Product: Nagaoka CL 152 Rolling Cleaner
Manufacturer: Nagaoka Trading Co. - Japan
Approx. price: 30-40 € (YMMV)
Reviewer: Lucio Cadeddu - TNT Italy
Reviewed: September, 2008
When asked about the best method to clean vinyl records my answer has always been the same: just avoid them getting dirty :-) In other words, if a vinyl is bought new and well stored afterwards it is quite difficult it might need invasive cleaning methods (read: LP cleaning machines) in order to keep it playing as it was new.
OK, I admit even new LPs might benefit from a complete washing cycle as the pressing procedure sometimes leaves dirt into the grooves but, most of the times, a good new LP needs only to be played. After that you just need to keep it clean, avoiding dust, moisture etc. Since it is quite impossible to avoid dust being attracted by a spinning LP (static charges doing their dirty job here) you might need to know which is one of the best methods to remove dust from grooves.
Carbon fiber brushes are (and were) very popular among audiophiles (especially the good 'ol Decca brush). They do work but most of the times they just "move" dust from one place to another. And they can't get deeply "into the grooves". In the early '80s I discovered an adhesive roller which claimed to last a lifetime and to work even INSIDE the deeper grooves. Too good to be true. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try, at least it wasn't expensive like other fancy audiophile accessories!
Believe it or not that very same roller is still here, after 25+ years, still working flawlessly like day one! Enter the Nagaoka Rolling Cleaner. For a long while this accessory was difficult to find. Perhaps the Company was still making it but it was extremely hard to find in stores. Eventually they stopped production for a while.
Now the magic roller is available again! And, quite surprisingly, despite the vinyl-mania that is spreading all over the World, its price is still reasonable: you can even find it new on Ebay for 40 USD or so.
Nagaoka is a very big factory which specializes in high precision materials processing, such as diamonds and jewels machining and even magnet and cemented-carbide machining. You might already know that Nagaoka makes fines cartridges stylii and even complete stereo hifi cartridges (please read our recent review of their MP 11 MM cart).
From their experience in special materials comes the strange rubber this roller uses. Indeed, the secret of this CL 152 roller is hidden inside the sticky compound it is made of: it is a very soft and tacky rubber that detaches dirt and dust from records surface and, thanks to its softness, it can collect dust even from the bottom of the deepest record grooves as well! Once the dust makes the roller unusable all you have to do is wash it under tap water (purified water if you fancy) and add a few drops of dishwashing detergent. Once it dries (shake it to remove the last drops of water) it gets sticky again. And again. And again. For years to come.
Though being soft and sticky, the pale yellow mysterious rubber doesn't leave any trace or film on grooves, as it may happen with similar devices you might find at any DIY store (those you use for dresses cleaning, for example).
In order to operate safely just place the LP you wish to clean on a solid yet rather soft surface: a sheet of cork or even the platter mat (rubber, felt...) will work just fine. DO NOT USE the roller when the LP is on the platter as the pressure might damage the platter bearing. Operate by means of RADIAL movements (following the radius of the LP, that is).
Does it work? You bet! It is incredible how much dust it can detect and remove (remove, not just ...move)! Of course, if the disc is very dirty then only a record cleaning machine, with specific detergents, can cure it!
Furthermore, in my opinion, the Nagaoka Rolling Cleaner does have a slight antistatic effect, which mainly depends on the surface where you place your LP, on air humidity and on the material of your shoes (whether conductive or not).
You don't need to apply an excessive pressure, thinking the roller would work better this way. You might damage your records! Train yourself on a couple of old discs so to understand which level of hand pressure is the best compromise. Too low pressure and the rubber won't go into the grooves, too much and you might damage the disc or the roller itself.
Since dust is mainly invisible it may happen that even after cleaning an apparently "clean" record the roller loses its sticky effect. If so, wash it once again. Frequent washings won't damage the roller. Moreover, applying pressure on record grooves with a dirty roller doesn't seem a good idea.
After use, wash it and store it (once dry) into its plexy case, better if inside a drawer, far from direct sunlight and heat. DO NOT USE solvents or aggressive detergents! A standard dishwashing detergent is all you need. Sometimes even water alone can do the trick.
Considering the way it works, the numbers of decades it can be used like day one, the lack of drawbacks and, finally, its reasonable selling price, I dare to say this is one of the best HiFi accessories around, with an impressive value for money ratio. You can buy it almost anywhere, regular stores, online stores or even several Ebay stores worldwide.
If you're going to create your new LPs collection, this is a not-to-miss accessory. It will help you keeping your vinyls clean for years to come. In any case, it might also be used with very old and dirty LPs, as a partner for a standard record washing machine.
© Copyright 2008 Lucio Cadeddu - www.tnt-audio.com