is not moving.

  6. Excellent review, Ashley, thank you so much.

    How do you think the smaller VC-E model might perform differently with respect to cleaning performance, noise level, or anything else?

    Do you think the new models are enough of an upgrade that you’re thinking of purchasing one or would recommend them to owners of the original?

    1. Hi Ron – thanks for your kind words on the review. I think that if anything a different vacuum motor in the VC-E may result in slightly lesser performance, perhaps equivalent to a VC-S MK2. I don’t have confirmation of this however, and I haven’t had the opportunity to test or look inside a VC-E to see whether that is indeed the case. Obviously the smaller size means a smaller tank, but unless the machine is in constant 24/7 use with a non evaporative fluid I doubt you’d come close to filling the tank anyway.

      I have already asked to purchase the review sample following this review as an upgrade from my VC-S MK2 and would certainly consider it a worthwhile upgrade.

    2. i found the smaller vce to have a few problems first is mine didn’t dry the records that well,second the exhaust exits under the record and i found it put condensation on the vinyl even before youve attempted to clean it ,and even a cleaned side get condensation on so i could possibly be re contaminated with what its cleaned already

      1. Dear Paul , unfortunately I experienced the same problem with the VC-E RCM I have a really wet record on the opposite side of the cleaning arm , what did You do in the meantime ? Today I asked my dealer in Austria about this problem , he told me that is the first claim concerning this condensation. To me it’s a no go You cannot clean a record really like it should be with the VC-E

        1. I’ll ask the UK distributor about this. At what point are you lifting the arm from the record? If you lift the arm right at the end of the vacuum’s spin-down, just before it stops and while the record is still spinning, you shouldn’t get condensation build-up on the record.

          1. Dear Ashley , thank You for asking, I am also in contact with Audio Tuning in Vienna, Austria since Friday . I am lifting the arm exactly at the point You are suggesting , some turns back and forth with suction turned on and then lifting the arm with the switched on turning motor.

            My experience is that I have always condensation , as long as the liquid in the cesspit is heated up from the fan . Usually starting with the second record and stopping after some hours when the liquid inside has again room temperature. The main reason of condensation is the position of the exhaust which blows the warm and humid air directly under the record

            1. I can see this being an issue. I have not use a VC-E, but the VC-S ALU does produce warm air from the tank after a few records. The older machines had a removable grill with angled vents so you could direct the air. Perhaps as a temporary solution, you could find a cardboard (or plastic) tube the same as the diameter of the grill and cut a 45-degree angle in one end. Then stick the straight end over the grill of the VC-E with the angle pointing down, so that air is directed downwards rather than flowing over the underside of the record.

              1. Hi, all. I have just acquired a VCS2 ALU and my unit came with a removable angled vent like Ashley describes.

                Initially, I had one issue-which is probably not the issue others here are describing, but just in case: The platform that the LP sits on was 1-2mm too low, resulting in a slight gap between the vacuum arm and the LP, so the vacuum did not remove all the fluid. I followed the instructions in the manual to raise the bottom platform slightly and now everything works perfectly.

                To others having these condensation issues, this is not normal behavior for these units. If it’s not prohibitively inconvenient, I’d have your retailer replace your unit with a new one.

                Kindest regards,
                Ron Cronovich

                1. These condensation issues do only appear with the smaller model VC-E , VC-S2 blows the air in a completely different direction

              2. You are completely right with this temporary solution , and I hope that the engineers from Project come soon with a professional exhaust pipe or something else to rectify this constructional fault.

                Right now I really would love to grade up to the VC-S2 Alu .

      2. Dear all, just purchased the VC-E and experienced the same issue. It is indeed a construction failure. However, you can easily help yourself: I just took a small piece (ca. 15cm) of 3/4‘‘ hard PE garden tube, filled it with sand and heated It in the oven at 150 oC. After ca. 15min it is ready to be formed to a 90-degree angle and flaten the part of the tube that is beneeth the record to avoid contact. You can do this in a bench vise. It works very good and the exhaust is led from now to the right and off the lower side of the record.

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