Get into the groove

Jason Kennedy is a sucker for the latest sub-£500 vacuum vinyl-cleaning system from ‘Chi-fi’ analogue specialist Hanss

Hanss Acoustics is a Chinese firm with a penchant for all things ‘vinyl’. It has some pretty impressive turntables and a rather good phono stage in its range, so the debut of this innovative and attractive record cleaner was only to be expected.

A curvy box built out of extruded aluminium, the RC20 is significantly less imposing than the competition, yet it offers much the same spinning and sucking abilities – skills that are intrinsic in the pursuit of vinyl freshening. It doesn’t offer the cleaning thread found on Keith Monks machines, but neither does it cost that sort of money. Instead you apply cleaning fluid with a supplied brush and let the vacuum dry it off – a simple process that takes about three minutes per album.

A real sucker

The RC20 is a hefty, but attractive beast by record cleaner standards, while its high-quality finish looks like it will endure heavy use without blemish. It comes with a very substantial record clamp that is quick to attach, once you get the knack, with a rubber skirt to stop cleaning fluid getting on the label. The platter is 230 millimetres in diameter and made from 8mm acrylic.

It’s pretty solid and has a foam mat stuck to the top side which grips the vinyl and allows you to apply substantial pressure without fear of slippage.

There is clearly plenty of torque in the motor, as no reasonable amount of pressure seems to slow it down. You are supplied with a nylon filament brush with which to apply a cleaning fluid of choice (we used Russ Andrews Revive, which seems good value so long as you apply it sparingly). Once the fluid has been vacuumed off the vinyl, it can be drained through a rubber hose that protrudes from the back of the cleaner. However, after half-a-dozen LPs there was still no fluid to be seen, so it must have an internal reservoir.

Two clean rivals

Build quality is very good for the price, it’s more elegant than a VPI HW 16.5 (£550) or the Moth machine (£500) and takes up rather less space than either, but it doesn’t have the lid that those competitors offer. Fortunately, silver doesn’t show the dust but you need to keep the foam mat clean and only a paper cover is supplied for this purpose. The only machine we can find that looks like it gives the Hanss a run for its money is the Okki Nokki at £395. This also doesn’t have a lid, but looks better than most and can spin discs in both directions.

Shake ‘n’ vac

In use it spins at a slow speed (somewhere around 15rpm) and it’s easy to apply some cleaning fluid and use the brush to work it into the groove. You then swing the suction beam across and turn on the vacuum, which pulls the beam down onto the vinyl for as long as it takes to dry off the cleaner – we found this took at least a minute, which is quite a long time to be listening to a vacuum cleaner, so the ear defenders were donned. Alternatively you can use the vacuum for a few revolutions and air dry any residual fluid. This requires some means of stacking the vinyl such as a plate rack, but is a quicker method for multiple albums.

In terms of performance, the RC20 does what it says on the tin and extremely well at that, so long as you get the vinyl thoroughly dry. It is gratifying to get old vinyl that didn’t look dusty or dirty to sound so much better; all manner of instruments and voices have more realism and the overall result is distinctly cleaner as one might hope.

Mould release

What’s surprising is that the RC20 makes so much difference to vinyl that already looks pretty clean that you can easily understand the benefits to an old, second-hand LP. Mind you, the logic is less obvious with a new one. Russ Andrews puts it down to the mould release agent used in vinyl record manufacture and for which his Revive cleaner is specifically concocted to remove.

But you need a good cleaner to use it with and the Hanss is the perfect companion.

LIKE: Well built and attractively finished, with excellent clamp
and plenty of suction
DISLIKE: Noisy, no dust cover and slow drying time
WE SAY: If you are after a record cleaner that’s easy to use, then the RC20 is right on the mark

PRODUCT: Hanss Acoustic RC20
TYPE: Record cleaning machine
WEIGHT: 11.8kg
DIMENSIONS: (WxHxD) 380x370x270mm
• Aluminium case
• Record clamp
• Fine tooth brush
• High torque motor
TELEPHONE: 020 8462 1379