The Big Dust Off!

NOTE: The AudioQuest carbon fiber brush has written on it in tiny embossed letters "hold gold contacts"—something that was pointed out to me following the test. My apologies. Also: the BLACKAUDIO brush is strictly for wet cleaning and I shouldn't have included it in this "shoot out". Dry dusting records before play is critical for both stylus and record longevity. New records come out of the jacket dusty because they are pressed in relatively dusty environments and in some cases spend a great deal of time stacked on spindles before being packed.

The embedded video shows you 9 different brushes plus one manual wet cleaning device that takes up very little space and protects the record label while making easy both wiping and drying.

After showing and describing each brush a dusty record produced by dropping it on the carpet gets a double “brush off” and you get to see the results. The brushes were:

1) Audioquest carbon fiber brush $29.95
2) Furutech A SKII (replaced with the SK-111) $159.99
3) Ursa Major $52.00
4) Stasis Corp $29.95
5) Acoustic Sounds “The Big Brush” $36.95 ($52.99 with ground wire)
6) Levin Design $335
7)Hart Audio Special Source Super Cleaner Mk3 $57
8)Black Audio MicroBrush (a wet cleaning device) $39.99
9)Ramar Record Brush By Rangel Vasev $350
10)Spindle Spinner (a wet cleaning aid not a brush) $180

While as you’ll see the tests were hardly scientific, it appeared that the Hart Audio and Ramar Record Brush were the two most effective dust removers followed by the Ursa Major and the Furutech, but watch for yourself.

COMMENTS
simes_pep's picture

I have the Hart brush, since you ran a feature, replacing a very old Exstat brush.
Very please with the Hart brush to getting the dust off prior to being played.

jazz's picture

But its story ofmdevelopment and workmanship is beyond comprehension.

Alone to first offer a brush that doesn’t even cover the grooves containing music, with partly peeling off bristle adhesive, then with Mk III offering the same too short wooden block, extended by plastic parts. It’s completely unbelievable. But this bristle combination is simply magic and I’m thankful it was built, offered and mentioned by Michael.

cundare's picture

Well, it may be a great brush at a great price, but the company selling them leaves a lot to be desired. I wasn't able to find any US distributors whatsoever last month, forcing me to buy direct from Hart Audio on eBay for a whopping $73 with shipping -- not so great a deal after all. My card was charged on Jan-20 -- moments after I placed the order -- but as of today, Jan-31, it still hasn't shipped. No communications from Hart explaining the delay or giving an ETA more realistic than eBay's latest "Feb 1-15" auto-update. Come on. I'm *this* close to initiating a PITA eBay cancellation & buying an Ursa -- which would probably cost less and get to me faster, even at this late date.

cundare's picture

Update: And Ursa is now also citing either 1-4 or 5-6 weeks delivery time (depending on which Ursa Web page you believe). However, that delay seems to be due to the German postal system, not because of a failure to even ship after payment; and Ursa's shipping fee is less than half that of Hart. Hopefully, Ursa doesn't bill your credit card until the product ships. But who knows? I'm really appreciating the relative ease of working with AudioQuest.

cundare's picture

Well, it's now Feb-9 and not only have I received no indication that my Hart brush shipped (much less tracking info), the company has still not replied to my eBay messages about this Jan-20 -- yes, January! -- order. So today, I requested a cancellation. Since it looks like people are having similar problems with Ursa & other overseas sellers, I'll just invoke the 80/20 rule and pick up one of the newer anti-static AudioQuest brushes. Maybe it's not the equal of Mikey's recommended products, but life is short & I'm sure the AQ brush will be "good enough" -- at a very reasonable price. AudioQuest is a well-run outfit and U.S. sellers like Acoustic Sounds ship AQ products promptly. This is the kind of thing that kills small businesses. Yes, supply-chain and shipping issues are a problem for everyone. But not even replying to a buyer's email tells me that, no matter how great their products are, Hart is not an outfit I want to give my business.

cundare's picture

Shortly after I requested the eBay cancellation, I received a message from Hart telling me that the brush had been shipped about a week after I placed the order and that shipping times were currently about 6 weeks -- a March ETA. Still no tracking information, but I canceled the cancellation. I do try to support small companies like Hart, and understand that Hart is likely struggling with all sorts of pandemic, shipping, & supply-chain obstacles. But this should be an object lesson about the importance of communication & setting expectations. Hart could have avoided this brouhaha by simply responding to my earlier inquiries. Oh well, I guess this counts as a potential happy ending & I'd delete this entire thread, if only there was a way to do so with the AP interface.

cundare's picture

Well, the Hart brush arrived yesterday, 35 days after ordering it. Given the transit times from Europe these days, I guess that's not so terrible, but it would have been nice if the brush had been put in the mail more quickly, or if the seller had provided useful tracking information.

However, the brush itself was a disappointment. This is the "Big Willy" version, which costs about $90 US + shipping. It's small and build quality is pure high-school. A small block of wood with four plexiglass rectangles sloppily glued to the side (the glue leaked out on one side & had to be cut off with a razor). The pieces aren't well-aligned & the whole thing looks like it was just slapped together by the neighborhood kids. Worst of all, the envelope it arrived it had some kind of pollutant, a grainy powder the consistency of fine-granulated sugar. There was a protective cover shipped with the brush, but it was just bouncing around the envelope, not protecting the brush fibers.

Overall a pretty poor experience. I could have had four AudioQuest brushes here weeks ago for the same price. And at this point, I don't even want to use it until I can confirm that the powder in the envelope did not foul the brush fibers.

cundare's picture

Look, I don't want to be an a-hole here. I've started several of my own businesses as an entrepreneur and understand the pressures and constraints. I want this little company to succeed. But this is not a $90 product. It was constructed sloppily, packaged sloppily, it arrived with no documentation (not even basic instructions re: how to orient this asymetrical multi-pad device on a record surface), and the seller was mostly unresponsive to queries. And, oh yeah, the product can't be returned. Maybe it does work great -- but maybe I'll just throw it out rather than risk fouling valuable records with this fine powder.

DFacobbre's picture

I got mine today, took a month, no tracking but I used PayPal so I wasn't worried, plus he emailed a lot and gave me a discount.

bassrome's picture

I still get great results from my Hunt brush. You don’t need to be as attentive to technique as some brushes.

Anton D's picture

I am so old, I remember when it first arrived!

Currently, I am an Ursa major fan, but I love this shoot out and the product line.

Kudos to MF for the energy in setting it up and doing the 'tests!'

Tom L's picture

We also have two original Discwashers in very good condition that get occasional use.

jameswicks's picture

This is a unique dry brush with a built-in vacuum. The Flux Turbo 2.0 is made in Germany. I'd love to see it tested by Michael Fremer, for his thoughts and review.
https://www.flux-hifi.de/en/products/flux-turbo/FLUX-Turbo.81536.php

jazz's picture

Don’t want to tell more here than that I gave it back again.

gMRfk6LMHn's picture

I have a Hunt EDA Brush and a Philips Brush that has an earth wire, it looks the same as the one shown here.

[img]https://i.imgur.com/MISRz0M.jpg[/img]

The best tip I was given, was to hold the brush as Michael showed in his video, BUT to slowly move the brush away from the LP in a straight line.

James, Dublin, Ireland

fishbone35's picture

I've been using an old Audioquest brush (without the inner strip) for decades and always flip it back and forth across the inside of the handle to clean off the dust that was captured from the record. How does one clean the other brushes that don't have a built-in cleaning mechanism? Of course, I'd be tempted to flick it with my oily finger but that clearly isn't the solution. What do others do?

Wymax's picture

I am using the Ursa Major, and use the holder to flip the brush against. When MF presents the brushes you might have noticed that the UM comes with a holder. So in essence some of the same that you do. I do also have the AcousTech Big Record Brush without the ground wire (before the UM) but never really liked it, cannot remember how I brushed that one off though.

Glotz's picture

I used the one that came with the Disc Doctor 5 from Audio Advisor. Sorry not more help.

The Disc Doctor 6 comes with a different nylon brush. Not bad, but not the same for de-dusting brushes.

OldschoolE's picture

to folks to dust their records before play with the prices of most of the brushes tested. Obviously the Audioquest and Stasis brushes will be the most appealing and I'm glad they were included. I don't know of anyone in their right mind who would want to spend $350 on a record dusting brush or even $60 for that matter.
This also feeds the argument from some who complain that analog (vinyl records) is more expensive than digital. That may be true in the cost of new records, but it is not the case overall. Digital can be very expensive (getting the right outboard DAC and other devices, subscriptions to expensive services like Tidal and Roon, etc. A good digital front end can cost $100K just as easy and you end up with nothing to show for it unless we are talking CD. I will admit that CD is currently the most inexpensive way to go if we are talking source gear and media).
The beautiful thing though is that analog doesn't have to be expensive to sound fantastic.

As was shown, not all brushes are alike under the extreme conditions demonstrated. After that though in real application, they may be more similar. I too was fairly impressed with the Ursa Major and it showed that $52 performs better than $300 for what its worth. Anything that performs like that in the extreme demo, imagine in real world application!
While it can be that the Kirmuss brush is not really for dusting, though the carbon fiber side which is like the Audioquest type can be used for dusting.

I have tried a few brushes myself and found that with one exception, none of them neutralizes static charge that effectively. In fact. I found that one can't have it both ways, a brush that does a good job dusting and neutralizing static charge at the same time.

I personally use an older AudioQuest brush for dusting (I have also found my Hunt brush excellent for that as well). I have also heard of some folks spritzing the middle of the Hunt brush or similar with a little distilled water. I don't know that I would recommend that.
Then I test for static charge by moving my arm close to the record. If there is charge I know it by seeing and feeling the hairs stand at attention. If there is charge I use a Thunderon brush ($25.99) and it does about as a good a job as the Zerostat 98% of the time. I do have a Zerostat as well for the stubborn records.
Of course, this is all real world with properly cleaned records so the Audioquest or Hunt brushes do well for dusting. It is not just dust from the pressing plant that is the concern, but just taking a record out of the sleeve to play (even the best sleeve) there will be dust on it. That is why it is important to dust your records before play as you said. It is the dusting that can build up the static charge, that is why I use a brush designed for dusting and the Thunderon designed for neutralizing static charge. The Thunderon is NOT for dusting. That is why the instructions tell you how to use it.
It only takes one or two swipes per side on average. You hold the record in the air (by label and edge of course) and run the brush following the grooves one half, then the other and repeat if needed on the other side. (I have found that one side will do it most of the time). Do not use the brush with the record on the turntable. (I already experimented with this so you don't have to. It simply doesn't work for some strange reason. I think it has something to do with the table itself or the platter holding static charge as well).
If the problem is your platter holding a charge (which happens from time to time), you can make sure you are grounded and touch the spindle or platter to discharge it (don't worry you won't really feel anything). I do not recommend using the Zerostat for this.

robert r dawson's picture

...you dragged yer oily fingers across the brushes MF...c'mon man!!!

Neward Thelman's picture

MF does that all the time - in all of his cleaning vids. He ought to know better - but her doesn't.

Some folks just can't resist touching things.

jazz's picture

Seems to be sold out.

SuperRu's picture

It is only on Indiegogo right now. Fingers crossed I'll get one.
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/blackaudio-microbrush-record-cleaning...

dial's picture

The often-mentioned hunt brush looks like the old am with its folding handle but the fibers are too short (as you say be careful not to squeeze during the operation). Concerning the Hart the price would have gone from 5 £ to 10 then to 57 $ (!) By the magic of mk1 to 3 (fortunately ARC does not do as much, it has gone out of fashion right?)!!!
Also it seems to me poorly assembled, very artisanal in a bad way. But looks OK. The review seems pretty scientific to me, doesn't it?

anomaly7's picture

Hi Michael,
Nice review. Do you have any thoughts on the Mapleshade static Draining Brush with its stainless steel fibers?

Also, if you are using a non-grounded brush it's good to remember that the ground should go through you but won't if you are dusting while wearing rubber-soled shoes. You can get around this by touching your other hand, the one that's not holding the record brush, to a grounded chassis in your system while you are cleaning the record.

DigMyGroove's picture

Thanks for this overview of cleaning brushes, it helps confirm my choice of the “In The Groove” roller cleaner as best (to me). The $20 roller (which has reviewed on this site) does a fantastic job at getting all the dust up and does not in my experience leave residue. To insure any static is removed I very lightly apply a used Bounce clothes dryer cloth as the record spins (I told you about this method at the Capitol Records Wax Fair several years ago, remember that Mike?).

myheroiscoltrane's picture

… is to zap the side 4-5x with my zerostat, then use a 1$ empty condiment dispenser I got in target to use a few well placed puffs or air to blow the destat’ed dust off the record. Then I place on the turntable and go. Works great. Note that this is not necessarily a cheaper alternative, because the milty zerostat costs $100, but I found it leaving less dust than my old audioquest.

Mikel77's picture

i've searched for the HART brush in the U.S. can't find it anywhere-anyone know where i can get in U.S.?

Anton D's picture
Glotz's picture

Thanks Anton!

Anton D's picture

Dusting is what we are looking to do.

My path: Any new to me vinyl (new or used) gets a thorough wet cleaning, then I only dust the record from that point on.

Seraphim's picture

about his approach. I took the review with several grains of salt. The approach was interesting, and I admit to having dropped a few records on the carpet over the years. However, my approach, if possible, is never to start there.

I was looking for a longer/wider version of the Hart brush similar to the AQ (I already have the shorter V3 version with the all wood lacquered handle), which he agreed to make for me at a premium. However, I purposely waited to see the review. The Hart brush is quite good, but based on the information in the “non-scienfic” review, I chose the Stasis Brush and am finding it, so far, equivalent to the Hart. They claim their nylon bristles are 50 micron (50x10^-6) and also fit into the groove. The Stasis pile appears to be denser and may be used wet or dry. So, I purchased two, one for wet cleaning and one for dry.

Regardless, starting with a freshly washed disc means never having to start with the worst case scenarios.

RH's picture

Michael I'm happy to finally see this record brush comparison.

As I own the Audioquest (latest) and the Ursa Major I was curious how they would fare.

My only frustration with the test is that it appears you didn't use the Ursa Major correctly. It appeared like you just set the whole surface, all the bristles, down at once and held it on the record.

Whereas the technique they explain is to start by holding the brush at a slight angle to the record, so only the initial line of bristels contact the record, then you slowly "roll" the brush so that each line of bristles have their sort of separate turn at the record, and for the end of the bristles I angle the brush like you do and draw it off the record.

So instead of treating the Ursa Major like it's one big thick brush, it's more like several brushes put together, each getting it's turn as you rotate each line of bristle on to the record.

I found it by far the most effective record brush I've tried in terms of how much dust it gets off the record in one try.

(But I'm not super experienced like you and others on this).

There is ONE problem I've just started to have with the Ursa Major, after a couple years. It feels like some stray bristle or something is hard and giving a scratching feel on the surface of the record.
But it's very difficult to find anything wrong in looking at the brush.

Have you (or anyone else here) ever had this happen with a brush, and how did you fix it? Thanks.

Glotz's picture

That is the correct way to use it, imo.

Those streaks or scratches are most likely oil that is on the surface of the record- from the brush. Done in streaks over the surface of the record. Try wet cleaning and see if it's gone... almost always the culprit.

But now... what to do about the UM being dirty? Alcohol? Water? Problems. I am there too.

rom661's picture

I'll check this out. However I'm pretty happy with what I'm doing now, which is using a standard carbon fiber brush but keeping a sticky type lint roller at hand. (I prefer the smaller travel size). One quick flick of the carbon brush against it removes virtually all of the dust that the same brush usually just moves around. There is aero evidence of any residue although when I tear off a sheet I run the new one over a very clean countertop a couple of times to slightly lessen the stickiness. You want it to pick up dust, not leave anything behind.

cundare's picture

Which of these brushes help reduce static electricity -- and which make them worse? I see all sorts of crap clinging to the test record after being cleaned in the video with the top-rated Ramar brush.

cundare's picture

Which of these brushes help reduce static electricity -- and which make the problem worse? I see all sorts of crap clinging to the test record after being cleaned in the video with the top-rated Ramar brush.

cundare's picture

I see that the eBay UK page for the Hart brush now offers three versions, the most expensive of which is identified solely as "The Big Willy." Anybody have further information?

akubacki's picture

All of these brushes did a terrible job, IMO.
I use--with great success, a handheld scent free Swifter™ duster.
I cut a pad in half and thread it onto the handle keeping the other half pad for later use. A light feather touch on the spinning record for two or three thurns and the record is virtually completely dust free. It is far superior to any dust removal system I have used, except maybe the DiskWasher™. I follow up the Swifter™ dust removal with a Zerostat zapping and my records are dust free and static free. (I stay clear of cartridge and stylus!)
This is inexpensive and highly effective.

ckirmuss's picture

Michael mentioned in his video the Kirmuss KA-B1 combo brush that we supply to polish the records processed by our KA-RC-1 record restoration system. Used with our system, as such, he did not see our brush considered in his test, but mentioned where as a combo brush that exists from us.

Michael is correct where if used with the KA-RC-1, one should not use it on records. Rather, a new and clean/fresh KA-B1 should be used on records, not one that was used for polishing after use with our record restoration system as we do moisten the parastatic felt intentionally.

So we do in fact supply the KA-B1 combo brush as a stand-alone product sold by many audio dealers as a dust and static removal tool.

FYI: As to provenance: The felt that we use in our brush was originally designed and found in the Dr. Watts Parastatic felt (Disc Preener) brush sold in the 70's. Still many abound and have not been thrown out, where the felt size was designed to fit specifically the record's grooves. For Details/History: https://www.vinylengine.com/library/cecil-e-watts/manual-parastat.shtml

We have replicated it now as his design has the perfect fit for a record's groove and where we can do so as the Patent has expired. Thus: Our brush is not exclusively used only with our ultrasonic record restoration system. It has been designed for everyday use of prepping records before auditioning them.

To use our brush: The felt brush component is used first to remove dust. Thereafter, the carbon fiber side which is grounded to the case and your hand/body removes static. He is correct in how to move the brush across the record's surface.

Some fun facts: A test used in the past as to the effectiveness of record cleaning brushes; Promoted in the 70's by those selling the Watts Disc Preener (I remember the demo in Montreal at Bill Layton Audio and at the Montreal Audio Show at the Queen Elizabeth hotel in 1973 where I bought mine), saw talcum power applied by a hand pump seeing a puff of powder rise and fall and that was deposited onto a record's surface. While dust, fungus and dirt is 3 to 5 μm in size, the median diameter of sterilized talcum powder which is approximately 25 to 27 μm fit perfectly for an analysis and demo of brush. (FYI: Record Groove size is determined by the cutting lathe's head: from the cutting lathe at the top width is around 56 μm, with the depth around 26 to 30 μm and with the bottom with a curve at about 6 μm.).

...So for those so interested the use of talcum powder to measure effectiveness of brushes and dust removal that was used decades ago and as a simple test used by resellers at the time is also a good test for those so inclined.

Long story short, one may use the Kirmuss Model KA-B1 combo parastatic felt with carbon fibers for both dust and static removal outside of the KA-RC-1 ultrasonic record restoration system. ( And where indeed: Michael is very correct where if used with the KA-RC-1, one should not use the brush supplied for polishing the processed record, rather, procure a clean and new KA-B1.)

Jonathanmele's picture

And now Black audio appears to have vanished from the internet. Their Indiegogo campaign failed and their website now directs to a setup page. Disappointing, as I was really hoping for a nice wet brush for scrubbing during my RCM use.

artist's picture

I purchased the hart audio to try i find it easy to use and easy to clean.
I paid£42.99 i was going to get one for a friend and now see the price has risen to£64.99 i guess now it has had a review he can cash in

Tony A's picture

It was radioactive polonium attached to your tonearm, or plutonium in the handle of a Staticmaster brush.
This is from the very first issue of HiFi and Music Review.

https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-All-Audio/Archive-HiFI-Stereo/50s/...

Tony A's picture

After further review, the magazine had got it wrong in a photo caption. We are talking about the alpha-emitting polonium. The brush may still be available, but at a very steep price, and used mostly by photographers.

Glotz's picture

Acoustech The Big Brush- I use two of them wrapped together at the handle with electrical tape, without the grounding wire. They can be washed with water and soap, which is super huge on it's own. Very nice, just don't expect it to go into the grooves. For clean, un-staticky records only. As much as it does NOT reach the grooves, records that have been cleaned on a machine prior stay clean with 3 or 4 quick long swipes while motor is off or a hold either at edge point or 15 degree angle at 16rpm (motor controller) on the turntable.

-I say this with heavy usage of the Furutech DStat 3. It's really the only way to break record's charges completely, outside of the DS Audio stand-mounted unit. Zerostats only reduce, not eliminate static. Manual brushing with out a platter running at 33.3rpm creates less static than a running platter and holding it, in my findings. Using the DStat 3 while holding both that and the brush to a running platter is the best and super quick. (Zero Dust Gods are very happy that the custom-hinged dust cover is also completely well-damped.)

Audioquest- (new or old) Good. I've used them all over the years, as well as the latest model, which is nicer. It works solid obviously, and the microdust in the grooves can be dusted off into the brush. But, fibers do shed over time and get all over the vinyl and can be statically charged to the surface. Solid in groove and decent on-surface dusting. As far as static-dissipation, minor to not adding a charge for the most part. Biggest weakness is not firm enough, largely because there's not enough bristles, width-wise.

Hunt EDA Mk6- The precursor to the Ursa Major really. Nice and firm and the pad in the middle does quite a bit in terms of catching dust. In groove and on surface great duster. The key is the mounting is spread apart and the pad adds firmness to the carbon bristles mounting. Still sheds over time.

Ursa Major- LOVED this brush, but yes, it still sheds after heavy usage/ over time. I need to de-dust brushes less, perhaps. The wide 7 rows of extra thick carbon fibers do get the grooves dusted. It's great, like a poor man's Ramar. I have not used the Ramar. That combination of goat and carbon fiber does sound novel. Perhaps one day.

MFSL Record Brush- Really solid to great, wet or dry. I didn't think it would be a great dry brush, but it really draws a line of flat dust as much as any other. It is tricky with a slightly different approach.

-When wet, it is really a great scrubber for hard to get parts as well as being as gentle as you need it to be for new or dusty records. For the money and it's versatility, killer value.

Record Doctor Old Nylon Brush- A great way to de-dust dusty brushes. Lol. Be gentle or shedding of said carbon fiber brushes becomes an horrific reality. Or at least a pain in the ass.

There is a bit more about the Furutech and the Zerostat, but that might be a reply.

Glotz's picture

Record Doctor 6 Nylon Brush black version- Solid to okay as a dry brush, better used as a wet brush in gentle scrubbing. It won't dig into the grooves as the carbon fibers models do, but it is okay for dry dusting the surface. Just not thick enough. For $30 sold as a white variant, def not a value.

chord123's picture

I just purchased the Hart Audio Special Source Super Cleaner Mk3. After I cleaned the vinyl with it. How does one remove the dust from the brush?

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