© KD Busch

 “It starts with creative chaos”

Reiner Gläss makes music lovers happy world­wide with his LP record cleaner. In an inter­view, the inventor reveals how he works.


Mr. Gläss, how does one come to develop a record cleaner?

For Reiner Gläss high-quality components and reliable suppliers are the basis for successful products. (Photo | KD Busch)

For Reiner Gläss high-quality compo[-]nents and reli­able suppliers are the basis for successful prod­ucts. (Photo | KD Busch)

It just kind of happened. When I started my own busi­ness 20 years ago, I knew that I didn’t want to be a company employee my whole life. I’ve always been a very creative person, so first I built furni­ture for hi-fi systems. A lot of people thought that was great — but nobody bought any. Another mile­stone for me was the devel­op­ment of a yin-yang aroma lamp. Some retailers were inter­ested in it, but then the audio industry got in the way. My advisor at the employ­ment agency asked me one day if I could make him a machine that would bevel CDs. So I devel­oped one. He was so excited that he recom­mended a hi-fi dealer for me to sell it to. He ordered three of them right away. And that’s how I went into produc­tion with it. Parallel to that I offered a test unit to a hi-fi maga­zine. They published a report along with my phone number. From then on my phone was ringing off the hook.

How did you get from CDs to records ?

A trade journal offered to present me at their stand at Europe’s biggest trade fair for the hi-fi sector. I got more and more requests there to develop a system for washing records. I couldn’t really see a market for that; it seemed like too much of a niche to me. But I got more and more calls asking if I was already working on some­thing. So I announced on my website that I was devel­oping a fully auto­matic record cleaning system for the analog fans, and I also informed the retailers and importers that I knew through the CD beveling machine. Now we serve 50 coun­tries through estab­lished importers. The Vinyl Cleaner Pro is keeping us pretty busy.

What makes it special ?

It’s compact and it cleans both sides of a record at once. Most competing prod­ucts don’t do that. I was also the first to include ultra­sound. The Vinyl Cleaner Pro is very quiet, completely auto­matic and easy to use.

And who buys the Vinyl Cleaner Pro ?

I target collec­tors and audio­philes; some of them have never warmed up to CDs. They’re almost all men; some have their own music rooms. And their systems cost an average of 30,000 euros. It’s an exciting clien­tele from every educa­tional level.

How impor­tant is it to you as a devel­oper to have a healthy sense of curiosity for such unusual prod­ucts ?

I’m always open to new things. Customers are always contacting me because they’re looking for some­thing special. And when the requests pile up, that’s when I get to work. At the moment I’m in a slow phase. After all the stress, I really needed a break. You can feel it when the creative juices aren’t flowing right anymore. But I’ll develop some­thing again. I can’t just sit around, that’s nothing for me. And I’ll no­tice when some­thing slowly begins to grow….

A milestone for the creativ thinker: the ying-yang aroma lamp.

A mile­stone for the creativ thinker: the yin-yang aroma lamp.

Do you tinker alone or in a team ?

The creative process mostly happens alone. For me it works best when I have peace and quiet. If I run up against my limits, I’ll go to my colleagues and we’ll talk for a while. Then I’m alone again. Some­times I’ll describe an approach to the team and we’ll talk about it. Then all the ideas are put on the table, no matter how crazy they are.

How does your path from a crazy idea to a series product look ?

It usually starts with creative chaos, begin­ning with a very simple sketch that I imple­ment in my tinkering phase. Then I look for suppliers. That brings struc­ture into the process. Purchasing is a very impor­tant aspect. And then there are all the surrounding bureau­cratic things that you have to take care of. Now I have an employee who helps me there.

On the subject of suppliers: the LPs are dried by water­proof diag­onal fans from ebm-papst. Why did you choose these compo­nents ?

How the Vinyl Cleaner Pro works

The record is inserted verti­cally into the unit. A mixture of distilled water and cleaner is pumped into the cleaning chamber from below, covering the record to just below the label. The record turns through the liquid. Surplus water runs to the bottom and is filtered. Then an ultra­sonic trans­ducer starts and rollers contact the record from both sides and rotate in oppo­site direc­tions. When the cleaning process is completed, the rollers are retracted, the liquid flows down­ward, and the record is dried by two fans.

Because they’re very reli­able. I tested other compo­nents, but none of them won me over. The Vinyl Cleaner Pro has to be quiet, and for that the fans are perfect. At first I had prob­lems with the liquid. If some­body used too much cleaner, foam would form. The foam would get into the fan area and cause fail­ures. So I started to take the fans apart and dip the elec­tronics in synthetic resin to seal them. What a mess ! Finally I contacted ebm-papst, who offered me completely sealed fans. Even under power in a bucket of water, they won’t fail. That’s really cool.

Now your record cleaner is being copied by Asian manu­fac­turers. Are coun­ter­feit prod­ucts a problem for you ?

No, they’re no problem. I’ve bought a few and taken them apart. As far as quality, noise and func­tion­ality are concerned, they’re a disaster. So no danger (laughs). I notice whether coun­ter­feits get a foothold in the market, and I keep improving my product in the back­ground. By the time they catch up, it’s already obso­lete.

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Additional product information can be found here:

Diagonal compact fans

More pressure with a significantly higher air flow