Positioning itself as a midrange product, Paul Rigby exhaustively critiques the Kirmuss KA-RC-1 ultrasonic vinyl report cleaner. That is Half Certainly one of a two half evaluation.
Rising in reputation, the ultrasonic report cleaner is turning into a vital a part of many vinyl fan’s armoury. I’ve used each variant of vinyl cleansing recognized to man (guide and machine-based) and have discovered ultrasonic know-how to be the simplest and environment friendly on the market. I exploit any such Document Cleansing Machine (RCM) on a everyday foundation.
So what’s ultrasonic cleansing, precisely?
The overall concept is to dip your vinyl into a shower of distilled water (not low sufficient to moist the label, in fact). That disc is slowly, mechanically rotated.
Constructed-in, bath-fixed transducers improve strain and vibration within the water producing hundreds of thousands of rising bubbles that stretch and compress. The frequency of the transducers decide how giant the bubbles develop into. Their structural integrity fails they usually collapse…violently. If this occurs close to vinyl grooves, they may agitate and take away surrounding particles. This is called cavitation. Any surfactant (a substance to decrease water’s floor rigidity) added to the world attracts additional bubbles.
Kirmuss has taken three years to develop the KA-RC-1, specializing in a specific ultrasonic frequency for vinyl cleansing, the right peak to carry the report within the tub, creating an efficient surfactant and extra.
The primary time I noticed the KA-RC-1, it was on the North West Audio Present on the Devere Cranage Property in Cheshire, final Summer time. I need to dwell on this event somewhat as a result of it has a bearing on the product, the corporate itself and this evaluation.
My first view of Kirmuss as an organization was its staffer bedecked in a white coat. I needed to smile at this. I assumed, “Hello, what do we have here, then?” The coat might have been worn to instil confidence however that kind of adornment triggers the other from myself. Then I noticed the machine, it appeared cumbersome and gawky but the feature-rich chassis was intriguing, as was the lengthy and concerned cleansing course of. So I interviewed the corporate there after which.
In the course of the interview, Kirmuss talked lots of sense and it was usually informative. And but, there have been additionally points that obtained in the best way. Aside from the pantomime white coat there was additionally the self-aggrandising, self-mythologising and self-promotion. I used to be always dragging the interviewee again to the purpose. I’m positive Kirmuss solely needed to be informative nevertheless it additionally appeared like Kirmuss was revealing massive Dan Brown-type secrets and techniques beforehand hidden, warning of horrible risks and pointing a trembling, damning finger at my document assortment whereas stating that the one probability I ever have of reaching analogue nirvana and fairly probably additionally surviving to my subsequent birthday was by way of using a KA-RC-1. Principally, the spiel was simply an excessive amount of.
I wasn’t the one individual there who felt like he had simply confronted a man who was promoting a potion off the again of a wagon that was assured to offer lengthy life, improve my attractiveness to the other intercourse and remedy my dodgy knee…and all I needed to do is pay him some cash for the privilege. This market stall-approach to promotion was and isn’t the norm within the hi-fi business. And never in a great way. And so my hackles have been up and alarm bells rang.
Greater than that, I felt that the corporate desperately wanted (and nonetheless wants) knowledgeable PR and advertising group to behave as a conduit and buffer between it and the general public/press. Typically corporations need assistance when making an attempt to convey a message to the press and public. Kirmuss wants such assist.
That thought would proceed and intensify, as you will notice under. However, I continued to point out curiosity.
Later, as a result of I additionally write for the UK news-stand, nationwide journal HiFi World, I used to be given the chance to assessment the factor. I appreciated it too (and Kirmuss has wasted no time in plastering my feedback on its web site). The issue with print journal evaluations is the restricted deadline time it’s a must to absolutely examine the product. Which is why, even should you’ve learn that print journal assessment, you need to actually ignore it and press the reset button in your reminiscences. Since then, I’ve given this machine many weeks of additional analysis and found many new areas that you ought to be conscious of, in addition to enterprise further unbiased analysis and interviews, all of that are listed under and wish digesting.
This can be a huge assessment however I don’t apologise for that. This product is necessary as a result of it’s the primary ultrasonic RCM to significantly look to bridge the hole between the DIY cheapo machines and the excessive finish, tremendous costly fashions. It additionally has a number of choices and potential that wants investigation with many further, probably contentious options that require cautious thought.
MANUAL & WEBSITE
The choices I discussed are all described within the accompanying Eight-sided, A5 guide, replete with illustrations.
The issue with this? The guide is a multitude. It’s poorly deliberate and laid out, it’s complicated, grammar is a secondary concern and there’s no sense of guiding the consumer by way of a graduated strategy of schooling.
Sure, the early elements of the guide have a semblance of order however that shortly degenerates right into a complicated combination of vinyl and document format historical past plus How To… directions unfold over the guide and numerous paper dietary supplements.
The web site (www.kirmussaudio.com) retains this haphazard fashion with a scarcity of design thought, spelling errors and grammatical points plus the insertion of large blocks of complicated white area positioned within the centre of every web page.
Therefore, the general impression from the general public demo routine, the guide and the web site just isn’t a superb one. They provide the impression that you simply’ve simply walked into novice night time. Once more, there’s a necessity for skilled PR and advertising assist right here.
And the rationale I’m telling you all of this? As a result of, confronted with the above (and also you may need been sooner or later), it’s straightforward to be discouraged. Stick to this product, although. It’s value investing effort and time into the KA-RC-1. It won’t be the magical pressure that Kirmuss infers however there’s a strong product on supply right here.
As you possibly can see from the accompanying photographs, the chassis is a low-and-long design that, sadly, calls for a good quantity of footprint. Many different ultrasonic cleaners consumer a vertical design that minimises the quantity of area.
One other draw back? The KA-RC-1 chassis additionally seems to be like a toy. There’s even an ill-advised cartoon graphic caught on the aspect to emphasize the Toys R Us really feel. One which I might take away 30 seconds after eradicating the chassis from the field, to be frank. Once I first unpacked the KA-RC-1, I truly seemed for the Nintendo emblem. The KA-RC-1 chassis is even bedecked in that basic Nintendo grey shade.
Kirmuss gained’t volunteer the knowledge however this chassis shouldn’t be their very own, it’s purchased in. Different, non-hi-fi, third social gathering corporations additionally use the identical chassis as a primary ultrasonic cleaner. Once I requested concerning the tub, Kirmuss revealed that it had approached the producer and modified the unique design to go well with its personal functions. Therefore, Kirmuss has invested in its personal bespoke, vinyl-centric prime plate part and has eliminated the temperature/heating choices. The chassis usually arrives with its personal inner basket to carry gadgets for cleansing. That has been eliminated however might be purchased again from Kirmuss if you need the KA-RC-1 to wash different, non-vinyl gadgets in its chassis.
In fact, not creating its personal chassis is how Kirmuss has been capable of keep a comparatively low worth for its RCM.
I do just like the built-in handles on the chassis of the KA-RC-1. Different ultrasonic cleaners overlook that you should transfer cleaners round on a semi-regular foundation throughout cleansing and refilling. I all the time really feel that I’m about to drop my Audio Desk RCM, for instance. With out built-in handles, accidents threaten. Kirmuss has the best concept right here.
The bathtub system makes use of six litres of distilled water as the idea of its cleansing course of, which is lots. Competing techniques (just like the Audio Desk) typically use so much much less – 4 litres is widespread – so that you’re going to be spending just a little extra money on distilled water with the Kirmuss. This isn’t such an enormous deal, although as a result of distilled water isn’t, within the grand scheme of issues, that costly.
The rear of the KA-RC-1 chassis contains a energy cable and rocker energy change. The appropriate aspect is the place the outlet pipe is located, permitting the exit of tub water throughout cleansing, with the assistance of a provided add-on flexi-tube. The entrance sees a sturdy valve change to open/shut that pipe. I examined each they usually work with no points.
The highest-right options the cleansing controls and readout. The latter retains a monitor of the countdown throughout a specific course of, beneath the clock is a set of lights indicating the method underway in addition to a colour-coded temperature gauge. Underneath which might be buttons to vary the cleansing time (78s, for instance, solely want two minutes of ultrasonic cleansing whereas vinyl requires the default 5 minutes).
Beneath these are two additional buttons. The primary is to set the ultrasonic cleansing in movement. The second is a degass (aka Pulse) button to take away latent bubbles inside the distilled water. Reportedly, de-gassing makes the water tub a extra unified physique of water, enhancing cleansing effectivity. With out it, says Kirmuss, the cavitation course of spends half its time eradicating the bubbles within the water, as an alternative of concentrating on cleansing your vinyl.
After filling the KA-RC-1 tub with distilled water, I used to be requested to degass the water twice, a course of that took simply over 90 seconds every. Kirmuss recommends that you simply do that if you first fill the RCM however that you simply also needs to repeat after a number of disc cleans. The sensation being that the water could have been agitated sufficient to supply extraneous bubbles inside the physique of the bathtub liquid content material.
I liked the entire KA-RC-1 Report Meeting Unit idea. The modular nature of this space is sort of sensible and this one space justifies the bigger chassis footprint. For numerous causes. Firstly, it offers a variety of report format choices from the off, as a default. No pricey additional adaptors are required for 7” or 10”/78 data. Each of those codecs are included as a part of the package deal, as are two 12” measurement discs: 4 in all. This can be a welcome choice by Kirmuss to offer the consumer this high quality of selection from the essential package deal.
Greater than that, this Meeting is operated utilizing an virtually clockwork array of belts and cogs. It seems fixable by replaceable elements. It seems to be one thing that, if it broke down, you can truly restore. An idea that’s uncommon these days.
Greater than that, the Meeting is a drop in answer. That’s, the highest meeting loosely matches onto the highest of the bathtub. A brief electrical lead connects to the aspect of the chassis to offer energy to the gearing.
What I would like Kirmuss to do now’s work on a variety of Meeting decisions, to offer numerous format choices. Therefore I’d wish to see Assemblies which you can purchase as further equipment. In my very own thoughts’s eye, they might cater for: 4 12” discs, 4 7” discs, 4 10” discs and an Meeting with half and half (two 12” discs and two 7” discs). After which I would like Kirmuss to supply a rack for all of them, holding a most of 4 Assemblies in order that I can then pull the Meeting I want for that day from my rack, drop it into the KA-RC-1 and off I’m going.
Apparently Kirmuss is engaged on a brand new drop-in unit with an alternate slot association however whether or not Kirmuss will even have the money and wherewithal to fulfil all of those report cleansing fantasies of mine is one other query. It additionally depends upon consumer demand.
That sense of potential flexibility could be very thrilling for somebody who not solely has hundreds of vinyl discs in his assortment however has a variety of codecs sizes to deal with.
There are successfully two KA-RC-1 levels to cleansing a document. Firstly, there’s the lively ultrasonic cavitation course of. Then the document is eliminated and a type of After Care course of is begun. I’ll describe the cleansing course of first. After Care – which is extra vital to this evaluation than you may assume – might be dealt in Half Two.
The usual KA-RC-1 cleansing course of, in accordance with the guide, goes one thing like this.
You insert your report into one of many KA-RC-1 size-compatible slots. You possibly can both change the cleansing time or run with the 5 minute default. The method begins after the highest mounted On/Off change is pressed twice.
After a single clear, for brand spanking new data, Kirmuss needs you to take away it and play the factor there after which.
For used data, Kirmuss advises that you simply place the report on a 7” felt mat (provided, I speak extra about this mat within the After Care part in Half Two) and pump three sprays of Kirmuss’ ‘surfactant’ (additionally provided) across the report. These things apparently helps to melt the muck and dirt however its precept job is to take away floor pressure from the distilled water and cavitation bubbles, permitting the bubbles to get nearer to the grooves to take away groove muck. In impact, it makes the water wetter.
I need to emphasise the significance of a surfactant to this evaluation. This can be a first. It’s the first time that any business firm has promoted such a step in vinyl document cleansing. Basic cleansing liquids are utilized to the report floor, sure, however don’t rely as a result of they’re in impact all-in-one cleansing options and home-made recipes are excluded right here too. I’m speaking a few business, formally promoted system. This can be a first. Different ultrasonic cleaners speak about surfactant use however they typically embrace it as a part of the bathtub liquid. Not as a separate software utilized on to the vinyl floor itself to then be washed off through the secondary cleansing course of.
The surfactant is sprayed round both sides of the document which is then labored into the grooves by a densely bristled brush (once more, extra in Half Two). Again into the bathtub the document goes for an extra 5 minutes of ultrasonics to take away extra gunk and wash off that surfactant. Then out comes the document for the After Care part.
Let’s pause proper right here and backtrack.
Firstly, if Kirmuss is recommending a surfactant in any respect, why shouldn’t you be utilizing it with a brand new document in addition to previous, used data? In any case, the surfactant is meant to reinforce cleansing effectivity, isn’t it? Therefore, I like to recommend using surfactant on new data too.
As for that surfactant, what truly is it? Kirmuss, in its guide, describes the liquid as 1% propane-½-diol or Propylene Glycol, because it’s extra generally recognized. It’s used within the eco-variant of anti-freeze. Don’t panic, although, it’s the stuff which stops anti-freeze truly freezing and is non-aggressive. Propylene Glycol is even utilized in skincare merchandise, in vaping, meals akin to ice cream and it’s additionally in pretend fog you may see within the theatre. Glycol isn’t a surfactant, although. It’s there to, in impact, maintain the surfactant in place and cease the precise surfactant pooling on the vinyl floor. When Kirmuss point out the surfactant within the guide and recommend that it’s merely distilled water and Glycol, that may be a half fact. The precise surfactant ingredient is hidden from view. Kirmuss gained’t speak about it. You’ll be able to inform it’s there as a result of these things has a fragrance and it bubbles up in use. Glycol is greasy and has no odor. I requested Kirmuss on three events to disclose the complete contents of the provided surfactant liquid however it was reluctant to take action. Even once I promised to maintain my mouth shut about their surfactant secrets and techniques. When pushed, it did reveal a somewhat complicated and murky chemical/model identify however refused to provide additional info or hyperlinks. I needed to know extra due to this…
The Propylene Glycol is rated as protected in any paperwork you may learn on the Web. Potential hazards are few and much between and there’s no lengthy lasting points that I might discover inside the paperwork I discovered. That stated, I had a response due to that unknown a part of the liquid, the perfumed surfactant I discussed above.
What occurred was this. In use, when sprayed on the vinyl floor, a small quantity of the spray kicked again and flew upwards from the vinyl floor. Wanting intently, you possibly can truly see this occurring. I then unintentionally breathed the stuff in, it irritated my throat and I flew right into a coughing match. I needed to attain for water to cease coughing. This occurred on 4 or 5 events, instantly after spraying. I did this to make completely positive that there was no different attainable cause for the response (the issues I do for you, eh?) The surfactant was used on older and, I hasten so as to add, model new data.
I reported this to Kirmuss and proprietor Charles Kirmuss replied, “The splash back could have been…something coming off of the record as fungus.” Then he hurriedly quoted info referring to how protected his surfactant liquid was – although I do not know the place the info got here from, had no alternative to double examine it and didn’t know what liquid it referred to. Kirmuss’ assumptions might have had grounds if my handled data have been all previous and had been badly saved however mine weren’t. As I say, some have been even model new, so fungus an infection was uncertain within the excessive. Kirmuss’ scientifically enquiring thoughts additionally didn’t assume to ask any questions of myself. To save lots of him the difficulty, I can inform you that I can react badly to robust perfumes and I assume that was the explanation for my response. Nothing extra. I hope.
Once more, I do know that a PR and advertising group would have dealt with this example higher, would have been extra thorough, much less dismissive and extra supportive.
I belief that that is the one problem when it comes to well being and I assume that, even then, just some individuals with delicate throats can be affected on this approach. That stated, I’d relatively not be respiration these things in in any respect and I used to be. As I say, I might see it lifting off the vinyl floor. It won’t do me any dangerous however it definitely gained’t do me any good, both. The day after my coughing match, I had a barely sore throat. Nothing worse than that, although.
So, what to do? Overlook the KA-RC-1? No, there’s no have to take such drastic steps. As I say, any spray hitting vinyl will rebound upwards in the direction of your face. If you wish to proceed with the Kirmuss-supplied liquid (or should you spray any surfactant of any sort onto any vinyl floor), I’d advocate shopping for a pipette, eye dropper-type bottle from Amazon with a comparatively excessive capability bottle (click on HERE to see extra). It will cease the difficulty of spray getting into the air, retains my good well being (and yours too) and, a further profit, can be extra exact when it comes to software so it gained’t by chance spray throughout your valuable report label.
THE USE OF ALCOHOL
Then we get to the bathtub of distilled water. There’s one thing else included inside the water itself. Kirmuss recommends using Isopropyl alcohol. This isn’t sprayed onto the vinyl, as I say, however added to the precise tub of distilled water. Therefore, your vinyl is cleaned with distilled water, cavitation and alcohol. You could purchase the alcohol your self. It’s not provided. Kirmuss advocate a bottle of 70% alcohol. This liquid is usually labelled as Rubbing Alcohol and arrives in two flavours: pure and ‘tainted’. The latter consists of impurities for security causes, added to make it style fairly dangerous. Some Rubbing Alcohol merchandise are pure, although and that’s what I used within the evaluation. Others are actually labelled as 70% alcohol. The opposite 30% quantity is distilled water. You can, in fact, use much less of the 100% Isopropyl alcohol variant too.
When getting ready the bathtub of liquid for the KA-RC-1, you add 40ml of the 70% answer to the bathtub of distilled water which quantities to zero.43% complete quantity. A really low determine certainly.
The addition of alcohol and its suggestion by Kirmuss might be of main concern to some. It was to me, I’ve to confess, even when solely zero.43% was being added. Thus far, I’ve had a zero tolerance of the stuff. Prior to now, I’ve discovered it to be nasty and aggressive. It may well wreck a vinyl disc.
I’ve examined an LP to destruction with 100% proof Isopropyl alcohol. In these checks, the primary couple of cleans produced a brilliantly clear and open suite of sonics however subsequent cleans produced an more and more edgy and harsh sound, brittle and brilliant in tone. After some time, the LP turned unplayable, such have been the sonic extremes that the alcohol took the sound. The rationale? Melting vinyl and groove injury. I’ll tackle that topic in additional element under.
Suffice to say, I prevented Isopropyl alcohol from that time. I do know loads of individuals who use it now and swear by it and use numerous liquid recipes containing it. Typically 25% or 20% quantity is a standard determine in lots of consumer’s recipes. I used to be nervous, although, as a result of I had no information or figures as to precisely when alcohol prompted injury. What was the boundary, over which injury to vinyl occurred? When did alcohol change, transferring from a pleasant groove-cleaning product to a harmful, ruinous acidic destructor? The place was the road to be crossed? Was it greater than 25%, How about 40%? Perhaps it was 15%? Who is aware of? No-one I ever talked to might inform me for positive. Everybody had an opinion. However no-one truly knew.
As a result of alcohol is so contentious as a cleansing ingredient and since the liquid is a lot on the core of the KA-RC-1, I felt that I needed to study extra about it. How might I actually advocate the KA-RC-1 if I couldn’t belief a key a part of its cleansing course of?
So I undertook prolonged unbiased analysis to seek out out which was unfold over a interval of months. I reached out to the vinyl business as a result of, if anybody would know the solutions then they might, proper?
I approached 5 separate sectors of the vinyl business. I first talked to a UK firm, Transcom, that provides acetate discs to Abbey Street. These discs are constructed from a tender acetate to check a grasp earlier than committing to a full urgent. I talked to a Canadian-based chemist, a woman whose identify I’ll maintain to myself to retain her private privateness, who additionally works regularly with Abbey Street and is aware of vinyl. Subsequent, I talked to Vinyl Manufacturing unit, a UK vinyl urgent plant and the man who runs the place. Based mostly within the UK, this can be a manufacturing unit that really makes vinyl data. Lastly, I talked to the 2 largest producers of vinyl pellets within the UK, one was Dugdales the opposite wished to stay nameless (it’s a nervous and aggressive world, the vinyl pellet enterprise). I’m speaking concerning the uncooked vinyl. The core materials that’s provided to the report urgent plant. Luggage of those pellets are provided to the vinyl urgent plant for processing.
Now, certainly, if these guys didn’t know the reply, then no-one would.
I initially requested these specialists about alcohol however discovered much more than I bargained for – all of it invaluable and interesting and of use to audiophiles. I’ll share a few of this info with you now (Not all, I’m cautious on the ultimate measurement of this more and more giant assessment!) and hope to share extra, for many who could be , later in a separate function.
Crucial conclusion from speaking to all of those business specialists is that no-one, I repeat not one individual I talked to, knew how alcohol affected vinyl. Not in all encompassing and definitive phrases, at any fee. Sure, they informed me that Isopropyl alcohol was a problem when used neat. I knew that already however no-one knew when Isopropyl alcohol truly turned a hazard to vinyl. No-one might inform me at what stage or at what level or at what power Isopropyl alcohol truly attacked vinyl or if repeated use of protected ranges was an issue over time. There are, I used to be informed, no figures. None in any respect. Sure, everybody had a private opinion and the dialog shortly degraded into conjecture however nothing official was provided.
To say that I used to be stunned at this was an understatement. Then I came upon why. The reason being right down to the vinyl itself. You could assume that vinyl is vinyl is vinyl. PVC, eh? No. In reality, removed from it. Vinyl data usually are not comprised of a single substance. The vinyl in your assortment is created from a recipe of chemical compounds. Solely a type of is PVC. There’s between 4 and 10 parts to anybody vinyl recipe.
One contact I talked to had many recipes, able to go at anybody time, “We have around six difference black record formulations we make depending on the state of the [pressing] machines but that can increase if the presser wants something ‘a little softer’, for example.” The “state of the machines” refers to age and put on and tear and if the urgent machines differ in strain and the like. In order that’s at the least six (perhaps extra) several types of vinyl recipe from this one firm right here and as we speak. However there’s extra, my contact’s firm has modified the recipe of its vinyl pellets over time.
One of many supposed devastating results that Isopropyl alcohol has on a vinyl document is to distort the plasticiser with it. The bit the helps the grooves retain their type. Everybody I’ve ever talked to within the hi-fi business believes that plasticiser is and all the time has been a part of a vinyl document. Now I discover that it’s simply not so, at the least not solely, “There is no plasticiser added in our formulations,” stated my contact, “other companies might add them but we stay away from them as they distort the record if the balance isn’t right and depending on what it is, the surface finish would be hazy and not crisp and glossy.”
Different chemical compounds have come and gone too. This provides to the variations within the vinyl recipe. If one firm requires six vinyl recipes at anybody time then, as above, replaces the plasticiser to create one other new recipe (so, that’s six new recipes obtainable each day), then modifications extra chemical compounds (one other six variants multiplied by the modifications) and retains doing that over the many years, think about what number of several types of vinyl there are available on the market from that one provider alone? And when you’ve got a special mixtures of chemical compounds making up vinyl disc, it is sensible that alcohol will react in another way to every, sure?
There’s multiple firm on the market making vinyl pellets to create vinyl discs, although. And it’s a extremely aggressive enterprise. Every firm lives and dies by its personal bespoke recipe, “…every compounding company will have their own formulations and ingredients, there is no set formulation,” stated my contact.
If each firm has its personal secret method, what number of corporations are there on the earth creating uncooked vinyl? My contact stated, “I would say, including us, there is around 40 to 50. Could be wrong but Asia have a load and the US have loads as well.” After which going again into historical past? What about these corporations who don’t even exist any extra?
Simply what number of variations are there precisely? No-one is aware of. It’s an inconceivable determine to think about. What’s solely potential is that there are lots of, extra like hundreds of several types of vinyl on the market. You may play 20 vinyl data out of your assortment and it’s attainable that each single one is constructed from utterly totally different vinyl recipes. Or not. Who is aware of? Due to that, every vinyl disc, theoretically, will react in another way to cleansing with alcohol.
So what to do? I made a decision to place my worry of alcohol to at least one aspect and full a sound check with and with out alcohol.
Earlier than I get to that, a phrase about alcohol and 78s. Kirmuss advocate that you simply clear 78s in its tub containing zero.43% alcohol. Most 78 customers are informed that alcohol ought to by no means contact a 78 disc. Kirmuss says that the 78 discs won’t be broken as a result of the cleansing cycle is ‘only’ two minutes lengthy and the discs aren’t uncovered for lengthy within the tiny quantity of alcohol contained within the water tub. I didn’t have an opportunity to check this due to restricted time, I’m afraid however you will have been warned.
SOUND TEST 1
I started the primary KA-RC-1 sound check exams with a Richie Havens unique launch. The LP, One thing Else Once more and a monitor referred to as From The Jail. The monitor possessed a continuing stream of noise that sat beneath the vocals.
I undertook the sound checks, initially, by the Kirmuss guide however included no alcohol as a part of the bathtub of distilled water. So I firstly inserted the vinyl into the KA-RC-1 to melt up the muck and filth within the grooves, ran by means of a single, 5 minute, ultrasonic cavitation cleansing course of, took out the LP, utilized the spray-on surfactant to the LP (to melt up the muck some extra) and cleaned it off with one other cavitation clear.
Sonically, I observed a dramatic discount in noise. Some noise might nonetheless be heard however the general impact was a lot improved with sonics additionally benefitting from being smoother, much less edgy and with an informative midrange.
I made a decision to provide the identical report a further surfactant spray and one other ultrasonic/cavitation software, once more with out alcohol as a part of the bathtub contents. The noise decreased nonetheless additional whereas sound high quality improved once more. Readability improved whereas additional air and area was heard throughout the soundstage.
I did discover a mucky construct up on my stylus tip. So I attempted a 3rd time. I sprayed extra surfactant, cleaned that off with one other cavitation cycle and performed the document. It was this third software that I realised that I’d hit a little bit of a wall and no additional sonic enhancements have been occurring.
At this level I added the alcohol to the water, degassed the KA-RC-1 liquid tub once more and repeated the cleansing course of. Extra discount in noise occurred. What remained was very low degree, principally heard between tracks and on the very starting of the LP. This might simply have been age and vinyl put on.
What actually hit me, although, was the sonics. The impact was, how can I put it, much less, “Oh that was nice.” And slightly extra, “Wow!” The minor ranges of alcohol are alleged to act as a “grease remover” and that sense of a veil being lifted from proper throughout the frequency vary was definitely heard right here. Focus, precision and readability have been all enhanced as was a slight improve in achieve. Haven’s voice was enhanced when it comes to the feel and gravel-like nature of his crescendos whereas his acoustic guitar was highly effective and expressive throughout his highly effective strumming routines.
I did discover a tiny deposit on the stylus tip so perhaps the document might have finished with one final clear (see the After Care part in Half Two for extra on this). I made a decision to go away that, having glad myself of the improved sonic qualities.
As an alternative, at this level, I took the report out of the KA-RC-1 and ‘cleaned’ the identical document in my Audio Desk ultrasonic cleaner. The latter featured bespoke Audio Desk liquid inside. No alcohol was current within the Audio Desk RCM.
I then performed that very same Havens’ cleaned document on my reference system and I’ve to say that, in comparison with the KA-RC-1, a skinny veil had now newly appeared over the music as soon as extra. The sound high quality was nonetheless wonderful, a lot of element and so forth – this wasn’t a catastrophe I used to be listening to by any means. So, let’s not get carried away. That stated, there was a dulling, a muting of the highest finish and a scarcity of pleasure across the vocal supply. String plucks lacked that natural tonality that I used to be listening to earlier than. The KA-RC-1 naturalism had largely gone or, at the least, had been softened and restrained. Virtually as if a skinny layer of one thing had coated the grooves.
I then took the document out of the Audio Desk and cleaned that very same document as soon as extra with the KA-RC-1 RCM and the eagerness come again, so did the dynamic attain, the mids opened up permitting area and air inside the soundstage as soon as extra, tonality was enhanced, the reverb ‘ring’ off the again of the strummed guitar strings was extra evident now and the vocal was much more expressive…even the achieve elevated.
The revelation was absolute. The shock or moderately aftershocks of this check have been unquestionable.
But there was a single variable that was confirmed to be liable for this sonic change. Alcohol. No less than alcohol enhanced by the ultrasonic motion – and I feel the latter is essential right here. Keep in mind, solely a tiny portion of alcohol was used however this one issue (at the side of the ultrasonic motion) was key to the change in sonics. As much as the addition of the alcohol, I felt that the efficiency of the KA-RC-1 and the Audiodesk have been roughly on par when it comes to sound. That’s, sound high quality was excellent certainly when it comes to sonics and the removing of noise, pops and clicks. These bodily obstructions had been lowered by each machines to an identical degree.
That, in itself, was an intriguing discover as a result of the Kirmuss was attaining roughly the identical anti-noise efficiency for round half the worth.
However, it was the the addition of the alcohol (plus ultrasonics) that was giving me the addition of the sonic raise, eradicating that dulling veil throughout your complete soundstage. The alcohol was the necessary a part of the recipe that elevated sound high quality.
At this level, I’ll finish Half One in every of this check of the KA-RC-1 RCM. Please don’t draw too many conclusions from this one Sound Check – there’s extra to return and the story modifications. I hope to see you for Half Two which incorporates the After Care part, extra direct exams with the Audio Desk RCM plus a couple of instructed tweaks to hone the efficiency of the Kirmuss (and the Audio Desk) and that ultimate score.