Degritter is exceedingly gentle with your records. LP surfaces are untouched. There’s no chance of the machine leaving lines or marks as there are no internal pads or brushes that rub or scrape the surfaces. You can clean LPs more than once without the risk of cumulative damage as a result. Use the Degritter’s ‘Heavy’ setting to clean very dirty LPs. But, in some cases, even this might be insufficient. Therefore, you may need to do a second clean or even pre-wash the LP manually before putting it in Degritter. You can also a proprietary record cleaning fluid if desired, and this might be more effective with heavily soiled LPs. However, thus far I’m inclined to stick with plain distilled water and pre-wash very dirty LPs before putting them into the Degritter.
Notice the difference when you put a cleaned LP back in its sleeve (or better still, a new antistatic sleeve) – it slides in much more smoothly than before. As a result of cleaning, the stylus encounters less ‘drag’ from the groove. Cleaning also means a smoother, cleaner, and more effortlessly detailed sound. The vinyl looks ‘blacker’ too. You hear an increased focus and added stability that makes LPs sound more like master-tapes. Clean a record with wide/exaggerated stereo and the left/right channels sound much more independent and separated. The music sounds firmer and more solid. Quiet passages are more focused and present, while loud passages seem cleaner and less congested – as though the stylus has an easier time tracing the groove (which it is). Additionally, there should be a welcome reduction in surface noise – though not always.
Trying Degritter with Grasshopper by J. J. Cale, [Japanese pressing, Mercury], I was impressed that an LP which had previously been cleaned and was in immaculate condition, could still be improved. Each track on this album has a distinct sound – as though each track uses a different studio and engineers. It was terrific to hear subtle differences of studio acoustic and tonal balance reproduced with such crisp effortless ease. Cale’s voice is rich and throaty on some tracks, while on others it sounds thin and edgy – for example, going from ‘Don’t Wait’ to ‘A Thing Going On’.
When sound quality varies like this, you often value engineering and production, concluding that some tracks were less well-recorded than others. But after cleaning, every track on Grasshopper sounded ‘good’, albeit different.
The sonic variations between tracks felt natural and intentional – and not the result of something that went wrong. For example, that dry slightly claustrophobic acoustic on ‘A Thing Going On’ creates a vaguely tense feeling, heightening the song’s surreal mood.
I need to ‘fess up to being an enthusiastic owner/user of the original Keith Monks cleaning machine. It does a great job. Of course, I wondered, would any additional audible benefit come from ultrasonic cleaning? I could hardly wait to find out.
The answer’s a definite – yes. True, the differences made by Degritter-cleaning over the KM were subtle rather than dramatic, but they’re there – small but significant improvements in fine detail, clarity, and stability. I feel the KM is more effective with filthy records. It’s like a laundry compared to dry cleaning. For maximum deep-cleansing, I start with a pre‑wash, followed by the Degritter, finishing off with the KM. However, this is a bit extreme – most times, the Degritter does fine on its own.
One LP I’d cleaned just a few weeks earlier on the KM sounded great. But after Degritter cleaning, the music gained extra poise and an effortless clarity that was truly exquisite. It felt like listening to the mastertape – it was that good.
It’s as if I’d suddenly upgraded my turntable/arm/cartridge to something far more capable. While cleaning doesn’t always deliver miracles, it’s possible even to salvage damaged vinyl. The result might not be 100% perfect, but it sounds a whole lot better.
Hi-Fi mags in the 1960s and 1970s were full of letters from people complaining about lousy LP pressings. There was a dip in LP pressing quality in the early ‘70s after oil prices spiked. The records themselves got thinner, and pressing plants even used recycled vinyl. A good cleaning can transform these LPs.
My ‘70s UK-pressed David Bowie LPs – from Space Oddity [Philips] through to Aladdin Sane [RCA] – improved very noticeably after cleaning. While not cut or pressed to audiophile standards, they sounded so much more like 180g ‘Audiophile’ pressings I could hardly believe it.
Sadly, Degritter is not cheap. But it offers serious-enthusiasts high-level performance with simple operation and low maintenance. It’s not large or heavy and looks clean and understated. It’s the easiest-ever serious record cleaner to use/maintain, and high-quality results are guaranteed. Having fan drying is a massive benefit. Some cheaper – and even some surprisingly expensive – ultrasonic cleaners forgo this feature; a considerable sacrifice, in my opinion. It’s like having a domestic washing machine without a dryer/spinner. Trust me; whether washing clothes or washing records, it’s worth paying extra for this feature. Just remember never to use washing powder on your LPs and don’t wash your underwear only in distilled water!
I appreciate how gentle it is and how simple to use. You can clean valuable, highly collectable discs secure in knowing they won’t get marked or damaged. It’s great just to press a button and have an LP cleaned/dried to a high standard with no fuss or drama in only a few minutes.
- Type: Ultrasonic Record Cleaning Machine
- Ultrasonic Cleaning: 120kHz/300W
- Water tank: Removable 1.4ltr/0.37 gal
- Noise levels: 50dB–70dB
- Supported voltages: 100–240VAC
- Finish: Black/Brushed aluminium
- Optional extras: External water tank, 7” and 10” record adaptors
- Available replacement parts: 100ml cleaning fluid, filters
- Dimensions (W×H×D): 37 × 28 × 21cm
- Price: £2,450
Tel: +372 5884 8839
Analogue Seduction: analogueseduction.net
Audio Emotion: audioemotion.co.uk
Hard To Find Hi-Fi: hardtofindhifi.com
KJ West One: kjwestone.co.uk
Read Next From ReviewSee all
Rogers LS3/5A SE stand-mount loudspeakers
The LS3/5A is an iconic design. Change it at your peril. Rogers is a classic maker of LS3/5A loudspeakers, and they just modified the LS3/5A. The LS3/5A SE replaces the front baffle of the loudspeaker with a new material and improves the sound. Will there be pitchforks and torches ready to burn the heretics, or does it make a good speaker better, asks Alan Sircom.
- Alan Sircom
- Nov 2021
Line Magnetic LM-512 CA preamp/LM-845 Premium integrated/power amp
Line Magnetic has captured the hearts of many audiophiles with its high performance valve/tube amplifiers at extremely keen prices. But are they really a great deal? Jason Kennedy thinks so.
- Jason Kennedy
- Nov 2021
Børresen Acoustics 01 Silver Supreme Edition stand‑mount loudspeaker
In a world where loudspeakers are boring, in a time where people are held captive at home. One man, a renegade speaker designer, can change everything. Now. More. Than. Ever… Børresen: Rise of the Silver Supreme
- Alan Sircom
- Nov 2021