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Pangea Audio Record Doctor VI record cleaning machine Review

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Fig. 1 – The CAF 2019 Record Cleaning Panel

Imagine if you will a record cleaning panel gone wrong. It slipped its gears and from most if not all accounts went off the reservation. This is what was relayed to me by a number of sources about such a panel at RMAF 2019, so much so that certain members of the panel and others in the record cleaning industry desired a reboot. As I am no stranger to controversy, cast a long shadow, and possess a mouthpiece rivaling Ralph Kramden or Fred Flintstone, after some discussion I assented to moderate the panel. For all of the aforementioned attributes this could go very well or all so wrong, so very, very wrong. Fortunately, I managed to keep the train on time, and the panelists’ personalities in tow.

The record cleaning panel at Capitol Audio Fest 2019 was composed of the following gentlemen (from left to right):

Robert Stein, representing AudioDesk
Harry Weisfeld , representing VPI
Charles Kirmuss, representing Kirmuss Audio
Kevin Berg, representing Nitty Gritty
Steve Niemi, representing Pangea Audio

Note: Not in this picture, me. I was seated to the right, the very far right of the panel and, to the benefit of all, out of the camera shot.

I made sure that everyone was able to make their case not just for their product but for methods and concepts behind their cleaners. Apart from those differences what really struck me was their respective pricing from a high of $3,999.00 to a low of $299.95. For just over an hour I peppered the panel with questions, doing my best to move things along in a narrative fashion so each could tell their story. I was rather taken with the story behind the Pangea Audio Record Doctor VI ($299.95) and how could it keep up with the other more expensive models. My analog readers, those with turntables and records, do ask/request/cajole me into finding more affordable solutions for them without sacrificing quality — a solution that won’t break the bank and won’t damage their records. Not one to shy from a challenge I spoke directly with Steve Niemi of Pangea Audio and Adam Sohmer of Adam Sohmer Associates, Pangea’s public relations firm, about acquiring a unit for review. They said yes and here we are.

The Record Doctor VI model celebrates the 20th anniversary of the unit and marks its first serious upgrade in 10 years from its precursor the Record Doctor V. Having borrowed the previous model in the interim, before my review unit arrived, I was eager to run it through its paces so that I could better understand any and all improvements made by the new model. As such I was able to run the machines side-by side.

Pangea Audio claims the following improvements/updates:

  1. Runs cooler and quieter than the model V
  2. A more stain resistant aluminum top
  3. Larger record turner to avert fluids getting on the LP label
  4. Newer, deep cleaning fluid application brush

And, I can say, having used the predecessor and all of its accessories, Pangea is being quite truthful in its claims. The new Record Doctor VI ticks all those boxes and,while the motor is powered, its operation is otherwise manual. For the price I was not expecting more and if I’m honest, at the price of $299, I’d be dubious as to just how well an automated solution could function. Not to say that it’s impossible but right up there with Sherlock Holmes’ outlook on improbabilities.

Fig. 2 – Pangea Audio Record Doctor VI

The Record Doctor stable of cleaning machines, the VI in particular, is just too easy to use. There is no learning curve. Honestly, after a minute to two with the supplied, two-page User Guide, there was no turning back.

Fig. 3 – Record Doctor VI Quick Start Guide

The Quick Start Guide can be downloaded here:

See for yourself — there’s nothing to it. And just to be sure that I am not spouting hyperbole I invited some neighbor children, ages 7 to 12, to use the machine on some $1 records I keep on hand for just such an occasion, and the only assistance any of them needed, the shorter ones specifically, was a footstool. Apart from that they were all expert in a space of 15 minutes. Needless to say, I have now inadvertently trained my own cadre of record cleaners to take on my now-sizable collection.

Seriously, this guide should be the product’s main sales tool.

So many of my readers and followers online and fellow crate-diggers at independent record shops ask me about record cleaning, and we usually end up talking about recipes for record cleaning solutions as they are just fine with cleaning their records by hand, no machines. But then there are those with a year of the turntable/record attraction under their belts who just want more. They want to take greater care of their precious vinyl without going bankrupt.

And now an answer for them, and for all those about to jump in with other comparably priced record cleaning machines. I have evaluated the relatively affordable competition for construction, appearance, noise level, and footprint (space on my spare bathroom counter-top), and cleaning performance with a bunch of really sub-standard $1 bin records from my local shops. The Record Doctor VI did a really admirable job of cleaning them. The whole operation of cleaning records could not be cleaner.

Draining the machine’s tank into a sink, as discussed on page one of the guide, is as messy as the entire operation gets.

Fig. 4 – Draining the Tank

The Record Doctor VI looks a lot more expensive than it is. I also am partial to its packaging, but then I’m one of those taking the sum of a product’s parts into the equation. The maths check out.

Fig. 4 – The Shipping Box


Copy editor: Dan Rubin


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