Thursday, April 17, 2014

SOTA LP Record Cleaning Machine Has Arrived!

It's been almost a year since I met Kirk and Donna Bodinet of SOTA. We shared a room with SOTA at the 2013 AXPONA Show in Chicago, and I was duly impressed with their flagship Millenia turntable as well as the entry-level Moonbeam and Comet. We talked about their record cleaning machine, known by most as the RCM; after almost 30 years with Nitty Gritty record cleaning machines I was ready for a change, but I couldn't afford the monster machines from the likes of Loricraft or even Keith Monks.

The RCM is $950. There's an option for an exhaust fan, which my unit has, and that brings the price to an even $1000. That's more than the entry level units from VPI and Nitty Gritty, but far less than those aforementioned super machines. In fact, the RCM is priced about halfway between a VPI 16.5 and a VPI 17, and the features contained in the RCM are also somewhere halfway between the two machines from New Jersey. So you get the smooth, automatic operation and convenience of more expensive machines, but not the silence. Fortunately the cleaning process works so flawlessly with the SOTA that it's easier to step away from the noise while the LP is being cleaned.

The optional exhaust fan should be considered essential for audiophiles. This keeps the motor from overheating when you're on a cleaning spree, or if you use a multiple-step method such as the Walker Audio Prelude system. (Of course you get a bottle of the SOTA cleaner, along with a beautiful wood-handled cleaning brush, when you buy an RCM.)

So far I'm really enjoying the SOTA LP RCM. It's a much more substantial unit than my old Nitty Gritty machines, and it's far easier to use. My only issue so far is that I have to get into the habit of using less fluid during cleaning, otherwise it takes a while for the vacuum wand to completely dry the record. I'll get the hang of it. I'll give the RCM a complete, thorough review in the next few weeks.

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