LAST Factory Stylus and Record Care Products

LAST Factory Stylus and Record Care Products

Among the extra widespread matters receiving vigorous traction on social media and public boards are discussions concerning the derisive and conflicting beliefs and approaches on how you can clear and preserve our file collections. For these of us old-school audiophiles, getting older stalwarts who’ve NEVER not identified the advantages and caveats of vinyl playback, such processes are well-understood subject material that we’ve got tailored to as a lifestyle.

Given the uptick in vinyl’s reputation, whereas I frequently see an abundance of chatter concerning the totally different machines and units which may be used to scrub and take care of our records, there was surprisingly little commentary on the various clearly extra inexpensive and remarkably efficient strategies obtainable to scrub and protect our valuable LPs unaided by mechanization or powered units, strategies that tackle the matter of cleansing by human energy alone.

To that finish, the timing of this product analysis request could not be extra becoming. When an electronic mail from Positive Feedback‘s Ye Old Editor-In-Chief, Dr. David W. Robinson, landed in my Inbox, asking if I’d wish to get acquainted with the newest file and stylus formulations from the LAST Factory of Livermore, California, my response was a powerful sure!

You see I had been a powerful proponent and common consumer of the LAST (an acronym for Liquid Archival Sound Treatment) Factory merchandise by way of the Nineteen Nineties. But as their promoting presence and visibility slowly diminished together with the waning of the LP itself, I had mistakenly assumed that they’d additionally quietly slipped away throughout vinyl’s decline. Man was I ever improper.

Founded in 1979 in Livermore California by three scientists eager about preserving their very own file collections, their driving premise was to discover a method to considerably lengthen the helpful lifetime of recorded media. After researching the underlying causes of vinyl file put on, they developed a preservative that truly arrests put on and harm, meaningfully enhancing their lifespan. Their testing validated that after lots of of performs, their vinyl records nonetheless sounded model new.

The product museum on the LAST Factory revealing the wealthy historical past of their merchandise

Over time, the LAST lineup of merchandise grew to incorporate each a stylus cleansing and preservative therapy fluid, in addition to an all-purpose LP cleaner, an influence cleaner, and the fluid that I discovered most fascinating, the aforementioned file preservative. Their merchandise shipped with their minimalist, however extraordinarily efficient, brushes and droppers for ease of utility. I had used all of them by way of the late Nineteen Nineties, however as their reputation light together with the LP, sadly, for some cause, they dropped off my radar.

But after forty years, in 2019, Walter Davies, one of many founders, determined it was time to maneuver on and selected to promote the enterprise to a long-time good friend and fellow audio fanatic, Jeffrey Kaskey. Jeff had acknowledged that the renewed curiosity in vinyl records supplied a chance to regrow the LAST Factory. Though they labored collectively to trend a sale that functioned as a partnership with Walter, Walter handed away in 2020 at age 83. If you wish to study extra, please take a look at their About Us/Our Story web page HERE.

Following a flurry of emails with Jeffrey Kaskey, in a matter of days a care package deal of merchandise arrived, together with the newest formulations of their Stylus Cleaner, All Purpose Cleaner, and Record Preservative. Without additional ado, here’s what you might want to know.

LAST Stylus Cleaner

Though there isn’t any point out of what enhancements have been made with the formulations on both the web site or within the included directions and documentation, the precept behind their use is simple. First, it simply is sensible to do every little thing in your energy to ensure the stylus itself is freed from mud, some other contaminants, or caked-on particles.

Researching on the internet will reveal {that a} phono stylus monitoring within the neighborhood of two grams interprets to the equal of over two tons of stress at and on the LP’s groove partitions. The results of the friction generated by the stylus at these pressures creates immense warmth. According to measurements taken by van den Hul, these temperatures attain 320° Fahrenheit or 160° Celsius. The results of this immense rise in temperature is the temporary, instantaneous liquefaction of the groove wall. In essence, the floor layer of the groove wall melts because the stylus glides by way of, after which it resolidifies virtually as quick because it melted.

Any type of mud or impurity driving on the tiny diamond sliver making its journey by way of our file’s aural valley has the opportunity of changing into completely bonded to the groove wall – or baked onto the stylus itself. Keeping the stylus clear and discovering methods to scale back friction are clearly fascinating objectives.

LAST Stylus Cleaner is available in a .25-fluid-ounce glass bottle with a tall cap that has an applicator brush connected to its base, very a lot resembling a nail polish bottle and brush. The instructions let you know to easily unscrew the cap and, utilizing the cap-attached brush bristles, frivolously apply the cleaner to your needle with a delicate back-to-front movement.

I might additionally counsel that you just make certain that the tonearm shouldn’t be locked in place with any maintain down or clip. Accidents can occur, and any sudden and unintended extreme pressure on the cantilever might trigger actual harm, which can absolutely be amplified if the cartridge physique, connected to the tonearm, is unable to maneuver freely to compensate.

Another consideration that isn’t talked about, and one which I really feel is essential with the usage of the cap-attached applicator brush, is to you should definitely dab away extra fluid from the comb by wiping it gently alongside the within neck of the bottle as you take away it and earlier than straight brushing the stylus.

Why? While there may be not a lot to be involved about with extra pricy cartridges, these utilizing stable sapphire, boron, and even diamond cantilevers, some extra cheap cartridges use tubular cantilever assemblies usual of aluminum or different supplies. Excessive fluid launched to or round your stylus might be drawn up a lot of these cantilevers by wicking motion, the place it is going to proceed to reside. This extra fluid retention may have a tendency to attract and maintain mud or different impurities in that delicate motor construction, inflicting accelerated deterioration of the damping supplies, risking appreciably shortened cartridge life.

With the comb now correctly wetted and positioned beneath the rear of the stylus, frivolously draw the comb ahead letting the bristles encompass the stylus and simply start to raise the cantilever, then proceed slowly drawing the comb ahead throughout the stylus till it clears its entrance. Repeat as crucial till it’s clear. But you should definitely visually examine the comb for any mud or particles it might have picked up in the course of the cleansing course of earlier than reinserting it into the bottle. If you notice any, you should definitely wipe it clear. You do not wish to return any of the particulate contaminates you simply faraway from the stylus to the grasp bottle of fluid.

Though you might be tempted to use the cleaner earlier than each play, that’s neither the very best strategy neither is it crucial. Even the LAST Stylus Cleaning guide recommends solely making use of it once you notice mistracking, distortions, or when there may be some visible indication of want. When used on this method, it’s certain that can assist you preserve all of your styli and clear LPs spic ‘n span!

LAST All Purpose Cleaner

The LAST All Purpose Cleaner is provided in a 2-fluid-ounce plastic squeeze bottle and comes with a number of of their minimalist plastic-handled applicators that use a small white velvet pad as the comb. To use the cleaner, you merely squeeze three drops onto the velvet pad of the applicator, spaced evenly throughout its size, after which unfold it out uniformly brushing the bottle’s nozzle backwards and forwards throughout the applicator.

With your LP located on a clear, dry, stable flat floor, you progress the moistened applicator in a sweeping movement, following the file grooves, across the total file at the least twice. Dust and particles will gather on the velvet pad, which can be cleaned by rubbing it throughout the ridges of the bottle’s cap.

Long-term upkeep of the applicators is straightforward as they develop into dirty and contaminated over time. By soaking them for a number of minutes in a shallow answer of water with a number of drops of dishwashing detergent added, you then gently rub their velvet faces collectively, dislodging any remaining soil, rinse them beneath operating water, and blot them dry.

While this course of could seem a bit Spartan, I can attest to its efficacy and ridiculous affordability. According to the web, two fluid ounces include greater than 9 hundred drops. Doing the mathematics, utilizing three drops per file will equate to cleansing over 300 LPs, at a resultant value of simply 13 cents every! I dare even essentially the most frugal of you on the market to discover a more cost effective, confirmed profitable record-cleaning course of!

In my assessments cleansing a handful of not too long ago bought, beforehand uncleaned used LPs revealed not solely a notably quieter background and lowered floor noise, however submit cleansing, they provided extra trustworthy staging cues, with extra appropriately sized voices and better-resolved places, in addition to improved general readability and determination. Yeah, this fluid is one other winner.

LAST Record Preservative

I’ve saved the very best for LAST! Sorry, I could not resist! During the Nineteen Nineties and into the early 2000s, I utilized the LAST Record Preservative to a large variety of my most prized records, as evidenced by all of the file jackets nonetheless sporting the provided spherical LAST stickers to indicate its utility. Though I’ve no method to quantifiably measure its efficacy, I can let you know that my expertise bears out their claims of its potential to scale back noise and distortion on each new and used records and to arrest file put on for as many as 200 performs!

One of the included stickers added to a file jacket to notice that it had been handled

The LAST Record Preservative is available in a two-ounce glass bottle and is alleged to work each as a lubricant, and by filling any open cracks, holes, or different imperfections within the vinyl’s floor, and diffusing into the vinyl. Their unique literature from the nineties urged that its utility lowered the technology of warmth by virtually 100 levels, drastically diminishing the harmful vitality produced by the acute stress and friction of the stylus-to-groove interplay.

Here once more, to make use of it, you place the file on a clear, dry, stable floor. To apply the Record Preservative, you extract simply the correct amount of the odorless fluid from its glass bottle with its included—and clearly marked—dropper, then gently squeeze the dropper to use the fluid evenly throughout your entire brush floor. You then swirl the comb over the floor of the file, making two full revolutions. They additionally advocate “rolling” the applicator brush as you apply the fluid, entrance to again, to assist extra evenly distribute the preservative.

As to the preservation capabilities of the Record Preservative, once more, I’ve no method to quantifiably measure its effectiveness. But past its potential to increase the lifetime of an LP, I used to be delighted to search out that it provides clear sonic advantages post-treatment, together with barely purer tonality, with much less congestion or blurring broadband, particularly from the higher bass on into the higher midrange. Instruments tackle a extra corporal sense of physique, in addition to revealing each improved gradation and delineation of their placement and dimension all through the soundstage. This additionally caused an obvious sharpening of focus, contributing to clearer general decision, and in flip, yielding a bit extra transparency.

With some LPs, there was a extra refined and expressive communication of the microdynamic nature of the recordings and a notable discount of floor noise, however this appeared to fluctuate broadly primarily based on pressings, and I’m pressured to surmise it doubtless has to do with the precise vinyl formulation of the LP in query. But, rattling, these items is the actual deal.

In an period dominated by mechanized cleansing processes and machines, it’s refreshing to see such continued devotion and dedication to delivering inexpensive and extremely efficient strategies to deal with and protect this exceptional and beloved medium. If you might be into vinyl and have not but tried these merchandise, particularly, the Record Preservative, you do not know what you are lacking.

To put an apropos spin on Karl Malden’s previous American Express industrial punch line, “Don’t play vinyl with out them.”

LAST Factory Stylus and Record Care Products

LAST Stylus Cleaner – 0.25 Fl. Oz. /7 ml

Retail: $35.95

LAST All-Purpose Record Cleaner – 2 Oz. 

Retail: $38.95

LAST Record Preservative, 2 Oz.

Retail: $64.95

LAST Factory



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November 12, 2023 at 05:25PM

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