The Walker Audio Prelude Record Cleaning System is a multi-step record cleaning system for use with a record vacuum system. I used it with the wonderful Clearaudio Matrix record cleaning machine. I have used more record cleaning machines than I can remember. As of late, I have been using “First” from Nitty Gritty and then washing with “Pure”; a very excellent combination that I want you to know about.
Then one day I get a phone call from Constantine, wanting me to get in touch with Lloyd Walker. Lloyd is so much into the vinyl playback, I have never heard anyone so passionate about analogue, much less about record cleaning. And that’s how the Prelude Record Cleaning System came to me, and I could hardly wait for it to come. I just hoped Lloyd Walker’s new product be half as good as he was excited about it.
I know you want a description, and I will give you a short one, but let me start with the results. The Walker Audio system came with instructions on using it, but the question with all record cleaning systems is whether it’s worth all the work or not. So is it?
Well, I could try to hold you in suspense but the answer is simple. YOU HAD BETTER BELIEVE IT IS! The combination of the Prelude and the Talisman is simply stunning, without a doubt the best way to prepare records to play that I have ever used. The truth is the results are a little disconcerting at first. I could not imagine that cleaning records could let you not only have a more silent background, but also let you hear so much more information and in a way that sounds so much like music.
Yes, the noise floor does drop quite noticeably, but it’s the astonishing gain of transparency, air, and inner detail that I was not expecting. Just like my WGA Ikonoklast speaker’s ability to play really quiet passages while sounding incredibly dynamic, so does the lower noise floor of your records, which allow for them to sound more dynamic as well as quieter. I was also surprised that the harmonics and textures of music seemed improved on records that had gone through the treatment.
I want to be sure you’re hearing me say that I could play a record, even one that had already been cleaned and treated with other good products, then treat it with the Prelude Record Cleaning System, immediately listen to it again and easily hear that it was not just fundamentally different, but becoming a more enjoyable music experience that makes me very happy. It’s almost as if the music is more emotionally involving than it was before the record was treated.
Now everything I have said is based on using the whole system, the enzymes, the wash, both rinses, and the Talisman. You can just use the Prelude treatments. If you do, you’ll get the increased quietness, and some of the resolution and clarity. Without the Talisman, you will get about 90% of it; I don’t know about you, but I want it all . The Talisman seems to get rid of the very last bit of muddiness and haze that most records have.
The Walker Audio Prelude Record Cleaning System consists of a small container of powder that contains the active enzymes that I think is responsible for the magic. Then, there are two little measuring scoops. You also get a 4-ounce mixing bottle where you can mix the enzymes with the special water. There is also the 16-ounce bottle of “Ultra Pure Laboratory Grade Water”, and a second 16-ounce bottle for the “Pre-Mixed Cleaning Solution”. You use a lot of water so you also get a 64-ounce bottle of the special water.
Lastly, you will need several record cleaning pads or brushes, and of course, you will need a good record vacuuming system.
I’m not going into great detail here because it’s all in the instructions, just do what it says. It works! Oh by the way, it goes much quicker than you would think once you have done a few. You start with the Active Enzyme Cleaner. The problem with using active enzymes is that the proteins break down once they are in water and only leaves you about eight hours to use it all up or throw it out. The manual tells you how to make up a small (about 8 records) or large batch (15 to 20). Walker Audio claims to have made a significant investment in the equipment to purify their own water rather than rely on third-party sources. I don’t know how much better it is, but it doesn’t cost much so I suggest you just use it. This isn’t your mama’s distilled water, nor do they recommend you use regular distilled water for this process.
After applying and vacuuming the Active Enzyme mixture as directed in the instructions, use the pre-mixed Cleaning Solution and vacuum it off. The final step is to rinse the record wice with Walker Audio Ultra Pure Laboratory Grade Water. Vacuum the rinse water and repeat rinsing once more. Don’t skip any of the steps, you need to get all this stuff rinsed off.
After doing both sides, you’re ready to play the record, but there is one last thing you do at the turntable. It is here that you use the Walker Talisman. After placing your clean record on the platter, you take the Talisman and hold it about an inch above the record on the left side (well away from your cartridge) and make a few little circles as the record rotates under it. Don’t let it touch the record, in fact holding it too close cuts down on its effectiveness. Doing this only takes a few seconds, and it needs to be done each time you play it in order to demagnetize the record and platter.
The Talisman simply is a compact set of heavy magnets encased in a nice holder. It also is useful for demagnetizing CDs and cables; turn your equipment off before you use it on cables.
The good news is that once your albums have been cleaned with the Prelude system, you can just use the Talisman each time you play the record. So while it sounds like a lot of work, at least you’re through once it’s done.
We are back to that question; is it worth the work and the price? The ANSWER IS A RESOUNDING YES! It’s a steal if you ask me. It’s much cheaper per record than what I was using and substantially better. If you love vinyl, get off your duff and order the stuff, because you have no idea how good your records CAN sound. I’m not kidding. Don’t tell me you can’t afford it. The MSRP for the Prelude cleaning system is only $85 and that will clean around 150 records. The Talisman is $199, but it’s a one-time purchase that will last forever or at least a few thousand years.
A Second Conclusion
After using the Prelude System for several weeks, I’m not sure I have made enough of a case for how great this stuff is. Last week, after a trip to Half Price to buy LPs at their 25 cents sale – that’s right, albums for a quarter – I found out just how indispensable this product is. Let me just say you won’t believe what it can do for really dirty and noisy records. All I can say is THANK YOU Lloyd Walker, you have greatly enhanced my musical enjoyment for a very small price!
Thank you very much for the review. We now also offer a Prelude Deluxe Kit that includes everything in the Record Cleaning System plus our new Prelude Record Cleaning Brushes. The Brush kit includes three brushes – one to use fo each step of the record cleaning process, three replacement pads, and a tray to hold the brushes.
The list price for the Prelude Deluxe Kit is $135 – a $5 saving over buying the Record Cleaning System ($85) and Brushes ($55) separately.
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