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Dust: The Vinyl Frontier ?

[Orbitrac Record Cleaning system]

[Italian version]

The Dust Crisis

(transcript from a Startreck Episode never screened)

Stardate 21590304190533.

The Starship Enterprise is continuing it five year mission (cataloguing gaseous anomalies), but at the moment all is quiet.

Even Captain Kirk sometimes needs to relax, so he takes out a black round piece of plastic from a sleeve. The black sleeve shows a Prism breaking light.

"Funny Title" -- he thinks -- "The Dark Side Of The Moon". There really is no dark side of the moon".

So he deposits a round piece of plastic on a the universal (transrotor) audioreproducer to hear some music. The round plastic pieces and the transrotor were presents from Bones who picked it all up as antiques.

"How curious" -- thinks Captain Kirk -- "these strange round plastic objects where used in the pre-digital era to store music." To do something like this, Music without computers, without digits. Our ancestors must have been very brave people indeed."

He lowers the lever to start the Music, but what is that? Sure there is some music. But what is this horrible static in the foreground?

He immediately orders red alert. Something is wrong! Alien invasion? All the scientific might of the Enterprise's lab is bought to bear.

Half an hour (and 20 commercials later) Scottie comes on the Bridge with a result.

"Sorry Cap'n, I canna do it. Dust seems to have contaminated the surface of the plastic. We have no idea how to remove it!" Says Scottie.

"Scottie, WE MUST GET THAT STUFF OFF! How long will it take you to fix something?"

"I dunn'a Cap'n, it may be weeks..."

Is there any help? Will the music be lost forever?

We will find out about that in the next episode, next week, same time same channel.

The stock shot of the Enterprise flying off into the starfield appears, and the episode ends.

As I always say: "22nd Century? Pshaw. Nothing but trouble."

My own dirt fight

Back here in the good old 20th Century we where however almost faced with the same situation. A widely available and cheap Record-Cleaning system was no longer.

No more Orbitrac's. Would the dust take out the music? Or would we all have to buy 400 Pound Sterling record cleaning machines of questionable build-quality?

Terrible thought isn't it?

The Orbitrac Record Cleaning System from Allsop

But now, the Orbitac is BACK. Not simply the original 'track, but the label proudly proclaims:

Orbitrac 2 -- Patented Record Cleaning System

So what do you get for your money? To further quote the label:

Contents: 1 Orbitrac Record Cleaner, 2 X Cleaning Cartridges, 2 X Solution, Brush, Pivot Pin, non-skid pads

All that comes in a neatly presented plastic case.

The 'trac comes with full and easy to read instructions. You best disregard the part about cleaning records on the turntable and instead follow the instructions how to clean the record off the turntable.

You lay out the non-skid pads, place the record on top of them and snap the first pad into the 'track. Allsop suggest spraying some cleaning solution on the 'tracks cleaning pad.

I suggest however you spray the solution right on the record and be generous with the fluid. Make the record nice and wet.

One warning note. The Fluid used by the 'track is based on alcohol, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES USE IT ON OLD 78 RPM Shellac Records.

With either pad or record wet, lower the pad on the record and spin it around a few times. By now the record will be pretty dry and free from all the serious contamination. You now take the second pad and snap it in place, to do a few further rounds. The record is dry after that, ready to play and rather clean.

Having cleaned quite a few records, the 'track is not as effective for removing dirt as a professional, vacuum based, cleaning machine.

But the 'track has one HUGE advantage over these unwieldy and noisy things. It is small and neat and cheap. It works too. I keep it directly next to my records. Whenever a record seems too noisy, I simply take the 'track out and clean the record. It is a two minute job, effectively sorts out the problem and lets me sit back down and enjoy the music.

The fluid containers are also refillable with your own favorite record cleaning brew (at your own risk of course), so it's good value for money.

A big thumbs up for the 'track.

No Gripes, no problems then? Okay of course there are some. We are critics after all. Just praising a product just will not do.

First that cleaning on the turntable mentioned in the instructions. Bad. Don't do it. If you do try it, you may very well damage the Platter bearing of your table. Can get expensive.

My second gripe is the pricing here in Europe. Allsop in Eire was very cagey to mention any sort of firm recommended price, dithering about with references to the specialist nature of the product and such.

To quote Allsop: "...,one might expect R.R.P. prices of STG£49 to STG£59 and 129/139DM."

The price in the United States is listed as 35 US Dollars. That is 25 Pounds in English money and about 60 Deutsche Mark. While it is conceivable that there is a small charge on the import and taxes, surely nothing can a turn a 35 Dollar object into a 49 Pound Sale?

If you feel that 49 Pound is a bit stiff, I am sure that you have a Visa/Mastercard handy and a few ideas where to look for US based mail order dealers (hint -- try the Internet).

Now, if you excuse me, the record just playing seems a bit noisy. Time to get the Orbitrac out it seems.

© Copyright 1998 Thorsten Loesch/TNT-Audio

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