ultrasound record cleaning machine damaged my records

I recently purchased an ultrasound record cleaning machine. For reasons which I hope you understand I won’t name brands, because I am not wanting to make bad publicity to anyone but to discuss the matter. 

Previously, I had anather ultrasound machine which broke. I cleaned more than a 1000 records with it, with no concerns at all. The machine broke and, due to its steep price, I decided to go for a less costly solution. 

With the new machine I cleaned 7 records. One of themLeonard Cohen’s “New Skin for the old ceremony”. When listening to “Chelsea Hote”, I remarked a distortion that wasn’t there before. IT was clear on the low notes, like the instrument being out of focus or vibrating. I had some old very worn records which had that problem due to bad stylus. At first I started to think that there was a problem with the stylus of my Lyra Atlas. So I went to another version of the same album I have at home, to check if there was a problem with the stylus. Clean passage. No problem at all. 

As on the previous cleaned record I noticed a similar problem, not so apparent, I decided to clean the second version of the LP on the new machine. Playing it i heard  the same distortion on the same music. Checking out all the 7 records I cleaned, I heard issues on all of them, some less apparent ( the mono ones) and some more appparent. 

I couldn’t believe it but the new machine was damaging my records. 

The combination of my atlas and my SME 312 arm gives some “needle talk” - music heard when with everything muted you put your hear next to the stylus on the record. Doing it, I heard the same rumble distortion that was being amplified by the system. 


I used distilled water (not a new one but one which was opened for the previous machine) but it was clear clean. I put the exact amount of surfactant liquid on the mixture of distilled water. I kept all the operating instruction rules. I don’t understand what is wrong, but the fact is this machines damages the grooves on the record. 


Does anyone had this problem before? Any help provided?


Note: I already contacted the dealer who sold it  and I am going to see him next week. It is a very good a solid dealer.  It I’d like to hear your opinion. 


Best regards,



The book in Chapter XIV lists no-rinse concentrations.  Concentrations specified (see Table XXIII Nalgene™ Dropper Bottle Use for Degritter™ & Humminguru™) are good enough for wetting only.  If the concentration is high enough to get detergency, then as the Table specifies - rinsing is recommended to avoid audible residue.

But if we look at say 30-ppm of nonionic surfactant (of those specified by the book) that is essentially the same as 30-mg/L = 0.03-mg/ml.  If we assume 3-ml dries on each side of the record = 0.09-mg of nonionic surfactant and the record surface area (with grooves) is about 1-sqft = 0.09-mg/sqft.  And if you dive into Chapter XI, this is about the equivalent film thickness of 0.01-microns.  This is down at the record surface roughness which is pretty much below audible.  

But to get good detergency from a simple high-performance nonionic surfactant you need to be up at 150-ppm = 150-mg/L, and now the residue thickness is 5X what was calculated above, and now the residue thickness is also 5X higher and now we are into the audible region based on user feedback.

However, note that vacuum-RCM, because there is so little fluid being used, the recommended final cleaner concentration is 500-ppm, so rinsing is mandatory especially since the vacuum is not 100% efficient in removing (sucking up) all fluid from the record.  Testing (as described in the book Chapter XIII) has shown vacuum RCM is only 70 to 85% efficient in sucking up all fluid (depends on the fluid).  The 15-30% not sucked up is essentially dried in-place.  

Take care,


A few have asked me in PM what the heck is my Manual Cleaning method?

Of course you can prove this is a horrible thing to do to LP’s, but

Manually Clean LPs

Lots of words but it is easy.

critical for success: ama zon, sort by price: lowest.

critical for enjoyment: do this while listening to music (I sit dead center).


1st, but the kit from ama zon, search titles are from Ama zon

Big Fudge Vinyl Record Cleaning Kit (whatever one is on sale)

it comes with some washing fluid. Buy some extra fluid.

2. Next buy Alcohol

C V S Health 91% Isopropyl Alcohol, 16 Ounces

3. Buy Jet-Dry dishwasher spot eliminator

Finish Jet-Dry Liquid Rinse Aid, Dishwasher Rinse and Drying Agent, 23 fl oz

4. Find a small spray bottle (not heavy while working) to put your mix in and spritz lps with.

5. Brushes, Baby Scalp, 3 pack

Loofah Sterilized Cradle Cap Brush - 3-pk

5. Distilled Water. C V S has it, but clerks look in the wrong places

C V S Health Distilled Water, 128 oz

6. Waterproof Vinyl Sheet, mine is from Party Store, doubled over to protect my dining room table.

7. Lint Free Cloths,

a. to keep the area of work mostly dry, under the lp so the paper label on the down-side doesn't get soaked.

b. when lifting lp out of cleaning spinner (has ONLY distilled water it in). while dripping water back into the tank, do a preliminary wipe before putting LP into the drying rack so it dries faster (and area below rack isn't a puddle).

8. Final, most expensive: get a lid from a Chinese soup container, they are the size needed to protect the paper label while scrubbing.


cleaning fluid mix (not scientific): supplied lp cleaner with a decent amount of alcohol, and several drops of jet-dry in the spritz bottle. This stronger mix is only going to be on the LP a short while.
tank, fill with distilled water only, leave the kit's brushes in for final rinse

drying rack ready
batch of 10 lps. (as I wash them, I turn the covers upside down in a stack), easy to get the washed/dry lps back in the covers in order without searching.
soup container lid held on with one hand
spritz, scrub, vigorously, you won't hurt them, you want the bottom of the grooves clean so the new stylus shapes which get down deep will find virgin groove information, that is the key for success. This, and the stronger mix, is what I think is better than ultrasound, who knows.
rinse in spin tank, drip/wipe some (change distilled water as needed).
place in drying rack.

you will be amazed the first time you play a previously filthy LP.





Thank you Neil @antinn for recapping the data on "one step" cleaning processes and residue. 



thanks for your feedback. The only time I had no trouble was when I used the new distilled water with no cleaning fluid (the small bottle, of the same brand). However, it was with an old record, to which I listened before and after, without detecting differences. On old records there are always things we hear and it was a record that I didn’t listen to for a long time. I am 99% sure there were no issues. But not 100%. However, I didn’t hear the king of distortion present on the other records. 
 When I used the old distilled water only, the results were a disaster. 
When I used the new distilled water bottle with 2 drops of cleaning fluid, I  got bad results, but it was subtle. Only at the fourth track I could be pretty sure. On the 3 previous tracks there was perhaps a veil which prevented me to immerse on the music. But it was vague enough for me to admit there might be a psychological effect. However, on the fourth track, it was unmistakable. 
so perhaps you’re right and the problem is on the cleaning solution. The problem is that I don’t want to risk more records…

Do you think doubling the drying time can help to remove the eventual residue?

I’ll keep you informed of further developments. 

best regards,

Meanwhile, my dealer contacted HummingGuru and got the following email. 

“Regarding the issue mentioned by this customer, to be honest, we have not received any reports/feedback about such an issue. We assume that the record he cleaned using the HumminGuru is an album released in 1968 from Columbia records. In our testing base, we have cleaned many records from around that period, including from Columbia Records releases, and we have not detected any similar issue. The current vinyl pressing technology, raw materials, and compression molds used was established before that period, in other words, there is no difference between records from 1968 and 2024. The issue of distortion should not be related to the HumminGuru cleaner. 


Anyhow, we will need more information/video demonstrating the distortion in the low notes for further evaluation. However, It's important to consider that hearing is a subjective experience, and individuals' sensitivity to sound can vary.  It is difficult to justify when some people has very sharp ears, some don't. Additionally, as the ultrasonic cleaning process clears dirt from the grooves, it can result in a more open, louder, or vivid sound, which might affect the listening experience as well. 


Thanks! I look forward to your feedback. “


very vague and general, but I will be with the dealer this Wednesday where he might listen for himself and perhaps send a video or recording of the damaged records. Just hope they don’t qualify me has having very sharp hears, which unfortunately I don’t have anymore, at 57.