ultrasound record cleaning machine damaged my records

I recently purchased an ultrasound record cleaning machine. For reasons which I hope you understand I won’t name brands, because I am not wanting to make bad publicity to anyone but to discuss the matter. 

Previously, I had anather ultrasound machine which broke. I cleaned more than a 1000 records with it, with no concerns at all. The machine broke and, due to its steep price, I decided to go for a less costly solution. 

With the new machine I cleaned 7 records. One of themLeonard Cohen’s “New Skin for the old ceremony”. When listening to “Chelsea Hote”, I remarked a distortion that wasn’t there before. IT was clear on the low notes, like the instrument being out of focus or vibrating. I had some old very worn records which had that problem due to bad stylus. At first I started to think that there was a problem with the stylus of my Lyra Atlas. So I went to another version of the same album I have at home, to check if there was a problem with the stylus. Clean passage. No problem at all. 

As on the previous cleaned record I noticed a similar problem, not so apparent, I decided to clean the second version of the LP on the new machine. Playing it i heard  the same distortion on the same music. Checking out all the 7 records I cleaned, I heard issues on all of them, some less apparent ( the mono ones) and some more appparent. 

I couldn’t believe it but the new machine was damaging my records. 

The combination of my atlas and my SME 312 arm gives some “needle talk” - music heard when with everything muted you put your hear next to the stylus on the record. Doing it, I heard the same rumble distortion that was being amplified by the system. 


I used distilled water (not a new one but one which was opened for the previous machine) but it was clear clean. I put the exact amount of surfactant liquid on the mixture of distilled water. I kept all the operating instruction rules. I don’t understand what is wrong, but the fact is this machines damages the grooves on the record. 


Does anyone had this problem before? Any help provided?


Note: I already contacted the dealer who sold it  and I am going to see him next week. It is a very good a solid dealer.  It I’d like to hear your opinion. 


Best regards,


It is seemingly the Solution used for cleaning that is the key to the end result being able to substantially impress or not, tools used are merely tools being used.

If I were to change a Cleaning Solution it would be one identified by Neil Antin or someone with Neil Antin credentials, offering the Mixture Ratio for the selected substances.

My days of producing a drip or two of this, splurge of that, diluted with this, to produce a potion where info is supplied from a variety of sources, even the manufacturers. When there is no real understanding of the qualities that are on offer from what is produced, are very much over. 

I strongly suggest anybody putting their faith in the Tools and not the cleaning solution, have a rethink, and discover the mixture / solution that really does benefit the cleaning process.  


The damage may not be permanent.  Some cleaning solution residue can be very difficult to remove.  HG provides very little detail on the what is in the cleaner other the standard market speak - HumminGuru The Small Bottle | Ultrasonic Vinyl Record Cleaning Agent.   Also, distilled water DIW that is a year old can have very high total dissolved solids (TDS) and can go acidic.  DIW absorbs CO2 which then forms carbonic acid leading to lower pH and higher TDS.  It all depends on how much air it and for how long it was exposed.

I would not yet give up hope.   Try recleaning one more time with fresh DIW and if you are in the USA, my go to simple nonionic surfactant is Tergitol 15-S-9 you can purchase here Tergitol 15-S-3 and 15-S-9 Surfactant | TALAS (talasonline.com).  One-pint will last you forever, and disregard DOWs 2-yr shelf life, I have Tergitol 15-S-9 that is 5-yrs old and is fine.  Just store in a cool dark place.  For use, download the latest version (3.1) of this book Precision Aqueous Cleaning of Vinyl Records-3rd Edition - The Vinyl Press and look at Table XXIII, Nalgene™ Dropper Bottle Use for Degritter™ & Humminguru™ for directions on use.

For those in the UK & EU, Polysorbate 20 is an alternative you can generally purchase which the book addresses.   

Good Luck,

hmmm that's weird. I have about 1200 albums and have cleaned them all at least once with my US RCM. No issues. I wonder how water could damage records. Vinyl has a melting point of about 100C, about the same as boiling pt of water. So I did an experiment last week with a handful of albums that STILL have a lot of clicks and pops.

20 minutes at 35C

hand scrub with Disc Doctor full strength cleaner

rinse in tap water

20 minutes at 35C

scrub again

rinse again

20 minutes at 35 C again


This process DID get rid of probably 90% of the clicks and pops, with no audible damage - at least to my old retired ears. I also have a TDS - total dissolved solids - meter that also measures temp. My TDS after all the cleaning was 4 ppm. Also found the temp meter on the RCM is totally out of whack - I have to set it to about 45C to get 35C on my TDS meter. Hope this helps.

Regarding the ability to damage a record with UT, there are a lot of variables in-play.  The record spin speed, the kHz, the tank volume, the power W/L, the transducer location and how close is the record to the transducers and the actual record composition - not all records have the same composition.  

The video that shows over 12 sequential cleaning cycles, and it caused damage (whatever that means), is a one-time event with not a lot of supporting detail like what was the tank temperature.  Deliberate improper use of any device can lead to damage; either to the device itself or the object being cleaned.  

Damage that may occur is erosion caused by the cavitation event and the high velocity jet that does a lot of the cleaning.  Watch this video between 6:19 and 8:30 Cavitation - Easily explained! - Bing video that shows with high-speed video how a cavitation bubble collapses.  This video is a computer-generated simulation of a single cavitation bubble collapse Inertial collapse of a single bubble near a solid surface - Bing video.  Pay attention to the pressures and temperatures (which are theoretical and do not actually occur in use) associated with the implosion event. There 'can' be a lot of energy with the event.

Otherwise, here are some of the basic design rules for UT tanks.
-The power to produce cavitation is proportional to the kHz, so a 120kHz UT needs more power than a 40kHz.
-For ultrasonic tanks, the bubble diameter is inversely proportional to the kHz, so a 40 kHz UT produces a large bubble than a 120kHz UT.
-The cavitation intensity is proportional to the bubble diameter and the tank power (watts/L) but there is a maximum power above which no addition cavitation intensity is obtained. 
-The number of cavitation bubbles produced is proportional to kHz, so a 120kHz produces more bubbles than a 40kHz, but smaller bubbles.
-The smaller the tank volume, the more power that is required. It has to do with the ratio of the tank volume to its interior surface area.
-For lower kHz units (<60kHz), if the tank bath flow rate (from filtering or spinning) >50% of the tank volume per minute, cavitation intensity decreases.

Hope this is of some help,

Cleeds, I drive a well known German automobile. Can you name it with any certainty? No.

Of course not. That’s my point. I don’t understand the coy secrecy here.


I’m guessing based on the specs it’s a Humminguru.

Of course everyone is free to speculate. We can speculate that @lewm drives a Porsche. But he could just as easily be a VW or MB guy. Or something else.