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Record Doctor VI

02-06-2023 | By Francisco Duran | Issue 125

If any audio product should be standard issue, the lowly record cleaner certainly qualifies for that status. If you play records, they need cleaning. If you buy new or used records, they need cleaning. Yes even new ones need a once over with a good old record cleaner. Of course I have talked to people who think that the "pops and ticks" of playing records adds to the nostalgia of its inherent sound. Whaaat? (sound of needle dragging over record) I missed something there on that last statement. So without further ado, I give you the Record Doctor VI.

Personally I need no convincing that all records are inherently dirty and need a spin on a good cleaning machine. My machine of choice is a Clearaudio Smart Matrix. This unit differs slightly from the Record Doctor VI, but otherwise cleans with the basic design principle. Record cleaning machines can go from under a hundred dollars to multi-thousands of dollars and cover several design methods of cleaning. The Record Doctor VI is a wet and dry unit. To clean, place a record on this nicely built rectangular machine, on the label sized platter. Spread the cleaning fluid on the record with the nicely built record brush. Turn the record over and spin the record manually with another thick label sized platter that looks like a big plastic knob that you put on the record. It both covers the label to protect it and lets you easily grip the cover disk to turn the record. Turn on the suction and spin your records clean. Flip it over and do the same thing for the other side. The four-inch slot directly under the record with the 260,000 ultra-fine bristles on either side of the slot gently scrubs the record while the powerful suction from the slot dries and pulls the residue from the record.

The difference between my Clearaudio unit and the Record Doctor VI is that an arm tube with the nylon brush lined suction slot hangs over the record like a turntables arm. The Clearaudio unit also has a strong motor to spin its twelve-inch platter both ways that the record sits on. There are some models that have a suction wand above and below the record. Very cool. The Clearaudio works very well for a nylon bristle/suction unit. It cleans my used record purchases quite thoroughly making them more listenable. But if a record does not thoroughly come clean the first time, it gets washed a few more times till it passes inspection. If the nylon bristles get debris on them, I simply brush them clean with an old stylus brush.

Cavitation cleaners are another story. I have seen and heard results with them on seemingly hopelessly dirty used records do wonders. They clean way into the groove without scrubbing brushes. They use scrubbing bubbles. The trouble with cavitation cleaners is that they are either really expensive or Rube Goldberg affairs. (Remember him?) The less expensive ones usually have the purchaser first buy a generic cavitation cleaner of their choice. Then one has to buy some kind of contraption to actually suspend the record(s) in the fluid, spin them and dry them.

The Record Doctor VI comes with a built-in powerful, high performance vacuum motor, changeable Vinyl protecting felt cleaning strips, a clean sweep brush, cleaning solution, and a hand-held record turner. It has high quality roller bearings, an aluminum top plate for strength, a six-foot power cord, weighs ten pounds, and very nicely built. Does it work?

Absolutely! We cleaned a number of records. Some that were used purchases. Some that were previously cleaned quite some time back, and a new one. We braved it and played portions of tracks on each record briefly before and after to confirm what we heard. The Record Doctor VI cleaned the used records to quite a good degree. We were surprised. The previously cleaned records and the new one we felt got cleaned up a bit in spots we thought were already cleaned. With the exception of the spinning motor on my Clearaudio Smart Matrix this unit came pretty darn close to my reference in its performance. I will be honest, when I first took it out of the box, I thought due to the fact that you had to manually hand wind this unit it wouldn't perform as good as my reference. I was wrong. Need a very good record cleaner but don't want to spend a lot of money. This is it.

Record Doctor VI

Retail: $299.95

Pangea Audio Distributing

5500 Executive Pkwy SE

Grand Rapids, Mi USA 49512