Degritter Mark II

Dec 25, 2023
21
10
5
71
Raymore, MO
@tima @Neil.Antin @Bill Hart - While trying to catch up with all you’ve posted, in preparation for putting up something that outlines what I hope to achieve next in my record cleaning journey (which has been aided tremendously by @r.din ), I came across this Degritter specific thread and thought my own experiences might be of some benefit.

The Degritter MKII (can’t speak to the original) is a good machine for what it is, but obtaining optimal results takes far more passes than I suspect most prospective buyers are anticipating.

A four rotation pass (the old Heavy cycle), can work wonders, particularly on the higher frequencies. Thus, the numerous accounts of new users relating how the sound “opens up.” In my experience this benefit was easily heard regardless of what I did to pre-clean the record, be it an over-the-sink process along the lines of what Neil’s detailed in his book, or using a VPI MW-1 Cyclone. It’s easily heard even after using the VPI MW-1 and Jim Pendleton’s AIVS 3-step process. While I’ve run several hundred records through the Degritter, at least 50 records were previously cleaned on the VPI. I auditioned many of VPI cleaned discs before and after running a Heavy cycle and the difference on the high end is almost always striking.

But - using my ears and my system, the Degritter MKII will continue to move toward more accurate sound reproduction for several more cycles. With the exception of some new pressings, I’ve regularly experienced improvements after four Heavy cycles (16 rotations). Because the improvements are gradual, cumulative, I’ve become much more aware of what to listen for & so if a disc doesn’t seem to “be quite there” after four Heavy cycles, it will get two more. More often than not, those additional cycles do bring the magic. Again, this is my experience only.

I can’t speak to exactly what is going on here, why instead of hearing a general improvement, an equal raising of all frequencies with each subsequent cleaning cycle, auditioning after each cycle I hear first the highs, then some of the lows, then the a “hole in the mids” gets filled out, but over and over again, it does happen and if nothing else, it really has helped to train my ear. Once all of the undulations the stylus tracks to reproduce the entire performance are equally clean, the original mix becomes apparent, the true quality of recording rises out of the muck, if you will.

Keeping the Degritter clean is paramount and not as easy as some may think (see pics). Also, not as easy as Degritter initially thought, given the update to their latest manual significantly increases the vinegar concentration recommended for cleaning and now includes much stronger language about the need to stick to the cleaning routine. They now go so far as to state not cleaning the machine as prescribed will void the warranty.

Further, while Degritter recommends cleaning after every 200 cycles (four filter changes), they don’t speak to cleaning the filter well, filter screen, wash tank at the water line (bath tub ring), the water sensor probes, or the two foam splash guards. Getting to these components isn’t terribly difficult, but it’s best to have good light and proper tools to clean them.

The Degritter design places multiple moving parts in the wash tank. Manual cleaning of some of the nooks and crannies is next to impossible. You can, however, direct streams of distilled water to flush them out.

Because the filtration system is woefully inadequate, I tend to dump my wash water before it reaches 3 PPM. I know this is far below what is generally considered necessary, but I’m as concerned about keeping the machine’s internals clean as I am about the possibility of re-depositing contaminants onto a record. My COM-100 registers my deionized water at 0.2 -.03 PPM, and I routinely get about a .1 PPM rise per Heavy cycle. Consequently, I seldom get more than a few records through the machine before I refresh the tank.

Because the subject of whether deionized water is appropriate for cleaning comes up from time to time, I should add that the deionized water I use may be called that, but it’s actually run through multiple steps. It’s what the PureFresh system installed in Whole Foods and other retail outlets supplies. I spent some time reading about the water on the manufacturer’s web site before deciding it was suitable for my purposes.

I also do a great deal of pre-cleaning, not because I’ve found some process or cleaning agents that reduce the number of Degritter cycles I need to achieve satisfactory results (I haven’t, but not for lack of trying), but because introducing any more detritus into a system that can’t effectively clean it all out doesn’t seem wise.

For instance, pre-cleaning a record seems to remove most tar and nicotine, substances the Degritter is able to remove as well, but likely deposits on inaccessible machine internals that aren’t subjected to the ultrasonics during routine cleaning. This ventures into the realm of things I can’t prove, but given even after multiple IPA soaks my Degritter filters still show hints of yellow-brown, I’d rather work on the assumption there is the potential for internal buildup in the plumbing, valves and pumps, so a good pre cleaning just seems a wise preventative step.

Another downside of the Degritter MKII is its inability to dissipate heat quickly enough to allow multiple Heavy passes in quick succession. The machine’s cooling fan that normally comes on after two cycles cannot keep the temperature from rising past threshold. Even adding the “soak” mode to a Heavy cycle, I’ll easily trigger the cooling cycle (water circulates, record rotates, but ultrasonics are shut down) after two Heavy cycles.

Note that this is a common problem, one some users mitigate to some degree by switching tanks, adding bags of ice, etc. Because the machine itself banks a lot of heat, users report that simply switching tanks only buys so much time. In my experience, the only real solution is to either run the 2-rotation Medium setting + soak instead of the Heavy + soak (the shorter ultrasonic cycle, coupled with the more frequent soak generally keeps the machine temp stable), or to just let the machine sit idle until it returns to room temperature.

I’ve had people state that since Degritter called the four rotation cycle the “Heavy” cycle and included narrative suggesting that cycle should only be needed for very dirty records, that there’s no way my running four Heavy cycles could possibly be of any benefit. My opinion is that Degritter programmed the machine to run the most cycles it possibly could before the bath would heat up past its design limits, a limit Degritter says was set to protect the record. If the machine could operate continuously for more cycles, I believe Degritter would program it to do so. Note that Degritter refers to the ultrasonics as removing contamination "in layers." It’s also telling that Degritter has now dropped the “Low / Medium / Heavy” verbiage entirely.

The Degritter’s fan dry system works well. I normally do 2:30 to 3:00 on the lowest setting, the longer time when the bath temp is still relatively low. Once the machine is operating at max temp, I find discs will air dry without the fan in less time than that. I prefer to air dry after my final rinse. YMMV based on relative humidity in the room where you're working. My room's humidity is never above 48% and for most of the year is considerably below that.

One might read this and conclude I’m not satisfied with the results I obtain from the Degritter. That’s hardly the case. A record run through multiple cycles using an appropriate cleaning solution (I use AIVS ultrasonic enzyme concentrate) can sound so indescribably wonderful I won’t even try to do so. What I’m not satisfied with is the time it takes to obtain those results, the amount of time I need to be personally involved in the cleaning process and the time it takes to clean the machine itself.

As for the unit’s operational life, all I can say is my unit now has 2,600 cycles on it, so I’m crossing my fingers at this point.

Consequently, while I expect to continue to use the Degritter MKII as a 120 kHz rinse machine, I’m now looking at following in Tima’s footsteps, specifically the Elmasonic P-120 married to an original 1 RPM VinylStack I still have on hand from my first foray into ultrasonics. The actual unit was sub par and consequently was returned within a few days.

Long winded as this is, I’m sure I’ve left something out.
 

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Tangram

Well-Known Member
Nov 10, 2022
206
277
70
60
@tima @Neil.Antin @Bill Hart - While trying to catch up with all you’ve posted, in preparation for putting up something that outlines what I hope to achieve next in my record cleaning journey (which has been aided tremendously by @r.din ), I came across this Degritter specific thread and thought my own experiences might be of some benefit.

The Degritter MKII (can’t speak to the original) is a good machine for what it is, but obtaining optimal results takes far more passes than I suspect most prospective buyers are anticipating.

A four rotation pass (the old Heavy cycle), can work wonders, particularly on the higher frequencies. Thus, the numerous accounts of new users relating how the sound “opens up.” In my experience this benefit was easily heard regardless of what I did to pre-clean the record, be it an over-the-sink process along the lines of what Neil’s detailed in his book, or using a VPI MW-1 Cyclone. It’s easily heard even after using the VPI MW-1 and Jim Pendleton’s AIVS 3-step process. While I’ve run several hundred records through the Degritter, at least 50 records were previously cleaned on the VPI. I auditioned many of VPI cleaned discs before and after running a Heavy cycle and the difference on the high end is almost always striking.

But - using my ears and my system, the Degritter MKII will continue to move toward more accurate sound reproduction for several more cycles. With the exception of some new pressings, I’ve regularly experienced improvements after four Heavy cycles (16 rotations). Because the improvements are gradual, cumulative, I’ve become much more aware of what to listen for & so if a disc doesn’t seem to “be quite there” after four Heavy cycles, it will get two more. More often than not, those additional cycles do bring the magic. Again, this is my experience only.

I can’t speak to exactly what is going on here, why instead of hearing a general improvement, an equal raising of all frequencies with each subsequent cleaning cycle, auditioning after each cycle I hear first the highs, then some of the lows, then the a “hole in the mids” gets filled out, but over and over again, it does happen and if nothing else, it really has helped to train my ear. Once all of the undulations the stylus tracks to reproduce the entire performance are equally clean, the original mix becomes apparent, the true quality of recording rises out of the muck, if you will.

Keeping the Degritter clean is paramount and not as easy as some may think (see pics). Also, not as easy as Degritter initially thought, given the update to their latest manual significantly increases the vinegar concentration recommended for cleaning and now includes much stronger language about the need to stick to the cleaning routine. They now go so far as to state not cleaning the machine as prescribed will void the warranty.

Further, while Degritter recommends cleaning after every 200 cycles (four filter changes), they don’t speak to cleaning the filter well, filter screen, wash tank at the water line (bath tub ring), the water sensor probes, or the two foam splash guards. Getting to these components isn’t terribly difficult, but it’s best to have good light and proper tools to clean them.

The Degritter design places multiple moving parts in the wash tank. Manual cleaning of some of the nooks and crannies is next to impossible. You can, however, direct streams of distilled water to flush them out.

Because the filtration system is woefully inadequate, I tend to dump my wash water before it reaches 3 PPM. I know this is far below what is generally considered necessary, but I’m as concerned about keeping the machine’s internals clean as I am about the possibility of re-depositing contaminants onto a record. My COM-100 registers my deionized water at 0.2 -.03 PPM, and I routinely get about a .1 PPM rise per Heavy cycle. Consequently, I seldom get more than a few records through the machine before I refresh the tank.

Because the subject of whether deionized water is appropriate for cleaning comes up from time to time, I should add that the deionized water I use may be called that, but it’s actually run through multiple steps. It’s what the PureFresh system installed in Whole Foods and other retail outlets supplies. I spent some time reading about the water on the manufacturer’s web site before deciding it was suitable for my purposes.

I also do a great deal of pre-cleaning, not because I’ve found some process or cleaning agents that reduce the number of Degritter cycles I need to achieve satisfactory results (I haven’t, but not for lack of trying), but because introducing any more detritus into a system that can’t effectively clean it all out doesn’t seem wise.

For instance, pre-cleaning a record seems to remove most tar and nicotine, substances the Degritter is able to remove as well, but likely deposits on inaccessible machine internals that aren’t subjected to the ultrasonics during routine cleaning. This ventures into the realm of things I can’t prove, but given even after multiple IPA soaks my Degritter filters still show hints of yellow-brown, I’d rather work on the assumption there is the potential for internal buildup in the plumbing, valves and pumps, so a good pre cleaning just seems a wise preventative step.

Another downside of the Degritter MKII is its inability to dissipate heat quickly enough to allow multiple Heavy passes in quick succession. The machine’s cooling fan that normally comes on after two cycles cannot keep the temperature from rising past threshold. Even adding the “soak” mode to a Heavy cycle, I’ll easily trigger the cooling cycle (water circulates, record rotates, but ultrasonics are shut down) after two Heavy cycles.

Note that this is a common problem, one some users mitigate to some degree by switching tanks, adding bags of ice, etc. Because the machine itself banks a lot of heat, users report that simply switching tanks only buys so much time. In my experience, the only real solution is to either run the 2-rotation Medium setting + soak instead of the Heavy + soak (the shorter ultrasonic cycle, coupled with the more frequent soak generally keeps the machine temp stable), or to just let the machine sit idle until it returns to room temperature.

I’ve had people state that since Degritter called the four rotation cycle the “Heavy” cycle and included narrative suggesting that cycle should only be needed for very dirty records, that there’s no way my running four Heavy cycles could possibly be of any benefit. My opinion is that Degritter programmed the machine to run the most cycles it possibly could before the bath would heat up past its design limits, a limit Degritter says was set to protect the record. If the machine could operate continuously for more cycles, I believe Degritter would program it to do so. Note that Degritter refers to the ultrasonics as removing contamination "in layers." It’s also telling that Degritter has now dropped the “Low / Medium / Heavy” verbiage entirely.

The Degritter’s fan dry system works well. I normally do 2:30 to 3:00 on the lowest setting, the longer time when the bath temp is still relatively low. Once the machine is operating at max temp, I find discs will air dry without the fan in less time than that. I prefer to air dry after my final rinse. YMMV based on relative humidity in the room where you're working. My room's humidity is never above 48% and for most of the year is considerably below that.

One might read this and conclude I’m not satisfied with the results I obtain from the Degritter. That’s hardly the case. A record run through multiple cycles using an appropriate cleaning solution (I use AIVS ultrasonic enzyme concentrate) can sound so indescribably wonderful I won’t even try to do so. What I’m not satisfied with is the time it takes to obtain those results, the amount of time I need to be personally involved in the cleaning process and the time it takes to clean the machine itself.

As for the unit’s operational life, all I can say is my unit now has 2,600 cycles on it, so I’m crossing my fingers at this point.

Consequently, while I expect to continue to use the Degritter MKII as a 120 kHz rinse machine, I’m now looking at following in Tima’s footsteps, specifically the Elmasonic P-120 married to an original 1 RPM VinylStack I still have on hand from my first foray into ultrasonics. The actual unit was sub par and consequently was returned within a few days.

Long winded as this is, I’m sure I’ve left something out.
On the one hand I’m glad you are able to get great results. On the other hand, a $3K machine that’s supposed to be fully automated appears to be anything but that to get those great results.
 
Dec 25, 2023
21
10
5
71
Raymore, MO
On the one hand I’m glad you are able to get great results. On the other hand, a $3K machine that’s supposed to be fully automated appears to be anything but that to get great results
Lots of users seem quite happy with their results, tossing dirty records right in, doing a "medium," followed perhaps by a rinse. Don't monitor TDS. Use the OEM cleaning concentrate, etc. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder.
 

Neil.Antin

Well-Known Member
Jul 9, 2021
320
292
135
68
Thus, the numerous accounts of new users relating how the sound “opens up.” In my experience this benefit was easily heard regardless of what I did to pre-clean the record, be it an over-the-sink process along the lines of what Neil’s detailed in his book,
Jim,

Do you use Citranox which is a critical part of what I detail in my book? I search the SH forum with your name and Citranox and there was no entry found.

Neil
 

Bill Hart

Well-Known Member
May 11, 2012
2,683
174
1,150
I guess my reaction to @Jim in Missouri 's observations is:
1. Thank you.
2. Given some of the shortcomings you've found- needing to do four "heavy" cycles, not having an effective filtration system, the potential for overheating and difficulty cleaning the machine internals--I wonder if there is a DIY approach to this that would permit the high frequencies the DeGritter offers. This would not be cheaper, but may allow you to achieve the results you describe with heavier duty equipment. See Pt. 3 below. I would defer to @Neil.Antin on what is out there- does the guy in Northvale--Zenith-- offer a set up with 120kHz transducers? (I could look myself, but you happily made the same connection I did to that guy at different times).
3. My impression of the made for LP ultrasonic market is that is about convenience as well as effectiveness. I remember the days of slaving over a hot VPI with 4 step Walker (eventually reduced to AIVS #15 and pure water) but it's still labor.
4. I remember when the KL first came out-- after the Audio Desk- that there were users, @MylesBAstor among them, who claimed that repeated cycles of ultrasonic improved the sound.
5. Me- I'm agnostic. I do think a rinse step is essential if one is using a surfactant in the ultrasonic machine, especially given that fan drying doesn't really remove the residue/contaminant "slurry" (for lack of a better word), as a vacuum cleaning system would. And using the old fashioned Monks, I've found that pre-cleaning, ultrasonic, and rinse step on the Monks gives me the best results I've obtained using the equipment to hand-- do not read that as best results obtainable.
Bill
 
Dec 25, 2023
21
10
5
71
Raymore, MO
Do you use Citranox which is a critical part of what I detail in my book? I search the SH forum with your name and Citranox and there was no entry found.
Hi Neil. At present, no I'm not using Citranox, although I worked with it in conjunction with Liquinox when doing over-the sink cleaning. Even then, I only used Citranox when I felt the record looked so bad I assumed it was going to need a lot of help. I also have used Liquinox followed by Tergitol at the concentrations you prescribe, but only on the VPI. Again, sonically, I wasn't able to hear a difference. By that I mean after pre-cleaning the records generally play quiet, but dull (like I used to think all old records sounded). One 4-rotation pass in the Degritter and the highs are emphasized.

We're talking both thrift store records going back to the 50's in various states, no two really the same to 2-disc sets where I'd change up cleaning for the second disc.

I did all this in hopes I really would hit on a combination that removed so much material including films, got deep enough into the groove that I'd feel the pre-clean got me to the same point as the first 4-rotation cycle in the Degritter, thus allowing me to drop one cycle from the routine and speed things up. I've yet to hit on anything that does that.

Current pre-cleaning on the VPI is Down With Dirty enzyme cleaner followed by two rinses, then a 20-80 IPA/DW, followed by more rinses (until my clear wand shows clear water, then pivot to the Delrin wand and separate rinse brush for a final).

I'll admit to trying a 50-50 IPA DW for a few records. Auditioning them told me it was doing the same thing the first Degritter cycle did as in spades - totally cleaning off the peaks that make the highs. In on case, cymbals came on like they were mic'd separately from inches away, gain at 10 compared to everything else at 5. Again, the Degritter eventually evened things out.

If you're asking because you think pre-cleaning should be net better results in the Degritter after just one 4-rotation cycle, all I can say is nothing I've done in the way of pre-cleaning has made much of a difference in terms of accuracy of reproduction. In fact, my earliest pre-cleans over the sink went in the other direction. Liquinox alone, despite gallons of tap and a lot of scrubbing, persisted in the groove, botched the high end horribly. It would resolve after multiple Degritter passes, but still I'm just going to have to admit I must have done something wrong. Certainly based on your work, following up with Tergitol would have been wise. I did not do that because I flat out missed it in your book. I know I need to treat it more as a reference, keep going back, because clearly I didn't retain half of what you put down and that's to my detriment.

At this point no tap is being used at all and the only equipment in use is the VPI and the Degritter. Stike that. I also remove the worst surface debris during initial inspection on an old turntable I can spin under a hard LED light. That step utilizes a lightly damp nylon brush, followed by a lightly damp white Zeiss microfiber cloth. The cleaning helps me evaluate the disc, but more than that, I'm looking to remove anything that I'd rather not have pressed in or dragged by the VPI wand.
 
Dec 25, 2023
21
10
5
71
Raymore, MO
I guess my reaction to @Jim in Missouri 's observations is:
1. Thank you.
2. Given some of the shortcomings you've found- needing to do four "heavy" cycles, not having an effective filtration system, the potential for overheating and difficulty cleaning the machine internals--I wonder if there is a DIY approach to this that would permit the high frequencies the DeGritter offers. This would not be cheaper, but may allow you to achieve the results you describe with heavier duty equipment. See Pt. 3 below. I would defer to @Neil.Antin on what is out there- does the guy in Northvale--Zenith-- offer a set up with 120kHz transducers? (I could look myself, but you happily made the same connection I did to that guy at different times).
3. My impression of the made for LP ultrasonic market is that is about convenience as well as effectiveness. I remember the days of slaving over a hot VPI with 4 step Walker (eventually reduced to AIVS #15 and pure water) but it's still labor.
4. I remember when the KL first came out-- after the Audio Desk- that there were users, @MylesBAstor among them, who claimed that repeated cycles of ultrasonic improved the sound.
5. Me- I'm agnostic. I do think a rinse step is essential if one is using a surfactant in the ultrasonic machine, especially given that fan drying doesn't really remove the residue/contaminant "slurry" (for lack of a better word), as a vacuum cleaning system would. And using the old fashioned Monks, I've found that pre-cleaning, ultrasonic, and rinse step on the Monks gives me the best results I've obtained using the equipment to hand-- do not read that as best results obtainable.
Bill
Hi Bill. Nice to hear from you - and Neil.

1. You're welcome. I hesitate to write these long pieces, in part because my thick skin's pretty worn through at this point, but you two, and a few others stand out as wanting to help, willing to listen too.
2. What @tima has done is light years ahead of me, absolutely. He's got the chops, apparently as well as the ability to focus at the task at hand better than I. Consequently, though there's far more reading to do, my inclination is to follow generally in his footsteps, but with a different carrier/transport because I've got it on hand and that's a grand or so I can use elsewhere. The reading I've done, mostly what Neil's put out, suggests the higher frequency isn't necessary to achieve the higher frequency clarity I'm getting, that a dual frequency machine with variable power should be sufficient. In fact my experience has been getting the highs is easy, as it's the first thin the Degritter seems to clear off. Regardless, if a new ultrasonic doesn't provide the same result with less headache, I'll still have the Degritter.
3. I agree. The Degritter's marketed to a different demographic than what I'll call a "power user" It is pretty on the kitchen counter, an all-in-one machine providing the results meet your expectations and make no mistake - it does meet the expectations of a lot of people or it wouldn't be as successful as it has been. And it's pretty quiet, the drying fan being the loudest component within the range of human hearing anyway. Even those of us who are OCD can only zone out over the same record for so long, when there are boxes to the sky in every room in the house (thankfully I'm exaggerating a bit as my boxes are in climate controlled storage). So the Degritter does tug at the heart. But I think, for me at least, simplicity also means having a big, open stainless steel tub I can keep spotless, a transport mechanism that never touches the water, ultrasonics that only impact the surface you want to clean.
4. @MylesBAstor is right. Again, I don't profess to know exactly what is going on in the groove as the ultrasonics do their thing, but I keep imagining how the undulations that make up the recording are so physically different depending on the frequencies - tight peaks, slow rolling hills, undulating plains if you will, that some things just get cleaned off first. And I'm fine with that to the extent it's necessary to treat the groove like an archeological dig. You need to go slow. I'm just not at all convinced I need to go THIS slow!
5. While I know I *should* be able to effectively use surfactants, whether in the Degritter or as part of pre-cleaning, I have *not* been able to achieve the results I want that way. In the machine, the only surfactant based concentrate I've used is Degritter's own. I take Jim Pendelton's word that his fluids don't have any. What I've found with the Degritter concentrate is that it creates a higher TDS bath than I care for, that not having a dedicated rinse machine, cleaning it out of the machine for rinse purposes is a pain and that the only a/b testing I did comparing it to the AIVS concentrate didn't result in a clear winner sonically, but the AIVS filters from several batches suggested it was removing more contamination.

As for rinsing - absolutely yes. I don't believe I ever remove every molecule of non-vinyl from the groove, but to the extent practicable, I wish to get as close as I can. It's been suggested to me that a final DW rinse on a machine such as a VPI can improve things immensely. I don't know if that's true, that it has some edge over working with an ultrasonic for rinsing, but it does have one more benefit for people who don't have an ultrasonic with a lower frequency capable of moving real stones from the road. That last VPI rinse, coupled with some brush work, does seem to get some remaining bits. Now . . . perhaps that's not going to be necessary if I step up to a better US.
 
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Neil.Antin

Well-Known Member
Jul 9, 2021
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If you're asking because you think pre-cleaning should be net better results in the Degritter after just one 4-rotation cycle, all I can say is nothing I've done in the way of pre-cleaning has made much of a difference in terms of accuracy of reproduction. In fact, my earliest pre-cleans over the sink went in the other direction. Liquinox alone, despite gallons of tap and a lot of scrubbing, persisted in the groove, botched the high end horribly. It would resolve after multiple Degritter passes, but still I'm just going to have to admit I must have done something wrong. Certainly based on your work, following up with Tergitol would have been wise. I did not do that because I flat out missed it in your book. I know I need to treat it more as a reference, keep going back, because clearly I didn't retain half of what you put down and that's to my detriment.
Jim:

Your experience with Liquinox challenges the results of just about anyone who has used it as prescribed in the book and the manual-sink method Chapter V is very explicit with how to use including final clean with Tergitol 15-S-9 (or nonionic surfactant equal). It is a very free rinsing cleaner, but I would have to better understand exactly what you were doing, and what you were cleaning. If you are cleaning used records of unknown dubious condition, the Liquinox may remove one layer of detritus only to leave another. And, when manual cleaning, the success is dependent on your technique with the brush and the brush itself. Otherwise, the Citranox (or acid equivalent) is necessary to remove detrius such as fine particles and certain types of films that the Liquinox is not efficient at.

Otherwise, your extend process time for using the Degritter to get best achievable cleaning is not unexpected. The basic procedure the machine uses is one of speed and convenience. If you review @tima process for cleaning you will see two 10-min cycles - one 10-min cycle with Elmasonic cycling between 37 & 80 kHz (the machine has this operating function) and one 10-min cycle operating at only 80-kHz, and the tank is filtered to 0.2-micron absolute. And then he moves to a rinse tank tima's DIY RCM | What's Best Audio and Video Forum. The Best High End Audio Forum on the planet! (whatsbestforum.com). Because he is cleaning more records, time/record with rinsing winds up being less than the time you are spending. He looses some time waiting for the records to dry, but, if the goal is best achievable cleaning, DIY UT can be the better path cost notwithstanding.

Take care,
Neil
 
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Neil.Antin

Well-Known Member
Jul 9, 2021
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2. Given some of the shortcomings you've found- needing to do four "heavy" cycles, not having an effective filtration system, the potential for overheating and difficulty cleaning the machine internals--I wonder if there is a DIY approach to this that would permit the high frequencies the DeGritter offers. This would not be cheaper, but may allow you to achieve the results you describe with heavier duty equipment. See Pt. 3 below. I would defer to @Neil.Antin on what is out there- does the guy in Northvale--Zenith-- offer a set up with 120kHz transducers? (I could look myself, but you happily made the same connection I did to that guy at different times).
Bill:

If you read these posts I wrote regarding higher frequencies, I do not see the benefit much above a well designed, powerful combination 37 (or 40-kHz)/80-kHz such as the Elamasonic P-series:
https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/ultrasonic-cavitation-cleaning-explained.36690/post-938421 and https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/ultrasonic-cavitation-cleaning-explained.36690/post-938270.

Now, you can move to high frequency, high power industrial UT tanks, but you run up against limits of wall power. There is a 120VAC bench-top Crest 13HT-1014-6 132-kHz 5-gal (11-L) tank with 500W ultrasonic power Layout 1 (crest-ultrasonics.com) at cost of about $4500 US dollars. But anything larger and now you are at 240VAC. The problem with higher frequencies is that you need more power to get cavitation intensity. And, because of the high power you need to consider tank cooling for any extended use. Serial cleaning using the Elmasonic P-series requires tank cooling.

As they say, whatever makes people happy and whatever sells, and there will always be people saying they hear some difference. But after all is said and done, you can only get the surface so clean within a normal domestic environment. So, bring on the cleanrooms (which will sound atrocious) and the full blue NASA antistatic garb (not sure about the hoods and face covers for sound - LOL).

Take care,
Neil
 

Bill Hart

Well-Known Member
May 11, 2012
2,683
174
1,150
Bill:

If you read these posts I wrote regarding higher frequencies, I do not see the benefit much above a well designed, powerful combination 37 (or 40-kHz)/80-kHz such as the Elamasonic P-series:
https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/ultrasonic-cavitation-cleaning-explained.36690/post-938421 and https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/ultrasonic-cavitation-cleaning-explained.36690/post-938270.

Now, you can move to high frequency, high power industrial UT tanks, but you run up against limits of wall power. There is a 120VAC bench-top Crest 13HT-1014-6 132-kHz 5-gal (11-L) tank with 500W ultrasonic power Layout 1 (crest-ultrasonics.com) at cost of about $4500 US dollars. But anything larger and now you are at 240VAC. The problem with higher frequencies is that you need more power to get cavitation intensity. And, because of the high power you need to consider tank cooling for any extended use. Serial cleaning using the Elmasonic P-series requires tank cooling.

As they say, whatever makes people happy and whatever sells, and there will always be people saying they hear some difference. But after all is said and done, you can only get the surface so clean within a normal domestic environment. So, bring on the cleanrooms (which will sound atrocious) and the full blue NASA antistatic garb (not sure about the hoods and face covers for sound - LOL).

Take care,
Neil
Neil- I joke that I'll put in an application for a small reactor in my yard. But hey, it's Texas! * I don't have a problem pulling more power in. I was refused in NY Lower Hudson Valley when I wanted a minimum of another 200 amps. I haven't ask for more here (yet). 240 is no big deal unless we are in summer brownout and drawing a lot of current (thus, looking for energy).
 
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Your experience with Liquinox challenges the results of just about anyone who has used it as prescribed in the book and the manual-sink method Chapter V is very explicit with how to use including final clean with Tergitol 15-S-9 (or nonionic surfactant equal). It is a very free rinsing cleaner, but I would have to better understand exactly what you were doing, and what you were cleaning.
Neil, this why I was hesitant to even report my results. Not that I mind not being part of consensus, but because my lack or scientific rigor, inability to work with controlled subjects and my plain lousy ability convert one measurment standard to another could easily mean I made too strong a solution of Liquinox. That said, when I first discovered my Liquinox pre-clean (sans Tergitol because I missed that part initiall) was messing up the highs, I cut what I had left in the bottle, tried again, cut the bottle two more times, until eventually the negative side effect disappeared. That negative side effect did not reappear after I redoubled my efforts to mix it proper strength and shifted from using it alone over the sink to in conjunction with Tergitol on the VPI.

Even then, multiple pre-cleaning steps, with multiple rinses before even getting to the Degritter has moved me in the opposite direction of what I want to go.
And, when manual cleaning, the success is dependent on your technique with the brush and the brush itself. Otherwise, the Citranox (or acid equivalent) is necessary to remove detrius such as fine particles and certain types of films that the Liquinox is not efficient at.
I agree with respect to brush type and technique. Hopefully I've not developed a bad technique, because after 20 years it's going to be hard to retrain my hand! As for brushes, I used to use Osage Audio brushes, which I like for getting the top of the groove, but the wooden handles with all that resides naturally in wood aren't the best choice, IMO, not considering I can't manage to keep cleaning fluids off them. I use Stasis brushes for dry and lightly wet cleaning and the VPI brushes for everything else, although I do consider them to be a tad dangerous so never use them without wetting them and the disc first. Thanks for the added insight on Citranox. I must have read the book incorrectly (happens too often) I got that it was beneficial for extremely dirty records, not that it was considered a must for most records.
Otherwise, your extend process time for using the Degritter to get best achievable cleaning is not unexpected.
I agree. Many others have reported similar results. I do wish I'd come up with a way to hurry it along, but I've pretty much concluded the problem is the machine's superiority to manual cleaning or machine cleaning with anything like the VPI means no matter what I try in terms of cleaning fluids, soak time, brush type/technique, it will always remove contaminants the others just don't touch. And I get back to the fact that if one were to remove all the cycle time devoted to filling, draining, pre-soak, drying, and added up the total time the disc is subjected to the ultrasonics, the 16 rotations I'm doing wouldn't be all that time-consuming.
Because he is cleaning more records, time/record with rinsing winds up being less than the time you are spending. He looses some time waiting for the records to dry, but, if the goal is best achievable cleaning, DIY UT can be the better path cost notwithstanding.
Yes, and that's absolutely one of the benefits of his system/process. I don't need to be able to mass clean quite to the extent @tima does, but if I could do four, that would be a massive improvement, particularly considering the amount of hands on work necessary would be reduced so my hands and head would be free to do other things.
 

Neil.Antin

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Neil- I joke that I'll put in an application for a small reactor in my yard. But hey, it's Texas! * I don't have a problem pulling more power in. I was refused in NY Lower Hudson Valley when I wanted a minimum of another 200 amps. I haven't ask for more here (yet). 240 is no big deal unless we are in summer brownout and drawing a lot of current (thus, looking for energy).
Bill,

You can prepare a detailed specification for a 4-bay UT console (about the size of desk) - 1-UT clean, 1-UT-rinse, 1-Rinse (that cascades into the UT-rinse) and a HEPA filtered oven and Branson, Blackstone or Crest will build it. The UT clean tank would have 3 or 4 selectable frequencies. Based on similar consoles that we bought in the late 1990's that were about $15K, today figure at least $30K.

Take care
Neil
 

Neil.Antin

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As for brushes, I used to use Osage Audio brushes, which I like for getting the top of the groove,
Jim,

The book in Chapter XII is pretty clear, I want you to stay out of the groove. Attempting the physically scrub the record surface is not recommended. The Record Doctor™ Clean Sweep Brush with clusters of 0.05 milli-meter (0.002”) wide Nylon bristles (260,000 bristles total) bristles should not deeply penetrate the record groove. Additionally, Nylon absorbs water and softens during use (but returns to original properties once dry). Furthermore, the bristle width is near equal to the top width of the record groove and when combined with the low surface tension of the Alconox™ Liquinox™, Alconox™ Citranox™ and Dow™ Tergitol™ cleaning solutions form a hydraulic wedge to force the cleaner deep into the groove. The light downward pressure and fast back-and-forth brushing action then develops the fluid agitation necessary to deeply scrub/clean/flush the groove. But, since a new Record Doctor™ Clean Sweep Brush does not deeply penetrate the groove, there will be very little risk of record harm.

You need to consider just how smooth the record surface can be. In Chapter XII, I address that the best level of cleanliness is the inherent background noise of the vinyl record material that is a function of the material surface roughness which by the paper “Disc cutting in theory, Hugh Finnimore, Studio Sound and Broadcast Engineering, July 1975” has an equivalent amplitude of 0.01 micron and this is better than a #8 Super Mirror Finish/Non-Directional Mirror Finish used to produce/polish stainless steel mirror. Would you use one of those brushes to clean a mirror?

Take care,
Neil
 
Dec 25, 2023
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The book in Chapter XII is pretty clear, I want you to stay out of the groove. Attempting the physically scrub the record surface is not recommended. The Record Doctor™ Clean Sweep Brush with clusters of 0.05 milli-meter (0.002”) wide Nylon bristles (260,000 bristles total) bristles should not deeply penetrate the record groove
Neil,

A quick scan of Chapter XII confirms that I have not read it, or if I have, it obviously didn't sink in. The only part of your book that dealt with brushes that stayed with me was the summary section that noted various brushes I assumed you approved of. Not seeing any caution there against other types of brushes I simply saw one that I used listed and moved on. Had I seen a caution in that summary, a mention of why certain brushes were recommended, others not, I wouldn't have made that costly mistake, but it's not for you to hold my hand. This is my error, a costly one, since if I were to follow your advice, I wouldn't have just spent $180 on three new VPI brushes I shouldn't use at all.

Addendum: I have on hand one Record Doctor brush, which is used for final dusting prior to play. I have ordered four more, will put them to use in pre-cleaning prior to the Degritter & as long as I'm going back to square one on the brushes, I'll use your prescribed Liquinox, Tergitol, Citranox process and will let you know the results. And thanks for setting me straight, Neil.
 
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AudioHR

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@tima @Neil.Antin @Bill Hart - While trying to catch up with all you’ve posted, in preparation for putting up something that outlines what I hope to achieve next in my record cleaning journey (which has been aided tremendously by @r.din ), I came across this Degritter specific thread and thought my own experiences might be of some benefit.

The Degritter MKII (can’t speak to the original) is a good machine for what it is, but obtaining optimal results takes far more passes than I suspect most prospective buyers are anticipating.

A four rotation pass (the old Heavy cycle), can work wonders, particularly on the higher frequencies. Thus, the numerous accounts of new users relating how the sound “opens up.” In my experience this benefit was easily heard regardless of what I did to pre-clean the record, be it an over-the-sink process along the lines of what Neil’s detailed in his book, or using a VPI MW-1 Cyclone. It’s easily heard even after using the VPI MW-1 and Jim Pendleton’s AIVS 3-step process. While I’ve run several hundred records through the Degritter, at least 50 records were previously cleaned on the VPI. I auditioned many of VPI cleaned discs before and after running a Heavy cycle and the difference on the high end is almost always striking.

But - using my ears and my system, the Degritter MKII will continue to move toward more accurate sound reproduction for several more cycles. With the exception of some new pressings, I’ve regularly experienced improvements after four Heavy cycles (16 rotations). Because the improvements are gradual, cumulative, I’ve become much more aware of what to listen for & so if a disc doesn’t seem to “be quite there” after four Heavy cycles, it will get two more. More often than not, those additional cycles do bring the magic. Again, this is my experience only.

I can’t speak to exactly what is going on here, why instead of hearing a general improvement, an equal raising of all frequencies with each subsequent cleaning cycle, auditioning after each cycle I hear first the highs, then some of the lows, then the a “hole in the mids” gets filled out, but over and over again, it does happen and if nothing else, it really has helped to train my ear. Once all of the undulations the stylus tracks to reproduce the entire performance are equally clean, the original mix becomes apparent, the true quality of recording rises out of the muck, if you will.

Keeping the Degritter clean is paramount and not as easy as some may think (see pics). Also, not as easy as Degritter initially thought, given the update to their latest manual significantly increases the vinegar concentration recommended for cleaning and now includes much stronger language about the need to stick to the cleaning routine. They now go so far as to state not cleaning the machine as prescribed will void the warranty.

Further, while Degritter recommends cleaning after every 200 cycles (four filter changes), they don’t speak to cleaning the filter well, filter screen, wash tank at the water line (bath tub ring), the water sensor probes, or the two foam splash guards. Getting to these components isn’t terribly difficult, but it’s best to have good light and proper tools to clean them.

The Degritter design places multiple moving parts in the wash tank. Manual cleaning of some of the nooks and crannies is next to impossible. You can, however, direct streams of distilled water to flush them out.

Because the filtration system is woefully inadequate, I tend to dump my wash water before it reaches 3 PPM. I know this is far below what is generally considered necessary, but I’m as concerned about keeping the machine’s internals clean as I am about the possibility of re-depositing contaminants onto a record. My COM-100 registers my deionized water at 0.2 -.03 PPM, and I routinely get about a .1 PPM rise per Heavy cycle. Consequently, I seldom get more than a few records through the machine before I refresh the tank.

Because the subject of whether deionized water is appropriate for cleaning comes up from time to time, I should add that the deionized water I use may be called that, but it’s actually run through multiple steps. It’s what the PureFresh system installed in Whole Foods and other retail outlets supplies. I spent some time reading about the water on the manufacturer’s web site before deciding it was suitable for my purposes.

I also do a great deal of pre-cleaning, not because I’ve found some process or cleaning agents that reduce the number of Degritter cycles I need to achieve satisfactory results (I haven’t, but not for lack of trying), but because introducing any more detritus into a system that can’t effectively clean it all out doesn’t seem wise.

For instance, pre-cleaning a record seems to remove most tar and nicotine, substances the Degritter is able to remove as well, but likely deposits on inaccessible machine internals that aren’t subjected to the ultrasonics during routine cleaning. This ventures into the realm of things I can’t prove, but given even after multiple IPA soaks my Degritter filters still show hints of yellow-brown, I’d rather work on the assumption there is the potential for internal buildup in the plumbing, valves and pumps, so a good pre cleaning just seems a wise preventative step.

Another downside of the Degritter MKII is its inability to dissipate heat quickly enough to allow multiple Heavy passes in quick succession. The machine’s cooling fan that normally comes on after two cycles cannot keep the temperature from rising past threshold. Even adding the “soak” mode to a Heavy cycle, I’ll easily trigger the cooling cycle (water circulates, record rotates, but ultrasonics are shut down) after two Heavy cycles.

Note that this is a common problem, one some users mitigate to some degree by switching tanks, adding bags of ice, etc. Because the machine itself banks a lot of heat, users report that simply switching tanks only buys so much time. In my experience, the only real solution is to either run the 2-rotation Medium setting + soak instead of the Heavy + soak (the shorter ultrasonic cycle, coupled with the more frequent soak generally keeps the machine temp stable), or to just let the machine sit idle until it returns to room temperature.

I’ve had people state that since Degritter called the four rotation cycle the “Heavy” cycle and included narrative suggesting that cycle should only be needed for very dirty records, that there’s no way my running four Heavy cycles could possibly be of any benefit. My opinion is that Degritter programmed the machine to run the most cycles it possibly could before the bath would heat up past its design limits, a limit Degritter says was set to protect the record. If the machine could operate continuously for more cycles, I believe Degritter would program it to do so. Note that Degritter refers to the ultrasonics as removing contamination "in layers." It’s also telling that Degritter has now dropped the “Low / Medium / Heavy” verbiage entirely.

The Degritter’s fan dry system works well. I normally do 2:30 to 3:00 on the lowest setting, the longer time when the bath temp is still relatively low. Once the machine is operating at max temp, I find discs will air dry without the fan in less time than that. I prefer to air dry after my final rinse. YMMV based on relative humidity in the room where you're working. My room's humidity is never above 48% and for most of the year is considerably below that.

One might read this and conclude I’m not satisfied with the results I obtain from the Degritter. That’s hardly the case. A record run through multiple cycles using an appropriate cleaning solution (I use AIVS ultrasonic enzyme concentrate) can sound so indescribably wonderful I won’t even try to do so. What I’m not satisfied with is the time it takes to obtain those results, the amount of time I need to be personally involved in the cleaning process and the time it takes to clean the machine itself.

As for the unit’s operational life, all I can say is my unit now has 2,600 cycles on it, so I’m crossing my fingers at this point.

Consequently, while I expect to continue to use the Degritter MKII as a 120 kHz rinse machine, I’m now looking at following in Tima’s footsteps, specifically the Elmasonic P-120 married to an original 1 RPM VinylStack I still have on hand from my first foray into ultrasonics. The actual unit was sub par and consequently was returned within a few days.

Long winded as this is, I’m sure I’ve left something out.
Excellent review of your experience! Thank you.

I am thinking based on my experience that if you are really fastidious and serious about cleaning your records unfortunately there are few ways around being personally involved and committed to the time it takes.
 
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Neil.Antin

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Neil,

A quick scan of Chapter XII confirms that I have not read it, or if I have, it obviously didn't sink in. The only part of your book that dealt with brushes that stayed with me was the summary section that noted various brushes I assumed you approved of. Not seeing any caution there against other types of brushes I simply saw one that I used listed and moved on. Had I seen a caution in that summary, a mention of why certain brushes were recommended, others not, I wouldn't have made that costly mistake, but it's not for you to hold my hand. This is my error, a costly one, since if I were to follow your advice, I wouldn't have just spent $180 on three new VPI brushes I shouldn't use at all.

Addendum: I have on hand one Record Doctor brush, which is used for final dusting prior to play. I have ordered four more, will put them to use in pre-cleaning prior to the Degritter & as long as I'm going back to square one on the brushes, I'll use your prescribed Liquinox, Tergitol, Citranox process and will let you know the results. And thanks for setting me straight, Neil.
Jim:

FYI - I doubt the VPI nylon cleaning brush Record Cleaning Brush – VPI Industries (vpidirect.com) has bristles any smaller than 50-microns. The only nylon brush that I know has very thin nylon bristles is the new Stasis brush with bristles tapered to 10-microns Stasis Groove Cleaner Record Brush V2 (ttvjaudio.com) and I address that brush in the book Chapter XII.

Fundamentally, if you look at Figure 43 of the book, it shows you the wavelength vs frequency. The wavelength is the ridge-to-ridge (peak to peak) distance to produce the frequency. The high frequencies are cut on the side-wall grooves. At 5-kHz, the distance is ~70 microns and at 10-kHz it's about 40-microns and 20-kHz is about 10-microns. To physically touch the space between the side-wall ridges/grooves, you have to move the brush very slowly and even then, a 50-micron or 40-micron bristle is not going to touch all surfaces and only the bristle shaft will touch the side wall ridges. The valley of the side-wall ridges is less than the ridge-to-ridge distance. And bearing down on the brush may force the brush to the bottom of the main groove, but the high frequency side-wall ridges/grooves are mostly missed since at best they only are exposed to the bristle shaft. And if you move the brush quickly the bristles are very flexible, and they will just float over the side-wall ridges.

Additionally, surfactants need agitation to work effectively. They are not solvents like alcohol or like enzymes that can clean by soaking, and enzymes only work against some soils, generally bio-organic. And, based on testing that I did >25-yrs ago, I know that the key is a combination of agitation and chemistry. But you need a lot of agitation. Slowly moving a brush back & forth will not do it. As the book says - Applying only a light pressure (the brush handle can scratch the record), use the Record Doctor™ Clean Sweep Record Brush (or equivalent) in moderately short, fast, back and forth motions (such as two back-and-forth motions per second). The rule of thumb I use is that you are agitating the cleaner enough when you see foam in the brush, with the most in Liquinox and the least in Tergitol. And, as the book says: The foam that is developed by the cleaning process is beneficial. It helps to lift debris and soil from the record groove. The Nylon brush adsorbing the foam assists with lifting the debris and soil from the record minimizing the risk of grinding debris and particles into record.

Otherwise, the item that many people miss with vacuum-RCM, is that other than the very few automated units with active brushing, vacuum-RCM is machine-assisted manually cleaning, it provides the convenience of removing the fluid from the record. However, how well they clean is dependent on the chemistry, the brush and your technique.

Good Luck,
Neil
 
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tima

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I came across this Degritter specific thread and thought my own experiences might be of some benefit.

I haven't read the threads following yours but I want to say this may be the most informative post I've read about the Degritter Mk2. It's not a fanboy post. I enjoyed reading it, learned alot and thank you for posting.

As I have not used a Degritter, would you please say what is a 'Heavy Cycle'? You said you do 4 of these. Thnx.
 
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tima

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As for brushes, I used to use Osage Audio brushes, which I like for getting the top of the groove, but the wooden handles with all that resides naturally in wood aren't the best choice, IMO, not considering I can't manage to keep cleaning fluids off them.

When I was actively using my PRC-3 Loricraft horizontal RCM with Lloyd Walker's Prelude system and then several of the AIVS systems (circa 2011), I tried all sorts of brushes (Disc Doctor, RLL, Walker, etc.) and ended up using the Listener Select Osage Audio brushes. While I did not think of wood resins entering into solution I found them effective for the slosh and soak technique I described in my review. My experience agrees with Neil -- don't try to get into the groove, let the chemistry, and now ultrasonics, do the work.


We've come a long way since then. ;)
 
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