I’ve owned a lot of record cleaning products over the years. In college, I used the Diskwasher and for really dirty records I washed them with liquid soap. Then a few years later I got my first RCM, an early one from Nitty Gritty. I used it for years, but for the last five or so years I have used a Clearaudio Matrix. I liked it because it had a platter, so it was easy to use with some of the three-step cleaners, was built like a tank, and looked good enough to sit out all the time.
Both the Nitty Gritty and Clearaudio Matrix RCMs did a good job and the three-step enzyme, wash, and rinse system worked pretty darn well on really dirty records. The only problem was that cleaning records on these machines was still labor-intensive. I want to relax and listen to music without having to exercise first.
Then a few years ago when Clearaudio released their first two sided RCMs, the Double Matrix Record Cleaner and the entry level, Smart Matrix, I tried one of the preproduction versions of the Smart Matrix because there was no way at that time I could afford the Double Matrix. The less expensive Smart Matrix did an incredible job of cleaning records, but it had a few kinks so I just kept my Matrix and continued to clean records the slow and noisy way.
Now, Clearaudio has what they refer to as the Double Matrix Professional which replaces their former best selling Double Matrix. I should probably note it also costs $400 less. While the original Double Matrix was the most innovative RCM that I had seen, the Professional takes it to a whole new level. The oh-so-easy, one-step, double sided record washing procedure works even smoother, and differs from the original Double Matrix with its more shapely and stable housing made of thick airplane grade aluminum. This, in itself, helps make this the quietest vacuum record cleaner I am aware of.
The operation is so simple; you simply put the cleaning fluid in, it holds enough for lots of cleanings. Then you place the LP on the spindle and clamp it down.. You then move the top vacuum and cleaning fluid wand over the bottom one and push the FLUID button and then turn on the power. You need to be sure to release the fluid button near or at the end of the first rotation, more isn’t better in this case. I found for most LPs four rotations in both directions followed by another four after you turned the vacuum on worked great. The last rotation is done after you lift the cleaning wand and you swing the anti-static wands over the LP for one rotation.
They have optimized a more powerful vacuum device and added a continuously adjustable rotation speed control. They also say that because they use such high-quality parts throughout, the record cleaning machine is also suitable for a professional continuous cleaning operation. Like the Double Matrix, the Professional has the built-in static reduction system that can be used without cleaning the record if one desires, and I do sometimes. Supposedly, one hundred percent of the unit is built in-house at the Clearaudio factory.
I found the unit to operate flawlessly 90% of the time, but there is that odd LP here and there that doesn’t want to spin when the vacuum is turned on. This can be corrected with just a little adjustment of the arms. I never encountered any problem with fluid dripping off the underside, even when I left it on for a minute for the enzyme cleaner to have time to do its thing.
What I did find was that records that had already been cleaned by the three-step process to sound better after being cleaned on the Double Matrix Professional. I used Musical Surroundings’ new Record Time One-step enzyme based cleaning fluid. This fluid was developed especially for the Clearaudio Double Matrix.
I guess I could try to stretch out this review, but why? It’s very simple: This is the fastest, quietest, and best cleaning RCM I know of. If you can afford it you won’t regret buying it.
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