An Introduction to the Restoration of Old Vinyl Records at Home

Ultrasonic Cleaner

The weakest point of the chain of recording is the sound source. A good sound source can save you from tedious jobs of editing. Vinyl records are full of pops and clicks due to dust and dirt. Cleaning is very tedious and sometimes very futile. After lots of investigation through the internet, I finally made the right decision and bought an ultrasonic cleaner for the vinyl cleaning. Ultrasounds of 40MHz causes explosive bubbles in hot water in 30-40 deg-C. These bubbles help cleaning out the hard-to-reach dirts from the groove lines. Because the vinyl can be wrap after hot bathing for some time, the water temperature should be kept below 40 deg-C. Thanks to this technology, a medium dirty vinyl record can be cleaned in 5 minutes with very good result.

A small ultrasonic cleaner with heat bath.  This model is more than enough for washing eyewear glasses. Water temperature can be adjusted up to 60 deg-C. The device attached by suction cups on the right side of the wall is an aquarium water filter. I add this because I am too lazy to change water frequently. The water should be as pure as possible. Distilled water is preferred but in order to reduce cost, I use RO water (reverse osmosis) which is virtually free when you have already installed one for filtering dirt for drinking water. This ultrasonic cleaner alone is 350USD in Taiwan (Distributor's price is 295USD) which is about the price of a vinyl cleaner on market. However, if you investigate carefully before buying, you would make the same decision like me.
This is seen when the water is cold.
This is seen when the water is warmed up. When the aquarium water filter is started, the water starts rippling and indirectly aids the formation of more vacuum bubbles. These bubbles explode themselves with micro-shock waves to break off the dirts attached on the grooves which is hard to be reached even when you try with strong detergent. 

The more the heat you apply, the more vacuum bubbles appear. However, please take care not to over-heat for too long so as to deform the vinyl.

A birdeye's  view to the vinyl cleaning. See the bubbles on the vinyl and the rippling water surface.
Five minutes is alright for me to clean an LP. I would let it dry on my self-made record holding device if I don't play it immediately or place the LP vertically elsewhere for drip-drying. Sometimes, I use soft clothe to wipe it dry at once for immediate use.

The next few pages are somewhat complicated in dealing with the Cool Edit Pro and some preparation processed in a batch rather than individual jobs. Be patient.

NEXT PAGE: How to do the sound editing (2. Bit Depath & Sampling Rate)

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