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With the New Record Doctor X, Your Vinyl Cleans Up Nicely!

04-20-2024 | By Juan C. Ayllon | Issue 132

As widely noted, for the second year in a row in 2023, vinyl record sales topped compact disc sales in the U.S.—this time by a whopping $43 million, or about six million more than total CD sales last year (popsci.com). This point recently hit home personally when my wife, Belle, said that her hipster boss in Human Resources told her that she and her husband love vinyl, listen to it all the time, and are dying to hear it on my system. That was a new one for me, but okay!

"The so-called vinyl resurgence blossomed into a full-blown, thriving category with more music lovers returning to the format every day," says Steve Niemi, Director of Global Sales at Pangea Audio, LLC. Enter their new Record Doctor X. "Record Doctor X gives this growing audience a super-efficient, cost-effective tool for cleaning and preserving records for years of listening pleasure." 

For the most part, my vinyl cleaning ritual consists of applying a carbon fiber brush to an LP on my turntable and wiping the stylus with a makeup brush. Occasionally, I will squirt some record cleaning fluid onto a dirty record and wipe it with a Corduroy-covered cleaning pad. However, with my recent renewed interest in vinyl, I have begun exploring turntables, accessories, and cleaning products more closely.

Around that time, a press release of Pangea's new and improved record cleaner caught my attention. The new Record Doctor X features the same vacuum motor and cleaning strip as current models, it read, but with the added benefit of a vacuum swing arm that vacuums the top surface while the bottom is vacuumed via a slot under the strip. It continued, "In addition, the new model includes a bi-directional rotation motor, alleviating the need to turn the record by hand, and a screw-on five-inch clamp that safely secures and protects the record." 

Image generated with AI ∙ February 23, 2024

That sounded handy. Several years ago, I reached out to the maker of another inexpensive record-cleaning vacuum application, but it called for the procurement and assembly of a laundry list of additional hardware and a small shop vac. I ended up purchasing the vacuum, which we sometimes use to clean our cars, and the odd spill, but I never got around to finishing the tedious project! Add that to my growing list of things to do in my retirement years.

Regardless, for over 20 years, their Record Doctor vacuum cleaning machines have blended convenience, efficiency, and value, Niemi offered. "Record Doctor X continues the tradition while offering a giant leap forward in terms of convenience and overall ease of use." Their flagship record cleaner, like previous iterations, features a compact cabinet with a built-in storage tank for easy removal of used record cleaning fluids, but also adds a powerful dual-directional motor, their oversized screw-down clamp that protects the record label, and a brand new vacuum swing arm. The new Record Doctor X comes in carbon-fiber vinyl or high-gloss black.

Intrigued, I reached out to Pangea's press rep for a review sample. 

About Pangea Audio Distributing, LLC 

Founded in 2002 and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pangea Audio™ Distributing, LLC designs, manufactures, and distributes high-value audio brands. Pangea Audio is dedicated to bringing the world fine audio at sensible prices. From cables to record care, to Vulcan™ audio furniture, all Pangea Audio brands represent the ideal combination of style, value, and reliability.


The instructions that come with the Record Doctor X are simple, and setup takes maybe five minutes. Unpacking and reading the instructions with their large graphics, carefully setting the chassis on a stable surface, inserting the spring-loaded vacuum swing arm, and plugging in the power cord is pretty easy.


Before long, I am securing an LP onto its spindle with the screw-down clamp, squirting fluid onto the topside of the album, powering on the motor, and spreading the fluid over its surface with the provided goat hair brush. After three rotations, I click the rocker switch, reverse direction, spreading the fluid for another three rotations. I unscrew the clamp, flip the record over, secure it again, and repeat. 

Afterward, I unscrew the clamp, flip the record over, and secure it. But this time, I turn on the vacuum, lower the vacuum swing arm onto the record, toggle the motor in one direction for three rotations, turn off the vacuum (which automatically pops the swing arm up), reverse the motor, turn on the vacuum, re-lower the swing arm, and let 'er rip for another three rotations. When that side finished, I turn off the vacuum and motor, unscrew the clamp, and repeat this process for the other side. I now have a gleaming, clean record!

The PS Audio Aspen FR-10 Loudspeakers, which were in for review, were used in this evaluation (you can view my reference system by clicking on my name in the byline)

Overall, I find this cleaning process a snap. That said, I would caution you to take care with the vacuum swing arm, as it popped up and out of its socket several times when the vacuum was turned off, or failed to lock down fully into place (note: I was assured this was an anomaly and may have been an issue specific to the review sample). Also, like other similar products, the sound of the vacuum was pretty loud, so if you have sensitive ears, you might employ earplugs when running it. That said, I found the experience fairly easy, trouble-free, and gratifying. 

The Ortofon MC Cadenza Bronze cartridge, connected to the Audio-Creative GrooveMaster 3 Tonearm via the Korf HS-A02 Headshell makes beautiful music with records cleaned with the Record Doctor X. 

A Clean Sweep

I am reminded of the afterglow of a weekly, hot summer's bath during my grade school years; with the grit and grime removed, the results seem so clean and fresh! While it won't eliminate all the clicks and pops of a scratched record, the Record Doctor X does a nice job of removing dust, tiny particles, and contaminants, lowering the noise floor and resulting in a higher fidelity experience.

For example, my scratchy copy of Donavan's Sunshine Superman album that I picked up used at an audio shop sounded recognizable, but tinny and pretty bad with its frequent clicks and pops. Were it not for the sentimental attachment to that long-lost album of youth, I'd have probably tossed it and stuck to streaming it on Qobuz. No doubt, the fidelity wasn't the greatest with this pop recording, however, after cleaning it with the Record Doctor X, I was surprised at the improvement! The vocals sounded a touch warmer, the noise floor lowered a smidgen, and it sounded more like a live performance than staticky AM radio. 

With better vinyl, the improvement was even more gratifying. 

The textures of Michael Franks' soft tenor shines more resplendent in "Dear Little Nightingale," and the glowing embers of Leon Pendarvis' keyboard, the tickle of Steve Gadd's tapped snare and cymbals, and the assuring caress of John Tropea's guitar warm ones soul. The lush blend of analog warmth, detail, and tone enchants with less distraction, courtesy of the thorough cleanse of the Record Doctor X (Michael Franks, Burchfield Nines. Vinyl. Warner Brothers, 1978). 

Keyboardist Don Grolnick lays down a pad in B minor as Marcus Miller eases into a quiet, contemplative precision bass solo. Miller's right hand tickles the bass strings as deft ebony fingers on his left bend them in intricate patterns on the fretboard with increasing rapidity as drummer Buddy Williams keeps time on Hi-Hat and bass drum. It's the opening moments of David Sanborn's live recording of "Run for Cover" (David Sanborn. Straight to the Heart. Warner Brothers, October 2, 1984).

Suddenly, Miller's right hand "pops"—or pulls the bass strings away from the fretboard and quickly releases it, snapping it back into the board—and drops into a blazing thumb-slap fest! Williams joins in with loud cracks of his snare in four/four time as the crowd cheers and claps, with Sanborn and Grolnick leading, as Miller holds court with his sizzling solo. Then, the rich, resonant, and bright tone of Sanborn's alto sax's melodic wail cuts through the drums, bass, percussion, keys, and guitar to take the lead. One of the gems on this 1986 Grammy-winning LP for Best Jazz Fusion Performance, this song is even more gratifying with the increased clarity afforded by the Record Doctor X! The vinyl's luscious, rounded, and full-fleshed waveforms, the balance of textural detail and tone, as rendered by the Ortofon MC Cadenza Bronze cartridge affixed to a GrooveMaster 3 tonearm with a Korf HS-A02 ceramic headshell—shines unencumbered with the elimination of tiny particulate matter.

Concluding Thoughts

For its convenience, ease of use, affordability, and excellent cleansing properties, I give the Record Doctor X a "Thumbs Up"! Pangea Audio has picked another winner to add to its stable of high-performance, high-value audio accessories. If you need an excellent and economically-priced record-cleaning device, it's a tool worthy of your consideration. 

Record Doctor X

Retail: $599.95

Pangea Audio Distributing LLC