Sales of vinyl records have been steadily rising over the last few years, attracting new listeners to the format as well as prompting music lovers to dust off their collections again and start spinning. And the issue of dust can be a real problem.
Startup VinylSonic is looking to clean up with an ultrasonic machine and a style-matched minimalist turntable.
Dislodging grime on the surface and in the grooves of vinyl records by slowly spinning them in a bath of water excited by ultrasound is by no means a new idea, but the VinylSonic solution that’s currently raising production funds on Kickstarter is not only an attractive one but also offers cleaning/drying flexibility.
It accommodates one 12-inch record at a time – though 7- and 10-inch vinyl can also be cleaned using the supplied supports. The user pours distilled water into the slot up top and then pops the record in so that the edges come into contact with motorized rollers inside that gently turn the disc at 3 RPM.
There are two 40-kHz ultrasonic cleaning cycles available via illuminated buttons at the side (2 or 5 minutes) and two drying modes (5 or 10 minutes), but combined cleaning/drying sessions can also be set up for convenience.
The device comes with a water level marker to prevent overfilling, which could result in labels being submerged in the activated water bath and potentially causing damage. Confusingly though, animations on the campaign page do show the label being submerged as well.
Once the process is complete, the record is removed from the machine for returning to its sleeve or playback on a turntable. The ultrasonic cleaner has a built-in cooling fan to allow the device to be used continuously for up to 5 hours. Built-in mesh and cotton filters remove the dirt from the distilled water, which its makers say allow the water to be reused by pulling out the removable tank and pouring it back in the bath.
VinylSonic has also designed a matching turntable to play those cleaned records, though detailed specs are not given. It rocks its own built-in speaker as well as RCA outputs for cabling to a hi-fi system. Bluetooth connectivity is also cooked in, along with a USB computer/laptop interface that presumably allows for the digitization of collections.
The tonearm sports a moving magnet cartridge at the business end with a diamond stylus, and doesn’t appear to allow for height or weighting adjustments. VinylSonic says that the platter automatically starts to spin at the selected 33/45/78 rpm speed as the user grabs the tonearm for manual positioning, and stops when the tonearm is raised.
Kickstarter time-limited early bird pledge levels for the VinylSonic ultrasonic cleaner on its own start at US$149, while the turntable on its own comes in at $139. Backers can opt for the complete package with cleaner and turntable for $259. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in December.