The history of the ultrasonic needle cleaner goes back to the 70s. Various companies developed devices using high frequency, transferred by a liquid, to remove the contamination of a phono needle. After CD became the fashion these unique devices disappeared. The ultrasonic cleaner his was not reissued because of the high cost. Flux-Hifi picked up on this idea with the Flux-Sonic and redeveloped the technology. Rather than using high frequencies which showed to eventually damage expensive cartridges, Flux-HiFi uses low frequencies which are completely safe for all cartridges/needles.
"I'd bought a used record and cleaned it but once was not enough because a "gummy" had attached itself to the stylus. After fifteen seconds I lifted the arm and the stylus appeared to be completely clean and free of the "gummy". A close inspection revealed that it was.
The FLUX HiFi electronic stylus cleaner works as promised and seems to vibrate at a low enough frequency to be perfectly safe. Though I used it only once I can confidently recommend it" -- Michael Fremer (godfather of vinyl playback)
"First, high treble showed more incisiveness and lucidity…transient impulses were more energetic. Be it the guitar picks on Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's I see a Darkness which had more snap; the cymbal and rattle work on Feist's The Reminder; or the harp plucks on Joanna Newsom's The milk-eyed Mender debut which had more spunk and tension…these gains in speed or microdynamic verve weren't bought with sharpness but the elimination of an artificial veil. Leading edges had better focus. They localized with more concentration as though their tone essence floated in the air without any fractured halo if you can relate. It sounded more energetic; plus more natural or revealed.
Second, image specificity in general was better, not just attacks. This benefited the vocal range in particular. With a clean diamond, voices were more 3D modeled. Again, this wasn't a tonal sleight of hand (no fattening up of the lower midrange) but the real thing: higher accuracy of data retrieval. In fact, I'd invoke higher resolving power per se. Particularly faint secondary bits and bobs in the far reaches of the soundstage were far easier identified and separated from the general background. Whilst this eludes normal listening mode that's focused on gestalt not counting the leaves, in my experience it still informs us on a subliminal level. The upshot is a livelier more realistic experience that has more going on than soak up little things in unresolved morass to put it drastic.
Conclusion. My resumé for the Flux-Sonic needle cleaner? A very happening success on all fronts. Each and every serious vinyl hound can afford one; seriously! Sonic gains alone demand that you do. Then one's just gotta believe that keeping one's nub clean can't help but be good for diamond and treasured record collection alike. So go ahead. Make my day. Try prying this one from my hands, daft punk…"— Ralph Werner, 6Moons Audio Reviews
The stylus is crucial to vinyl playback. Its goal is to follow the groove exactly within a micrometer. To achieve this perfectly, the manufacturers of pickups are make great efforts and for many consumers, great expense. However, if the needle is dirty, the diamond - no matter how polished - cannot follow the groove walls with precision. It reacts too early or too late. The result is distortion. Even supposedly clean records are covered with dust, partly visible, partly invisible in the groove. It contains particles of silicates, polymers and organic substances. These stick together due to the high temperature during the stylus process of the needle following the record grooves.
How fast this happens is illustrated in Fig. 1. Already after playing a one side of a record, the needle shows so much dirt its almost unrecognizable.
Fig. 2 shows the needle after cleaning with a normal, dry needle brush. Fibers are removed, but the gunk remains.
Only an aggressive liquid cleaner ensures a reasonably clean surface of the diamond, see Fig. 3.
However, since these cleaners can attack not only the adhesive of the diamond, but especially the sensitive rubber parts of the suspension of the needle carrier, its generally not recommended.
Fig. 4 shows the needle after using the Flux-Sonic. Without attacking sensitive parts of the pickup, the result is brilliantly clean stylus free of pollutants that affect the sound. The needle shines new but most importantly the sonics results are incredible.
The principle is similar to that of an ultrasonic cleaner from dental technology or an ultrasonic bath for eyeglass lenses. Strong high-frequency vibration cleans the surfaces. For some materials, such as aluminum, caused by the treatment with ultrasound damage. Even if the diamond were cleaned perfectly, the high frequency can harm the suspension of the needle armature which causes damage, the same as if you used aggressive liquid cleaners.
The Flux-Sonic vibration cleaner, however, operates at a low-frequency. The circuitry and mechanics are designed so that a three-dimensional vibration acts on the needle, which ensures that any dirt particles are removed. The frequency is precisely adjusted so that no damage to the bond or to the suspension is insured - however complete and total cleaning happens.
The movement of the needle now corresponds to only a fraction of the load of the playback process.
To transfer the vibration from the device to the needle, a liquid is necessary. This has an additional, gentle cleaning action and is produced on an isopropanol basis. NOT alcohol which can damage the bonding.
After use, it cleans all the residue. Flux fluid is applied to a specially developed pad made from the finest PE fibers. Already these fibers produce by their number and the resulting density a capillary effect, which is very similar to the action of a liquid. In combination with Flux-Fluid, the result is a perfect combination, which transfers the vibration and at the same time absorbs the dirt. Recommended is the application before each playback.
The cleaning process takes only 15 seconds, then the optimum cleaning has been reached.The sonic capability of the pickup system is improved. Less abrasion also increases the life of the needle. Sampling noises are significantly minimized. Sonically, the difference is outstanding. Both distortions and annoying background noise have largely disappeared. Playback has become much more dynamic and enjoyable. Unpleasant peaks are no longer present and even the largest controls are reproduced distortion-free. The frequency range seems to be expanded, especially in the bass and treble range. As well as the cleaning of the needle, the cleaning of the record is of course very important. Due to this True Audiophile also sells the best value in Record Cleaners.