Crosley C10 turntable review

Analog Planet has finally issued a review on the Crosley C10 turntable.

Verdict:  it’s basically a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, which is a solid entry-level turntable.  It ships with an Ortofon OM-10 cartridge already installed, and setup is reduced to installing the counterweight and adjusting it.

My recommendation for an immediate upgrade would be to replace the OM-10 with perhaps a Nagaoka MP-200 or Audio Technical 440ML (if you have a way to tame its brightness through loading), or other good MM cart.

The bonus is that it might introduce some unfortunate Crosley novelty turntable owners to quality playback, and encourage them to upgrade and hear what vinyl really should sound like…unless their cheap record players haven’t destroyed their records.  It also sells through more traditional retail channels, making it easier for buyers to purchase.  Being a Pro-Ject means that many of the upgrades should work with it, including an upgrade to the acrylic platter which many observe creates a not-so-subtle improvement in sound quality.

 

The ultrasonic recipe

These are some observations of my current ultrasonic method.  Subject to change, as always.

  1. Ultrasonic bath uses a mix of diluted Tergitol and isopropyl alcohol.  I have not measured exact amounts yet.
  2. Filtered tap water for the ultrasonic is plenty good enough. Instapure R5 filtering is what I use; R8 is even better.
  3. Temperature between 35-40°C seems to work just fine.
  4. Cycles run about six minutes per rotation of the records.  I do at least two cycles, sometimes three for really grimy records.
  5. The rinse stage includes flooding the record surface with purified water (Aquafina is just fine) and vacuuming it off.
  6. Records air dry for a few minutes.  (This is so any remaining droplets around the edge and label will evaporate. The grooves are already dry.)
  7. Cleaned records go into new archival  record sleeves.

Running a 12 minute cycle is about perfect–it allows ample time to rinse, vacuum and sleeve three records, and load up the pucks with another three records to clean.

I only clean in stretches of one hour.  That is the duty cycle for the record vac and the ultrasonic bath.

This results in 15 records cleaned per hour.

 

Ultrasonic record cleaning–first impressions

I have so far had pretty good luck with ultrasonic cleaning.  I will do a more thorough writeup, but for now, I will give a few impressions.  I am still experimenting the cleaning solutions, timing in the ultrasonic bath, and methods of rinsing and vacuuming.

I recently bought an RCA Shaded Dog classical record that was VPI cleaned by the seller, and I was less than impressed.  In fact, it was downright noisy.  The other record from the same seller had less noise, but still more than I wanted to hear.  The ultrasonic did its trick–the first record still had a little noise, but most of it was gone.   Sadly, the sound is rather dulled, a victim of groove wear.  The second record, though, sounds fantastic–it plays back with only a few ticks or pops, and I feel some of those are from inadequate vacuum power.

Other records are a mixed lot.  A few that were already considered goners did not improve at all.  One is an MCA pressing of Jack DeJohnett’s Parallel Realities, and I have a feeling it is just a really bad, lousy pressing.  It shows hardly a scratch, but it sounds as though it was used as home plate in a Little League game.

I recleaned many that I had vacuumed earlier.  It made a little difference, and all for the better.  I bought five LPs at an estate sale, which the owner had handled with his greasy mitts.  Some of the fingerprints actually looked as though they were etched in the records.  I gave them some stiff cleaning, but the impressions still remained.

After their trip through the ultrasonic for 18 minutes with a stronger cleaning solution, I no longer see them.  The Dionne Warwick plays back as good as it ever will, and I have yet to spin Sinatra at The Sands to see how it improved.

I put my 45RPM Elvis 24 Karat Hits on the ultrasonic.  I have two copies of this (through a fluke occurrence).  Due to one of the records being slightly off-center, and some being a little more noisy than others, I Frankensteined one good set out of them, and a lesser set that I keep around as a loaner, a tester, or a set I can travel with.

I put this second, noisier set through the ultrasonic/vacuum routine, and now it plays back with maybe one or two minor ticks per track, with an even more silent background.  So, this even works on new records; pressing plants are not exactly a clean environment.

I also cleaned up some sealed Dynaflex records I had purchased several months ago.  They were mildewed, so they were quarantined from the rest of the collection.  First, I gave them a spraydown and soak with some Vinyl-Zyme.  After applying and vacuuming on both sides, the records went into the last run of a batch of water/cleaner in the ultrasonic.  Both records now look spotless.  There is a bit of noise left over from the pressing but otherwise, they play exactly like they would have when new.

I will report more results as I go, but overall I would say on average that ultrasonic cleaning has surpassed other methods I have tried to fully clean records, and this is the only one that has had the ability to reach inside the tiny grooves and work that crud out of them.  Felt applicators only smear water around the surface.  My old VPI record brush uses bristles that are too fat to fit inside the grooves.

I am not impressed with the Chinese ultrasonic cleaner I bought, and I am realizing I need a better vacuum.  For the former, I will likely be returning it.  For the latter, my budget does not allow for a top of the line vacuum, but I have already sourced parts to build my own with the same suction as the top vacuum systems out there.  (It’s easy once you find out which vacuum motor they use.)

 

QRP struggles with the center

I have to admit I am nearly at wit’s end with this issue.

For the past few years, I have stepped up buying new 180g and 200g vinyl releases.  I have quickly found out which labels or pressing plants I can trust, and those which give me pause.

Case in point is anything that QRP presses.  On average, I would say that one in four records pressed by QRP that I have personally bought have been off-center.  This was something I expected back in the 70s and 80s when records were $5 each and mass produced.  The latest was the Stevie Ray Vaughan Texas Hurricane box set.  Two of the six records are off center.  Shameful, especially for what they are charging for it.  My bog common Epic pressings might not sound so good, but they were cheap.  And, on center.  The last three Rush reissues faced the same fate: two of the three were off center, one so badly off center that I had to turn it off after two tracks.

Seriously, QRP?

The good QRPs I have are often extremely well done.  Yet with others, the pressing is good but the damned record is not on center.  I’ve not been plagued by noise or warpage issues some other listeners have had.

What is so hard to grasp about this concept?  Others seem to have no issue with it.  I’ve only had one off-center RTI record (cheerfully replaced by Rhino), and all the rest have been dead accurate.  Music On Vinyl may not always have the best sources, but pressing quality has been exemplary, and every single record is on center.  Pallas, same story there–dead accurate.  Even the shoddy records coming out of GZ Vinyl are at least on center (although very poorly handled–most I get are audibly scuffed or scratched from factory mishandling).

Why is QRP struggling with this?

Relate your own QRP centering issues in our forum.  Since complaint seem to fall on deaf ears (and I bury Amazon under a pile of returned records), raising awareness might wake up the powers that be.  Myself, I’ve curtailed buying