Kirmuss

The Ultimate & Affordable, Ultrasonic Record Cleaning & Restoration machine
NOT ALL ULTRASONICS WASH YOUR RECORDS SAFELY: SPECIFY KIRMUSS - 35 KHz! 


The Editors at THE ABSOLUTE SOUND remarked the Kirmuss KA RC1 was " Best  Analog Accessory of Show". 

THE ABSOLUTE SOUND: About our ultrasonic record restoration system: was the "Most Significant Product Introduction (AXPONA 2018); Kirmuss Audio’s "In The Groove Ultimate Ultrasonic Vinyl Restoration System", makes the process of using this technology more affordable.”

NOT ALL ULTRASONICS WASH YOUR RECORDS SAFELY: SPECIFY 35 KHz! 
 "Sonically speaking", the higher the frequency, the smaller the bubbles, smaller the bubbles, they enter small crevices easier., but a RECORD CONTRARY TO BELIEF IS NOT A SMALL CREVICE, MINUTE DETAILS WITHIN THE GROOVE PROVIDE TIMBER AND THE EXCELLENCE OF ANALOG. THESE INDENTATIONS SHOULD NEVER BE REMOVED! One of the critical KIRMUSS differences, it wont deteriorate your records like others on the market will. 

In 3 years of testing,  35 kHz is  the sweet spot, does not remove these details and does not "smoothen" the grooves as would a poorly designed record cleaner leaving a residue which has the same effect.   Not 45, not 80, not 90 kHz. NEVER 120 kHz or higher. All are proven to damage records over time. Much misinformation out there: We have in house experienced  engineers familiar with ultrasonic generation.  35 kHz is gentle yet powerful to do the job!

A Primer on Sonic Technology:

Under pressure of continuous vibration by the ultrasonic generator at the bottom of the tank bubbles generated rise and stretch and compress at a fast rate. Once they reach a certain size as determined by the frequency and strength of the sound waves produced the bubbles lose structural integrity and collapse violently. When these implosions happen near the surface of an object such as a record,  the bubbles emit high-powered streams of plasma that travel at more than 500 miles per hour and collide with, agitate and remove even very tiny particles and substances from the record's surface.  Using a surfactant attracts further these bubbles to the record. (For new records, 40 mL of 70% alcohol per 6 L of distilled water to remove record pressing residue, our 1% propanol surfactant brushed in for mildly to generally abused records). 

CALLED CAVITATION: In an ultrasonic cleaning machine, explosions occur millions of times per second, removing contaminants. Bubble size relates to how much energy is released when they implode.  That’s why a higher frequency produces less intense cleaning, (smaller bubbles) but because a higher frequency yields more bubbles it’s a better choice for cleaning parts with very tiny features such as blind holes, channels and threads. This a danger for vinyl and shellacked records.  

SMALL BUBBLES DAMAGE THE DEPTH OF THE GROOVE REMOVING TIMBER AND HIGH FREQUENCIES. THE BEST ULTRASONIC FREQUENCY AFTER 3 YEARS OF TESTING IS 35 kHz WITH A MAX TEMP OF 95 DEG F. 

Higher frequencies such as 100, 125, 130 kHz are used for fine cleaning jobs as they enter  small surfaces including microelectronics, printed circuit boards, medical and precision optics. powerful explosions remove post manufacturing matter and dirt. The 35 kHz frequency has a good combination of power, penetration, and especially very even energy distribution and can successfully address most cleaning applications when combined with a properly-engineered cleaning system and also does not damage the stainless steel basin as do higher frequencies. 

MORE MYTHS REVEALED: AS TO OTHER SYSTEMS CLEANING 6, 8, 12 OR MORE RECORDS AT A TIME AND UNDERSTANDING SYSTEM SELECTION.  

THE KIRMUSSAUDIO SYSTEM HAS ITS RECORDS SPACED AT THE CORRECT DISTANCE BETWEEN EACH OTHER TAKING ULTRASONIC FREQUENCY, ULTRASONIC POWER TO THE CERAMIC SONIC TRANSDUCERS LOCATED AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAINLESS STEEL BASIN WITH MEASURED BUBBLE GENERATION AND THE RESULTING CAVITATION EFFECT TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION. 

KIRMUSS THUS ENGINEERED THEREFORE A SYSTEM WHERE 4 RECORDS ARE  SAFELY AND PROPERLY CLEANED WITH ALL GROOVES CONTACTED WITHOUT WETTING THE LABEL.  OUR SPECIFIC SPACING IS DESIGNED WHERE  A MAXIMUM OF 4 RECORDS ARE CLEANED  SIMULTANEOUSLY  IN A 6 LITTER, 1.6 GALLON TUB. 

ANY MORE RECORDS ADDED IN THE ASSEMBLY WOULD SEE THE RECORDS CLOSER TO EACH OTHER AND AS A RESULT GROOVES NEAREST THE WAX RELEASE POINT AT THE  END OF RECORD WOULD NOT BE CLEANED AS WE SEE IN OTHER SYSTEMS OFFERING 6, 8, EVEN 12 RECORDS BEING CLEANED AT A TIME.  

AS WE HAVE DISCOVERED USING UNDERWATER CAMERAS, THE  HIGHER THE NUMBER OF RECORDS SPACED CLOSER THAN 1 3/4" AND LESS SEES THE SONIC BUBBLE IMPLOSIONS  CANCEL OUT AS BUBBLES RISE  AND APPROACH THE WAX LINE AND AS A RESULT,  WHERE 2/3 OF THE RECORD WOULD NOT BE CLEANED.  It's called SCIENCE!

INTRODUCING AN AFFORDABLE SOLUTION TO MAINTAINING AND RESTORING YOUR VINYL COLLECTION:

No matter how you store and use your records  they inevitably will require maintenance. When playing records, dust particles and contaminants  always build up on the stylus as the tone arm moves across the record. This  accumulation on the needle also “dulls” the sound.  

The emergence of the dreaded “audible pops” and “crackle sounds” heard are caused by dirt, grime and particles lodged in the record grooves themselves being hit by the needle, as well as static discharges, all amplified by the cartridge. All are annoying. 

Even new  and latest pressings are subject to the same conditions as your old collection.  Their release agents are found on the record from the pressing process and must be removed prior to use, otherwise they attract at an alarming rate dust and other airborne contaminants. 

Therefore, recommended is the continual  maintenance and care of your records by way of regular cleanings which in turn reduces these unwanted pops and augments therefore one's listening pleasure and audition. Cleaning WILL NOT remove unwanted sounds caused by scratches on the record surface and depending on the age and condition of the record, even repeated cleanings may or may not restore the record to like new condition, but reduces the overall undesirable effect previously described.

EVERY ONE'S AN EXPERT! There is much nonsense published regarding the cleaning  of records. Soaps, chemical mixes and brews, and  especially the use of  large portions of alcohol etc., these  all affect the record negatively either during or after cleaning. Air drying or blow drying of chemicals that are not physically removed further creates issues that are cumulative over time. Indeed, to the rescue,  ultrasonic cleaners have been around for decades and its use and attributes are well known and while care must also be taken as to the introduction of chemicals in the ultrasonic bath, this cleaning technology is a very valuable tool to use. We differ in how we handle the record itself. Nonsense though,  are some of the extravagant prices on cleaning machines available as all ultrasonics operate the same way.  >>Many add 2.5 L of alcohol to 6 L of water, dangerous!<<<

The KirmussAudio  Model KA-RC-1 revolutionizes the way we clean records. First and foremost:  a  Patented record suspension system assures where records of any speed and size see their grooves cleaned safely. No damage to the record by mechanical intrusion of skewers and the like.   

Secondly: 
Only distiulled water with a maximum of 40 mL ( 1.4 oz) of ISA 70% solution constitutes the bath  and where applied to the record in its second cycle is an anti-bacterial surfactant, pre and post wash neutral liquid agent is used by way of a supplied goat hair brush. Ultrasonics need a surfactant to aid in the cavitation of the water solution to better clean and remove contaminants. 

Third:
Affordability - everyone can enjoy their collection and restore and maintain it.

THE TEAM:  
After 3 years of  extensive  research and trials audiophile and business owner Charles Kirmuss and recognized turntable restoration expert Dr. Eric Watson developed an affordable, simple to use system. With cUl and UL/CE Electrical and Safety Approvals our    affordable system will increase your listening pleasure by removing most of those annoying unwanted pops and crackling sounds  from both new and old records. This is not some home-made product. With Patents both issued and pending, ware also sure that You will be very pleased with the results and benefit from many years of satisfaction with our revolutionary ultrasonic based cleaner.    

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KS 01 ITG RCM
NZ$ 1,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
A Primer on Sonic Technology:
WHAT IS INCLUDED WITH THE RCM (and what accessories are additional):When you buy one machine you...
EXTENDED REVIEW: arguably the fastest developing technology in hi-fi, ultrasonic vibration - long...
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Reviews

Meet The Maker: An Interview With Charles Kirmuss Of Kirmuss Audio Interview By Suave Kajko Of NOVO Magazine
Suave Kajko

Kirmuss Audio has been making some big waves in the audio world over the last several months, since the introduction of the company's Ultrasonic Vinyl Restoration System. Earlier this month I had the opportunity to chat with founder Charles Kirmuss and learn some insights about his company as well as his innovative vinyl restoration system.

SK (Suave Kajko): I understand that you began building your own audio components and speakers at a very early age. How did you get the 'audio bug' when you were so young?

CK (Charles Kirmuss): Everyone in school thought I was a nerd because I got good grades. But the fact is that I studied little and remembered everything. At the age of 8, my interest in shortwave radio and music as well as woodworking inspired me to build a speaker cabinet from plans in the "Mechanics Illustrated" magazine. I purchased the drivers from a store called Heathkit in Montreal, which was just up the street from my home, nearby a well-known audio retailer Filtronique. Fast forward some 40 years, and Filtronique is now a customer of Kirmuss Audio! My next project was a tube amplifier with huge panel meters. During my high school years every Friday my friend Robert, now an MIT mathematician, and I took the Montreal Metro to St. Catherine Street and visited every audio shop from the east end to the west. We started at Radio Lorenz at 6pm, then worked for an hour at Layton Audio in exchange for equipment, and ended up at the Audio Shop on Mountain Street. All of these stores still exist today. The Audio Shop closed at 9PM but we often stayed until 10pm listening to music. They were the speaker "test lab" for McIntosh products. I still own the McIntosh equipment from the Audio Shop, as well as an Akai GX-747 reel to reel and a Nakamichi Dragon deck from Layton Audio.

SK: When did you start manufacturing cables under the Kirmuss Audio brand and what cables do you currently offer?

CK: Our company has been manufacturing cables for perimeter security for homeland security devices since 1991. Then in 2015, BK Butler of Butler Audio asked us to develop a "crossover friendly" and "neutral sounding" cable for audio applications. Butler Audio has been designing and building vacuum tube music products and guitar pedals for over 25 years for some of the biggest artists in the business, including Elton John, Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) and Eric Clapton. The Kirmuss Audio Adrenaline loudspeaker cable was born out of this relationship with Butler Audio. At the time, it was sold to a select few but now it's available to all musicians and audiophiles. Shortly after that we developed the Kirmuss Audio Sonice speaker cable. This double shielded non-coaxial 8-guage cable was originally designed for power handling in 2-way radio communications, but it proved to offer an exemplary performance for studio, home and car audio applications. Now thanks to the popularity of the Kirmuss Audio Ultrasonic Vinyl Restoration System, our cables are witnessing unprecedented attention from audiophiles. It's not uncommon for audio experts to compare our twelve-foot $1,200 speaker cables to cables costing nearly 10 times as much. Hmm....

Charles Kirmuss, Jerome Fragman and BK Butler, testing Butler Audio's disruptive blue tube technology.

SK: What makes your cables unique compared to other cable designs in the industry?

CK: Nearly all loudspeakers use a crossover network which separates the sound between the drivers and the tweeters, as seamlessly as possible. We focused a lot of attention on how signals flow through the crossover when developing the Adrenaline loudspeaker cable line, which resulted in a very transparent cable that allows the finest of musical details to be heard as intended by the musician. The cable also allows remarkable separation between the instruments which in turn makes the recordings come alive. As a result, many of our Adrenaline cables have found their way into recording studios.

SK: What made you decide to focus on manufacturing strictly speaker cables? Do you plan to expand your product line to include power and interconnect cables in the future?

CK: Rather than developing many cable products like other manufacturers, we decided to focus our efforts on just a few, very carefully designed products: two loudspeaker cables and the Ultrasonic Vinyl Restoration System. I believe that the audio market could use a better silver interconnect cable… hmm, stay tuned!

SK: There appears to be a lot of buzz among the industry and audiophiles about the Ultrasonic Vinyl Restoration System you released earlier this year. What inspired the design of this system?

CK: Four years ago, I showcased the infamous Rogers LS5/9 65th Anniversary Edition loudspeakers at the Munich High End show. Next to my booth, a company was demonstrating both vacuum and sonic record cleaning systems, retailing for $8,000 and $12,000 respectively. I thought to myself "what makes these machines so expensive?" After all, we use $500 sonic frequency machines at Kirmuss & Associates to clean PCBs and aluminum chassis. Why were the other guys asking $8,000? We bought one of each machine and pulled them apart. We quickly realized that there wasn't anything special inside that commanded such high price tags. Further research into this product category revealed that what these machines should really be doing is restoring records, not just cleaning the record surface. All of the vinyl cleaning systems we tested left residue on the record from the cleaning process, which resulted in the cartridge needle making less contact with the record's groove. Most, if not all, did not even clean deep into the groove. We also discovered that some cleaning systems use cleaning agents that are not PVC friendly and some ultrasonic systems promote the growth of fungus if the cleaning system's tank is not emptied immediately after use. Some machines we tested even damaged the records' edges, leaving tiny little pieces of the record at the bottom of the cleaning chamber. Crazy, isn't it? After about three years of tests, we realized that there had to be a better solution to cleaning records. Records made in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s cannot be replaced. Most of the original record stampers have all been destroyed since the advent of the CD. As audiophiles we should be the custodians of this wonderful sounding medium. 

SK: What distinguishes your Ultrasonic Vinyl Restoration System from other record cleaners in the market? Tell me about the technologies that make up this system.

CK: Rather than designing another product that cosmetically "cleans" records, we set out to develop a vinyl restoration system. Most cleaning system use water with an enzyme added, which is not enough to truly clean a record. However vinyl actually rejects water. We also found that other ultrasonic cleaning systems available in the market are simply flawed. A surfactant and some elbow grease is needed to get the job done. Our Ultrasonic Vinyl Restoration System is the only system on the market that physically shows the user when a record has been restored. Usually the restoration process results in 1.5 to 5 dB of signal gain, depending on the condition of the record being restored. That's a great sonic improvement!

SK: What types of music do you enjoy and how often do you get a chance to catch live shows?

CK: At the age of 12, I was given the opportunity to perform some sound mixing for Claude Denjean's recreation of the "Moog!" album. Claude revolutionized well known pieces of music by adding the synthesizer, even with whimsical songs like Joni Mitchel's Taxi. This exposed me to a lot of electronic music from the 70s which I still enjoy today. I also love listening to jazz and disco. I don't get to see live shows as much as I'd like to due to my frequent work travels but I've certainly seen some great performances in the past. I enjoy live performances because they come straight from the heart of the artist – there are no second takes.

SK: How many records do you have in your collection and what are some of your favorites? Why are these your favorites?

CK: My record collection increases weekly. In the last few years it has jumped from a modest 800 to over 6,000 records. My excuse to buy records all the time is that I need used records to demo our Ultrasonic Vinyl Restoration System. I love albums that exemplify a great sounding music system – recordings filled with strings, brass percussion and dimensionality. The old Denon label resurrected Asian pressings are some of my favorites. Of course I also regularly spin up some of the recordings I used to work on as a sound mixer when I was younger. My favorite record is a radio broadcast of a commentary recorded on glass in 1962, partly because I'm happy that we are able to restore shellacked and glass records  

SK: Is there any significance to the rabbit in the Kirmuss Audio logo or did you simply intend for your logo to look more fun than regular logos? I noticed that your website also features many pictures of stuffed rabbits.

CK: What does a wife give to someone that has everything? We have hares around our home in Denver. One even traveled in my car's undercarriage to Colorado Springs and back, as well as to the office and home for months. So one day my wife brought me a small gift, a stuffed rabbit – courtesy of Ikea – and I named him Sal. I reciprocated with a stuffed rabbit on her birthday, which she christened Sally. Then she surprised me with little Squirt and Itsy-Bitsy. Products of Sal and Sally? We'll never know! As we increased the production of the Ultrasonic Vinyl Restoration System, they seemed to multiply like rabbits. A rabbit's sensitive hearing also seemed like a good parallel to a good audiophile ear. Much like our Ultrasonic Vinyl Restoration System, the rabbits are now spreading around the globe since we hand them out a various trade shows. Sal travels with me globally and aids with jet lag. Keep tabs on Sal and Co!

for anyone serious about vinyl it solves the cleaning issue very elegantly and is very competitively priced.
Linette Smith

CONCLUSION: At just NZ$2,000 the Kirmuss is not really an impulse buy, but for anyone serious about vinyl I would say it solves the cleaning issue very elegantly and it is very compeditively. If you were very strict with yourself and made sure that every record that you bought was cleaned straight away (even new ones) I am sure that it would prolong the life of both your records and your cartridge. For a professional second-hand record dealer, I would say it would be an essential piece of kit as it does transform dirty records. Once you get a feel for the process it is very, very simple and as it is very ‘hands on’ you know that your precious records are being taken care of, there is nothing to worry about as you are in complete control and can see what is happening all the time. If the cost was an issue, it is the kind of product that you could club together with a few like-minded friends to buy between you, perhaps record cleaning parties could be the Tupperware parties of 2019.

EXTENDED REVIEW: Having encountered the Kirmuss team at Hifi shows, including at Cranage this year where they were demonstrating their machines abilities on visitors’ records, and also spectacles, we were very keen to give their Ultrasonic Record Cleaner a spin. Kirmuss Audio are based in the USA but the international versions of the machine are available from their authorised dealers and distributors globally. Our review model was supplied by Kirmuss Audio Europe, based in the UK.

Cleaning records is something that nobody really likes doing, but it is essential to preserve your vinyl and also your cartridge. We buy a lot of second-hand records and I have also recently rediscovered some of my records from my teenage years..records that have only ever been cleaned with a spritz of WH Smith’s record cleaning fluid in years gone by, and that have been festering in their sleeves for the last 30 years. The ultimate test for the efficacity of any record cleaner though has to be the dreaded ‘DJ’ records. Stuart was a club/radio DJ in the early 1990’s so records from this era would surely show how well a cleaning machine works. I decided to rootle out some of the filthiest that I could find to see if the Kirmuss machine could revive them.

Everyone has different methods of cleaning records, from spraying and wiping, brushing, painting them with PVA glue and peeling it off, to buying machines that cost as much as a decent turntable to wash and hoover the grime from the groove. We once encountered a second-hand record dealer who swore by cleaning vinyl with Pledge furniture polish, I would say that is one to avoid, don’t try this at home kids!

HOW THE ULTRASONIC METHOD WORKS

The system controller generates high frequency ultrasonic waves oscillating at 35 kHz, from three strategically located generators on the bottom of the machine. These waves then pass through the distilled water and 70% Isopropyl alcohol mix in the bath, creating cavitation which leads additionally to the generation of microscopically small bubbles. These micro-bubbles burst when they come into contact with the surface being cleaned. This collapsing action dislodges, then pushes the contaminants away from the surface of the material being cleaned. Additionally, gentle heat also aids in the cleaning action.

UNBOXING & WHATS INCLUDED

The machine arrived well boxed and with everything included to get going other than 6 litres of distilled water and 40ml of 70% Isopropyl alcohol per bath. You also need a spray bottle with distilled water in for rinsing. I would also add that you need to buy yourself a stack of new record sleeves, we have plenty of MoFi Original Master Sleeves, basically the last thing you want to do is spend time cleaning a record and then put it back in a dirty sleeve. The water can be picked up easily at the supermarket and we ordered the IPA online. Full instructions and a quick start guide are also included. At first glance the machine looks a bit like a printer but is ergonomically designed and easy to pick up with the handles on the top. It has a weight to it but is not overly heavy. There is also a touch screen controller on the top.

The ‘lid’ part houses Kirmuss’ Patented Record Suspension System where records of different sizes are dropped into slots. It spins the records in the stainless-steel bath which holds the cleaning liquid, without getting the labels wet.

The records are spaced for optimal cleaning and you can clean two 331/3, one 45 and one 78 at the same time. One ‘bath’ will clean 15 to 20 records.

The accessories all seemed to be high quality and I liked the cheeky touch of the Rabbit logo. You get a mains lead, draining hose, combination carbon fibre brush/para-static felt brush, anti-bacterial/anti-static surfactant spray (99% distilled water and 1% diol2 propyl), stylus cleaning kit, opticians microfibre cloth, 7” felt mat, camel hair brush and a rabbit microfibre cloth. 

The only gripe that I had thus far was that the supplied instruction pamphlet is a little ‘busy’ in its layout and the text is tiny, making it quite difficult to read, this is carried through to the website which again has a lot going on, I would suggest a redesign of both the site and the literature to make it clean, clear and simple and therefore easy to follow.

THE PROCESS

There is a very helpful video on the website, I watched it and then outlined the steps below to ensure I followed the instructions to the letter.  It all seemed pretty simple, the process is as follows.  

  1. Fill the bath with distilled water up to the full mark, the instructions say this will be about 6 litres. Measure 40 ml of 70% Isopropyl alcohol and add. Then plug in the machine and switch on the power switch at the back. The LCD screen will show 5 minutes.
  2. To get rid of bubbles you then press the pulse button twice and the ultrasonic pulse activates to de-gas the mixture. This takes 1 min 36, once done repeat for a second time.
  3. Place the ‘lid’ with the record suspension system on the top of the machine and connect its cable at the side.
  4. Press the power button twice, the motor starts and then slip in the record. The record will spin for 5 minutes.
  5. After 5 minutes take out the record and place onto the felt mat which is placed on the microfibre ‘rabbit’ cloth.
  6. Take the bottle of surfactant and apply one spray at each of the positions of 12, 3 and 8 o’clock on the record. With the camel hair brush, lightly brush the surfactant into the record. Turn over and repeat. (Don’t be worried if you see a toothpaste like residue on the record).
  7. Put the record back into the machine and run through another 5 minute wash cycle.
  8. Make sure you rinse the brush with distilled water from a spray bottle and brush dry on the microfibre rabbit cloth to clean between each use.
  9. Repeat step 6 again, you will probably see more of the white ‘paste’ appear. Repeat step 7.
  10. Keep repeating steps 6 and 7 until no more of the white tooth paste like stuff appears, when you don’t see the paste at step 6, you just need to do step 7 and then move on. Really dirty records may need 7 to 8 cycles.
  11. Keep an eye on the indicator on the display, if this goes into the red zone and flashes you need to turn off for around 15 minutes and allow the machine to cool down, this is perfectly normal if you are running the machine for several cycles.
  12. Mist the record lightly with some pure distilled water and gently dry with the opticians’ cloth. Repeat on the other side.
  13. Wipe the record in a circular fashion with the parastatic felt brush.
  14. Before playing or storing the record, put it on the turntable and set it spinning. Take the clean and dry camel hair brush, spray it lightly with surfactant and then hold it gently against the record as it spins to apply the antibacterial solution. Repeat on the second side.
  15. Then you can either play the record or store it in an antistatic, antifungal sleeve.

RESULTS

Visually, the results were very obvious.  As you get used to the process you soon get a ‘feel’ for when the record is clean and when you need to keep repeating the cleaning cycle. Of course, cleaning will never get rid of actual scratches in a record, so don’t put in a badly scratched disc and expect miracles.

I spent a full Sunday afternoon cleaning various records for my test. Given the filthiness and general DJ battering that the Tresor record in particular had received over the years, I wasn’t expecting a ‘water into wine’ type miracle, however that’s what I got. Yes, it took me a long time to get that pair of discs clean, but it was worth it. The sound was like a new record, no surface noise at all. The record also seemed to have a lot less static on removing it from its fresh sleeve and attracted much less dust from the environment. Like I said earlier, I specifically selected records to really give the Kirmuss machine a difficult test, it has gone above and beyond what I expected from it…to say I am impressed is an understatement.

CONCLUSION

At just NZ$2,000 the Kirmuss is not really an impulse buy, but for anyone serious about vinyl I would say it solves the cleaning issue very elegantly ans it is very compeditively priced. If you were very strict with yourself and made sure that every record that you bought was cleaned straight away (even new ones) I am sure that it would prolong the life of both your records and your cartridge. For a professional second-hand record dealer, I would say it would be an essential piece of kit as it does transform dirty records. Once you get a feel for the process it is very, very simple and as it is very ‘hands on’ you know that your precious records are being taken care of, there is nothing to worry about as you are in complete control and can see what is happening all the time. If the cost was an issue, it is the kind of product that you could club together with a few like-minded friends to buy between you, perhaps record cleaning parties could be the Tupperware parties of 2019.

There are a lot of record cleaning solutions out there but for me, carrying on trying different methods now would just be a false economy. You buy the machine once and then all you need to buy as you go on is distilled water, 70% isopropyl alcohol, fresh sleeves and more surfactant, Kirmuss say that one bottle will clean 100 – 150 records). The Kirmuss system should not be seen as simply a record cleaning machine, it is a professional grade archival system that has been made affordable to anyone wanting to preserve or restore their vinyl collection and as such thoroughly deserves Hifi Pig’s Oustanding Product award.

AT A GLANCE

Build quality: Feels very ‘professional’ and high quality. Looks serious and fit for purpose.

Ease of use: 
Quite time consuming, especially for a very dirty record, however, the process is very simple and once you pick it up, becomes like second nature. It is actually quite a relaxing way to spend an afternoon!

Value for money: 
Comes with everything you need other than the ‘bath’ liquids, spray bottle and new sleeves so you can basically get going straight out of the box. It is a big investment, however will be something that once you have bought you would stick with and use forever. I can’t see myself bothering with trying other methods now as this does exactly what it says on the tin.

Pros: Video is much easier to follow than the supplied written instructions or website. The machine is not silent when the motor is running, but is a lot less noisy than machines that ‘hoover’ up the cleaning liquid. The ultrasonic bath can be used to clean other things such as jewelry, glasses etc (using a basket adaptor that is available for £47.99, or by holding your glasses in the bath). When the records are clean, they are REALLY clean. You feel confident in the fact that it is not doing any damage to your records.

Cons: Literature and website are difficult to follow and read, a bit of a case of ‘too much information’ rather than the simple steps you need to know.

........ Linette Smith

I have to declare that the KARC-1 is the best record cleaner on the market. Bar none.

CONCLUSION: to say that I was pleased with the performance of the Kirmuss was to issue a laughable understatement. The KARC-I not only removes troublesome noise efficiently, to give new life to your vinyl, it also provides a level of sonic transparency that is truly astounding. Once you hear the effects yourself, you'll realise that you've never actually heard your record collection. Not properly. As such, I have to declare that the KARC-1 is the best record cleaner on the market. Bar none.

EXTENDED REVIEW: arguably the fastest developing technology in hi-fi, ultrasonic vibration - long used in other industries for cleaning purposes has risen to dominate midrange and high-end vinyl record cleaning too.

The idea here is to dip your vinyl into a specialist bath of distilled water (not low enough to wet the label, of course). That disc will normally be slowly mechanically rotated. Built-in transducers then introduce vibration in the water, producing millions of rising bubbles that stretch and compress. The frequency of the transducers determine how large the bubbles become. Their structural integrity fails and they collapse... violently. If this happens near vinyl grooves, they agitate and remove surrounding particles. This is known a cavitation. Any surfactant (a substance to lower water's surface tension) added to the area attracts further bubbles.

Kirmuss has taken three years to develop the KARC-I, focusing on the right ultrasonic frequency for vinyl cleaning, the correct height to hold the record in the bath, using a degasser (unique in hi-fi vinyl cleaning) to improve cavitation efficiency, developing an effective surfactant and more.

DESIGN
The rear of the chassis features a power cable and rocker power switch. The right side features a drain pipe for the bath. The front sees a sturdy valve switch to open/close that pipe.
Top-right features the touch interface. A readout keeps a track of the cavitation cleaning countdown (78s only need two minutes of ultrasonic cleaning whereas vinyl requires the default five minutes per cycle). Lights indicate the active process and current temperature. Other buttons activate the cavitation time, its duration and that degass operation.

The upper, removable, one-piece motor assembly features a series of cogs and belts that gently turn the record during cleaning. It fits snugly on top of the bath. In it are slots for two 12” discs, one 10" disc and a 7” disc. This format diversity is a real plus point for the Kirmuss.

IN USE

Cleaning a record is long-winded but effective. You initially flip-flop between exposing the record to cavitation for five minutes then you apply the company's own surfactant directly to the grooves as a spray, worked in by the company's supplied brush. The system is extremely thorough and will even remove old, hardened substances that have been resident in the grooves, sometimes for decades. Repeated applications might be necessary before the grooves are totally clean - a visual indication will guide you here (the company provides help to recognise the signs).

Adding a 70:30 alcohol/distilled water mix to the distilled water acts as a degreaser. Audiophiles will recoil with alarm at the use of alcohol but the company is adamant, after consultation with its own chemists, that no damage will occur because only 40ml is used, less than 1% of the bath total. Also, that 40ml is a 70/30 mix with distilled water and fully soluble so it never hits the vinyl in a concentrated form.


There are other steps/tools in the cleaning process that provide a postwash and a de-fungal cycle for the vinyl record along with an anti-static application. The Kirmuss method is nothing if not thorough.

 

SOUND QUALITY

I initially cleaned a dirty record using the machine and surfactant only - no alcohol was introduced at this time. An old Ritchie Havens LP provided a consistent low-level Rice Krispie noise throughout.

After 2 ultrasonic cycles featuring the surfactant, the noise had almost gone. Only occasional (very) minor clicks remained.

I persisted until the noise reduction had reached a plateau of quality that would not change with further cleaning applications.

In addition to the low noise, sonics had also improved. Clarity was enhanced while extra air and space was heard across the soundstage.

I then added the alcohol mix to the bath water.

I listened again, further noise was removed, making this record pretty darned silent in terms of nasty clicks, pops and white noise-type effects.

What really amazed me, though, was the improvement in sonics. Focus, precision, clarity - all rose through the roof, as it where. Haven's voice was enhanced in terms of the texture and gravel-like nature of his crescendos while his acoustic guitar was powerful and expressive during his powerful strumming routines. Transparency and tonal realism were the headline effects of adding the degreaser. The improvements were impressive, to say the least.

Finally I cleaned a mucky Jan Akkerman LP with my reference record cleaning machine, which reduced surface noise. Moving this record to the Kirmuss then improved the sonics by a clear distance while reducing noise a tad more and increasing gain by one to two decibels because the stylus tip had a purer contact with the groove. 'Cleaning the same record, once more, with other record cleaning machines I have added a sonic veil to the presentation. It was as if they had coated the grooves with a new layer of grease or somesuch. Re-cleaning with the Kirmuss removed that sonic veil to enhance tonality once more.

 

CONCLUSION

To say that I was pleased with the performance of the Kirmuss was to issue a laughable understatement. The KARC-I not only removes troublesome noise efficiently, to give new life to your vinyl, it also provides a level of sonic transparency that is truly astounding. Once you hear the effects yourself, you'll realise that you've never actually heard your record collection. Not properly. As such, I have to declare that the KARC-1 is the best record cleaner on the market. Bar none.

REFERENCE GEAR:

Origin Live Sovereign turntable, Origin Live Enterprise 12in arm, Van Den Hul Crimson XGW Stradivarius cartridge, Icon PS3 phono amplifier, Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp, Icon Audio MB845 Mk.Il monoblock amplifiers, Quad ESL-57 speakers with One Thing upgrade, Vertex AQ & Tellurium Q cable, Blue Horizon Professional Rack System, Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components, Audio Desk's Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner