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,


@pindac Thanks for the tips.
@antinn When I cite your work in future, I will be sure to include the text from the foreword, p. 3 that you quote above.
@whart Thank you for allowing free download of the current edition of Precision Aqueous Cleaning of Vinyl Records. It truly is a gift to the community and offers solid guidance in the midst of a forest of ‘solutions’ I feel.
@pfmaudio I’m glad things went well at the dealer. Your experience vindicated your reticence to mention names at the start, in my opinion. I don’t know about you, but every new purchase these days seems to generate a high degree of anxiety in me which seems to affect both my senses and my sense, if you will. I wish I had a dealer I could go to in order to confirm or deny my perceptions. I guess my old age (70+) makes me frail in ways I don’t always anticipate.

As far as I know you can post links to YouTube video clips that contain music, but I haven’t done it myself. The key is linking the data file, I’m not sure you can upload the file itself, but others may correct me. You might reach out to the site moderator for instructions and limitations.


It is a little misterious becaus, in my system, ONLY THE CLEANED RECORDS caused problems. I hear no difference in other records and the system seems ok to me. I will now check all the TT set-up because the problem must lie there. 

If you only played back these 'cleaned' records once, and playback at the dealer was a 2nd time, it is entirely possible that your 1st playback scaped the record clean.  In this case, and it can happen depending on the type & age of the residue, what was played back at the dealer was far cleaner than what you first played.  So, if you check your TT-set-up and all was correct, there is a plausible explanation.

Unfortunately, these types of variables can drive one nuts.  The more you know of the chemistry and the process, the less risk of falling into this trap.


@oldrooney - FWIW@antinn was insistent that the book be made available for free. I was fine with that and more than happy to host the work. I've had a number of discussions with Neil, some far ranging, and always learn a lot. 

@whart, and for every one of those discussions, I similarly learned a lot.  Your encyclopedic knowledge of the past industry both hardware and music are quite impressive, and as a music reviewer you are the equal of any other.  And you're taking the time to visit the Library of Congress and meet and see their record conservations practices lends to your credibility.  

Take care,


@pfmaudio It was very clear to hear the distortion. Can we post in here an audio file?

Yes one can be linked, but the file itself must be hosted elsewhere on the web.

@antinn You remind me of something: the reason I bought a Loricraft many years ago was that I'd read the BBC was buying them to conserve their record collection. In those days if the BBC did it, it was a good recommendation. Not sure that is true any more!