Vinyl can be a dirty business, to put it a bit exaggerated, but in the end it is easy to get rid of record contamination. All it takes is the right tools, and these are record washing machines such as The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine.
It is quite fascinating that the music reproduction that many music enthusiasts and hi-fi lovers consider to be simply the best and clearly superior to all others is essentially the most error-prone and difficult. The reproduction of vinyl records is the last remaining form that actually works purely mechanically, in which the information in the groove of the record is scanned by means of a very fine needle and its deflection is converted into electricity. All this happens in such tiny dimensions, where even the smallest impurities can have a massive influence. And such impurities simply cannot be avoided. First and foremost, dust is and remains the natural enemy of the record, and it lands on it as soon as you take it out of the cover. This is caused by the almost unavoidable static charge, which can hardly be prevented. Not to mention the impurities that sometimes occur during a not entirely professional production.
To put it in a nutshell, if you are serious about records and expect the best possible quality from them, there is no getting around cleaning solutions. Not only is the reproduction of music in the best possible quality guaranteed, but essential components such as the pickup are also protected in the long term and can also reach their full potential.
For everyday use, of course, all that is needed are auxiliary aids such as a brush, which is available in a wide variety of designs, as well as cleaning cloths. The only really effective cleaning solution, however, is actually a so-called record washing machine.
Not so long ago, record washing machines were regarded as truly “exotic” solutions. With the emerging renaissance of the record and the resulting real hype about vinyl in recent years, the range of record washing machines has grown continuously, so that today you can choose from a wide range of different solutions in various price categories.
A particularly exciting solution is The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine, because here, above all, a price is attractive, which is probably considered by many to be quite attractive. In addition, and this is not insignificant, it is a very compact solution that also promises very simple handling. These are all arguments that make The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine an optimal solution in the entry level segment.
Why a record washing machine?
Well, of course you could ask the question why you need a record washing machine at all. After all, you might think that, as described above, a brush, cloths and various cleaning solutions would be the best solution…
Yes, for the daily quick cleaning, such utensils are certainly sufficient to remove a deeper, really thorough way of contamination, but they do not represent this, this must be clearly stated.
The big advantage of a record washing machine is first of all the fact that you can “work in” a cleaning solution in different ways, so that even stubborn dirt is really removed. Fingertappers are nothing more than grease, which acts as a “glue” for impurities, as well as various residues from production. But the really decisive thing is that the loosened impurities are then also removed effectively, simple wiping only does this superficially, perhaps spreading the dirt even more over the entire surface. A record washing machine such as our current test candidate, The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine, completely vacuums up the cleaning solution including the dissolved dirt, in the best case no residue at all remains and the record is perfectly cleaned.
If you unpack The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine, you will inevitably find that you are dealing with a very solidly manufactured product, even if, as already mentioned, it is a very compact solution. The fact that there’s a lot of mass in front of you on the table suggests a solid pump, because there’s not much more built into this machine.
It is also noticeable that it is a very slim solution that takes only little space. Unlike many other solutions, The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine doesn’t even take up the surface of a record itself, in fact the system is wider than it is deep. The light metal body measures 305 mm in length, 185 mm in depth, and 300 mm in height. After all, it weighs 8.5 kg.
The system is completely in black, the case itself is impeccably crafted even with a critical eye.
The top of the cabinet is of course dominated by the support for the record, which is comparatively small, so that the record is not completely covered, but in practice is sufficiently supported to allow the cleaning brush to be used to apply pressure without bending the record. A soft plastic coating protects the sound carrier. By the way, the record is fixed in the proven way with a screw clamp that covers the whole label, so that one does not have to worry that the cleaning solution leaves some traces here.
To the right of it is the arm for vacuuming, whereby a cleaning arm for classic records with 12 inch diameter is installed ex works. Optional accessories include alternatives for 7-inch singles and 10-inch EPs. The prices for these are kept really moderate at € 29,- each, so that you should not “experiment” with this, but actually always use the right arm.
Of course, the cleaning arm is protected by a felt strip around the opening for vacuuming. These should be changed from time to time, a discreet hint in the margin. The sales department lists a recommended retail price of only € 9.95 for these and they can easily be attached by means of a double-sided adhesive tape attached to them.
The few controls of The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine can be found on the front panel. A toggle switch is used to start the rotation of the plate. Another toggle switch activates the pump for suction, a potentiometer is used to set the intensity of the suction, and that’s it.
At the back, a hose leads out of the housing, through which the sucked off cleaning liquid, which ends up in a small tank of The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine, is finally drained.
Handmade… A manual cleaning solution
To emphasize it explicitly, The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine is a so called manual record washing machine, every step of the process has to be done by the user, there are no automatisms available.
This also includes the application of the cleaning fluid, so The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine of course does not have a corresponding tank, which can be seen as an advantage, but more about that in a moment…
One thing must be clearly emphasized, whoever acquires The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine will receive with this machine essentially everything that is necessary for its operation.
Thus, there is not only a cleaning brush with bristles of PVC in the scope of delivery but also two bottles of cleaning concentrate. One of them is simply described by the manufacturer as cleaning fluid Watson’s Cleaning Fluid, the second one as Watson’s Deep Cleaning Fluid. This name alone suggests that one variant is designed for normal contamination, the second for somewhat trickier cases. In both cases, the manufacturer recommends diluting the 60 ml concentrate with 900 ml demineralized or even distilled water to achieve the optimum cleaning solution. A spray bottle is ultimately used to apply the cleaning solution.
Fresh to work…
So, the first record is put on The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine and the clamp is screwed tight, whereas, somehow… Oh, look, you put on a left-hand thread, so it can’t work on the right side. If you turn it in the right direction, you can easily secure the clamp thanks to the milled structure in the knob. As already mentioned, a rubber lamella on the bottom side makes sure that the record label is protected. Next step, start the engine and spread a few drops of cleaning fluid. After that, it’s time to loosen impurities with the brush, whereby it is positively noticeable that the brush included in the scope of delivery doesn’t “leave any hairs”. Here we have experienced one or two “bad” surprises with some solutions.
We already mentioned that this is a purely manual solution, in which the cleaning solution is applied manually by means of a spray bottle, we consider as an advantage. The market offers a wide variety of cleaning concentrates with different effects and thus for different requirements. Depending on whether a record requires intensive care or just a simple “basic cleaning”, it is very easy to switch between different liquids. If the machine had a tank for the cleaning fluid, this would of course not be possible so easily. In addition, we have made the experience that if you don’t really clean records every day, the liquid in the tank of a machine can cause problems, if you don’t empty it again and again. In this respect, you don’t have to worry about this at all…
Once the surface of the plate has been sufficiently treated with the brush after a few moments, put it aside, put the suction arm on and activate the suction.
Well, The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine is not very quiet, unfortunately this has to be mentioned, but according to our modest estimation this is put into perspective, especially if you don’t clean tens of records in a row and therefore the pump only works at full power for a short time anyway. For this the suction power is really very good, because after only a few revolutions the surface of the record is already dust-dry and ready to land directly on the record player.
For this test we have taken many a treasure from the shelf, which was previously in the category “to be cleaned”, whereby these were mainly vinyls, which were purchased via the second hand market and sometimes even showed drastic soiling, but also many a freshly pressed disc, where the first run on the record player was finished quite quickly due to clearly perceptible crackling and pops.
The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine convinced with really good results. After the cleaning process, the sound carriers already showed an optically impeccably clean surface, an impression that was confirmed during playback. Only a few really stubborn cases had to undergo a second washing process, but at the latest then a literally clean groove was guaranteed.
In conclusion, The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine is a perfectly working cleaning solution for your vinyl treasures at a very attractive price. Well, of course the market offers much more sophisticated solutions where the user only has to contribute a little to the cleaning process, but these systems play in a completely different price range and are therefore uninteresting for the normal user, this must be clearly stated.
But also the about € 500,-, which are called for The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine, are of course at first sight a proud sum, especially since one “only” invests it for a cleaning solution. But it is really an investment that pays off.
Because what is decisive in the end is the result, and there is no reason to complain about The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine. Our test showed that the machine does its job perfectly, even though everything here is “handmade”. As mentioned above, this can even be seen as an advantage, as the manual application of the cleaning solution means that the optimum liquid can always be used.
The machine is perfectly processed, hardly needs any space, is really very easy to handle and the scope of delivery includes almost everything that is needed. Extraction arms for singles and EPs are offered at fair prices, as are consumables such as the felt pads of the extraction arms.
Just the noise level during the extraction may be annoying for some people, but in this respect it should be pointed out that a corresponding insulation of the case would again be reflected in the price and the extraction really only fails for a short time.
Getting to the point
The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine can clearly score with its price-performance ratio in a detailed test by sempre-audio.at. Especially those who are passionate about vinyl, but who only want to clean their records from time to time, will get an attractively priced, very compact, easy to handle, simply solid solution, which does its job to their complete satisfaction, even if it is sometimes clearly audible. This means that you can enjoy the full appeal of the music reproduction of vinyl records, almost free of crackling and pops.
The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine is a particularly exciting solution for the cleaning of vinyl records, because it offers an attractive price, which is probably considered by many to be very attractive. These are all arguments that make The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine an ideal solution for the entry-level segment.
|TAD Audiovertrieb GmbH
|The Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine € 495,-
Vacuum arm 10 inch € 29,-
Vacuum arm 12 inch € 29,-
Soft protection cover € 19,95
Felt strips € 9,95
|– Very compact
– extremely robust
– flawlessly processed
– easy to handle
– manual application of the cleaning solution
– strong suction
– Accessories and consumables very inexpensive
– proper cleaning
– very good price-performance ratio
|– Quite loud in operation