Record Doctor X record cleaning machine, building a mid-century modern-styled hi-fi system (Week 19, 2024)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 19, 2024

Record Store Day: Record Store Day was last month, and over the next few weeks I will be recommending some great products to help you get the most from your used and new vinyl purchases.

Kicking things off is the Record Doctor X vacuum record cleaning machine. I used a non-motorized, single side vacuum Record Doctor for many years. I later moved on, and supposedly upwards, to an expensive ultrasonic machine. I found the ultrasonic record cleaner to be one of those things where the wanting is better than the having. It took forever to clean my records, requiring several different fluids, gallons of distilled water and a lot of repetitive steps per record. Given this I rarely used it and looked back to my simple Record Doctor, realizing what I missed.

The Record Doctor X is motorized and vacuums both sides of the record simultaneously. The upgrade versus the basic version is far greater than the sum of its parts. The motor makes it extremely easy to apply cleaning fluid evenly, vacuuming is a cinch and records come out beautifully clean. Though $599.95 may seem pricey to non-audiophiles, it is a lifetime investment that you will use with every turntable and record you ever own. pangeaaudio.com

Q. Are you familiar with these new record-playing consoles that look like the mid-century modern stereo consoles of years ago? I like the idea and style, but my concern is the price. The particular one I am considering is about $13,000.

-B.B., Milwaukee, WI

A. I have not experienced them in person, but I know enough that I would not spend $13,000 on one. Any all-in-one component, especially a record-playing console, has drawbacks. If something breaks the whole system could be down and you have a very big device to contend with. It’s hard to get a 400-pound piece of furniture to the repair shop! A component system is also bound to sound better for a small fraction of the price. You can choose speakers that appeal to your sonic and visual tastes and you can put them far enough apart that you get pleasing stereo separation and imaging. I do like consoles and running a vintage model for fun is a different story, but as I said I would not spend $13,000 on a new one.

I own a mid-century ranch myself and decorated it to reflect the period and style. Here are some components that give you the mid-century look while getting great sound and value, too.

Kardiel and Herman Miller both offer mid-century styled media furniture. Retail prices range from $599 and up at kardiel.com to $1,895 and up at hermanmiller.com and designwithinreach.com. If shopping for Herman Miller, your local authorized dealer may often give you a better price than the corporate website. I have also worked with a salesman at lumens.com who provided excellent prices and service on Herman Miller products.

The Wharfedale Linton speakers with stands are $1,799 per pair and an excellent value at the price, and the smaller Wharfedale Denton speakers are on sale for $599 now, reduced from $999. It is hard to do better than the Denton at $599!

A Leak amplifier will make your ears and eyes happy. They start at $895 and have beautiful wood cases with silver fronts, large, stylish knobs and simple operation. The NAD C3050 amplifier is $1,395 and it has a walnut vinyl-clad case and vintage-looking VU meters on the front.
A Pro-ject Classic Evo turntable for $1,999, a JBL Classic TT350 turntable for $999 or Music Hall Classic for $649 will complete your mid-century aesthetic record-playing system. Enjoy!