Osage Audio Products, Vinyl, and Stylus Cleaning Products by Greg Voth

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Gregvoth.jpgJim Pendleton, president of Osage Audio, LLC and Audio Intelligent vinyl, CD, and stylus cleaning products reached out to Stereo Times contributors to evaluate his cleaning products specific to our needs. He made himself available for recommendations once we described our cleaning machines and requirements.

 

My needs are more straightforward than some, no fancy technology-driven record cleaning machines behind these four walls, just two dependable workhorses – a 20+ years old VPI 16.5 (downstairs) and the Record Doctor Vl Record Cleaning Machine (1upstairs) that I reviewed here in late 2019. Both machines are single liquid types, both require liquid application by hand, and both have built-in vacuum systems for fluid removal. The 16.5 has a powered turntable; the RD VI does not. With the RD VI, you spin the record by hand with the supplied label-sized grabber as you apply the cleaning fluid and as the vacuum picks up the liquid.

 

The VPI 16.5 is an old friend, originally found with a heavily warped open side panel, for quite a friendly price. Ed, a woodworker I met in NYC back in the 1990s, had never seen such a machine and quickly offered the repair in trade for my cleaning 50 or so of his records. He did a great job on the repair, and the repaired VPI 16.5 did a nice job with his vinyl. 

 

While my needs are more straightforward than some, Osage Audio offers a wide range of products for vinyl cleaning at every rung of record cleaning ladder; from one-step liquids to multi-step products that require before and aftercare. They provide stylus and CD cleaning products as well.

 

Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions Premium One-Step Formula No. 6

My choice was a rather easy one, the Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions Premium One-Step Formula No. 6. It’s labeled as made with “Ultra-Pure Water,” and says it’s alcohol-free and safe for use on all records, including shellacs. I also selected the Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions Enzymatic Stylus Cleaner Formula. I settled on stylus cleaners from Last System’s Stylist Stylus System Formula #4 and Stylus Treatment #5 for many years, until Peter Ledermann of Soundsmith recommended using a bit of Blu Tak for a quick stylus clean. Today I use a generic form of ZeroDust. I’m more than curious how Osage Audio’s AIVS Enzymatic Stylus Cleaner Formula completes the chore. I’ll use my digital microscope to see how clean things look.

 

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The Sage of Osage Audio, Speaks

 

I asked Jim Pendleton about their testing methods, and his response follows: “We employ independent laboratory testing in the development of all of our products. Safe and clean are things that can be determined in that way. 

 

“Along with knowing how the components in the stylus cleaning formula will react with known adhesives used for mounting styli in the cantilevers. We bought up a wide selection of cartridges used, removed the cantilever/stylus from each, and left them in a container of the stylus cleaning formula for an extended period. Doing this, we could examine any damage to the adhesive and the cantilever so that the cleaner will contact the cantilever.

 

The results of these tests were then examined and cataloged.”

 

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Vinyl Cleaning with AIVS Premium One-Step Formula No. 6s

With the Record Doctor Vl Record Cleaning Machine closest at hand, I set things up to clean old and new vinyl. First things first, earplugs! While reviewing this unit using an iPhone app, I measured the noise level of the RD Vl at around 93db when vacuuming, similar to the VPI of 16.5. With a recent audio-related mishap involving headphones and an unexpected volume setting, I’m now more careful than ever to avoid unnecessary noise.

 

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Quoting from the Osage Audio site: “All of our cleaning products contain Ultra-Pure Water. This product is filtered and de-ionized in a 6 step process that produces a research grade product. We process our own water product in house to insure that the quality of the product meets the exact standards that we have found through laboratory research to be best suited for cleaning phonograph records. The result is water that is much purer and that works better than water found at retail outlets. This is important for allowing unobstructed action by the enzymatic and natural surfactant components of our cleaning formulas. The result is records that are cleaner than they’ve ever been. This product is perfect as a final cleaning step after the 2-step cleaning process to remove any traces of contaminants that might remain, and is also perfect for rinsing brushes and record cleaning machine pickup tubes.”

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AIVS Premium One-Step Formula No. 6 on the Record Doctor RD VI

 

We’ll start with the 2020 pressing of “Ella – The Lost Berlin Tapes” (Verve)… a new, first-ever vinyl edition of a recently found Ella Fitzgerald live recording from 1962. When’s the last time you removed the shrink wrap and held a brand new never-before-released Ella album? This freshly minted gatefold double LP feels akin to time travel. After placing the LP on the RD VI label-sized platter and slipping on its large record turner, I sprinkled the AIVS Premium One-Step Formula No. 6 on the record. I then rotated the LP by hand (this motor-less unit) and then used the Osage Listener Select Record Cleaning Brush to spread it evenly around the LP’s side. 

 

I’m demoing the 12-inch version of the Osage Listener Select Brush, of which two shorter versions are available for 10-inch records and 45 rpm singles. If you’ve ever tried to clean smaller vinyl with an LP-sized brush, you’ll appreciate these options. I noted that the brush’s pliable bristles bend delicately toward the record surface as you apply pressure once wet. Both the RD VI and VPI 16.5’s brushes are stiffer, but I like how this brush feels. When cleaning an extra challenging record, I’ll occasionally rotate the brush to allow the bristles to lead the handle, digging gently into the grooves. The Listener Select Brush’s bristles provided a springy yet softer response. But they don’t easily allow that sort of abuse. Maybe I’m too tough on my LPs.

 

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The Premium One-Step Formula No. 6 solutions can generate tiny bubbles and light suds if vigorous brushwork in challenging areas, but the cleaning liquid remained clear elsewhere when treated more gingerly. Once I felt the fluid was sufficiently worked into grooves, I flipped the record and pressed the vacuum’s power button, rotating the record by hand and, with a count to 12, which covers about 2-1/2 revolutions, learned using the VPI 16.5. Lifting the first side and flipping the LP to see how well the cleaning liquid was removed, the vinyl surface was fresh, shiny, and looking great, with only a hint of moisture left along the record’s outer edge. For this, I lightly run a lint-free microfiber cloth along the LP edge while rotating the vinyl carefully in hand, or leave the record sitting for a bit on a label-width stand I 3d printed.

 

I repeated the process, cleaned a few more records, both old and new, making sure to place each cleaned LP in a fresh rice paper-lined inner sleeve, if it didn’t have one already, and both record and jacket, if bare, into a new vinyl outer sleeve. Visually, the Osage Audio Intelligence cleaning products appeared to do a very nice job; the liquid was removed easily and left a clean, shiny surface to my well-kept records. Now to the basement, to find some older LPs in dire need of help!

 

AIVS Premium One-Step Formula No. 6 on the VPI 16.5

Downstairs, I ran through some recently gifted and roughly kept records and selected a suitably dirty LP to clean on the VPI 16.5 record cleaning machine – this sample even had a tiny smear of white paint along the leading edge. I clamped the record to the VPI’s LP-sized platter and flipped on the platter’s power switch, sprinkling out a learned amount of the Premium One-Step Formula No. 6 solutions as the platter spun. Using the Osage Listener Select Brush, I spread the cleaning liquid out evenly on an LP side and altered my brush handling to reflect the differing needs of this less-than-stellar disk. I was working the bristles back and forth a bit into the paint smear as it grew fainter. 

 

Once sufficiently done with the application, I inserted ear protection again, rotated the unit’s pickup tube into position, flipped down the 16.5’s smoked plexiglass cover, and hit the vacuum’s power switch. I watched as it rotated the same 2 1/2 revolutions as above before I flipped the vacuum’s switch to the off position, allowing the platter to continue to spin as the pickup tube loosened its grip on the record’s surface. Flipping up the unit’s cover, I found the LP looked shockingly better – not pristine, mind you (these products can’t remove signs of abuse), but the record looked good enough to play without concern.

 

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I found other albums in this gift lot of LPs that looked in good shape and cleaned up near new, with no visual evidence of any remaining ingredients on the record’s surface. The Premium One-Step Formula No. 6 did suds a bit more on the VPI 16.5 machine and the RD VI, but each machine’s vacuum stage removed the liquid well and the slight suds’ing, adding nothing audible these ears picked up during the play of cleaned vinyl LPs. Perhaps platter vibration during the brushing process might have contributed; it is the only other variable in this equation.

 

In combination with the cleaning fluid, the Osage Listener Select Record Cleaning Brush proved an excellent combination. Once wetted, the Osage brush was less stiff than the VPI brush I’ve used for, well, ages. Application with the Osage Listener Select Brush felt more delicate, and It did the job well, distributing fluid about the LP surfaces.

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Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions Enzymatic Stylus Cleaner Formula

A drop of AIVS Enzymatic Stylus Cleaner Formula on the included stylus brush and a careful, gentle wipe back to front a few times with the included square-tipped unvarnished carbon fiber (tightly packed) bristle stylus cleaning brush is all that’s necessary for a safe and thorough stylus cleaning. This alcohol-free Enzymatic formula contains no other ingredients that might weaken the stylus-to-cantilever adhesive bond. The 2-ounce bottle ($40) contains enough for up to 1,000 stylus cleanings. My handheld but effective digital microscope showed no noticeable buildup on either two styli after this cleaner’s use.

 

The Wrap

 

The AIVS Premium One-Step Formula No. 6 is a fine product – it did a great job removing grit and grime from both old and new vinyl and, applied with the Osage Listener Select Record Cleaning Brush, this pair worked well with both record cleaning machines. 

 

The AIVS Enzymatic Stylus Cleaner Formula gave a competent clean to both my all original 1979 Ortofon MC-20 and the Benz Glider M. Both AIVS products and the Osage Listener Cleaning Brush are now my affordable go-to. The AIVS Premium One-Step Formula No. 6 label promises “Bringing You Closer To The Music,” and it delivers.

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greg voth           

Specifications:
Products:

 

Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions products reviewed:

 

Premium One-Step Formula No. 6 (Quart): $34.00

Available singularly and in bulk quantities

 

Enzymatic Stylus Cleaner Formula: $40

2 ounce, No Alcohol). Includes applicator brush and free domestic ground shipping.

 

Osage Listener Select Record Cleaning Brush: $40.00

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Contact:

Osage Audio Products. LLC

Jim Pendleton, president

Website: www.osageaudio.com

 

Email: info @audiointelligent.com

P.O. Box 232

Hallsville, MO 65255

573-696-3551

 

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Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions

“Bringing You Closer To The Music”

Premium One-Step Formula No. 6

Made with Ultra-Pure Water

Alcohol Free, safe for use on all records, including shellacs.

 

Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions

Enzymatic Stylus Cleaner Formula

Ready to use

Made with Ultra-Pure Water

 

Osage Listener Select Record Cleaning Brush for 12” LP’s – 3 different lengths available for 12” LP, 10 records, and 45 rpm singles

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