Keith Monks discOvery mini One Sapphire Limited Edition

Celebrating 45 years of the original – the Keith Monks Record Cleaning Machine

Keith Monks Audio today unveiled the new discOvery mini One Sapphire Limited Edition Record Cleaning Machine.  This exclusive model takes all the benefits of the discOveryOne so successfully launched in 2013, and then improves on it.  The Sapphire is the smallest ever Keith Monks and features a vacuum gauge, hinged lid cover and the Keith Monks Classic precision wash system built in. Each Sapphire machine and its accompanying certificate are individually numbered, and both display a reproduction Keith Monks original signature.

The discOvery mini One Sapphire is a limited edition of 45 production units worldwide.

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Record Cleaning: worth the effort and cost?

I’ll start with what I do and then try to give some simple reasoning behind the thinking.

About half my total vinyl purchases are from charity (thrift) shops and from secondhand (used) record shops. Most of these shops are not the type that clean and grade their stock. The best indication of likely quality is a clean sleeve, not too much dust and not too many finger marks on the record itself. I always clean these records before playing. They usually end up looking really good and sounding somewhere between fabulous and OK.

Sometimes the best looking example is the worst sounding, but until I get to play them there is no way to judge.

Once cleaned a record is given a new polylined inner sleeve as there is little point in putting a clean record in a first sleeve.

New records are rarely cleaned before first play and only maybe 20% are cleaned at all when new. If they are significantly noisy and from a reputable supplier they go back for replacement. If they are from a less easy to communicate with source such as a stall at a hi-fi show or a record fair they will get cleaned.

So does the record cleaning help? A simple answer: yes. It doesn’t make damaged records perfect, but it does clean out crud, whether that is excess mold release agent, leaching plastizers, or just dirt. On some records is removes a good amount of the clicks and pops and on others it just removes a level of low-level masking.

My Rega RP6, Audio Technical OC9II combination is very enjoyable to listen too but it is quite sensitive to click and pops. Unfortunately, no cleaning will remove those that are ground into the surface of the grooves. Some great looking records sound as if they have been played with a knitting needle.

I don’t believe it’s a good idea to clean records too often (once a year is as often as I will ever contemplate), as I believe that over cleaning, whether too often or with too strong a cleaner, is the reason for some enthusiasts saying cleaning makes records sound worse. I believe an over cleaned record, which has had too much plastizer stripped out of the groove, just wears too quickly and becomes noisy quickly.

I’ve linked below to two zipped files. Both the same section of a Bryan Ferry track. The first recorded as the record came out of the sleeve after buying it at my local Cancer Research charity shop. The second, the same record, after a clean using Keith Monks Break the Mold fluid on the Keith Monks Classic Record Cleaning machine.

The recording was achieved using the Pure Vinyl 4 app on a Mac mini.  The ADC was a Zoom TAC-2 set to 24bit 88.2kHz, chosen at it is an easy down sample to CD resolution for anyone without a hi-res DAC. The files are zipped aiff.

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions but may I suggest that you concentrate less on the clicks and pops and more on the inner detail, the tonal quality of the backing singers and the way you may find you interact differently to both track excerpts.

Bryan Ferry as purchased

Bryan Ferry cleaned

One small but essential piece of advice. if you decide to invest in a Record Cleaning Machine make sure it’s a quiet one. An afternoon cleaning records wearing ear defenders is not fun. An afternoon cleaning records listening to the record you have just cleaned is great fun.

If you don’t feel the expenditure is worthwhile consider visiting a hi-fi retailer or record shop that offers record cleaning services once in a while.  Start with a couple to check their care and attention and if all’s well get a few of your noisier, muckier records cleaned.

Keith Monks launches discOveryOne

discOveryOne from Keith Monks. Inventor of the original electric Record Cleaning Machine, brings the record cleaning quality so prized by the BBC, the US Library of Congress and the British Library National Sound Archive among others, in an easier and more affordable package.

Keith Monks today announced that the new discOveryOne Record Cleaner had started production in the UK. It will shortly be available worldwide.

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Keith Monks Returns To CES

CES – High Performance Audio at The Venetian, Room 30-233

The Keith Monks brand returns to CES – after its previous showing back in 1983, some 27 years ago. Jonathan Monks, son of the famous Keith, returns Keith Monks Audio to CES: leading from the front in the newly reinvigorated company. Jonathan has spent the last few years refining the design and manufacture of the most famous record cleaning machines in the world.

The timing is ideal: it is the 40th anniversary of Keith Monks Audio and the new and much-planned celebratory model, the Ruby, is finally coming off the production line.

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Record Cleaning Shocker

Last night I visited a friend who was borrowing a Keith Monks Classic Record Cleaning Machine. I arrived to find a large pile of cleaned LPs and a man excitedly playing a track from a record, cleaning it and then playing it again.
I know KM is a client and I’m therefore biased, but the results were shocking.
The sound quality improvement wasn’t subtle at all. It wasn’t just a case of less noise: less clicks and pops. The shocking change was in detail and the ability to hear sounds low in the mix that were just inaudible before or in the case of voices unintelligible before.
It was the sort of improvements to sound quality that a significant upgrade in cartridge might bring.
As I said, shocking. Good shocking though.