Orbitrac 3Pro REVIEW: The past experience can be trendy again
Despite the transition of technology to digital audio, some think that the Vinyl experience still provides the best sound quality. According to the website “4 Reasons Why Vinyl is Better than Digital,” vinyl records are considered to be a lossless medium. Digital music files often sacrifice depth, quality, and or fullness for reduced file sizes. This size reduction helps to increase the number of songs one can carry in your device. Whether or not you feel that Vinyl is better than CD or digital audio, it is hard to argue the fact that purchasing a record was an event. The camaraderie, the atmosphere, the shop, etc., all led to the beauty of the record. Records do not suffer from the compression, nor the lack of components of the sound and often are felt to be the sound.
About two to three years ago, my wife and I wanted to get an educational, yet fun, Christmas gift for our children. We turned to eBay and bought numerous Read-A-Long Golden Books with records and a record player. Our kids absolutely loved them and it brought back some amazing personal memories. The main issue was the quality of some of the records. Over time, with repeated use, the records develop scratches, gouges and dust/lint really make a drastic impact on the quality of the sound. Luckily, I ran into the team from Allsop at the CES 2017 booth, in Las Vegas Nevada. At the show, they were demonstrating their latest vinyl record cleaning system, the Orbitrac 3Pro.
The Orbitrac 3Pro arrives in a very appealing retail package. The inner black box, with maroon accents, is surrounded by a very informative slip cover. As a consumer, I really appreciate when the company uses creative advertising. The slip cover resembles a record with the Orbitrac 3Pro in use. Along the bottom, they display the entire contents of the box. The reverse face of the slip cover again details all of the package contents. You can expect a non-slip pad to place your record upon, a pivot pin that works to allow the record to rotate (sorry no 45 RCA adaptor), #2 cleaning cartridges, 2 oz cleaning solution, cleaning pad reviving brush. Removing the slip cover, you will find the main box, which measures 6 inches wide by 6 7/8 inches tall by 1 7/8 inches thick.
Opening the box, you will notice that each of the components are arranged neatly inside of a plastic rack. Remove the pin, the 2 oz cleaning solution, the Orbitrac 3Pro cleaning tool, cleaning pad, and brush. Lift up the plastic rack and find the non-skid pad (6 circles connected at their center). Place the pad on a flat surface, add the pivot pin to the back of your record, and then place the record onto the non-skid pad. At this point, it is important to note that this kit cannot clean 45s that well as there is no pivot pin for the larger diameter central hole. Slide the cleaning cartridge onto the main device, spray the pad twice and then align the hole of the device with the pivot pin. You can spin the Orbitrac around the record 3–4x and watch as the cloth visibly lifts up dirt/debris. If it remains dirty, lift the Orbitrac off of the record, use the reviving brush to “fluff up” the cleaning cartridge, spray the fluid again and then re-clean the record.
It is important to note that this kit will not fix scratches or gouges in the vinyl records. This is not a repair system, rather a cleaning system. Everyone who has listened to a record is aware that there are a lot of surface noises when records are dirty. These sounds can sometimes add to the ambiance, but also to the frustration of record listening. One of my favorite memories growing up was listening to Disney records. I was able to find a few of these on eBay and purchased them for my children. The record has songs like “Working on the Railroad, Old MacDonald, Take Me out to the Ballgame, Comin’ Round the Mountain, Pop! Goes the Weasel” and so much more. The record is at average to below average quality but works for a majority of the songs. Using a Musitrend T316 record player, I was able to listen to this record and a handful of Golden Book Read-A-long books with my children. We did a few tests before and after cleaning, to further evaluate the quality of the Orbitrac 3Pro kit.
Again, this kit does not fix any scratches. Since most of these records were from the 70’s and 80’s and heavily used, they had a lot of damage. Despite the damage, the Orbitrac kit drastically reduced surface sounds and improved some of the songs that were previously unusable. The quality improvement was very noticeable on every record that I cleaned. It appears that each of them had some groove debris, that was removed with this kit. The pads got dirty quickly and even using soap/water and the cleaning brush, the pads did not return to their native state. You can purchase extra pads from Allsop, which is convenient. The only major complaint that I have with the kit is the tightness of the pad/machine. I had a very difficult time separating the used pad from the main device and thus could not replace the product into the black plastic rack. It does fit fully into the box without having to separate the pieces, but you will have to get rid of the thin plastic rack. Using a butter knife as a pry bar, I was able to ultimately separate the parts, but it is a tight fit.
The ability of the product to clean the records was markedly superior to my previous conventional method of soap/water/washcloth. I love that this kit is assembled in the USA and that the cleaning solution does not contain any abrasive compounds. Unfortunately, the Orbitrac 3Pro solution does have some isopropyl alcohol, which means that it cannot be used on shellac (78rpm) records. Ths system is really convenient and does a better job than cloth and soap/water. It rotates with the record, cleaning the grooves evenly. By spraying the pad instead of the record, you can nearly guarantee an even spread. If you have ever used a record, you know very well the struggle of dust and quality. Check out Allsop’s website and learn more about the Orbitrac 3Pro. I love the product and recommend it at 4/5 stars.
Originally published at macsources.com on August 21, 2017.