Steam cleaning records -- first-hand observations

This forum contains tips on the cleaning and care of your records. Questions and answers may be posted if they stay within this topic.

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Post by ScoopLV » Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:11 am

hrtshpdbox wrote:
ScoopLV wrote: It's just one more tool in the toolbox as far as I'm concerned, and a lot quicker than Elmer's glue.
Doesn't steam cleaning involve heat? Doesn't heat warp records?
Yes, it involves heat. No it isn't enough to warp a record. Just like you can stick your hand in a 500-degree oven for quite a long time without burning yourself (provided you don't touch any metal), the steam is enough to loosen the crud in the grooves. A 20-second pass over the spinning record on my VPI means any given part of the record is only getting a couple seconds of steam.

Here's a video of someone with a similar setup:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6OjtKUZ048
Graeme wrote:
I realize others are in it for nostalgia or the hobby aspect. But for me, it's sound quality.
Then, surely, your preference would be for CD or other digital system?
Why would you say that? Digital is inferior to analog. When guests ask me why I go through the trouble, I pull out a record and a CD of the same title and sync them up. Switching from phono to aux on my pre-amp, I can show people the difference. CDs sound like my speakers are wrapped in aluminum foil compared to vinyl. It's night and day with a good album. My 200-gram copy of Aja, for instance. It blows the CD away as far as sound quality is concerned.

I cannot believe that I'm the only one here to listens to records for the increased fidelity.
Vinyl: My anti-drug.

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Post by Graeme » Mon Jul 09, 2012 10:01 am

Digital is inferior to analog.
Really? In what measurable way can you support that statement?

I can appreciate why people like to listen to analogue recordings but, on a technical basis, you'd be hard put to find any parameter that would qualify as 'better' than digital.

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Post by weletthegoldfishgo » Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:57 am

ScoopLV wrote:I cannot believe that I'm the only one here to listens to records for the increased fidelity.

Time to use the ol' modus operandi, eh? It's like everyone else is stupid... :?

Do you have any LP's that claim they are mastered digitally? I wonder what that means in terms of fidelity? I certainly don't want to try and convince someone that records sound better than CD's. I'm just not that interested it the analog vs. digital argument.

I prefer to get the music in whatever way it can be gotten. How would I ever hear Dave Matthews Band aside from only two of their recordings if I didn't listen to CD's? And when I'm listening to the CD's, I'm not gritting my teeth and muttering under my breath about how much I hate the CD listening experience. That would ruin the enjoyment of the music altogether. And his two-fer LP issue, BEFORE THESE CROWDED STREETS, sells for more than $200 regularly.

Like how the hell am I gonna ever be able to afford the jazz fusion band Nuclues which was issued all on Vertigo label and all are now $75 on the lower condition end and a few hundred on the high? So why not listen to them on CD? Again, when I listen to them, I'm not wishing that I could have the LP's so that I could hear how they should sound.

I do love comparitive listening since I'm interested in hearing the best sounding recording when I can. But even this is limited to whatever equipment through which I'm running the signal and sound. A different stylus changes everything, and so forth. So maybe your setup is making records sound better than CD's? I dunno....
The artist's life is the best life, if he can survive the first 40 years of it. --Thomas Hart Benton

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Post by hrtshpdbox » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:09 pm

weletthegoldfishgo wrote: How would I ever hear Dave Matthews Band aside from only two of their recordings if I didn't listen to CD's?
So you're saying that one of the best things about vinyl is that you don't run into too much of that godawful Dave Matthews? Oh, wait, I got ya wrong there....
weletthegoldfishgo wrote:
... maybe your setup is making records sound better than CD's?
Seriously, though, I think most of us would make the case that any reasonably good system will "make" a record sound better than a CD for us personally. Graeme's point above, that it's not measurably provable, might be true (I thought there might be some upper bandwidth superiority with vinyl, but I'm probably wrong) - most of us would cite intangibles like "warmth" and "presence". And, of course, the principal problem with many CDs is the nasty "loudness wars" compression problem (and that does make a thusly afflicted CD virtually unlistenable, even to my relatively undiscriminating ears).

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Post by weletthegoldfishgo » Mon Jul 09, 2012 4:29 pm

Loudness wars? I've heard about that on RCG many times. But isn't loudness just some beefed up bass and treble levels? I suppose a person could adjust out the loudness a bit, but I think that loudness wars biz goes a little beyond that, right?
The artist's life is the best life, if he can survive the first 40 years of it. --Thomas Hart Benton

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Post by Graeme » Mon Jul 09, 2012 4:51 pm

...... but I think that loudness wars biz goes a little beyond that, right?
Oh yes - way beyond that. Basically, the wars are a result of record companies and producers demanding that their record sound 'louder' than the competition. Essentially, this is achieved by raising the average RMS level of the recording through compression and lmiting techniques, which reduce the dynamic range. Plenty of people (particularly recording engineers) are not in favour of using these techniques in such an extreme way, but they don't write the cheques and they do have to eat. There is no way this can be 'undone' at a later date, you're stuck with it forever.

However, this does raise an interesting question. Is ScoopLV's CD version remastered? I'll lay odds on that it is, in which case any attempt at comparison goes completely out of the window.

Another point comes to mind. Many vinyl enthusiasts spend a small fortune on their front end - turntable, arm, cartridge and pre-amp - which should give them the best possible results. They then go on to compare the sound with a $50 CD player they picked up at Wallmart. No surprise then that the vinyl sounds better! If they were to spend, relativley, as much on the CD front end as the vinyl one, they might actually appreciate the advantages of the CD.

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Post by weletthegoldfishgo » Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:48 pm

Thanks for your comments here, Graeme. I've often wondered why someone would go out and spend 2k on a CD player? Mine is just what you said, a $50 job from Best Buy or WalMart or wherever they sell these Sony jobs. I also have a Technics model that cost probably $100 way back in the day, and a Philips $400 CD playback/record model that costs that much since it records.

So please answer me this if you know the answer: why would someone spend a lot on a CD player? I dunno if the answer is as easy as comparing it to cars or refrigerators or something like that. I have a Dodge Grand Caravan that gets 22 MPG fully loaded to the max with my art show gear and art, and the maintenance costs are pretty low as well. Why would I buy a Honda or Toyota for much more money?

I know that when I was a pro photographer I bought the best bodies and glass I could. I bought fixed focal length lenses with bright apertures so that I could use them more effectively indoors and at dark. Looking through a 5.6 aperture is simply rediculous at night, but a 2.0 is really clear. I guess that's what the argument will be for a better CD player. Better internal parts and etc., right? Anything else that I'm missing?

But I'm a professional artist now and I make my own reproductions using a $159 delivered price flat bed tabloid scanner. Compare that to the next price level of scanners and anyone could afford this. Microtek and Epson and whatever else tabloid size start at $2k. I am getting perfectly acceptable results from this $159 job, but I had to work at it and learn about how to do it. It has fewer features, lower resolution at just 300 dpi (the others probably go way higher than that, like 4000 dpi or somthing), and a darker scanner light that needs the art to be right on the glass or it'll be outta focus. So I just have to piece things together more carefully than with a better higher priced model.

Still, I'm able to do my work with it and not have to take the art to someone else and pay them $30-$75 to do one image for me.

Same goes for CD players; I have inexpensive models so that I'm able to listen to CD's. If it weren't for the cheapos, I wouldn't have one most likely. But I did buy all of them, except the Philips, at thrift stores for $5 and $10.

But for the more expensive models of anything...isn't there a cutoff point where the parts that go to make it work better can't get any better and then luxury kicks in to raise the price higher and higher? To bring this back to records, I'll mention a Chuck Berry tune called NO MONEY DOWN. In that tune he's hopin to get a really loaded Cadillac, fer sher.

WOOHOO!
Last edited by weletthegoldfishgo on Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The artist's life is the best life, if he can survive the first 40 years of it. --Thomas Hart Benton

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Post by ScoopLV » Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:11 pm

Graeme wrote:
Another point comes to mind. Many vinyl enthusiasts spend a small fortune on their front end - turntable, arm, cartridge and pre-amp - which should give them the best possible results. They then go on to compare the sound with a $50 CD player they picked up at Wallmart. No surprise then that the vinyl sounds better! If they were to spend, relativley, as much on the CD front end as the vinyl one, they might actually appreciate the advantages of the CD.
And what, exactly, will a high-end CD player do to the 1's and 0's that a less expensive player cannot? I have a middle-of-the-road Denon CD player, which gets very little use. Digital has it's uses -- car audio, passing time in airports, etc.

Unless I'm mistaken, a FLAC made from a CD ripped with EAC has all the 1's and 0's in the right order. There is no more definitive digital experience. And that doesn't sound as good as vinyl does to me.

I'll grant you that I do indeed have a system that heavily favors the sound of vinyl. But my system also is unforgiving when it comes to surface noise. Vinyl is certainly more expensive. And it's a chore to clean records. I would very much like to enjoy the convenience of digital sound. A side-by-side comparison of Kind of Blue is all I need to quit that line of thinking in a hurry.


(As for remastered CDs, most of my collection was acquired when CDs first came out. By the time engineers started remastering the "special, super-duper anniversary editions" of classic albums, I was already moribund about CDs.)
Vinyl: My anti-drug.

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Post by weletthegoldfishgo » Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:36 pm

Just look at all these features Mr. Berry is wantin' on his ride....I've only included the lyrics for the stuff he wants and one of the chorus where he talks about the broken down, raggedy Ford (that he says with a silent "r", like Fode). One of my all-time faves since my early childhood! WOOHOO!

"Well Mister I want a yellow convertible
Four - door de Ville
With a Continental spare
And wire chrome wheels
I want power steering
And power brakes
I want a powerful motor
With a jet off - take
I want air condition
I want automatic heat
And I want a full Murphy bed
In my back seat
I want short - wave radio
I want TV and a phone
You know I gotta talk to my baby
When I'm ridin' alone"

Yes I'm gonna get that car
And I'm gonna head on down the road
Yeah, then I won't have to worry
About that broken - down, raggedy Ford

"I want four carburetors
And two straight exhausts
I'm burnin' aviation fuel
No matter what the cost
I want railroad air horns
And a military spot
And I want a five - year guarantee
On everything I got
I want ten - dollar deductible
I want twenty dollar notes
I want thirty thousand liability"
That's all she wrote
The artist's life is the best life, if he can survive the first 40 years of it. --Thomas Hart Benton

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Post by Graeme » Mon Jul 09, 2012 10:47 pm

ScoopLV wrote: And what, exactly, will a high-end CD player do to the 1's and 0's that a less expensive player cannot?
As far as the 1's and 0's are concerned not that much - but that's not where the problem lies. It's more to do with the convrsion of the digital signal back into the analogue domain.
ScoopLV wrote: Unless I'm mistaken, a FLAC made from a CD ripped with EAC has all the 1's and 0's in the right order. There is no more definitive digital experience. And that doesn't sound as good as vinyl does to me.
As above, the same answer applies.

The digital bit is (relatively) easy, it's the conversion - both A/D and D/A that really matters and that's mainly where the money should go. To be fair, the A/D part is generally to a high standard (at least when done in a professional studio) but cheapo CD players will not work to the same high standard.
ScoopLV wrote:As for remastered CDs, most of my collection was acquired when CDs first came out. By the time engineers started remastering the "special, super-duper anniversary editions" of classic albums, I was already moribund about CDs.)
I think most of us would agree that the very earliest CD's were not quite what we had been led to believe. However, things have improved considerably over the years - mainly in the area of D/A conversion, which is streets ahead of what it was - and they really are much better today. Unfortunately, the "loudness wars" have gone hand in hand with the improvements and they have largely negated the improvements, at least as far as listening pleasure is concerned. However, that's not the fault of the system, but the way is has been (ab)used.

You may simply be one of those listeners that prefers the sound of vinyl. That's your prerogotive, as mine would be to argue the opposite. You are entirely entitled to such a preference and I'm happy to accept that, but please don't try and tell people who actually know about these things that analogue is better technically, because it is quite easy to prove that it isn't.

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