Klaudio Record Cleaning Machine Review

dminches

Well-Known Member
Oct 22, 2011
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Audio Intelligent No. 15 and lately L'Art Du Son which I am impressed with and is much cheaper than AI No.15
Thanks. Are you doing this on a machine or platter or just on a cloth?
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,544
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Peter, what record demagnetizer do you use?
I would love to have the Furutech, but instead I use a humble hand held audio/video tape eraser from a company called the Geneva Group. It is about twenty years old but it works well and only cost about $75 back then.
 

Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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What about the Furitech DeMag II, Christian?
 

rockitman

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Sep 20, 2011
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Thanks. Are you doing this on a machine or platter or just on a cloth?
I lie down two folded micro towels to protect record on table (LP lying flat) I clean, scrub (disk doctor) and dry (with towel) each side then put into KL for final clean/rinse/dry. You want the record as dry as possible meaning you sopped up all the cleaning fluid so you don't contaminate the water bath too soon in the KL. I change the water every 30 records.
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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What about the Furitech DeMag II, Christian?
A guy showed me before and after and it worked well, really opened up the stage and added clarity. Robbyd on this forum has it though he is not a frequent poster
 

rockitman

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Sep 20, 2011
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What about the Furitech DeMag II, Christian?
Never tried it. I don't think there is enough ferrous material (metal) to get magnetized in the first place. That was the idea of Classic Records Clarity clear vinyl...no ferrous metal material. I have yet to hear a difference between clear and black vinyl so I remain skeptical of the demag unit.
 

Emosewa

New Member
Sep 26, 2018
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Please note: the intro to this posting was revised , so that I can be more specific in the questions I’m posing.

I read through this entire thread, as well as others on this topic. I plan on buying an ultrasonic cleaner to replace a 30 year old Nitty Gritty Pro. I just want to buy a new machine and don’t have the time or expertise to build my own or clean using dish racks for drying, etc. In light of that, the two best choices for ultrasonic RCMs appear to be the KL Audio or the Audio Desk. I have used a store demo model of the Audio Desk, as noted below. I have never seen or used the KL Audio, and my comments below are based only on what I’ve read.

If the choice must be made between those, which do the experts on the forum prefer in three areas:

(1) For records that are new? Which machine, the KL Audio or the Audio Desk, will make the most audible improvement on LPs that are already in new condition?

(2) Personally, 90% of the records I clean will be used records (or new records) that have already been cleaned on a Nitty Gritty or are used in near mint or mint in condition, as that is the bulk of my LP collection. In the case of used records previously cleaned on a Nitty Gritty, I noticed an additional improvement, specifically in treble, but occasionally on the entire frequency range, when cleaning again on an Audio Desk. (If I didn’t notice an improvement, then buying the Audio Desk would be a waste of money.) Would that be the case with the KL Audio?

(2a) For 90% of my cleaning of my existing record collection -- Which unit, the KL Audio or the Audio Desk, would be better on new or used records previously cleaned on a Nitty Gritty?

(3) Used records not previously cleaned. I don’t buy used records from junk bins or estate sales that have been trashed. So used records would generally be in VGL or Near Mint condition, but are probably in the original paper sleeve, and some might have a fine layer of accumulated dust.

(3a) I can always clean those records first on my old Nitty Gritty. If I did that, which unit, the Audio Desk or KL Audio, would do the best job for a second cleaning?

(3b) And which unit, the KL Audio or the Audio Desk, could possibly be used for “one stop” cleaning so the additional time of cleaning twice might not be necessary?


Having read all of the threads, I offer my own conclusions below as to the differences between the two units.

I hope the below summary of the differences between the two units might be useful in the future for anyone trying to decide between the two units. Please correct any misstatements or erroneous conclusions!

I have listed the various factors to consider.

POWER OF ULTRASONIC CLEANING -- I'm leaning towards the KL Audio, simply because it has nearly four times the ultrasonic cleaning power of the Audio Desk -- and the entire point in spending $4,00o on either machine is for the ultrasonic cleaning. The KL Audio has four 50 watt transducers that, based on the description, are aimed directly at the LP in a horizontal or perpendicular fashion, with two per side. The Audio Desk has only a single transducer. Audio Desk apparently won't confirm -- or admit -- what the size of that single unit is, but it is probably half the size of one of the four KL Audio transducers. And that smaller and single transducer is located in the rear of the Audio Desk, and is aimed upwards to cover both sides of the record from the edge. Essentially half of a weaker transducer per side, compared with two more powerful transducers per side.

DAMAGE CAUSED BY ULTRASONIC CLEANING? -- Audio Desk strongly implies that KL Audio is using transducers that are too powerful for vinyl and might damage records (see the comments from Audio Desk in the Stereophile review.) But that assertion is completely undocumented, and no proof for the assertion is provided. KL Audio responds that they have a patent on their safe way to provide the greater ultrasonic power. Furthermore, I have not seen a single allegation, or even one confirmation, from any owners of KL Audio, that the machine damages vinyl. So that bald faced assertion by Audio Desk strikes me as more of an undocumented cheap shot than anything else.

HEAT FROM ULTRASONIC CLEANING -- Of greater concern is that the original model of KL Audio heated up the water to the extent that after cleaning 3o or more LPs in a row, an LP would appear slightly warped, I assume in a concave or convex fashion, but then return to flat when dried. That was reported in the Absolute Sound review. However, the two newest units of KL Audio included a pump that sucks water past a fan to cool it off. My understanding is that you'd have to clean a very large number of records, one after another, and on the shortest dry cycle to see any momentary warping, before the record is dried and returns to flat, especially with the newest cooling modification. I'm not likely to clean enough LPs at one time to encounter that in any case.

ADDITIONAL CLEANING BY THE USE OF CLOTH FIBER BARRELS -- The Audio Desk appears to offer other advantages as compared with the KL Audio but I now wonder if these other features were included to compensate for the single and weaker transducer. Specifically the use of the four cleaning barrels. At first, I thought those barrels were an advantage in the design of the Audio Desk, as they would vigorously scrub the vinyl grooves, but I now wonder if KL Audio simply doesn't need them due to the greater ultrasonic power? If that is true, then it means that with KL Audio only water is touching the record without any risk of using barrels that rub water, that may contain debris, against the vinyl.

The key question is whether the KL Audio unit cleans as well as the Audio Desk without the need for the barrels, due to the greater power of four ultrasonic transducers as compared with one weaker transducer in the Audio Desk. That is the key issue and difference related to the effectiveness of both units in cleaning records.

USE OF CLEANING FLUID -- The Audio Desk uses a fluid emulsifier to help the water stick to the vinyl. Some reviewers believe this is a big advantage for the Audio Desk. Others believe that this fluid forms a residue that can be heard, and therefore must be removed in yet another cleaning cycle in clear water on an additional machine. If true, this would defeat the purpose of the cleaning fluid in an all-in-one machine. The real question is whether KL Audio, with four powerful ultrasonic transducers, and using water alone, can do as good a job as the Audio Desk with a combination of a single weaker transducer, four cloth barrels, and the cleaning fluid. KL Audio does appear to concede the point, at least in part, admitting in some reviews that they can't remove a large finger print, to offer one example. But I don't generally see fingerprints on used records, so the real question is how both units clean somewhat dirty old used LPs as well on new LPs. Which units do the best job of removing dirt and stuff from the grooves? Using only more powerful ultrasonics, or the combination of a weaker transducer, but with barrels and fluid?

EFFECTIVENESS OF DRYING CYCLE -- The KL Audio unit appears to be superior when it comes to drying. I encountered the problem of LPs that still had water on them after drying in the Audio Desk. The Audio Desk also has the vinyl lips. I assume the purpose of those is to help the drying cycle, by acting as squeegees to remove water, probably due to underpowered drying fans. But those lips can trap debris and rub it against the record, and based on comments here, can be difficult to replace. The KL Audio unit apparently has significantly stronger fans for drying, and records are always completely dry -- with no need for vinyl lips.

FILTER TO REMOVE DEBRIS FROM WATER -- Another advantage of Audio Desk is that it has a filter, whereas the most expensive model of KL Audio doesn't. The Audio Desk needs this filter, since the water with any debris is rubbed against the record by the barrels. But the Audio Desk filter is just a piece of styrofoam, and my observation is that in actual operation, a large quantity of the water is sucked *over* the filter thereby bypassing it in any case. KL Audio has less need for a filter, as nothing touches the record except water. However, the newest and less expensive KL Audio includes an in-line filter, and based on the photos in the manual, it appears to be a true water filter, and my guess, is more effective than a piece of styrofoam.

REMOVAL OF DEBRIS AND CLEANING OF UNIT -- There is no way to clean out the bottom of Audio Desk. It can be flushed out by running water through it -- but that is the extent of cleaning, and there is no way to see the level of debris in the bottom, and no way to directly clean it out. The more expensive KL Audio unit can be opened to clean out the bottom circular area where debris collects but apparently that is a bit difficult with sharp edges -- but it can be done on the KL Audio, whereas that is impossible with the Audio Desk. The newest and less expensive KL Audio unit solves that entirely by using an external water container or jug, which can be flushed out or even replaced.

GENERAL FINISH OF THE UNITS -- The Audio Desk is plastic whereas the KL Audio is stainless steel. The less expensive KL Audio is the most practical, with an external jug or tank that can be visually inspected or easily replaced. It also comes with an in-line filter. Also an external pumps if it should break. But is literally put together with velcro so looks worse than either the Audio Desk or the more expensive KL Audio unit.

RELIABILITY -- The developer of Audio Desk appears to be notorious for not responding to emails reporting problems and for taking 3 to 6 months to repair units from Germany. And he appears, based on my own interaction with him, to offer lame excuses for obvious problems that require repair, but he won't admit or acknowledge that. KL Audio, on the other hand, is based in the U.S., and gets generally positive marks for quick repairs. And the KL Audio is built like a tank. Getting KL Audio to call me back, is, however, very difficult, based on my experience. And then is when my voice message said I wanted to buy a unit. How quickly they respond to voice messages reporting problems would be the question.

For all of the above reasons, I am leaning to the less expensive KL Audio unit -- more powerful cleaning by a factor 4, and more powerful drying. It is also easier to set cleaning and drying times, and for new records that may only need a minute or so of cleaning, and 2 minutes of drying, KL Audio then offers a 3 minute cycle rather than 6 minutes minimum on the Audio Desk.

I welcome any corrections and comments from the experts!
 
Last edited:

XV-1

Well-Known Member
May 24, 2010
2,055
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260
Sydney
I have probably cleaned close to 1000 LP's over the past few years of owning the KL Audio. Never had a single problem ( touch wood) and never noticed any heat of the water. I have probably cleaned 20 records in one night with the 5 min clean, 3 min dry and no issues.
IMO, you still need a RCM to scrub vinyl if you have bought used as the KL will not clean that.

good luck in your decision.
cheers
 

Stump

Well-Known Member
Jul 15, 2012
126
43
110
I agree with XV-1 .I have the Nitty Gritty then the KL audio for 4 years now.I have never needed to use the NG since the KL.As the KL is not designed to remove crud and sticky fingers from records . I only buy New or near mint second hand records myself.I would recommend you buy the Audio Desk.Like having a KL (sports Car ) and AD (4 wheel drive) They do a similar job where the AD (4 wheel drive) will get the grime and crud off your records with the rollers then finish with a ultra sonic you will have on going maintenance roller replacement fluid additives etc. KL (sports Car ) straight water no ongoing maintenance and does the job of getting into the grooves of the record. Always buy what is fit for purpose in your situation.
 

Emosewa

New Member
Sep 26, 2018
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0
0
XV-1 and Stump, thanks very much for your responses.

After reading your responses, I realized that I did not pose the correct question in my original post. So I revised the intro to my post, and I repeat that below.

I highlighted in bold (see below) what I should have asked at the outset, which is how these cleaners work on a record collection previously cleaned on a Nitty Gritty. I didn't ask that question initially, so apologize for clarifying and asking again.

If the choice must be made between those, which do the experts on the forum prefer in three areas:

(1) For records that are new? Which machine, the KL Audio or the Audio Desk, will make the most audible improvement on LPs that are already in new condition?

(2) Personally, 90% of the records I clean will be used records (or new records) that have already been cleaned on a Nitty Gritty or are used in near mint or mint in condition, as that is the bulk of my LP collection. In the case of used records previously cleaned on a Nitty Gritty, I noticed an additional improvement, specifically in treble, but occasionally on the entire frequency range, when cleaning again on an Audio Desk. (If I didn’t notice an improvement, then buying the Audio Desk would be a waste of money.) Would that be the case with the KL Audio?

(2a) For 90% of my cleaning of my existing record collection -- Which unit, the KL Audio or the Audio Desk, would be better on new or used records previously cleaned on a Nitty Gritty?

(3) Used records not previously cleaned. I don’t buy used records from junk bins or estate sales that have been trashed. So used records would generally be in VGL or Near Mint condition, but are probably in the original paper sleeve, and some might have a fine layer of accumulated dust.

(3a) I can always clean those records first on my old Nitty Gritty. If I did that, which unit, the Audio Desk or KL Audio, would do the best job for a second cleaning?

(3b) And which unit, the KL Audio or the Audio Desk, could possibly be used for “one stop” cleaning so the additional time of cleaning twice might not be necessary?
 
Last edited:

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
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Both KLaudio and Audio Desk are what they are with a primary focus on convenience. There's merit in convenience if it gets you to clean your records - a lot of merit. Both will get a record cleaner than doing nothing.

But both are, how shall I say, 'insufficiently featured.'

The KLaudio uses only water to clean. Yes, water is a solvent, but it is not enough - it it were we'd not need surfactants. This may be its biggest drawback.

The ADS requires purchase of new brushes and filter every so often (though the brushes can be washed in a washing machine) and it is warranted only with ADS cleaning fluid.

Both units dry with a fan blowing on the record that has the same wash water on it that the record was cleaned in. Yes, the ADS has a sponge (not styrofoam) filter, but it's passive - water may happen to slosh through it - and it is not a very fine filter though given enough time, it will get dirty. One KLaudio version includes filter, pump and a reservoir. This seems superior to the ADS sponge because the filtration is done under pressure, though they don't disclose the particulate size the filter works at. They say to replace the water if it appears dirty; better to see if the filter is dirty, imo. I see that KLaudio now offers a $400 electric filter option that also allows use of tap water instead of distilled; they do not state the relative fineness of particle filtering the unit offers. Klaudio text seems to place more emphasis on using water from a external source than filtering; I suppose you'd have to use it to gauge filter effectiveness.

Both units operate at a single frequency. Particle size removal varies with frequency. Ideally you'd like both a high and low frequency.

Neither unit directly heats the water. Although cavitation alone will increase the bath's temperature, that's typically not more than 5° C. USC on vinyl is more effective with a solution around 30° C. The KLaudio unit with the pump and filter includes a cooling unit! The majority of professional USC machines include a heater. Heat increases dispersion of cavitation bubbles which tend to be focused immediately above or at the transducers.

Tanks of neither unit are easily cleaned.

Both units clean only one record at a time.

Imo there are superior options, but if you opt for either of these do yourself a favor and get an inexpensive meter to gauge total dissolved solids (TDS). Keep tabs on the quality of the water in your machine because whatever is in it will dry on the record.
 

MJB

Well-Known Member
Mar 10, 2013
136
24
93
There’s yet another option for you to consider - Clearaudio Double Matrix Professional. This unit is super easy to use, cleans and vacuums extremely well and is not very noisy. I’ve owned one for the last couple of years and I’m very satisfied.
 
May 30, 2010
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For me an important aspect is where we live and how we buy the machine. In Europe the KLAudio becomes too expensive and the AudioDesk is much more competitive. If you buy from distributors you should look for their policy repair - these machines are electro mechanical and it is not improbable that sometime during their life of operation they need service. An working machine is always better than an halted machine waiting for parts ... It is why living in Europe I choose the AudioDesk, complementing it with the old with a VPI 17 for hard jobs.

BTW, no RCM is completely silent. We can't discard the possibility that the lower noise of LPs after cleaning reported by some people is also due to the decrease of sensitivity of the ear after a few minutes of exposition to these nasty machines! :D
 

rockitman

Member Sponsor
Sep 20, 2011
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There’s yet another option for you to consider - Clearaudio Double Matrix Professional. This unit is super easy to use, cleans and vacuums extremely well and is not very noisy. I’ve owned one for the last couple of years and I’m very satisfied.
vacuum drying adds static to the record which attracts dust making even more difficult to blow off said dust with a puffer/blower ball during subsequent playback of the records. I haven't had a static issue with my records for years since using an ADS and then the KL Audio. All vacuum dryers have this issue and are a non-starter for my record cleaning needs. I found the ADS to be cheaply constructed and unreliable having to send my unit back twice to Germany for months at a time.
 

asiufy

Industry Expert/VIP Donor
Jul 8, 2011
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almaaudio.com
Seems you have made up your mind already, but still, I would never buy a machine that uses only water.
So, for me, it's the Audio Desk. I've owned one since before I actually had a dealership, no problems at all here.
 

dminches

Well-Known Member
Oct 22, 2011
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For those who do some scrubbing before using an ADS or KL what do you use/do?

Thanks.
 

mountainjoe

Industry Expert
Mar 25, 2015
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eigenaudio.com
I just run the record through the KL System system multiple times. Never had an issue and all grime is eventually removed.
+1 - never had any issues with fingerprints or grime not getting removed - usually on the first pass.
 

rockitman

Member Sponsor
Sep 20, 2011
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For those who do some scrubbing before using an ADS or KL what do you use/do?

Thanks.
I use Audio Intelligent No. 15 Enzymatic or L'Art du Son for the first time cleaning with brush by hand, then dry with micro towel and finish in KL Audio. Once a record has been cleaned with cleaning solutions, there is no reason to use them again other than water for dust accumulation wash off every couple years.
 

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