Ian Ringstead checks out the £429 Pro-ject VC-S2 –ALU Record Cleaning Machine.

The vinyl revival has certainly taken a hold in recent years and even my great-nephew has got into playing records now at sixteen years of age. This is brilliant and I hope more people, young and old, either discover vinyl for the first time or return to it after a long hiatus. Pro-ject really excited me a few years ago when they released their first VCS machine for less than £300. I reviewed it for HiFi Pig and consequently got one for my own use. I collect a lot of second -hand vinyl from shows or charity shops when on a trip to another town or city. There is a lot of dross out there but occasionally you hit the jackpot as I did in Salisbury several years ago when visiting the cathedral and I passed a charity shop near the river. Inside there was a corner which had a large selection of used vinyl all from the 70’s and 80’s of bands I love. It turned out that the owner of them had decided to get rid of all his vinyl and donated them to the shop. The bonus was there were loads more in the back. At £1.99 each, they were a bargain and I spent over £100 that day. By chance a few months later my wife and I with both mums were staying nearby in Wells and as we went to see the cathedral again it would have been rude not to call in on the shop again. Guess what, they still had some left, so I spent more money. That was a real find which may only happen once in a lifetime.

Construction

So as an avid collector a record cleaning machine is vital and a good investment. The Pro-ject VC-S2 ALU is a refined version of the original VCS and housed in a very smart all aluminium casing as opposed to the original black painted mdf VCS. Yes, it’s more expensive than the original VCS was and costs £429, but it is a lot smarter to look at and has a more durable finish. The new finish isn’t affected by cleaning fluid spills and is wipe clean. The vacuum motor is very powerful and effective at cleaning a record side in two revolutions, one forward and one back. The drive motor achieves a full revolution within two seconds so is very quick compared to the competition on the market. This means quick and easy record cleaning. The motor is a new improved design over the original and is meant to be durable and last a long time. The aluminium screw- on clamp is lined with rubber for protection to the label from fluid spillage. The actual metal suction arm is rugged to withstand a lot of repeated use and all the suction is concentrated onto the record being cleaned.

The VC-S2 ALU is supplied with Pro-Ject’s own eco-friendly, non-alcoholic vinyl cleaning concentrate called Wash-It. The fluid is very effective at cleaning dirty records without causing any damage to the vinyl and evaporates easily into the air so the tank doesn’t fill up for a long time unless you clean loads at one time. My suggestion is to do a few at a time because the vacuum is very loud and although the cleaning process is quick and easy you don’t want to be standing around for an hour or so repeatedly cleaning records. A little and often is best. The actual collection tank is 2.5 litres so I doubt you’ll fill it. If you do then there is a level indicator to let you know if it’s getting full.

Use and Performance

I tried quite a few records old and new in various states of dirtiness. You simply place the record on the small turntable and screw down the clamp. Then squirt some of the wash-it liquid onto the record and start the motor holding the goats hair brush supplied to evenly distribute the fluid. Then you lift the vacuum arm from its rest position and place it on the revolving record to suck off the liquid and dirt. I did a couple of rotations in each direction and then stopped the motor, unclamped the record, and repeated on the reverse side. All very easy. Even brand-new records should be cleaned to get rid of any mould release agent from the manufacturing process. Very dirty discs will really benefit from a good clean and may take several attempts to remove stubborn grime and hardened deposits. In every case, there was a definite improvement as you would expect, but don’t think that the VC-S2 ALU will perform miracles. No machine does that, no matter how sophisticated or expensive they are. It’s not just dirt that is the culprit but faults in the stamping and pressing of the vinyl and how it cools down. If any airborne dust or particles contaminate the vinyl at the manufacturing stage then that leaves a permanent trace or defect. Also, poor tracking or setup of a cartridge and mishandling of the record will cause wear and tear.

The Pro-ject VC-2S ALU works extremely well within its design parameters and for a vacuum machine is does a thorough job. Of course, there are far more expensive and sophisticated machines you can purchase that use ultrasonic cleaning methods, but they are generally £2000 plus and you would have to be seriously dedicated and have a large collection of vinyl to justify the outlay. The different machines I’ve seen are either very easy to use and automatic in operation or incredibly time-consuming due to their rigorous regime of cleaning processes. I’m all for ease of use as are most people, but that’s down to individual preferences.

Conclusion

More expensive than the original VCS I feel the new VC-2S ALU is worth the extra investment and for less than £500 is exceedingly good value compared to the competition. It will also mean your precious stylus will last a lot longer. I would go as far as to say unless you can afford the dearer units and justify the convenience / improved performance, then the money you will have saved can go on more records or HiFi.

AT A GLANCE

Build Quality:  Excellent for the price and smart looking

Sound Quality: Effectively cleans dirty or old vinyl to make the listening experience far more enjoyable

Value for Money:  Excellent given the competition and a must have accessory.

Pros:  Easy to use and does what it is supposed to do efficiently

Cons:  Very noisy. The old model was as well, but the competition is also, unless a lot more is spent.

Price: £429

 

 

 

 

 

Ian Ringstead 

Review Equipment: Luxman Pd151 with Benz Micro Ace cartridge or Audio Technica AT95 SCH, Luxman L505UX ii, Jern 12WS speakers..

Key Features:

  • New cabinet made out of aluminium composite panels
  • Aluminium surface able to withstand cleaning fluid spill without compromising the chassis
  • Superfast & super strong cleaning
  • Superior motor for long lifetime
  • 2.5l waste tank for smooth airflow
  • New aluminium clamp prevents damage from cleaning fluid
  • High-end build-quality for improved ease of use
  • 7” VC-S Kit is compatible for cleaning juke box records
  • Cloth Cover available

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