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Vinyl Asylum: REVIEW: KAB KAB EV1 Record Cleaner Accessory by bondmanp

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REVIEW: KAB KAB EV1 Record Cleaner Accessory

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Model: KAB EV1 Record Cleaner
Category: Accessory
Suggested Retail Price: $159
Description: Manual Record Cleaner
Manufacturer URL: KAB
Model Picture: View

Review by bondmanp on February 01, 2008 at 10:43:08
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for the KAB EV1 Record Cleaner

After a long hiatus, I have begun to acquire vinyl again. Shopping at thrift shops and used record shows, I have found many wonderful LPs. Many of these, however, were really dirty, much more so than my own LP collection, bought new many years ago. I realized that I needed a more thorough record cleaner than my vintage Discwasher brush and fluid. Reading up on record cleaning options, it also became clear that a vacuum-based cleaner was the way to go. However, the cleaning machines with vacuums built in were a bit expensive for me. After all, my TT itself only cost me about $400 when I bought it new in 1984 (Thorens TD-166 MkII). So, I was very interested in this product, which ships from a city only a few miles from my own.

The EV1 is everything that it is decribed as. A very simple, but precise tool, its own vacuum tube is easily fitted to your own canister-type vacuum cleaner hose (adapters are provided to insure a good fit with different diameter hoses). Set up is a snap. Just plug in your vacuum (I have an Oreck cannister vac that was included as a bonus with my Oreck upright), attach the hose to the hose provided by KAB, which in turn is connected to a provided clear joiner-tube and then to the base of the EV1. Remove the record clamp and the 45 rpm adapter (provided), and you're ready clean vinyl.

Following the included instructions was simple. You place a record on the manually-spun platter and place the clamp over the record (it covers the label area). Then you actually wash the record. This was very different than the Discwasher brush, which I only lightly moistened with a few drops of fluid. Here, you put a generous bead of cleaning fluid from the edge to the lead-out grooves, and gently but firmly scrub the record with the provided brush. Holding the clamp firmly keeps the record from spinning while you scrub. You clean 1/3 of the record side at a time. Then, you flip the record over, place the clamp back over it, and switch on the vacuum. After 3 or 4 slow rotations, you are ready for the second side. The EV1 is simple and actually fun to use.

I was pleasantly surprised by how clean the records looked and sounded after cleaning. The EV1 does not fix scratches, but even older LPs played fairly quietly after cleaning. I did not do any A/B comparisons with uncleaned records or the Discwasher. I may be using more fluid than necessary, but I have not had any problems with excess moisture (you can watch for it in the provided glass tube connecting the EV1 base with the provided vacuum hose). The EV1/Oreck combo left my records completely dry and ready for playing. I did not, as some have, end up with any excess moisture on the lead-in grooves of any records.

After you're finished cleaning records, KAB suggests you run the brush over the brush-slot on the base unit with the vacuum on to straighten the bristles and dry the brush. My only complaint, and it is trivial, is that after doing this, the brush was still too wet to place into a plastic bag for storage. Since the brush handle is curved, it won't stand up in a position that allows good air drying. My suggestion to KAB is to design a brush handle with a flat surface so it can be placed, bristles-up, on a table to dry. Other than that, the EV1 is extremely ergonomical and user-friendly.

I also purchased some economical one-step cleaning fluid from KAB which is made by Nitty Gritty: I am not yet ready for multi-step cleaning procedures.

Although, to me, $159 plus tax and shipping is a bit pricey for a plastic box, flywheel, brushes, connecting tubes, a hose and a small bottle of fluid, it is by far the least expensive vacuum-type record cleaner available. More money will get you more built-in convenience features, but not necessarily cleaner records. Therefore, I would have to say it is a very good value. Highly recommended if you want really clean records with a minimum of fuss and don't want to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a fancy motorized machine with a built-in vacuum and fluid pumps. I'd rather spend my money on more music and better playback gear.

Product Weakness: Hand-held brush could have a flat handle to facilitate air-drying.
Product Strengths: Value, ease of setup, ease of use, effectiveness.

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: Odyssey Audio HT3 w/Cap Upgrade
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Conrad-Johnson PV-11 w/MM phono section
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Thorens TD-166 MkII/Ortofon Super OM-10
Speakers: Vandersteen 1C/Vandersteen 2Wq
Cables/Interconnects: Kimber 4TC, Bluejeans Cables
Music Used (Genre/Selections): %22From rock to Bach%22
Room Size (LxWxH): 9' x 20' x 6'
Room Comments/Treatments: Odd-shaped basement with low ceiling
Time Period/Length of Audition: 2 months
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: KAB KAB EV1 Record Cleaner Accessory - bondmanp 10:43:08 02/1/08 ( 2)