"It even tells you how many records you’ve cleaned and when to change the filter.
by Mike Blake
My dreadful attention to electronic media was raised recently by my talented website designer, Renee. On at me for almost forever, she persuaded me to contemplate thinking about writing something on audio.
This is challenging to an amateur writer and more so to one who requires inspiration.
The day after this neglect was brought to my attention a box arrived from Estonia. “Only one?” I asked the courier man. He looked at me blankly and Kantha (aka Daisy) (my PA and brain for the last 26 years) took control.
I was dismissed to the “naughty corner”.
“The others are coming on Monday,” Kantha told me later.
It entered my head. “No wonder shipping costs are so high. Why make one trip when you can divide them up?”.
I looked at the box for 24 hours thinking that inside that box was technology. Technology makes me feel inferior so we don’t get along at all well. I knew it had technology as it has a slot for downloading software updates and other things off the internet. Finally plucked up the courage on Saturday afternoon and took another look at the box.
I’ll read the manual I thought and so slit the sealing tape and peered into the box. Looks pretty simple, I thought but no manual. Like so many manufacturers of today the manuals are available off the manufacturer’s website, so easy enough. But thirty six pages! Good grief that’s a lot of reading… I pushed “print” hoping the Big Brother green police weren’t watching, and returned to the box.
A cleaner, a water tank,filters, fluid concentrate and a few bits and pieces.
I placed the simple looking device on the specially allotted worktop space and plugged it into the wall socket. So far so good.
It took me a minute or two to speed read the essential stuff in the newly printed manual and get going.
Distilled water, push “Degas” then add 2ml of cleaner to the tank. Two buttons to push and rotate to select the desired cleaning intensity time and other fine tuning issues via a neat display. It even tells you how many records you’ve cleaned and when to change the filter.
First up to clean was a pristine first pressing of a brilliant album by a ‘70s group, “Rare Bird” which had just arrived from my winning bid on eBay in the UK.
It had played well enough without any cleaning with very few clicks and pops. To the eye it looked clean, shiny with very little spindle wear, as advertised on the auction site.
I popped it into the cleaner pushed one or two buttons and rotated them to see what happened. Choices in cleaning time, fan time and clean intensity were offered, amongst other things which I would get back to “tomorrow”. I pushed “heavy wash” and watched.
That simple. The tank filled from the reservoir and the cleaning commenced.
Whilst it did its job I sat back with an espresso and listened to Tommy by The Who. Also a first pressing and one that had been cleaned with a vacuum cleaning machine. I know this album very well. A great record and inspiration raced into my head for “Part 2” News Article.
The Degritter worked quietly in the background on “Rare Bird” and I pretty much ignored it. Fan speed being adjustable was set to “Quiet” mode.
After around 10 minutes it looked like it was done but I waited until Tommy side one ended.
Time for the acid (…😬) test. Rare Bird went onto the record player, (Michell Gyro SE with Mørch UP4 tonearm and Shelter 901 III cartridge)
Holy moly! …and I mean holy moly!!! A veil lifted from the sound. I had kept my hopes in check but I did not expect this improvement. It wasn’t so much about the removal of clicks and pops, of which there were almost none. It was the liveliness, crystalline treble and openness of sound. Separation of instruments. All the qualities of nut jobs like me who like vinyl were enhanced quite markedly. Ok…this record had never been cleaned before the Degritter, so maybe it wasn’t as clean as it looked.
Tommy went onto the turntable and the first track, Overture started playing. First pressings are special for a reason. They sound incredible! The Who played Tommy like I have never heard before. The same crystalline qualities as the Rare Bird that I had just cleaned and enjoyed so much. Sparkling treble, huge soundstage, depth, width, height. Open, fast and so, so clean and clear. Not just a little better after the Degritter treatment…a lot better. From 16:00 until 22:00 I repeated the process, going through various pressings until there was no further need to prove to myself that which I had already proved.
Is it worth the considerable cost? In monetary terms maybe it’s relative… like most things. The value it has added in quality to my records makes it worth every penny in value to my enjoyment. It has a similar value to upgrading a cartridge, tonearm or turntable; the difference being that it brings into question the decision to purchase a high end cartridge if you don’t optimise your records.
It’s that good!
To listen I used the following equipment…
Michell Gyro SE turntable | Mørch UP4 unipivot tonearm | Shelter 901 III mc cartridge | Tara Labs Cables | PS Audio Dectet power conditioner | Harbeth P3 XD (newsletter to follow)