isonic CS6.1-PRO ultrasonic record cleaner

For those considering ultrasonic record cleaning options, this is a brief re-cap of my experience with my new isonic unit purchased 3 months ago.  I'd long considered buying a US unit having cleaned my approx 600-700 collection over 20 years with a VPI 16.5 wet/vac system.  I was not interested in spending $4k to clean one record at a time, nor $2-$3k for a unit requiring a time consuming, multiple step process, also to clean one record at a time.  Off the bat, two features of the isonic caught my attention: while not cheap ($1k), it is competitively priced AND it cleans several records at a time.  Also, isonic didn't start their business to sell record cleaners, they started building ultrasonic cleaners for commercial use and eventually began building units specifically to clean vinyl.  They adapted an existing, proven technology and manufacturing process with which they had a ton of experience and adapted it to a unit that cleans records. Cutting to the chase, and most  importantly, does this unit do what the manufacturer claims?  To my eyes and ears, yes. There's no doubt records come out of the machine clean, dry, and dust free.  No longer do I feel like my stylus is acting like a dredging tool while playing a record.  After VPI cleanings, when finished playing a record side, I always had a bit residue or dust on the stylus, always. Not after US cleaning.  Records sound clearer, less noisy, and in one case a record I was about to toss actually became listenable (not perfect as it had obviously been abused, but I decided to keep it).  Everything about the sound is improved, everything.  Aesthetically speaking, they come out shiny.

Additional benefits:  Jerry Van answers the phone, he's available and very helpful.  They ship freight pre-paid and if you live outside of Illinois, you may not have to pay sales tax.  

The motor unit and spindle which holds the records has two speeds - one for cleaning, the other for spin drying (600RPM). The unit comes with a shroud to keep water from flying off the records into the room while spin drying.  No need to remove the records between cleaning and drying cycles, no need to ever touch the record surfaces.  Finished records are 100% dry and require no hand or towel drying. 

The spacers used between the records also serve as label protectors, labels remain perfectly dry. If you feel you need more space between records to enhance cavitation, use two spacers instead of one (which I do).  I've settled on 5 records at a time, instead of the advertised 8-10.  You can buy 7" record adapters if needed.  I'm not sure about 78's.  

The company claims you can use filtered tap water, which I do.  No need to buy gallons of distilled water.  Based on my experience, I feel no need to use anything other than clean tap water.  The unit comes with an in-tank filtering system which can be easily disassembled and cleaned.  I do so after every cleaning session (20- 30 records at a whack). It also has a de-gassing feature, 

Other benefits:  you need only two items that don't come with the unit:  a bucket to drain the tank into and a water pitcher to fill it with.  You do have to drain the tank in between each cleaning cycle - the spin dry cycle occurs in an empty tank, leaving everything else in place. Everything else you need to use the isconic is in the box.  The cleaning cycles range from 3 minutes to 15 minutes, you choose.  The drying cycle is long, but you can interrupt it if you know the records are dry. Humidity and ambient temp will cause that to vary. The tank has a variety of heat settings; I set it at the lowest temp and just use warm tap water.  

As with everything else new, there is a bit of a learning curve.  Nothing major but a little experience is helpful.  Couple things I feel I should mention:  1) the motor assembly has forward and rearward positions in its bracket:  rearward to tip the spindle up to load it and to lower records into the bath, and also rearward to tip it back up to remove the records.  The motor/spindle assembly has to be pushed forward in its bracket after the records have been loaded, secured and dropped into the bath.  If you don't push the motor assembly forward (it can be a little sticky) then the front bearing (opposite the motor) at the end of the spindle won't rest on the bracket on the opposite side of the tank, which is important. 2) Whether necessary or not, before draining the tank I unplug the filter.  The motor and filter operate on a split wire A/C cord, the tank on its own power line, you need two power outlets.  I just don't like the idea of a filter pumping or operating when there's no water in the tank.  It may or may not matter, I don't know.  3) if you add too much cleaning solution you'll generate too much foam - 1/2 a capful per tank is plenty;  the company is also testing and offering non-foaming soap formulations. 4) read the manual !  I usually don't read manuals, which is not very smart, but the quick sheet and full manual are worth reading, I'm certainly not covering all you need to know in this commentary. 5)  right or wrong, what I feel most confident in is this, as all my records have been previously cleaned with the VPI and are not filthy by any means: a 5 or 8 minute cleaning cycle with soap, drain half the tank then add back in a half tank of fresh, clean water (minus the soap) and do another 3-5 minute rinse cycle, then drain the tank and spin dry. Of course for the perfectionist, just drain the tank fully and run the rinse cycle with ALL fresh, clean water, though Jerry says a rinse cycle is not necessary. The degasser feature only operates with cycles set at 10 minutes or longer.  6) let the motor rest for a few minutes in between cleaning cycles, it will get slightly warm  spinning at 600 RPM when drying records for several minutes.  7) if I buy a garage sale record that looks like it was used to serve pizza would I put it directly into my isonic?  I'm gifting my VPI to a friend, so my answer is this:  probably not, though it would most likely work just fine on a 15 minute setting (after which I'd look at the filter core).  I'd probably clean it in the sink with a microfiber cloth and some soap first, just to gently remove the heaviest dirt and grime.  8) at the end of a session, disassemble the filter unit and clean the core - I use a soft old toothbrush and some warm water.  It is interesting to see exactly what has been removed from your records. 9) I believe the manual says you can remove the filter from the bath prior to spin drying - I've not been able to do that because the front record is to close to it.  Besides, as I said, I just unplug it before emptying the tank to spin dry. Left in place it is not in the way. 

I'm happy with my investment and, no, I've no affiliation with isonic other than being a satisfied customer.  I can't speak to long-term performance or durability, though just using and handling the unit for the last 3 months or so, it feels, looks, and performs like it will last.  If there's a problem I'm confident that isonic will be helpful in resolving it.  





I almost pulled the trigger on the Humminguru  but I think this might be exactly what I am looking for.   It’s 2 X the price but I have always said “ buy once, cry once”

I appreciate the kind remarks re: my comments about my personal experience with the isonic machine. I understand there’s a lot of discussion out there about using filtered or treated tap water vs. distilled water. To be clear, the manufacturer assured me that decent tap water is all that is needed for superior results. Our house water is filtered with a $3k water softening system, (we don’t have any filters on any of our taps), so I consider our indoor water ’treated’. Is distilled water better? In a perfect world, it would be hard to argue or suggest otherwise. How much better is the question to consider. Given I empty the tank completely between batches, dumping every drop between cleaning cycles, I believe I’m using quality water which may or may not be bettered by distilled water. I see nor hear evidence of any residue after cleaning records. If our water was contaminated I believe we’d see evidence of residue on our plumbing fixtures, toilets, shower tile, etc. and we don’t. We routinely change the filter on our softening system and have had our water tested. Is it as pure and soft as Rocky Mountain spring water? Probably not, in all honesty. By filling the tank to the ’max’ line each time, records are cleaned within 1/8" of the labels (which remain perfectly dry due to the design of the spacers which are gasketed) which, to me, means if there were residue I’d see it on the lead-out groove portion of the records and up to the label. I do not. As I wrote above, the records come out shiny with no visible evidence of any residue. I set up in the kitchen with easy access to the kitchen sink tap for water and of course the sink itself in which to dump water after each batch. If I thought distilled water would make a noticeable difference, I can certainly afford it and I’d use it. However, the ability to use filtered or treated tap water was a big selling feature for me, especially when I’m dumping 1.5 - 3 gallons of water every time after cleaning 5 five records. A cleaning cycle plus a rinse cycle uses close to 3 gallons which all go down the drain between batches. More importantly, the manufacturer, with all their experience designing and building US products for many years, made clear to me that clean tap water is fine. I’m not advocating anyone buy an isonic. I’m simply sharing my personal (though, granted, relatively limited) experience. If you look up isonic on you-tube you’ll find a couple very interesting videos of a ’guy’ (he could be referred to as an ’OG’ !) who cleans records for a living and his ’workhorse’ unit is an isconic. In one video he has a pony tail, in another he’s pretty much shaven above the neck. He claims to have cleaned over 20,000 records commercially using his isonic and has customers all over the USA. He’s not trying to sell any US units, his livelihood is ultrasonically cleaning records. In hopes of not being redundant, I especially like the idea (unlike when I used the wet/vac VPI 16.5) of nothing other than caviating water ever touching the record grooves. No brushes, no rollers, no towels - nothing). No pushing dirt or particles around the record as it is being cleaned. The spin cycle dries the records 100% while they remain secured to the spindle. Once the tank is emptied, the records remain inside the empty tank while spin drying. Once done, push the motor assembly rearward, unscrew the threaded cap, remove the records and put them directly into anti-static jacket liners. I’ve read about the use of distilled water, surfactants, alcohol, etc. and won’t dispute they may have their advantages. I am certainly no expert. Interestingly, I was talking to a commercial window cleaning crew leader the other day as his team was cleaning our neighbor’s windows and I asked him what he uses to clean windows. I’m trying to master that seemingly easy (it’s not !) skill. I expected to hear about some fancy, special, expensive, (only) commercially available cleaning solution he adds to the water. His answer? Dawn dish detergent. A ’glop’ as he described it, into the bucket and that was it. I think as audiophiles we sometimes overthink things and in our search for ’perfection’ we can go a little overboard.

Not to dissuade anyone, but the where are the transducers, and how many are there? It looks like it’s only got 80 W power to a 48 kHz transducer(s). The cheap VEVOR has 3 x 40 kHz transducers at 180 W (3 x 60W) at the base. The Degritter has 2 x 120 kHz transducers on the sides at 300 W (2 x 150 W).  Which is ideal, or best? @antinn seems to be one of the experts on these.


There is no best.  Most any decent UT machine with the appropriate attention to the details can be made to yield excellent results. Are side firing transducers better than bottom firing, that depends on the tank volume.  Just keep in mind the basic rules:

-Power required to produce cavitation is proportional to kHz, so 120kHz needs more power than 48kHz.

-The cavitation bubble size is inversely proportional to kHz so a 120kHz produces smaller cavitation bubbles (and more of them) than 48kHz.  But the larger the bubble, the greater the cavitation energy.

There are many other variables that come into play, so it's often hard to compare one UT machine to another.  But the lower (<~60kHz) UT units are sensitive to tank flow and if flow in the tank >50% volume per min, cavitation intensity drops quickly.  So, spinning a lot of records in a tank can negatively affect the UT cavitation intensity.  The book addresses this in detail.   However, spin fast enough (I have not analyzed this), and the need for cavitation can decrease.  

Also, small tank volumes need more power/watts than larger tanks because of the tank interior surface area vs volume ratio.  But the KLAudio with four 50W side firing (2/side), 2.5-L volume and 40kHz is a powerful machine.  And the Degritter with four 75W side firing (2/side), 1.4-L volume and 120kHz is a powerful machine.  

Otherwise, there is power rating, and then what actually gets into the tank.  Conservation of energy applies, most of the UT energy ultimately should go to heating the tank fluid.  The KLAudio uses an external pump/reservoir/filter that keeps temps under control.  The Degritter has a cool-down mode to prevent overheating the fluid (>95F) and I have designed cooling systems for people using the Elmasonic P-series because in serial use cleaning lots of records, they heat the water - they are powerful machines.  

Devil is in the details.