HumminGuru - an inexpensive desktop RCM

Corinthian

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Apr 10, 2023
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I'm really interested in trying an ultrasonic cleaner and am currently using a Pro-Ject VC-S2. The HumminGuru is very attractive at its price point and I'm assuming that it's much better at providing a 'deep clean' of dirty records than a vacuum cleaner. The question that I have is how much better is the Degritter given that it costs around 8x the price? I see that the ultrasonic emitters of the HumminGuru and Degritter work at different frequencies - is that an important feature? I see that the Degritter has a cool down warning and presumably looks and feels like a more 'quality' product, but how much of a difference is there between cheap and expensive ultrasound cleaners - anyone used both and care to comment please?
 

tima

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I'm really interested in trying an ultrasonic cleaner and am currently using a Pro-Ject VC-S2. The HumminGuru is very attractive at its price point and I'm assuming that it's much better at providing a 'deep clean' of dirty records than a vacuum cleaner. The question that I have is how much better is the Degritter given that it costs around 8x the price? I see that the ultrasonic emitters of the HumminGuru and Degritter work at different frequencies - is that an important feature? I see that the Degritter has a cool down warning and presumably looks and feels like a more 'quality' product, but how much of a difference is there between cheap and expensive ultrasound cleaners - anyone used both and care to comment please?

On the HummingGuru and ultrasonics vs vacuum cleaners, I still believe you can get a record clean with either technology. For the horizontal / vacuum cleaners it depends on technique and cleaning solution. From my experience with a Loricraft machine, vacuum cleaning takes more effort, a lot more time and is generally quite messy with water. But ... it can be done.

The difference between cheap and expensive single slot ultrasonic cleaners tends to be a difference in build quality, the quality of materials used to make tank, the number of cavitators, the rotisserie for holding records in the tank and rotating them in the wash, and having a drain. There are differences in features, such as heating the water, controlling the wash time, levels of automation, user feedback from the machine, whether there is a drying cycle, etc. Does the machine support the ability for rinsing -- a rinse cycle? I'm convinced that rinsing after washing is very important.

The HummingGuru is very rudimentary in feature set. As noted USC machines are consumables so lifespan and the ability to repair are also considerations. As best I can tell the Degritter has very good customer support. I have no info about that for the HumminGuru.

As far as cavitation frequency goes the HummingGuru operates at 40kHz and the Degritter (last time I looked) runs at 120kHz. Each frequency has its effect - larger more explosive bubbles at lower frequency are able better to remove larger particles on the record, smaller less explosive bubbles at higher frequency are potentially better able to get further into the record groove. I am somewhat sceptical of Degritter's claim for using a rather high 120kHz operation based on safety. A better more expensive machine will have both high and low frequency operation.

There is probably some truth in the adage that you get what you pay for.

If I was going to use a HummingGuru, given how relatively inexpensive it is, I would buy 2, one for washing and one for rinsing.

Take advantage of Neil's suggestions in his upstream post #62.
 
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Tangram

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I spent a lot of time during the pandemic reading everything I could about ultrasonic cleaning. Neil’s book is the pinnacle of knowledge on the subject as applied to vinyl records. I have a graduate degree in geochemistry so I could muddle (barely) through the science, but some people just want clean records without knowing the “nitty gritty” details. So here’s a “real-world” accounting of my record cleaning journey.

I was using a quasi-DIY vacuum RCM made by a local technologist who custom 3-d prints plastic parts for clients. Utilizing a clean (using the “typical” isopropyl alcohol, distilled water and photo flow recipe)/rinse/vacuum work flow, I had good results but it was noisy, messy and laborious. The method was best-suited for batch cleaning, rather than for a single record prior to play.

I then moved to a quasi-DIY ultrasonic for cleaning, but still used the vacuum RCM for rinsing and drying. This should have been the best method but results fell short of where I thought they should have been - not different from the vacuum RCM-only method. It was also a lot of work. My total outlay thus far for both systems was less than CAD$500.

I had a look at the Audio Desk and KL Audio ultrasonics but for the price, it didn’t seem the convenience was worth the extra cost because results (from what I read) weren’t much different from my home brew methods. The Degritter came out with great fanfare, but was almost as expensive as the incumbents. I also didn’t get the sense that it provided a quantum leap in cleaning effectiveness. Reviews focused on its ergonomics and looks instead.

When the Humminguru came out I was skeptical. It was considerably cheaper, quiet, looked good, had a small footprint, and was fully automated. But it was made by a toy company (!), had tiny transducers, and recommended using only water for cleaning. It sure screamed “lifestyle” product and didn’t seem suited for serious vinyl collectors.

Despite my misgivings, I decided it was cheap enough to take a flyer on, so I put it on my Christmas list. It has now been in regular use for two years, and has probably cleaned 500 records. The rollers have been replaced once (numerous spares came with the unit). It is so convenient that if I pull a record to play and realize I haven’t ultrasonically cleaned it, I can pop it in the Humminguru and it finishes its cycle in about 15 minutes. The only thing I do differently from the manufacturer recommendations is add six drops of Ilfotol wetting agent to the tank every time I change the water, which is about every six records. Honestly, it is a joy to use and gives me the same (not better!) results as my prior methods. And given that I’m just using RO water and a few drops of wetting agent, I don’t worry about the residue after drying. But for my humidity and temperature levels, I need the wetting agent for the drying cycle to work effectively.

One last thing I do is brush the record once it’s on the platter to remove any remaining debris that may have been lifted from the grooves but remained on the record surface after drying. There is sometimes a “scum line” that forms near the record label, where debris that was floating in the tank settled on the record when the tank drained. A quick brush before play (I use a Swiffer to great effect) does the trick.

Note that really dirty records need some elbow grease, so a pre-scrub in a sink with running water is recommended. But I almost never buy records like this. Also note that records are quieter after cleaning, but a scratch is a scratch is a scratch - cleaning the record won’t fix that. Finally, I try to buy the best quality records I can, so I’m not giving the Humminguru THAT much of a workout. But I can honestly say that for ME, this little unit is right at the intersection of cost, convenience, and performance. The Degritter costs CAD $5,100 with tax in Canada, a price I won’t pay, especially since I’m not convinced the cleaning performance is much better than the HG, which cost CAD$700 to my front door from Hong Kong.

Hope this helps. Happy to answer any questions of a practical nature you may have.
 
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Corinthian

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Apr 10, 2023
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On the HummingGuru and ultrasonics vs vacuum cleaners, I still believe you can get a record clean with either technology. For the horizontal / vacuum cleaners it depends on technique and cleaning solution. From my experience with a Loricraft machine, vacuum cleaning takes more effort, a lot more time and is generally quite messy with water. But ... it can be done.

The difference between cheap and expensive single slot ultrasonic cleaners tends to be a difference in build quality, the quality of materials used to make tank, the number of cavitators, the rotisserie for holding records in the tank and rotating them in the wash, and having a drain. There are differences in features, such as heating the water, controlling the wash time, levels of automation, user feedback from the machine, whether there is a drying cycle, etc. Does the machine support the ability for rinsing -- a rinse cycle? I'm convinced that rinsing after washing is very important.

The HummingGuru is very rudimentary in feature set. As noted USC machines are consumables so lifespan and the ability to repair are also considerations. As best I can tell the Degritter has very good customer support. I have no info about that for the HumminGuru.

As far as cavitation frequency goes the HummingGuru operates at 40kHz and the Degritter (last time I looked) runs at 120kHz. Each frequency has its effect - larger more explosive bubbles at lower frequency are able better to remove larger particles on the record, smaller less explosive bubbles at higher frequency are potentially better able to get further into the record groove. I am somewhat sceptical of Degritter's claim for using a rather high 120kHz operation based on safety. A better more expensive machine will have both high and low frequency operation.

There is probably some truth in the adage that you get what you pay for.

If I was going to use a HummingGuru, given how relatively inexpensive it is, I would buy 2, one for washing and one for rinsing.

Take advantage of Neil's suggestions in his upstream post #62.

Thank you - and despite the slow reply, I have decided to go ahead and order a HumminGuru. I'll follow the collective wisdom, and specifically, Neil's posts re the cleaning technique and solution. Will post back with my experience once it arrives.
 
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Corinthian

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Apr 10, 2023
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Wow, the HumminGuru has literally just arrived at the front door. Ordered on 26th and arrived in the UK today - wasn't expecting that level of efficiency! I'll give it a go later today.
 
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Tangram

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Wow, the HumminGuru has literally just arrived at the front door. Ordered on 26th and arrived in the UK today - wasn't expecting that level of efficiency! I'll give it a go later today.
How are you finding the HG? Use of a wetting agent, especially in a humid place like the UK, will do wonders for the drying cycle. But resist the temptation to use too much. I find six drops (as recommended by Neil I believe) works a charm.
 

Corinthian

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Apr 10, 2023
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I've cleaned around 30 odd LPs now with the HumminGuru and overall I have to say that I'm impressed. Before I bought this I was using a Pro-Ject VC-S2 vacuum machine with a citrus/distilled water mixture - seen next to my new HumminGuru.

IMG_2448.jpg

The HG came with a free cover and 'little bottle' of cleaner, and the cost delivered and including taxes was around 375 GBP I think. As noted previously, the speed of delivery was very impressive - only a couple of days from HK to the UK, even around Christmas! I used 2 or 3 drops of the little bottle mixed with distilled water, as directed by HG. I'm going to try the cleaning regime detailed previously on this thread when the 'little bottle' runs out, which will be quite a while yet. When the US cleaner is running it's too noisy (IMO) to have running whilst listening, but not as a noisy as the Pro-Ject and each cycle only takes 10 minutes ish so can just be done in another room whilst getting on with other things. Plus, the cycle is automated and the machine can be left unattended to do its thing, cleaning and then drying ready for the next one - very convenient and the drying cycle is not that noisy at all. The duration of drying can also be altered between 5-10 minutes.

Most of my records are pretty clean as they've all been through the Pro-Ject already and I'm relatively picky about where I buy them from (or at least I try to be), but there were still a minority that had residual noise on them before a clean with the HG. I think that this probably reflects a combination of poor pressings (e.g. 'confessin the blues' vol 1 and 2 - great music, poor quality LPs), old second hand vinyl that's not been cared for, or a combination of the two. New and/or good vinyl comes up very well indeed, both visually and audibly. Bad pressings and damaged LPs, unsurprisingly, remain bad records (which annoyingly includes original pressings of Leftfield 'Leftism' and Iron Maiden's 'A Real Live One'), but it seems to me that the HG makes a good albeit slightly dirty record that much cleaner and therefore quieter in comparison to a record that has been vacuum cleaned. The difference isn't night and day between the Pro-Ject and the HG, and subtle, but real, at least based on my initial impressions. With some of my records I noticed a further slight improvement over the Pro-Ject (noting that I'd previously cleaned them with that) e.g. Mofi mastered SRV 'Couldn't stand the weather' and 'The Blues - a Real Summit Meeting' - now both dead silent with no crackles, and great pressings of great music to boot (IMO!).

My initial impressions are that the HG is very good, especially for the money. I was going to buy a Degritter but was dragging my feet a bit, mainly because of the price. Maybe the Degritter is better than the HG, but I imagine that it's probably not 7-8 times better and I'm quite happy with the HG. I think that an US cleaner of some sort is probably the way to go with vinyl cleaning and don't see the Pro-Ject getting that much use now. Time will tell but it's all looking good at this early stage!

Tangram, you've got me intrigued to see if 6 drops will give better or worse results regarding cleaning vs surface noise from any residual cleaning fluid - I'm only putting each record through one cycle, not an additional rinse with pure distilled afterwards.
 

Tangram

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Congratulations! Snazzy cover - I didn’t get one. Your experience is absolutely spot on with mine. The drops are really just to aid in drying. I have my HG in the basement so humidity levels are slightly elevated. Without the wetting agent, I would occasionally still have a drop or two of water on the record. The wetting agent solves that issue.
 

Corinthian

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Apr 10, 2023
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Quick update for my HumminGuru, and at a guesstimate 50-60 LPs cleaned so far. Just changed the water filter, photo is old filter with new filter ready to go in - what a difference! N.B. the water is changed much more regularly than the filter.

Humminguru water filter .jpg

Almost all of these LPs had been cleaned with the Pro-Ject vacuum cleaner at some point in the last year or so and/or they were were brand new.
 
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Tangram

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Nov 10, 2022
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Quick update for my HumminGuru, and at a guesstimate 50-60 LPs cleaned so far. Just changed the water filter, photo is old filter with new filter ready to go in - what a difference! N.B. the water is changed much more regularly than the filter.

View attachment 123816

Almost all of these LPs had been cleaned with the Pro-Ject vacuum cleaner at some point in the last year or so and/or they were were brand new.
Nice! The other thing you may notice over time is a thin coating of “scum” builds up on the plastic water reservoir inner side and bottom. Just rinsing it out won’t get rid of it. Admittedly, I only just noticed this after more than a year of use.
 

Corinthian

Member
Apr 10, 2023
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Nice! The other thing you may notice over time is a thin coating of “scum” builds up on the plastic water reservoir inner side and bottom. Just rinsing it out won’t get rid of it. Admittedly, I only just noticed this after more than a year of use.

You're absolutely right - I noticed the same. Quick wash and back to looking like new again!
 
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