I was unaware of Spin Care vinyl accessories until a reader pointed out their recently launched record cleaning machine. Retailing at £39.95, the Spin Care RCM is a manual machine which appears to combine the qualities of the two most popular manual record cleaning machines on the market – the Knosti Disco Antistat and the Spin Clean. The Spin Care was developed by company founder Anthony Taylor following frustration with other manual machines on the market, which either leave deposits on the record which can contaminate or damage the stylus, or wet the label causing permanent damage.
The Spin Care machine claims to overcome both issues and can clean 7” 10” and 12” discs. Much like the Spin Clean, the Spin Care RCM comprises a bath into which you install a pair of velvet cleaning brushes and a pair of rollers, the latter set into 1 of 3 positions depending on the side of record to be cleaned. The bath is filled with a proprietary alcohol-based cleaning solution. The record slides between the velvet pads and is rotated thrice in each direction before being removed, dried with the included microfibre cloths and placed in a drying rack.
The kit is claimed to clean batches of 25-50 records per session. Two 8oz bottles of cleaning fluid are included, supposedly enough to clean up to 500 records. The accessories can be stored within the cleaning bath, making for a very neat and compact machine to store when not in use.
Being alcohol-based, the solution is not suitable for cleaning shellac records, but does offer quick drying times with vinyl and styrene discs. There are concerns over whether not alcohol can leach the plasticisers from vinyl, thereby causing it to become brittle over time and thus easily damaged. I have never seen objective proof to confirm or deny this claim, though I do prefer to err on the side of caution and tend to avoid alcohol-based solutions unless I’m using a vacuum RCM which sucks the fluid away soon after application. That said many have used alcohol-based fluids for decades with no apparent ill effect, including Moth, Clear Groove and Vinyl Shelter just to name a few.
Given the number of cleaning machines currently available, I asked Anthony what his motivation was for starting the company. “I started SPINCARE for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I felt there was a lack of affordable, high-quality vinyl accessories on the market. This was particularly the case on the sleeves, where the quality was either good and very expensive (Mofi sleeves) or low and the product was cheap. Secondly, I have a background in ecommerce and have sold online for the last 10 years selling CDs, DVDs and vinyl. Over time we found CD sales falling, and vinyl sales increasing.”
“Vinyl isn’t the preserve of middle aged men anymore – we’ve got youngsters going into record stores and buying vinyl, which is a wonderful thing to happen. Education is pretty key to this – I think we’ve got a bit of a duty to try and educate people to spend an extra £0.50 on top of the £15-20 they paid for the vinyl getting a good quality inner and outer sleeve.”
“As a hifi enthusiast and vinyl collector since I was 18 (15 years ago) I want to try and explain the benefits of vinyl care products, but also vinyl as an audio format. I’m no digital luddite. I’m a huge fan of Spotify – as I write this I’m working through the Tool back catalogue, which was uploaded this morning. But a digital file just doesn’t connect with the human psyche in the same way as a vinyl record. Taking a record out of the rack and looking at the sleeve. You really get what the artist was going for. It’s just an amazing experience. The click of the needle as it hits the record. There’s something really imprecise but real about it, which I just feel is very human. And I think as society races towards automation, artificial intelligence and algorithms to define everything we see and do, we are increasingly going to look for an escape hatch from it all.”
“My mission is basically to help vinyl enthusiasts – whether they’re lifelong fans or newbies, to enjoy their vinyl experience as much as possible, and for as long as possible.”
The machine comes beautifully presented amidst thick foam in a box complete with a carrying handle. Within are two bottles of cleaning concentrate, 2 cloths (one large, one small) and an instruction leaflet. Housed within the cleaning bath itself are the drying rack, rollers, felt brushes and a few spare rubber end caps for the drying rack which is a nice inclusion. Though I’ve unboxed many cleaning machines, it must be said that Spin Care is presented with an unusual attention to detail and leaves a great first impression.
The machine itself is made from a sturdy thick plastic with a slight texture to the finish. It includes a lid which fits snugly over the top, keeping the accessories within but also allowing you to keep it filled between cleaning sessions to make the most of the fluid. Both the machine and the drying rack are of much higher quality than the Knosti or Spin Clean, despite that the fact that the machine is similar in design and principle to the latter. The rollers have rubber inserts in the centre to grip the record, and the drying rack includes rubber end caps to prevent scratching the records, of which it can hold 10. The velvet brushes are slotted into place and are easily removed for cleaning.
The instructions suggest filling the bath with water (preferably distilled) until the level reaches the bottom of the rollers. I found that the middle point of the rollers was preferable to ensure full coverage of the groove area. You then add three caps (approximately 25ML) of the included cleaning concentrate to the bath of fluid.
Slide the record between the brushes until it is firmly against the rollers, rotate thrice in either direction. Remove the record from the machine, wipe off the residue with the included cloths and place it in the drying rack. Drying time, depending on room temperature is anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour for a 12” disc, though it is important to ensure the record is completely dry before playing or storing it. I was impressed with the included fluid, which didn’t bead or pool on the record surface and it didn’t drip excessively when the records were removed.
Along with the machine, the company also sent a selection of their inner and outer record sleeves. ‘Clarity’ are resealable 12” outer sleeves offered in two versions, one to fit a standard LP and the other to fit gatefold covers.
The ‘Density’ sleeves are a more traditional outer sleeve open at the top, supplied in 7”, 10” and 12” versions and made from 400 gauge polythene. The 12” version can accommodate up to a 4 LP gatefold.
Spin Care’s audiophile inner sleeves are a three-ply construction of HTPE / Paper / HTPE. ‘Hikari’ and ‘Dynamic’ sleeves are also offered, these without the multi-layer construction and are thus less rigid. The Audiophile sleeves are comparable to the MoFi sleeves but come at a significantly cheaper price. I have personally never liked the MoFi sleeve and always preferred a poly-lined paper inner, but these are excellent.
So too are the resealable Clarity sleeves. The seal is on the outside of the sleeve itself and not the flap so there’s no risk of the sleeve adhering itself to the record. The adhesive can be used over again without showing signs of wear, so these are perfectly suited to a collection that is actively played rather than one that is kept for archival.
Getting back to the machine and it was time to give our test records a listen. I had deliberately contaminated a few LPs with a mix of dirty water, a drop of oil and some sawdust, both thicker wood shavings and fine MDF dust from a dust extractor. This is a tough test for a manual cleaning machine, and one that I would ordinarily save for vacuum machines where I would have greater confidence in the finer dust particles being drawn from the record.
But it has to be said that the spin care performed admirably. The result was three records that were spotless both visually and sonically. Cleaning with a Pro-Ject VC-S did further reduce the noise floor slightly, though it must be said that this was a particularly tough and unrealistic ‘worst case’ test. Records, with average use and care, won’t be nearly as contaminated.
Frankly, the performance of the Spin Care leaves nothing to be desired. It leaves records gleaming both visually and sonically. At just £39.95, it’s an extraordinarily cost-effective investment for those getting started, or for those looking to clean their collection on a budget. A Pro-Ject VC-S, in my opinion, the best value cleaning machine on the market, is almost ten times the price. Yes, it will clean better and there is no drying time. but unless your vinyl are severely contaminated, whether it will achieve ten times the cleaning performance is questionable. I would highly recommend both the cleaning machine and vinyl accessories from Spin Care. Check them out Here.