Love clean records? Interested in my search for the perfect cleaning solution? Read on about the AIVS Enzymatic Record Cleaning Concentrate, formulated for ultrasonic record cleaning machines.
Let’s get serious, who doesn’t love a pristinely clean record? In my earlier years, I had therapy sessions in my garage while cleaning records. My routine included a multi-step process that included a pre-wash with distilled water, followed by a cleaning solution and gentle brush, and then a final rinse. Between each step I would vacuum off the solution with just 2 revolutions in a VPI HW-17 recording cleaning machine. I would finish with using an anti-static gun, and then would carefully place the perfect record back in a fresh MoFi anti-static sleeve.
Words and Photos by Mohammed Samji
After years of spilling solutions and making a mess, I discovered something that changes everything, the Audio Desk Pro Ultrasonic Vinyl Pro Cleaner. Using a cleaning solution, delicate brushes, ultrasonic vibrations and a built in dry cycle, this fully automatic machine yields pristinely clean LPs.
I have had mine for six plus years and every album that I play first takes a visit to the Audio Desk Systeme Vinyl Cleaner Pro. Like magic every LP exits the ultrasonic cleaner better than when they left the factory.
The Audio Desk machine has been a champ, but requires an OEM cleaning solution that is expensive. Specifically, you mix a vial of OEM cleaning fluid with 1.2 gallons of distilled water. This mixture should be refreshed after cleaning between 75 to 150 LPs. The single vial of Audio Desk OEM cleaning solution is $33 USD. Assuming 150 LPs, that is about 22 cents per record.
What if I could find a better cleaning solution to elevate the performance of my ultrasonic cleaner?
AIVS Enzymatic Record Cleaning Concentrate for Ultrasonic Record Cleaning Machines
Jim Pendleton of Osage Audio Products introduced a product specifically to elevate ultrasonic cleaning in late 2021, so I wanted to try it. His new product has a super long but descriptive name: “AIVS Enzymatic Record Cleaning Concentrate for Ultrasonic Record Cleaning Machines”.
The AIVS Enzymatic concentrate is available in a 32-ounce bottle for $50, but you ONLY need about 18mL of this solution with 1.2 gallons of distilled water to fill an Audio Desk ultrasonic machine. You are using less than $1 of the AIVS cleaning solution vs. $33 of Audio Desk’s cleaning solution to fill your cleaning machine to clean 75-150 LPs.
We have established that the price of the AIVS Enzymatic fluid is almost too good to be true, but will it perform?
Osage Audio Products History
At PTA, we must know where products come from, so let me take a moment to talk about their history.
Audio Intelligent was a company started in 2003 that sold a two-step record cleaning process. The original product designers knew folks at Dow Chemical and went to them for advice on ways to elevate record cleaning. They initially sold their record cleaning products on Audiogon and wherever they could find crazy audiophiles who wanted squeaky clean records.
Jim Pendleton purchased and loved these products over the years, and when he retired in 2006 he decided to buy Audio Intelligent and take them to the next level. Over the years they worked to develop five different record cleaning products that are now enzyme-based. Everything is now produced in-house including the enzymes and water process.
Why a cleaning solution for ultrasonic machines? Pendleton had a fascinating insight that for everyone who bought a commercial ultrasonic machine like mine, ten times as many were building their DIY machines. Demand for ultrasonic cleaning was growing. Pendleton’s customers found that existing fluids would result in their DIY machines acting like old washing machines with too much soap. So, they began the quest to make the best ultrasonic cleaning solution. After many months of development and testing with real users, AIVS released its ultrasonic cleaning solution.
In an early conversation with JIM Pendleton, I asked him what were the most critical elements during the development of the AIVS Enzymatic cleaning fluid:
“There were several things that we found important in developing a product for use in ultrasonic record cleaning machine.
- Very low dissolved solids
- A low foaming formulation
- A formulation that requires no rinsing
Along with those points we agreed to our belief in offering an enzymatic cleaning product that does not have chemical detergents or solvents in the formulation and contains no alcohol.
This product was field tested this year with several test participants and was subjected to extensive laboratory testing prior to that. We have tested the product in several different ultrasonic record cleaning machines that are on the market as well as home-built ultrasonic record cleaning machines.”
The AIVS enzymatic solution contains no detergent and no petroleum products. All the AIVS solutions offered today are simply just water and cleaning enzymes.
I asked Pendleton to explain the cleaning enzymes a little more to understand them better. He explained:
“We use a variety of cleaning enzyme components that are botanically-derived in our entire range of products. These enzyme components are not synthetic or natural digestive enzymes and have a long shelf life under careful storage conditions. Some of the products that have been in our line for a long time are still viable more than eight years after they were produced. In most cases the purified water content in the products will spoil before the cleaning enzyme components lose their viability.
The cleaning enzyme components in the ultrasonic formula were developed and chosen because they foam very little in use, have a very low dissolved solids count in solution, and don’t require rinsing.”
Pendleton also claims that when you add his cleaning solution to distilled water, it will still measure zero dissolved solids (specifically, under one part per million). This is one of the most important factors when using an ultrasonic cleaner since any dissolved solids can quickly begin to sandblast your precious LPs during the ultrasonic process.
He explained that in addition to analyzing the LP under a microscope in a lab before and after, they also had developed a proprietary process to analyze what they find on the record from a chemical perspective to confirm it is clean.
Ok, I’m in. Let’s start washing.
AIVS Enzymatic Record Cleaner Setup
AIVS advised we use 18 mL of his solution with 1.2 gallons of water. Since I typically use one gallon of water, I added 15mL of cleaning solution, which is an easier amount to measure.
AIVS Enzymatic Testing Process
The question I wanted to answer is: “Is the AIVS Enzymatic solution superior to the OEM cleaning solution provided by Audio Desk?”
I conducted a qualitative experiment. I took several records, listened to them un-washed, washed them with the OEM solution and listened, and then washed them a second time with the AIVS enzymatic solution to see if there was any improvement. I know that just the second wash with the OEM fluid may have yielded improvements, but if the AIVS solution could provide improvements, that was good to know.
Next, I took records that were dirty and just used the AIVS enzymatic solution to see the improvements I could hear before and after to see how it compared to my experience with the OEM fluid.
I did this for a whole day, changing fluids and burning Audio DESK $33 OEM cleaning solution vials like I just won the lottery. After doing this round after round the results were consistent over and over. Spoiler alert: I am never buying Audio DESK solution again, nor do I have any left from that crazy rave of testing.
Peter Gabriel, So
One of my favorite albums of all time and a one that has been in heavy rotation in my room. It was clean to start but hadn’t been washed in some time.
After the first wash using the OEM fluid, surface noise was significantly reduced as I had seen in the past. It was almost spotless visually but has always had a lint piece on the record that I had never wanted to try to rub off. It did not seem to have any impact sonically.
Next, I rewashed it, this time using the AIVS enzymatic solution. To my surprise, it was by far the quietest that I had experienced this pressing, although there was some surface noise left. The drop in noise seemed to unlock a little more detail, and BEST of all, that lint mark came off, and the LP looked 10/10.
Led Zeppelin, Misty Mountain Hop
Same experience was performed with “Misty Mountain Hop.” Like the prior experiment, once the LP was washed with the OEM record cleaning solution, the noise was reduced. Maybe the record was extra dirty pre-wash since after the ultrasonic cleaning I was also now hearing much more detail around Plant’s voice. Transients (especially on the drums) were improved.
Washing it a second time with the AIVS solution, I noticed the results were more muted. The record was visually perfect with the OEM fluid and looked the same after the second wash. Audibly, the playback was quieter but now as pronounced as the earlier test with the Peter Gabriel album. Voices gained some detail and lyrics were easier to understand.
These experiences were conducted for about a whole day. The results were similar time and again. About halfway through, I just stopped switching fluids and just stayed with the AIVS enzymatic solution and worked through favorites in my collection. Results were consistent; the AIVS solution seemed to perform as well or, in some cases, better than the OEM fluid.
AIVS Enzymatic Summary
After that wet afternoon under jugs of distilled water testing, I have continued using only the AIVS enzymatic solution for almost 12 months.
The Audio DESK System Ultrasonic cleaner is a core part of my listening routing, with every LP getting a bath before setting eyes on my turntable. With the AIVS, I can change the fluid more frequently with minimal cost. The gallon of distilled water costs more than the 15mL of AIVS solution that I mix with it!
If you have an ultrasonic cleaner, give the AIVS Enzymatic Record Cleaning Concentrate for Ultrasonic Record Cleaning Machines a try. Audio Desk System Ultrasonic + AIVS Enzymatic Concentrate is a winning combination.
I’m converted and bought myself a 32-ounce bottle.
AIVS Enzymatic Recording Cleaning Cleaning Concentrate for Ultrasonic RCMs: 16 ounces ($35 USD), 32 ounce ($50 USD)
- Wilson Audio Alexx V Loudspeakers
- Dan D’Agostino Momentum Phono Pre-amplifier
- Dan D’Agostino Momentum HD Pre-Amplifier
- Dan D’Agostino Momentum S250 Amplifier
- dCS Vivaldi APEX DAC, Master Clock & Up sampler
- AMG Viella Forte Turntable with two AMG 12JT Turbo Arms
- Lyra Atlas Lambda SL & Lyra Atlas Lambda Mono cartridges
- HRS M3X Isolation Bases, nimbus couplers, and damping plates
- Wilson Audio Pedestals (under all sources and amplifiers)
- McIntosh MX100 AV Surround Processor
- Transparent Audio Opus and Magnum Opus Gen 6 Interconnect Cables
- Transparent Audio Gen 5 Reference XL Speaker Cable
- Transparent Audio Opus Gen 6 Balanced Phono cable (Atlas SL)
- AnalogMagik Balanced Phono cable (Atlas Mono)
- AudioQuest Niagara 7000 Power Conditioner
- AudioQuest Dragon Power cables
- AudioQuest Ethernet & HDMI cables ( Cinnamon and Dragon )
- Nordost QKore 1 & 3 grounding blocks
- Synergistic Research HFTs in various locations around the room
- Audio Desk Systeme Vinyl Cleaner Pro