HumminGuru Review – Affordable Ultrasonic Record Cleaning?

Marc HenshallCleaning Vinyl25 Comments

The relatively new HumminGuru record cleaner promises to deliver ultrasonic record cleaning power at an affordable price. Its compact size and all-in-one design will undoubtedly pique the interest of record collectors far and wide. To see how the unit performs, Sound Matters put the HumminGuru through its paces. 

Ultrasonic cleaning for vinyl records is an interesting concept. It works by using high-frequency pressure sound waves to agitate a liquid, producing tiny cavitation bubbles. Lots of tiny bubbles produce forces, which help to gently lift dirt, dust, and grime from the record grooves. 

Many collectors sing the praises of ultrasonic cleaning for its ability to deep clean vinyl records without the need for brushes to scrub the surface physically. The process has long been popular in the jewelry industry for cleaning tiny cavities.

Traditionally, all-in-one ultrasonic record cleaning machines are notoriously pricey. Some units can cost thousands of dollars, making them prohibitively expensive to your average record collector. 

A series of adaptors hit the market to make ultrasonic record cleaning more obtainable, enabling collectors to use cheaper general-purpose ultrasonic cleaners to clean records. These products work well, but are far from compact, making them difficult to store.

The HumminGuru began as a Kickstarter campaign seeking to design an affordable and compact all-in-one ultrasonic record cleaner. After a successful campaign, the unit came to market late last year. Immediately, I was curious to see how the unit performed, given the very reasonable price tag.

First Impressions

As I unboxed the product, my first impression of the unit was very good. It comes well packaged, the design is smart, and it’s certainly compact. In fact, you can easily fit the HumminGuru inside a standard Ikea Kallax storage unit, making it an ideal size for record collectors with compact listening rooms. 

Included in the box are plenty of spare rollers and filters, a very clear set of instructions, and two adaptors for cleaning 7-inch and 10-inch records.

Cleaning Records with the HumminGuru

For the cleaning test, I picked up a thrift store copy of The Pretenders self-titled album. In terms of cleanliness, this record was in pretty bad shape; it was caked with dust, had significant finger or grease marks, and almost certainly, a touch of mold.

As a test subject, this record is perfect… Let’s see how the HumminGuru performs…

Cleaning records with the HumminGuru is remarkably easy:

Step 1: I recommended (with any record cleaning process) starting by removing the loose dust first using a carbon fiber record brush. This will greatly improve the result and avoid the potential of creating a “dust sludge” or simply moving dirt around.


Step 2: Remove the water tank and fill it with distilled water up to the appropriate markers depending on whether you’re cleaning 12inch records or 7inch singles.

It’s important to use distilled water as ordinary tap water contains impurities and mineral deposits that can damage your records and the HumminGuru machine.


Step 3: Poor the water into the basin of the HumminGuru and place the water tank back into the side of the machine. After the cleaning cycle is complete, the dirty water will drain back into the water tank. 


Step 4: Place your record carefully into the basin and choose your cleaning and drying cycle. You can adjust the unit to clean a number of combinations based on a two-minute or five-minute cleaning cycle and a five-minute or ten-minute drying cycle. 

As my record was very dirty, I chose the heavier five-minute clean combined with a 10-minute dry cycle. In auto-mode the HumminGuru automatically switches between the cleaning and drying cycle, meaning you can leave the room, make a cup of coffee, and simply wait.


Cleaning Results: Distilled Water Only

On first visual inspection, the record looked significantly better. However, some of the stubborn surface grease/finger marks were still present. 

For the listening test, I sampled the record onto my computer to compare the record pre and post-clean. The record did sound significantly better. Not perfect, but better nonetheless.

During the cleaning cycle, I did notice a fair bit of water surface tension. You could see how the water sat on the record surface and struggled to penetrate the groove. 

This is a common issue with pure distilled water that is usually rectified by adding a tiny amount of surfactant to the water. Adding just a small amount of surfactant can break the water tension and aid the cleaning process.

The drying cycle worked fairly well, but a few droplets of water did remain on the surface. I dried the last couple of drops with a microfiber pad, but for me, this shows that a ten-minute drying cycle is a requirement. I struggle to see how five minutes would be enough.

Cleaning Results: with added Surfactant

Curious to see how a surfactant could improve the result, I added a drop of GrooveWasher’s G-Sonic concentrate to the water tank. G-Sonic is a surfactant and emulsifier blend that helps aid the cleaning process and break water surface tension.

Note: while I regard GrooveWasher products as safe to use in this machine, I must stress that the owner’s manual clearly specifies distilled water only. Adding any additional cleaning substances is at your own risk and may void the warranty. 

During the cleaning cycle, you could clearly see how differently the water behaved on the record surface with the addition of just a small drop of G-Sonic. Instead of moving over the record surface in patches, the water now consistently and evenly spread across the entire surface and was clearly entering the groove with ease.

The sound of the record improved significantly, but the stubborn stain still remained in part. Granted, this was a particularly stubborn record, but it seems a little spot cleaning is required here to remove the final surface grime. 

Sound Matters subscribers can try G-Sonic for 10% less using the discount code SOUNDMATTERS10 when shopping directly at groovewasher.com

Cleaning Results: GrooveWasher Spot Cleaning 

While the record did sound significantly better after two cleaning cycles in the HumminGuru, I decided to spot clean the final trouble spots using a little GrooveWasher and their Black Magic pad. 

The Black Magic cleaning pad has very fine, soft tracking fibers that lock into the groove—perfect for rocking back and forth over trouble spots. After this, the record was in great shape.

HumminGuru Ultrasonic Record Cleaning Machine: The Bottom Line

The HumminGuru did succeed in significantly improving the sound of this record, albeit I would say you need the surfactant to unleash the full cleaning power of this machine.

My test subject record was particularly challenging to clean and without a time machine to go back and clean the record using my normal day-to-day Pro-Ject record cleaning machine, it’s impossible to say whether or not a different cleaning machine would perform better. 

Only time will tell over the coming months whether or not the HumminGuru replaces my Pro-Ject cleaning machine or not. Watch this space as I continue to test the machine with vintage vinyl finds. 

The HumminGuru is a well-designed machine when you consider the price point. Does it perform as well as competitor machines costing thousands of dollars? Perhaps, in reality, this is an unfair comparison.

In the HumminGuru, HappyWell (the company behind the product) has succeeded in making ultrasonic record cleaning easier and more accessible. For that, they should be applauded, and we can’t wait to see how they develop the product from here.

VIEW ON TURNTABLE LAB

VIEW ON AMAZON

Note: You can hear the results of each cleaning step at the following link – CLICK HERE.
humminguru.com

Author

  • Marc Henshall

    Marc is the owner of Sound Matters and a musician with a BSc Honours Degree in Music Technology. His love for records grew in the fallout from digital downloads and a feeling that, somehow, without the physical medium, the magic was lost.

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Najib

Hey Marc, after few months what is your conclusion between this one and the project ? I’m thinking of getting my first record cleaner and looking for a compact one 😉

Spyder

Great review. I’ve been watching the HumminGuru closely since the kickstarter, and now they have a UK distributor at Juno, who are one of the best audio outlets in the UK, been using them for years, I feel ready to jump on board, so am ordering one with the HumminGuru surfactant to see how I get on. I looked at DIY units, but none of them are as fully featured as the HumminGuru. I’m really excited for it, can’t wait.

Spyder

I’ve cleaned about 9 albums, most new that were noisy or poppy from the factory, one old 70’s classical, and 6 old 7″ singles from 80’s mainly. I used the HumminGuru surfactant, was surprised at the improvements the HumminGuru was able to achieve on all of them. One of the 7″ was poor SQ wise, very muddy and flat, I’d tried it in the SpinClean with little improvement, HumminGuru brought it straight up to VG+, very listenable now. That was the biggest suprise. Then a Cinematic Orchestra Every Day 10th Anniversary that was very noisy out of it’s packaging, HumminGuru massively reduced surface noise which again, I was suprised about. The convenience of the machine is superb, uses very little water and surfactant to get good results. I’m extremely happy, and I think for the price you’re paying, it achieves excellent results.

Last edited 11 months ago by Spyder
John Keenan

Looking to some LP cleaning machines like the humminguru ,moth and the project, I did purchase the spin clean from a recommendation last year and wish I never followed instructions to the letter and it ruined a lot of my vinyl not in pressing so I would say, don’t purchase the manual spin clean machine it’s a heap of junk

Greg Black

I have a “Spin Clean” and have had it for many years it does a great job of cleaning and to dry I use the KAB “EV-1” which hooks up to your home portable vacuum. I only use the supplied “Spin Clean” cloths for drying the very edge of the record. To this day I’ve never ruined a record so I believe you’re not using the machine as intended – no fault to the “Spin Clean”.

Spyder

I bought one from Juno which arrived on Friday, Juno were superb, they’re one of the best suppliers in the UK, been using them for years.

I’ve cleaned about 9 albums, most new that were noisy or poppy from the factory, one old 70’s classical, and 6 old 7″ singles from 80’s mainly. I used the HumminGuru surfactant, was surprised at the improvements the HumminGuru was able to achieve on all of them. One of the 7″ was poor SQ wise, very muddy and flat, I’d tried it in the SpinClean with little improvement, HumminGuru brought it straight up to VG+, very listenable now. That was the biggest suprise. Then a Cinematic Orchestra Every Day 10th Anniversary that was very noisy out of it’s packaging, HumminGuru massively reduced surface noise which again, I was suprised about. The convenience of the machine is superb, uses very little water and surfactant to get good results. I’m extremely happy, and I think for the price you’re paying, it achieves excellent results.

john keenan

where in the uk is the humming guru available to purchase ?

Gary Laird

You can buy the Humminguru here https://www.juno.co.uk I bought one last week I’m now beginning the slog to clean all of my records

john

Hi Gary,
just interested to hear how you’re getting on with your new Humminguru, are you pleased with the results? Are you using just distilled water or are you adding a cleaning agent or surfactant?

John

Spyder

I bought one from Juno which arrived on Friday, Juno were superb, they’re one of the best suppliers in the UK, been using them for years.
I’ve cleaned about 9 albums, most new that were noisy or poppy from the factory, one old 70’s classical, and 6 old 7″ singles from 80’s mainly. I used the HumminGuru surfactant, was surprised at the improvements the HumminGuru was able to achieve on all of them. One of the 7″ was poor SQ wise, very muddy and flat, I’d tried it in the SpinClean with little improvement, HumminGuru brought it straight up to VG+, very listenable now. That was the biggest suprise. Then a Cinematic Orchestra Every Day 10th Anniversary that was very noisy out of it’s packaging, HumminGuru massively reduced surface noise which again, I was suprised about. The convenience of the machine is superb, uses very little water and surfactant to get good results. I’m extremely happy, and I think for the price you’re paying, it achieves excellent results.

Terry Cochrane

The product seems to work fairly well, however, I had to replace the rotation motor after less than 400 records cleaned. I followed the clean/rest times religiously. It was expensive to change the motor at my local shop, but much cheaper than sending the unit back for repair. Perhaps I had a lemon, don’t know.

Brian S

I’m considering purchasing a HumminGuru record cleaning device. With the expense and time it takes to ship from Hong Kong to the US, which accessories should I consider ordering? I’m thinking that I should order the HG01 Replacement Kit that includes 2 pairs of roller wheels, 5 air filters and 5 water filters. Any other spare parts should I consider? The shipping cost is ridiculous as it’s over 25% of the cost of the record cleaner. Seems like they could set up distribution in many other countries to reduce shipping time & costs.

Noel T

I have the Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine and, to me, it does a great job of cleaning off fingermarks and other surface grime.
The record cleaning solution, applied with a goat hair brush, works it’s way right into the grooves, dislodging any contaminants, visible or invisible, and puts it all into suspension, the vacuum then sucks it all up, leaving an extremely clean, uncontaminated, record.
Ultrasonic Record Cleaning Machines, I understand, can clean out most of the dirt and dust from the groove, but to really get the more deep down stuck on goop and the more visible surface grime, oily fingerprints etc. really needs a good going over with a goat hair brush to apply a quality record cleaning solution to assist in the removal and a strong suction to lift it all away.
Anyway, that’s my experience and I’m sure there are those who get great results from the ultrasonic cleaning method.
Cheers.

Last edited 1 year ago by Noel T
David A

I have a Humminguru and it is one of the best investments for records I have made. It is a bit noisy but all in all not too bad. I would not hesitate to recommend it as it makes a huge difference.

David A

I have not yet but I was going to order some with my next order from GrooveWasher.

Paul J Cama

I’m real curious about the noise level of this particular machine I didn’t hear it on the video. I have a Standard one that I can do up to 6-7 records but I strictly only do 4 more room between records, I just bought the machine & built the rest & my total bill was about $140 Mine is a bit noisy so I put a box with a blanket over mine to minimize the sound (only cause I live in a Co-Op.) I also did invest a year before the pandemic in the Pro-ject VC-s machine 6 month later it sounded louder then a jet taking off, they gave me the upgrade the VC-e machine & a year later again I had the same Issue as the first one. So they gave me a new machine now it’s the 3rd one. It’s kind of quiet now & I found out you have to keep the vacuum on for 30-40 seconds to ensure all the liquid is off the motor. The instructions even tell you that the screws , nuts & motor will Rust if you don’t. Now my VC-e machine can only do 1 side at a time.. love both machines. I even built a drying rack that spins the records after I take him out of the ultrasonic machine. But my biggest problem, is Noise.. I want to know how quiet they are with & with out the vacuum on..

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