Russ Andrews ReleeS CD Enhancer Review
Digital disc saviour or silly snake oil? David Price reckons this anti-static optical disc spray is well worth a try …
ReleeS CD Enhancer
The Russ Andrews name is well known in the UK, producing popular hi-fi accessories since the nineteen-eighties. Whilst some of the products do seem a little 'tweaky', it's hard to argue with the marque's success – people keep on coming back for more. The ReleeS anti-static spray is one such example…
On the face of it, £22.50 is a lot to pay for a 50ml spray bottle of fluid and a microfibre cleaning cloth, but I have found it very useful for my particular needs at least. I am currently buying lots of old used Compact Discs on eBay because, as a committed vinylista, I never bought CDs in any quantity before and now want to build a basic collection. I've decided not to purchase new because so many reissues or remasters have next to no dynamic range. So I've been chasing original first pressing CDs from the nineteen eighties that are essentially flat transfers of the original copy masters.
Of course, when you pay £5 or so for a CD that the eBay seller describes as “good nick”, you know it's not going to be! I've ended up with countless dirty CDs over the past few years, with greasy fingerprints all over both sides and no end of mysterious secretions on the disc surfaces. Still, that doesn't matter to me as long as the disc is devoid of scratches because any muck can be cleaned off.
My old method was to hand-wash the disc under the hot tap with a blob of washing up liquid and dry it with a microfibre cloth. Of course, this works well enough and is dirt-cheap, but it is not ideal. Washing-up liquid is a strong detergent and so not the sort of thing you want – for example – for sensitive surfaces. If you don't use it to wash your car, you shouldn't use it to clean CDs.
Years before I came to write this review, I tried ReleeS out of pure curiosity – and soon ended up convinced by it. When sprayed onto the playing surface of a CD, it cleans off with the supplied microfibre cloth very easily; the cloth seems to move more freely on the disc than when the disc surface is wet with water. It also removes gunk from the disc's surface more easily than with pure water; less rubbing is needed to get rid of stubborn stains, and dirt seems to float off.
Once the playing side is treated, you end up with a glistening, super clean disc that often looks like new. I then put the disc into a brand new jewel case, effectively giving me an original first pressing CD that looks and smells like it did when its first owner bought it from HMV, Virgin or whatever, back in the day.
As well as being a cleaning spray, Russ Andrews says that ReleeS reduces static too. That would certainly seem to be the case, in my experience. The cleaned discs remain dust-free, and indeed it's a good idea to give the CD holder a light squirt and a wipe over, too, to keep the dirt off that.
The company also recommends its ReVeel CD wipes to work with ReleeS, the former being the first stage of the cleaning process. We'll take a look at this another time, but excellent results can be got just with ReleeS, in my experience. Naturally, all other optical discs will benefit, too, such as DVDs, SACDs and Blu-ray discs. It also makes sense to give your CD player drawer a squirt, given that reducing static electricity build-up here will cut down on the dust that gets inside the machine.
The only downside is its price – that's a lot of money for a small spray. Still, I think having your discs as optically clean as possible is essential because it reduces the need for your CD player to use its error-correction circuitry, which undoubtedly causes a deterioration of the sound. Indeed I once used a Cambridge CD1 silver disc spinner with its optional disc error counting module. It was clear from this that a CD with a spotlessly clean surface throws up far fewer 'corrected errors' and fewer 'uncorrected errors' too. So yes, there should be a sound benefit.
Overall then, Russ Andrews' ReleeS is a great little audio accessory. I am convinced that discs cleaned this way give their best sonically and don't pick up dust as much as untreated discs. It sure is expensive, but if you do lots of digital disc cleaning and use it sparingly, then it's just about worth the money.
Visit Russ Andrews for more information
David started his career in 1993 writing for Hi-Fi World and went on to edit the magazine for nearly a decade. He was then made Editor of Hi-Fi Choice and continued to freelance for it and Hi-Fi News until becoming StereoNET’s Editor-in-Chief.
Posted in:Hi-Fi Accessories
Tags: russ andrews
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