Clearaudio Smart Matrix Silent

If you care about getting the best from your vinyl, it cannot be overstated just how important it is to keep your records clean. New LPs often have residual mould-release agent embedded in the grooves and the only way to properly remove this is with a thorough wet clean. Similarly, second-hand LPs can have all sorts of dirt and grime that has built up over time. Although good practice every time you go to play an LP, simply brushing the surface is not going to remove anything other than residual fluff and all records require a good wet clean to remove accumulated dirt in the grooves.

Clearaudio’s Smart Matrix Silent features a powerful, but quiet, 500W vacuum motor. It’s available in a choice of silver or black finishes and comes supplied with a matching universal SMS seal clamp to hold any size of record securely in place for cleaning. It weighs just under 11kg and measures 345 x 235 x 345mm (WxHxD).

It is fitted with a multi-functional cleaning, vacuum and antistatic arm with built-in sliding record size selector. The arm handles the application of the cleaning fluid, cleans the record and then vacuums off the dirty solution.

The internal reservoir is filled from the top of the record cleaning machine by removing a cap and pouring in the supplied Clearaudio Pure Groove cleaning fluid. To start the cleaning process the arm is simply swung into place, the record is automatically rotated and a small dose of cleaning fluid is applied. Microfibre strips underneath the arm clean the record as it rotates. Once done, the Vacuum button is pressed to remove the dirty liquid from the surface of the vinyl. The internal waste fluid tank, which has a 0.5 litre capacity, should be emptied after 30 to 40 cleaning procedures. To empty the tank, remove the stopper from the fluid release tube located on the rear panel and place it in an appropriate container to allow the tank to drain. 

To try out the Clearaudio’s effectiveness, I place a brand-new LP on to the cleaning machine platter that’s been exhibiting some annoying surface noise crackle. After swinging the arm over the record and allowing the machine to apply the fluid, I rotate the record in both directions for a few revolutions as recommended. I then press the Vacuum button to remove the dirty liquid from the surface of the vinyl and then repeat the process with the second side. Once dry, I play the record on my turntable and am delighted to find that the crackle has disappeared, and I am able to appreciate the full dynamic range of the LP so much more and suggests to me that the surface noise was caused by the pressing plant’s mould-release agent.

Running through the same cleaning process with second-hand albums also results in improved clarity and does a remarkable job of cleaning up some of my recent crate-digging purchases. Of course once cleaned, records should then be placed in a new polyethylene inner bag to avoid recontamination from any remaining dirt that is still in the old original sleeve.

The Clearaudio Smart Matrix Silent cleaning process is very easy to use and while not entirely silent, is certainly one of the quietest I have used. At £1,375 plus £125 for the optional dust cover, it’s more expensive than some record cleaning machines we’ve seen, but its build quality and ease of use make it a worthwhile investment for any serious vinyl collector. NR

Product: Clearaudio Smart Matrix Silent
Price: £1,375
Type: Record cleaning machine
Read the full review in September issue 453

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