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Immedia Needle Nectar
by Greg Weaver
New kid in town
Just a few months ago in this space, I had the pleasure of reviewing the complete line of LAST record-care products. Then, not long on their heels, came Immedias Needle Nectar from Media Access. Rather than an entire system of treatment, this was a stylus-cleaning product that claimed to enhance playback as well as just clean your precious gem groove tracker.
The Nectar is supplied in a bottle very different from that of the LAST products, which quite literally resemble bottles of nail polish. Immedia provides their product in something more closely resembling a bottle of eye drops or nasal spray. As with the LAST products, however, included is a small, round-shaped stiff bristle brush for the application of the liquid. Judging from the fragrance and foaming action of the fluid (when shaken), one would be lead to assume that the formula includes of some kind of detergent, but the information available to me was a bit vague on this point. Unlike the LAST products, Needle Nectar is a water-soluble product that claims to leave zero residue and doesnt seem to evaporate too readily either.
This point became quite demonstrable as I experimented with this needle juice. Returning the brush to its resealable plastic bag after each use, just one or two drops are all that will be necessary for an evening's worth of cleaning. Besides being very economical, the stuff works like a charm, loosening and removing any and all debris that I was able to throw at it. Besides being able to revive a gummed or caked stylus by releasing and removing all the carbon and other refuse, Needle Nectar then keeps the revived stylus clean as the proverbial whistle.
Application is done in the standard manner. Apply a drop or two to the brush then carefully insert the brush, bristles up, under the stylus with the tonearm unlocked in the down position. Gently lift the brush up to the stylus until the bristles surround it and lift the cantilever slightly, then gingerly pull the brush from the rear of the cartridge body to the front. Repeat as necessary. As with all stylus cleaners or treatments, I urge caution not to over applicate. Using too much fluid here is a dangerous thing, as excess liquid is drawn up the cantilever and into the cartridge body, where it can do irreparable damage to the suspension and motor. Use any liquids with caution.
The sound of one clean needle tracking
What I heard was an heightening in clarity, slightly more focused soundstaging and crisper imaging, enhanced microdynamics, and a slightly lowered noise floor. Quiet passages were quieter, and sounds recorded more closely to the noise floor had more articulation and became more easily recognized. It was a bit easier to single out solo instrument placements and localize small and more softly recorded sounds.
The inevitable comparison to the LAST product is not an easy one -- and is impossible to do on an even playing field. Overall, the synergy of the two LAST products is considerably more effective. To my satisfaction, however, the Nectar cleans every bit as well as the LAST cleaner but seems to provide a more significant sonic improvement by itself than the LAST cleaner used solo. However, the further enhancement provided by the LAST stylus treatment easily betters the single application of the Nectar. As I said, this is hardly a fair comparison as were talking about twice the money and the use of a dedicated two-step cleaning and treatment process versus the single-step application of the Immedia product. Needle Nectar is without doubt the best single-application stylus treatment product to ever cross my threshold. And how can anyone argue the virtues of maintaining and tracking your precious record collection with a nice clean stylus?
The 1/4-ounce bottle and brush retail for $25 and offer a subtle but noticeable sonic improvement, all the while protecting your investment in your stylus and vinyl collection. I cannot overstate how important the long-term enhancement you achieve with the regular use of a clean stylus and the resultant extension of life it will afford your precious record collection.
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