Record Doctor V Vacuum Cleaning Machine "Lets Your Fingers Do the Walking"

If you're of a certain age you'll know that "let your fingers do the walking" was the Yellow Pages slogan. If you're of a different certain age, you might not even know what the Yellow Pages is! It doesn't matter really because it's just a play on words. The slogan meant you could thumb through the Yellow Pages rather than walking around to find a particular retailer or service.

In the case of the Record Doctor V, it's a vacuum record cleaning machine that requires you hand-turn the record instead of having a motor do it. Omitting the motor allows the manufacturer to pass the savings on to you. The Record Doctor V, which resembles the Nitty Gritty approach to record cleaning machines, costs a more than reasonable $199.00. It includes a bottle of fluid, the chemical make-up of which is unspecified, as well as an applicator brush that's soft-bristled on one end and foam-padded on the other.

For your two hundred bucks you get a plain black box in which is a vacuum motor, the inlet for which is a replaceable, velvet-lipped slit. The arrangement means only twelve inch records can be cleaned.

Adjacent to the lips is a spindle surrounded at its base by a roller bearing assembly. Record Doctor supplies a near-record label-sized disc of acrylic topped by a soft "grippy" material that serves as a platter that goes over the spindle.

Place a 12" record over the spindle and onto the acrylic platform, apply your choice of fluid over the record surface, turn over the record, place the record turner disc over the spindle, flip the "on" switch, then rotate the record three or four times by gripping the record turner, switch the vacuum off and the side is done. Apply liquid to the uncleaned side and repeat the process. You're done.

So how does it all work? Very well once you get the hang of it, though at first it can be a bit awkward. For one thing, the record sitting on the acrylic disc can be a bit wobbly, particularly if you bear down on it with the applicator brush, so it's best to support the outer rim while doing so. While the instructions suggest rotating the record and keeping the applicator still, I found it better the other way around but how you apply the liquid is up to you as long as you take care to avoid getting liquid on the label or having it migrate to the other side. Both of these are issues to one degree or another with most vacuum cleaning systems but especially when the record is not particularly stable.

Rotating the record while vacuuming is relatively easy, whether or not you put your fingers in the holes atop the record turner, or grip its sides and twist.

The box is not well-insulated and the motor is relatively noisy but I've hard far more expensive units that were equally noisy. I measured SPLs in excess of 90dB, which is very loud so I suggest earplugs when cleaning records.

The instructions say you can clean up to a hundred LPs a day but if you feel the box getting warm, its best to give it a rest regardless of how many you've cleaned. A drain plug on the bottom of the box allows you to drain dirty fluid into a sink or toilet.

Overall, for $199, I think that for those on a budget the Record Doctor V is a very good value. Yes, there are some less expensive devices that use a similar system but which require you to supply a shop vac, but unless you are really strapped for cash, I think this compact all-in-one box is the way to go. I highly recommend the Record Doctor V to any serious vinyl fan who's been without a vacuum machine.

While supplying a bottle of fluid and brush is a thoughtful inclusion, I strongly recommend investing in either the Disc Doctor or Mobile Fidelity micro-fiber applicator brushes and experimenting with one-step fluids to find the one you think most effective. I like Audio Intelligent Premium One-Step Formula No. 6 for vacuum-type machines and dusty records, but there are other good ones too. I made a "quick and dirty" video showing how the Record Doctor V works that you can watch here:

my new username's picture

(Haven't used it yet however.)

And yes this and the KAB EV-1 ($169) license the top plate design from Nitty Gritty. I was almost gonna get the KAB until the Record Doctor was re-introduced. "$30 more" for the integral vacuum seemed wise. Ordered my RDV straight from Audio Advisor's site and shipment was very fast.

That said, if noise and/or the freedom to work your own, better? vacuum into the mix is something you'd take the time (and money) to do, the EV-1 makes a heck of a lot of sense instead.

After a bit of research I ordered from KAB their "gliding platter" which consists of a replacement bottom platter that better grips the replacement needle bearing which is the heart of the package. It is a significantly larger diameter bearing and pretty much kills the wobble and lets the thing spin with far less effort.

You also get two large, flat washers, one that helps keep the replacement bearing ... well, not so much "centered" as merely in the vicinity of where it needs to stay ... and the other one I was told was "your 45 adapter." Still wondering about that.

$18 + shipping and very much recommended. Scroll down this page and make sure to get the one for this new "V" model.

naterulli's picture

I probably wouldn't like it as much as an HW16.5 if I owned one, but this will do me fine for a while.


Thanks for the tip above about the gliding platter! I will be upgrading my RDV soon.

Carl Sampson's picture

I have used mine for about three years now and I think I have cleaned about 2,000 or so records with it so far.  Applying cleaning solution however is awkward and time consuming especially if you had a multi-stage fluid kit but the results were always very good.  What made the process much more bearable for me was getting a Spin Clean unit for the solution and wash stage.   Now I just run the record through the Spin Clean process and then I transfer it over to the Rcord Doctor to vacuum dry it.

The disc platter becomes an issue from time to time so I am going to have to check out the new gliding platter mentioned above.

Jim Tavegia's picture

Something else to add to my personal shopping list. Looks like a steal for $200.

For all my used vinyl I would still use my Spin Clean first, although I may not need to, and then use this new machine. I think I might apply the fluid to the first side while having the record on my tt to make it slightly easier. Sounds like ear plugs are a must, but that does not bother me. It is not any noisier than our house vac anyway. 

For those who are not on the disc cleaning band-wagon yet, I can say that for the used lps I buy my Spin Clean collects quite a bit of gunk in the bottom of the solution holder after even 10 to 20 lps. This is not an insginificant operation for vinyl lovers to ignor.

Thanks for the info and the great video. 



Paul Boudreau's picture

...a clone of the Nitty Gritty 1.0, with which I cleaned probably 3k records (I now have an NG 1.5, which is similar except that it has a motor that rotates the records for you). 

Earplugs are definitely recommended!  Also 100 records a day is very funny - I could and can only get through about a dozen in an hour, at which point I was bored stiff plus my rear was also stiff (sitting on the bathroom floor). 

I do think it's better to rotate the record manually with the puck-like thing while holding the brush still, through several rotations, then flipping and vacuuming. 

"The arrangement means only twelve inch records can be cleaned."

If you fold up a small microfiber cloth (like the ones eye doctors give you for cleaning your glasses) and cover the unused portion of the lips, you can also successfully clean 7" & 10" records.

tbromgard's picture

Is the LP dry enough after cleaning to play immediately? If not, how long should one wait before playing? Thanks

Paul Boudreau's picture

...of vacuum rotations necessary to dry one side of a record will vary somewhat according to how much fluid you use but five usually does the trick for me.  Like Michael said, check the non-playing record edges for any remaining liquid but otherwise you can either put the records in inner sleeves or play them, immediately.

Michael Fremer's picture

Yes you can play the record immediately

Michael Fremer's picture


vinyl listener's picture

cleaning 100 records a day on these manual machines is a guarantee to rsi !

still, an upside down ng is preferable to a platter style rcm with the increased potential for cross-contamination.

sdecker's picture

... by applying the fluid on the second side as you vacuum the first side.  I use about a quarter the amount of fluid that Mikey illustrates, apply it in a line above the suction port, and apply all the pressure of the applicator right above the port, which is the only stable place around the record's playing surface. 


1) vacuum off, apply fluid in line with suction port, rotate record using 'knob' to apply fluid around side A with applicator;

2) flip the record, apply fluid as above to side B, then turn vacuum on to clean side A rotating record knob with one hand as I hold applicator in place and spread fluid on side B with the other hand;

3) with the vacuum still running, flip record to rotate and clean side B.  Done.

With the less fluid I use, 3 revolutions is enough for a clean and dry record.  On step 3 I use both hands to rotate the record knob more smoothly.   Much quicker to do this way than describe!

Two more tips:  after cleaning a record, use a pipe-cleaner type brush (with the vacuum running) to clean any excess dust into the vacuum port; cover the suction area with a makeshift 'dust cover' to keep day-to-day contaminants off the 'velvet lips' (I used the top lid of takeout sushi container).

My Record Doctor II (essentially identical) has been bulletproof for about a decade now, though I'm sure I'd be spoiled if I had a VPI or equivalent.

Michael Fremer's picture

Clearly, with a decade's worth of experience with this machine, you, not I, are the expert here. That is very useful advice for sure.

sdecker's picture

I just checked my receipt for my Record Doctor II mentioned above.  I bought it new from Audio Advisor in 1995 for $169.  So for the price of a new and improved version to go up by only 18% after 18 years makes it something of a rarity in this ever-more-silly-priced audio marketplace.  Thousands of clean records and all I've had to do is replace the 'velvet lips' and stock up on fluids...

Lazer's picture

The fact u found a receipt from 1995 is impressive.  That puts any record keeping system I have to shame. I'm lucky to find a receipt from last week!



Rudy's picture

I've had the Record Doctor myself since the mid 90s (I think it is the Record Doc II).  It has worked well enough but a few things are showing their age.  The spindle the LP goes on has already gotten brittle and snapped off--I had to use some anaerobic adhesive to get it to stay on (gingerly).  And I had to seal shut the hole on the bottom since, during the short time I tried that DIsc Doctor fluid that required two or three rinses to get the soap residue off, the whole metal piece the rubber plug goes into just sort of fell out, the surrounding particle board pretty much soaked and turned to mush.  (And it's not like I cleaned a lot of records--I only do maybe three or four at a time.)  I clean so few now that whatever is left in the tank just evaporates.  Mine certainly does not have a high duty cycle--half a dozen records in a row, and it's ready to rest for an hour.  Sounds like the newer versions might have a beefier motor.

I think the whole setup is clumsy, Mike says in his review, it is a bit awkward spinning that disc around.  Never did care for it, but it got the job done.  And it'll hold me over until I can get a VPI.

What I recommend to make the process easier is to take the rubber platter mat from an old turntable and use that to apply the fluid.  A clean lint-free towel (with no fabric softener, as it has an oily residue) will also work.  

I still have yet to find the ideal cleaning solution though.  I did have decent luck with Vinyl-Zyme, and I've been working down a bottle of RRL fluid over the years.  One cleaner I really miss is some highly potent stuff that came with the Record Doc (or I bought from Audio Advisor with the vacuum purchase): I think it was Nitty Gritty #2 "Power Cleaner".  It practically evaporated by the time you could get the brush around the record.  Don't know how it worked (maybe it loosened the crud?), but it really salvaged a lot of vinyl that the water-based cleaners could not even budge.  I guess it was outlawed or something--I had about an inch of the fluid left in the closed bottle and when I went back to it a year later, it had all evaported! that "Sunken Condos" on the cleaner?  ;)

marcel_kyrie's picture

Nice to see an affordable record cleaner! The Spin Clean is great, but if I just want to clean one record, right now, it's not very convenient. The Record Doctor solves that problem.

Mike, the video was very helpful.

Jeffrey Lee's picture

There were some posts at Audio Asylum about issues with this unit that required another $30 worth of upgrades from KAB to correct. Audio Advisor has apparently not responded to requests or complaints.

Mike, do you know, or can you find out, if AA has addressed the issues? The platter assembly was apparently not letting the records make contact with the vacuum slot, and nothing was getting done.

My original AA Record Doctor has been flawless for more than 20 years.

Lazer's picture

This may sound crazy:  I'm semi-retired and saving my money for a Traveler; I've been buying used and new vinyl, inner sleeves and plastic outer sleeves for my albums and I'm thinking about purchasing this record cleaning machine before I purchase the Traveler. I want "stuff" to play and I want that "stuff" to sound great when I finally get the Traveler.  Am I putting the cart before the horse here?  

That said, I  just watched Michael's video tour of the VPI plant and they showed him a Traveler with the Classic platter!!  It looked freekin awesome  Maybe I should wait for that?   

I Looove this site!!

Michael Fremer's picture

That is not crazy. Just make sure you don't keep shelling out $ so you never have enough saved to buy the turntable, cartridge and phono preamp! Now that would be crazy!

TheThing72's picture

I recently got one of these little machines on the recommendation from Michael Fremer's review. I have to admit it is a total step up from the Spin Clean and really does a great job getting the records super clean. I found it fairly well built for the price point. This is my first vacuums machine and I will never go back from this point. I wish I had realized what I was missing these past few years since my return to the vinyl community. Bravo for the review Michael. Even for us audiophiles on a budget.. there is quality gear to be had!

spatafore's picture

I think audio advisor need make a fix upgrade on this, is the GLIDING PLATTER, is mandatory pay $18 for the KAB, I hope they release a version VI with a bigger GLIDING PLATTER, the standard V platter is better bad, you can see how reocords warp and moves vertical.

dave2193's picture

I purchased this model a month ago and used exactly as the manual described and video that audioadviser the maker has posted on there website, it cleaned the records but also put tons of static that I could not get rid of and thought a lot of my records were gone luckily my local record store here in saltlakecity cleaned them for me on there vpi cleaning machine and all was well and I returned the record docter for a refund ,could there have been something I had done wrong? I wonder if I should try one again and did I return it to hastaly

irksome's picture

Had one for a few years, Xmas present from my lovely and very understanding wife; works great, turns G+ to VG and VG+, no sweat.
A recommendation to whoever made the video- if you use two hands, you can turn the record constantly while vacuuming.