Clearaudio Matrix Record Cleaning Machine

Eric Clapton’s Just One Night is one of my all-time desert island live LP. Clapton’s bluesy relax playing and tight support by his rhythm section was one of the many highlights of this double LP. The icing on the cake has to be its better than usual recordings. To make it more special, I managed to hunt down the much sort-after Nautilus version (half speed master) some 2 years ago over the Internet. However, I have been listening only to the standard US version since and this pricey title has been in some forgotten storage.

Clearaudio Matrix record cleaning machine

Clearaudio Matrix record cleaning machine

Well, the problem was the less than Near-Mint rating that I was fooled into. At best, it isbetween EX and VG+. The LP has this – can’t be ignored scratch in the opening track (Tulsa Time) and the surface “frying beans” noises (all 4 sides), occasional ticks that just couldn’t be removed. This despite my clean – play – clean iterations using my VPI 16.5 record cleaning machine. So gave up I did and “Just One Night” became just one time with this net seller.

When we purchased the Clearaudio Matrix record cleaning machine (rcm) to perform cleaning duties of the LPs in our store, I decided to put the Matrix to the test. This was after I perceived very positive results with the LPs we cleaned at our store. I was thinking “Could Matrix save Clapton?”

Before I go into what happened next, let me tell you that we find the Clearaudio Matrix is a long term, heavy duty record cleaning machine. Unlike the VPI 16.5 you can spend all day cleaning without any hint of strain. The LP cleaning solution (we recommend using mint) dispenser and light brushing is provided in a user adjustable arm. Cleaning fluid application is accomplished with an integrated pump system that applies the cleaning solution to the LP surface during wash.

There are two levels of powerful vacuum force to pick up even the most stubborn dirt and the bi-directional platter switchable on the fly provides flexibility and complete coverage of the LP surface and grooves. In our experience of rcm, the ultra powerful vacuuming and bi-directional rotation are pivotal in making the difference between normal cleaning and deep cleaning.

Although you do not get the near silent operation of a Loricraft (who could?), the Matrix does everything else right. It doesn’t run hot, doesn’t attract any static onto your cleaned LP (clean as many rounds as you wish) and most importantly, it does its cleaning job really effectively.

So how did the rejuvenated Nautilus version sound after few rounds of Matrix treatment? In a word – Wonderful (tonight?) and let me add another – Unbelievable. You see, before this I’ve actually written-off this copy and to hear it sound this way (refreshed) is simply unbelievable. The net result is a firm upgrade to EX+ grading. If not for the groove damage on side 1 track 1, I would’ve agreed with the seller’s original grading.

Smart Matrix record cleaning machineIf you play records, you should own at least an rcm e.g. the lite version called Clearaudio Smart Matrix. But if you are serious into vinyl or have a sizeable collection, you own it to yourself to check out the Clearaudio Matrix. Listening to a deeply cleaned LP is like owning the better pressing – darker background, better dynamics contrast and overall crispier, decisive sound. The Clearaudio Matrix record cleaner has been a winner of the TAS Editor’s Choice Award for 3 years running (2005 to 2007) not without good reasons.

June 2012Since this flashback article, Clearaudio have made further improvements on the record cleaning devices and now only produces only 2 models. Namely, Smart Matrix Pro (standard model) and Double Matrix Pro (high-end, heavy duty model), which cleans both LP sides at the same time. Check with us for more details.  

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