The Zenn Record Cleaning Machine

Practically most if not all record cleaners on the market suck, and I do not meant that in a derogatory sense (though  some do deserve that label ).  Most record cleaners that are effective to some degree, use vacuum suction to remove the waste liquid after scrubbing. Most other systems that do not use suction, just merely move the dirt around on the record and are a total waste of time, money and effort.

However the Zenn record cleaner takes a different approach in removing the waste liquid by furiously spinning the record after scrubbing or more formally exploiting the effect of centrifugal force. As can be seen in the picture below, it's chassis is all acrylic. This is not just for aesthetics but because acrylic unlike wood is totally inert to the effects of water and humidity. 

Now in MK II guise. Lower profile, acrylic platter, better clamp, overall better looking and better value than ever.

 

Design and workings

The design itself is simple. It has only one very high speed , high torque motor, a platter with a rubber mat. A clamp is use to hold the record down during cleaning. Waste liquid is collected in the drawers on the underside of the cleaner.

In use the method is simple too. Place a dirty record on the platter. Apply the clamp. Start the motor and wait for a brief few seconds for the motor to pick up sufficient speed. Apply a supplied pre-wet nylon brush to the surface of the record. Apply some pressure to give the record a thorough high speed scrubbing. Apply generous amount of cleaning liquid to keep the record wet. When satisfied that the record is sufficiently scrubbed, remove the brush and pressure,  and the record will spin at very high speed to throw off the waste liquid in seconds. The liquid will be caught on the sides of the cleaner and flow into the containers in the base of the cleaner. Switch off the machine and wait for a few seconds for the record to stop spinning. Unclamp the dry record and flip to the other side to repeat. All in, the cleaning will take about 2 minutes for a side. 

 

Comparison to a Keith Monk

I have own and operate a Keith Monk Record Cleaning Machine for some years now. To me it is the best there is for the job.  But the unit is bulky, complex and expensive. It has two turntable motors, one suction arm motor , one string control motor and one very expensive air pump myriad hoses and jars. The operation itself also takes awhile to learn. There is some operating noise, but it is a lot quieter than other modern record cleaner. It also takes a longer time to clean a record but then  it does a far more effective job.

The obvious advantage the Zenn RCM has over the Keith Monk is its small size, simplicity and cost. It uses one motor and there are no other moving parts. Besides it also looks more attractive, and aesthetically matching to most modern acrylic turntables.  During operation it is also very quiet, making about as much noise as a fan.

But the bottom line is how well it cleans the record. At this it does as well if not better than the Keith Monk. And that is saying a lot, because I have always look down my nose on other RCM in comparison to the Keith Monk. The method of using centrifugal force to remove the waste liquid is a very effective method over vacuum suction. The other reason it cleans records well is the high speed , high torque scrubbing action of this machine.

Though I have developed some sentimental attachments to my Keith Monk RCM after so many years of faithful service it has given me, I am also a practical guy. So I am ready to put it up for sale. An old classic anybody?  Or go for the newest kid on the block- the Zenn Record Cleaning Machine at a fraction of the price of the Keith Monk at S$450. ( about USD260). Taking orders now.

 

The Zenn Record Cleaner is now in the MKIII version. It is now available only in acrylic black. Looks better and stays that way longer. The acrylic platter is now replaced with a smaller aluminum disc which allows for faster starts and stop. This also make it much easier to clean the smaller 7 1/2" singles. Unfortunately price also had to be revised to S$550.