Investigating if ultrasound is harming LPs


Take a piece of a LP and US clean it.

With a precision weight scale. Taking the weight before and after the ultrasound cleaning. To determine IF any material is removed from the LP or not with the ultrasound usage.



The things that are needed for the test setup:

  • US DIY 6L cleaner. With 180 watt at 40 kHz.
  • Weight scale 2 decimals of a gram and max 5g capacity.
  • A piece of a real LP record 



First I selected a LP and tried to cut out a piece that is as close to 5 grams. To get the maximum size as possible that the scale can support. Tried to get a piece that includes lead-in to lead-out. To especially get some of the "glossy" part of those.


I used the US cleaning to do an initial cleaning of the record ~5g piece.


When I was not interested in weight loss due to dirt coming off. I need to start with a clean piece that is just the LP material and nothing else. When the goal is to determine if the ultrasound is removing any material or not. 


For the US bath I used a little bit of heat 30°C and reverse osmosis RO water (more or less the same as distilled water). And some wetting agent.

When we want the scrubbing bubbles being able to work into the groove. The piece of the LP will hang in the water like a record is and not lay down in the bottom of the US bath tub. 


I will run the US machine timer set to 30 min. That in practice a LP is less than half of its area at any time in the bath. That means more than half of the LP area is not in the bath when the record is revolving during a normal cleaning session. So in practice by having this piece submerged and US cleaned effectively for 30 min is like someone is spinning and cleaning in the US bath for more than one hour ! So it is more correct to see this 30 min as over an hour of US cleaning if it were a whole spinning LP. 


For the weight scale I make sure that the LP piece is clean and dry. And I try several times to rule out deviation between measurements, if any. Method where I learned to put the piece of LP on the exact same place on the scale plus I for each measurement looked that it went back to 0.00 g when I picked up the piece. I also reseted by pressing tare and looking again so I got 0.00 before putting the piece on the scale to get a new reading. 


Calculation example if we have a 5 g piece and 1% of its material were removed. Then that 1% should weight 0.05 grams and 0.5% should be 0.025 gram. That is what I see no issues to detect on the weight scale when the repetition accuracy is greater than 0.025!


So this method should be able to detect if less than 0.5% of the LP were removed by the scrubbing bubbles by the ultrasound and it's usage of it. 

But I was not expecting what happened below..


1st try Results

The start weight of the cleaned LP piece:

  1. 5.01 gram
  2. 5.01 gram
  3. 5.01 gram
  4. 5.01 gram
  5. 5.00 gram
  6. 5.00 gram
  7. 5.01 gram
  8. 5.01 gram

Average: 5.0075 grams.


After US bath "cleaning" first weight session:

  1. 5.02 gram
  2. 5.02 gram
  3. 5.02 gram
  4. 5.01 gram
  5. 5.01 gram
  6. 5.01 gram
  7. 5.01 gram
  8. 5.01 gram

Average: 5.01375 grams.


Hmm here is something fishy business going on between the weight sessions..


After the first US bath "cleaning" second weight session:

  1. 5.02 gram
  2. 5.02 gram
  3. 5.02 gram
  4. 5.02 gram
  5. 5.02 gram
  6. 5.02 gram
  7. 5.02 gram
  8. 5.02 gram

Average: 5.02 grams.


So there is something going on between weighting sessions..

I have taken those two weighting sessions and the average of the 2 x 8 measurements is 5.016875 grams.


Second try cleaning 

Now I am repeating the 30 min (one hour see above) Ultrasound treatment/"cleaning" for a second time.


And will weigh it also in two sessions and see what we get.

After 2nd US bath "cleaning" first weight session:

  1. 5.02 gram
  2. 5.02 gram
  3. 5.02 gram
  4. 5.02 gram
  5. 5.01 gram
  6. 5.01 gram
  7. 5.01 gram
  8. 5.01 gram

Average: 5.015 gram


After 2nd US bath "cleaning" second weight session:

  1. 5.01 gram
  2. 5.01 gram
  3. 5.01 gram
  4. 5.01 gram
  5. 5.01 gram
  6. 5.01 gram
  7. 5.00 gram
  8. 5.01 gram

Average: 5.00875 gram


So after a second US cleaning round and having the 16 measurements from the first US cleaning round.

Average from the two measurement sessions is after the 2nd US "cleaning": 5.011875 grams.



Is that there might be some deviation between measurement sessions of some reason that I can't explain:

  • Maybe it would average out if I took more than 8 measurements.
  • I should take more than only 8 measurements before the first UC cleaning session, which is why I later doubled them.
  • And I felt that I got better and better in my measurements routine. So the later measurements are more stable and have higher repetition accuracy than the first ones had.

I could leave the first iteration out from this post, but I wanted you all to see the whole process and not manipulate the findings.


Of the conclusions above I feel and believe mathematically with more samples that the second round is the one to look at and dismiss the first round.


Before I did the second US "cleaning" the average weight of the 16 measurements were:

  • 5.016875

After the second US "cleaning" the average weight of those 16 measurements were:

  • 5.011875

5.011875/5.016875 = 0.999003363647


Almost 0.1% (0.0996636352%) less weight after the second US cleaning.


That can be one of two things or little bit of both also:

  1. Measurement deviation before and after measurements. And more repetitions and measurements could be done. But I will stop here.
  2. That actually a VERY tiny part is removed of the LP by US


It is up to you guys to decide what you believe the data means. 


But remember it is a rather powerful US with 180W and in practice a very long US cleaning session as explained above.


Another note in the method of what I observed was that the little LP part were moving around in the bath when it were only hanging in a string. Usually a record is more firm and stable when the scrubbing bubbles are acting on its surface. If that makes any difference for the outcome but worthy of a note.

​​​​​(I got images on all the things and measurements 40 (!) But this forum is making it hard for me to attach them here)



start over with a very important class called ; Design of Experiment, one very important step is expert review of the DOE..before proceeding… to in your case, generate junk science….

You want to hold the vinyl rigidly during the cleaning, to mimic the situation with an actual LP. Otherwise the US energy is dissipated kinetically as the 5g piece of vinyl is tossed about. Some energy is lost that might otherwise hypothetically be effective in grinding the vinyl.

@lewm @tomic601 @czarivey ​​​​@fuzztone are all correct.

I’m the guy that usually signs off with "happy listening" because sounds that make us happy are what the audio hobby is all about. This thread touches on my professional world of metrology and begs more rigorous attention, however.

Examining the mass of a vinyl record before and after ultrasonic cleaning might produce some interesting data. It’s far from certain the observed data would be meaningful.

It must start with defining the capabilities of the mass measuring device: Tolerance, resolution and gauge repeatability & reproducibility. Those must be known to generate validation of the recorded statistics.

Very few consumer devices are capable of tolerances better than 0.1 gram. This presumes the device is tared (validated) using a known standard traceable to an accredited, recognized standard (NIST in the US or NPL in the UK are examples). Generally, they can resolve to 0.1 gram (my Ortofon DS-1 and by Ohaus triple-beam lab scale are both examples that do so). Their tolerance is affected by a number of other issues and is emphatically not stated by their manufacturer (marketer) for these consumer grade devices.

Tolerance is the statistical measure of confidence (aka uncertainty, which has it’s own associated statistical measure of confidence). To that must be added the aggregate of standard deviation of repeatability (the ability of the same operator using the same device to achieve the same result) and standard deviation of reproducibility (the ability of multiple operators using the same device to achieve the same result). Only then can an approximation of measuring precision be determined.

Returning to the example posted, it would be very surprising indeed if the gross tolerance of the device employed is anything better than 0.5 grams, excluding repeatability and reproducibility variables.

Sample preparation has already been observed as insufficiently precise. Using a non-destructively obtained sample (i.e. an entire vinyl record) would be more representative of any potential real-world implications.

Repeating the experiment with sufficient device, sample, technique and documentation exactitude would be needed to examine if the results produce meaningful data.

ah….    @effischer Yes, an excellent start….  Certain experts in metrology and the other sciences certainly rescused ( or not ) my bacon when someone decided to use a tool where cal / cert had expired….

Enjoy the music ;-)