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Audio Desk Systeme Premium Ultrasonic Vinyl Cleaner PRO

08-07-2018 | By Pete Davey | Issue 98

Audio Desk Systeme

You know, every once in a while, one of those "disruptive" products that come to the market that make you think "Why didn't I think of that", or "I thought of that!"... enter one of the original ultrasonic record cleaners. Since the release of the original Audio Desk system several years ago, there have been many followers out there. Some aren't very decent, some are great, but Audio Desk will always stand out as being one of the "originals". I can remember my first demo like it was yesterday, record goes in, button pushed, and out comes not only a spectacular looking record, but one that is also dry and ready to play!

I have spent many hours with other cleaners, some semi-automatic, some completely manual, but none of them did as great of a job as the Audio Desk. I will admit that initially there is a bit of a sticker-shock at first glance, but you have to realize how much engineering goes into such a product for a boutique market. I mean, how much is your time worth? Everyone has a different answer, but really it should be priceless. Time is a priceless asset that people neglect. It's not that you can be "doing other things", but really, it's about having more time to listen to music and less time cleaning records. I've not met anyone that tells me "Damn, I just love cleaning records". Don't get me wrong, I'm sure a few of you may be thinking that (there is always one!) but you're a rarity. You probably enjoy cutting the grass or painting a wall. Not me.

This particular unit has gone through several iterations and updates, this being the "Pro" model. The pro model brings the following changes over the regular model:

  • Better, quieter drying.
  • An improved motor.
  • Upgraded Pump with better (ceramic) bearings.
  • Updates to the electronic control system.
  • The ability to attach a 7" record cleaning apparatus (sold separately).

Optional 7" Adapter - only available for the PRO model

Unfortunately, I did not have the older non-pro model to run a comparison to, but I'm just happy to be able to not only clean my collection automatically and also it now opens up a vast opportunity to go and find some used records and really see what happens!

For example, I did some digging and found Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms. While I hate listening to a record sans cleaning, I had to grin and bear it here, as I really wanted to hear the differences, if any. The record wasn't terrible, but it wasn't new, either—and immediately what I heard (atypical of a used record), pops and clicks in abounds, faded dynamics, noisy background, etc. Sometimes, the record was pressed that way! Not this one… I opted to go for the "secret menu" option of a 5-pass cleaning (did you read the manual!?), and just looking at it after it was done (some 5 minutes later) it looked shiny and brand new again—but that can be deceptive. Time to have a listen. I chose to use the Triplanar 12" tone-arm with Transfiguration Phoenix cartridge on my Triangle Art Signature table, and immediately what I noticed was less run-in noise which is near impossible to get rid of because it's usually just part of the pressing... but no. I actually thought I forgot to un-mute my preamp! I stood up to have a look and before I could notice, I heard the intro to "So Far Away" and was flabbergasted. Less noise, more music. More dynamics…

So yeah, what I can tell you is, if you buy this machine (which is highly recommended), you will be spending more money on vinyl. Only because now you have a magic box with a red button on it (remember that Twilight Zone episode?!) that can mysteriously clean records to perfection (well, it can't fix physical damages and such, duh).

Don't believe in magic? Fine. Party pooper. It uses a proprietary cleaning agent that has all of the fun chemicals in it (no alcohol though) including a surfactant which makes the water "wetter". That mix, combined with soft brushes, a squeegee, and ultrasonic cavitation, creates a record so clean you can eat off of it! (Not recommended.) To top it all off though, the grand finale is the drying process. Yes, this one is a tad noisy, but this allows you to listen to the record immediately after it's done! Screw those drying racks and time wasters. This is where it's at.

I will admit though that due to the noise of the drying fans, I relocated the unit into a different part of my home so that I could continue to listen to music while cleaning. This cleaning process has reconnected me to my music which I think is a good thing! It also opened up new avenues of buying records second-hand. It's also a cool party trick for friends that come over – "feel free to bring your ugly records, I can make them cool again!" and then we also get to listen to them again.

It's amazing how much detail is stored on a vinyl record which you won't even notice unless it's cleaned. Let me also say this, that I also now am in the habit of cleaning NEW records—you would be surprised how much gunk comes out of them from the over-worked pressing plants. Those only get a 1 pass cleaning though. So, yeah, the machine is a bit expensive, but consider it an investment not only to your record collection, but your sanity, and most important, TIME! As far as I'm aware, no one has created a machine yet to get that back. Still trying to find me that special DeLorean. For now, it will be the Audio Desk Systeme for me.

Audio Desk Systeme

Retail: $4499

Optional color (Red / White / Black) - $99

7" Vinyl Kit - $399.95

Ultra Systems