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Lifespan of styli.

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by PastorTube, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. Drewan77

    Drewan77 Member

    Messages:
    50
    Location:
    UK (& regularly US)
    Here's my simple (& fairly foolproof) method to determine when a stylus reaches the end of its lifespan. It's one of several reasons why I only use cartridges with replaceable styli:

    - A new cartridge is always purchased with a spare stylus.
    - Both are run for around 50 hrs & the spare put away.
    - As the in-use stylus gradually degrades, the spare can be used as a listening reference to determine when another is needed.
    - When that happens, a new one is purchased, run for about 50 hrs & that then becomes the spare.
    - The worn one is discarded & the original ‘spare’ is used.

    It isn’t easy to do this with a moving coil without the cost of purchasing two cartridges & then only with arms with removable headshells.

    Properly cleaned vinyl stored in anti static sleeves, brushing records & styli after every play & always playing with the cover closed means I usually get well over 1000 hours before any noticeable changes.
     

     

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  2. marcmorin

    marcmorin AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    9,091
    a good portion of household dust is shed skin cells from either humans or pets. Which is a good bit different than dust being shed from sheets and carpets. skin cells will turn to a hard glue given the chance.
     
  3. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

    Messages:
    26,038
    Location:
    Angel Station, Alabama
    True, and true. Still good advice.
    If the tracing distortion becomes audible, it's past time for replacement.
     
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  4. jrtrent

    jrtrent Super Member

    Messages:
    3,313
    While no numbers were given, that article seems to support Jico's information that a stylus is no longer capable of keeping its specified distortion rating at 15 kHz at fairly low hours of use; e.g., 250 hours for an elliptical and 400 hours for a Shibata. That doesn't mean the stylus is unsafe to use, just that if your hearing is better than mine (I don't think I hear anything above 12 or 13 kHz anymore), you could notice degraded sound quality relatively soon.
     
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  5. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

    Messages:
    26,038
    Location:
    Angel Station, Alabama
    The problem is tracing distortion, by the time freq response is affected this is way past service life.
    It reminds me of motorcycle chain life rating insofar as the rating may be far beyond the roughness from wear I will tolerate.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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  6. ETI_5000

    ETI_5000 Super Member

    Messages:
    2,828
    Location:
    Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
    Below is a photo of a conical diamond stylus tip after 1500 hours at 3g stylus pressure on a vinyl record, magnified 2000 times by an electron microscope (courtesy of Stanton) – you can see that not just the record has worn.

    worn stylus0001.JPG

    Here is an answer I gave in a previous thread, based on what various manufacturers, suppliers and other hi-fi experts gave as a typical maximum stylus life. Here’s what a few said was the maximum life for various diamond stylus profiles:

    • Conical, elliptical – 300-500 hrs (JVC)
    • Conical – 500 hrs (Onkyo)
    • SAS tip (line contact) – 500 hrs (Jico)
    • Diamond stylus – 500 hrs (kabusa.com)
    • Diamond stylus – 500 hrs (John Borwick – qualified engineer, recording specialist and former hi-fi reviewer from Gramophone magazine)
    • Conical, elliptical – 500-800 hrs (Shure)
    • Diamond stylus – 600-1000 hrs (lpgear.com)
    • Elliptical – 800-1000 hrs (Pioneer)
    • Conical, elliptical – 1000 hrs (A.J. van den Hul)
    • Diamond stylus – up to 1000 hours without degradation and noticeable changes, 2000 hrs before worn out, with proper care including keeping records and styli clean (Ortofon)
    • Van den Hul tip (line contact) – 3000 hrs (A.J. van den Hul)
    So it’s somewhere between 300 hours minimum, and at the very most, 3000 hours, assuming no major mishaps such as dropping the stylus!

    Among the variables which make it impossible to be absolutely precise are things such as:
    • Record cleanliness
    • Tip material - diamond is best, way ahead of sapphire (yes, that was widely used to save money) and steel
    • Stylus profiles – line contacts are best, conical a long way behind, and elliptical slightly behind conical in terms of how quickly they wear – the stylus life is proportional to the area of record contact.
    • Stylus tracking force – heavier tracking forces cause more wear. Shure found that tracking at 0.75 grams, a stylus tip lasted 120% longer than when tracking at 3g, and at 1g it lasted twice as long as at 3g
    • Tip polish – smoother tips cause less friction, so the stylus tip and record wears less
    • Record material – there are various types of record material, including shellac (mainly for 78’s), polystyrene and different types of vinyl, which cause varying amounts of wear.
    However, there’s one thing that most agree on, and that is that diamond tips do wear out playing vinyl records.

    For obvious reasons, some companies who made cartridges or styli may have advised pessimistically low figures, in order to get higher stylus or cartridge sales, or even to avoid having customers blame them with stories such as “they said my stylus would last x000 hours, and it only lasted x00 hours playing my records at 7g”!!:rant: I think that Ortofon and van den Hul, given their long history of making or re-tipping styli and cartridges, are probably two of the more believable in the list above, while Jico are possibly rather under-estimating how long their SAS (micro-ridge) tip will last.

    I think it's probably safer to change the stylus sooner rather than trying to squeeze the longest life from them, to safeguard valuable record collections from possible wear.

    There is one other thing that can cause damage, and that's over-using various liquids for record or stylus cleaning, which often cause cantilever corrosion, according to van den Hul, based on the number that he's seen while stylus retipping. That's one reason he thinks wet playing records is very unwise and ultimately very expensive.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018

     

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  7. petemcfc

    petemcfc Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    578
    Location:
    Gt. Manchester UK
    I used to work as a maintenance fitter in a stone quarry.The stone is a honey coloured sandstone named Cromwell,If you ever happen to be wandering the streets of Westminster that is what you are walking on.
    Once blasted out the stone is cut into slabs,paving stones and tiles using diamond encrusted saw blades.
    The guys you spoke to didn't really understand the technology behind the cutting tools they were using,the diamonds are bonded to the cutting blade in a sharks tooth formation,once a diamond becomes blunted the friction of the stone rips it off thus exposing a new cutting surface.
    Water and flocculant are used as a lubricant,the displaced used diamonds cause huge problems to the pumps that are employed to displace the lubricant.
     
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  8. vwestlife

    vwestlife Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    737
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  9. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

    Messages:
    26,038
    Location:
    Angel Station, Alabama
    Chain life rating may be 20k miles, but 12k is about the limit for smooth running. The rest is just increasing awareness of less than acceptable performance, and increased wear on the sprockets.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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  10. DavidTT

    DavidTT AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    557
    The ranges offered by manufacturers and others is so wide that something smells here. 500 hours versus 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, even 10,000? All from a diamond tip? It strains credulity and by that I mean that I find it hard to believe that even the plainest of plain conicals need to be replaced so early (300-500 hours).

    Also, as one who buys many used records, some 40-50 years old now, I rarely encounter one that is wrecked, terrible sounding. Many of these must have been played on nasty old consoles and/or plastic tables of the 1970s by teenagers, but still sound great. In fact, I remember being such a youth, grinding away on LPs on our terrible family console with a "who knows?" stylus ripping through the grooves. How can the criticality of the stylus tip possibly that, well, critical then?

     
  11. Drewan77

    Drewan77 Member

    Messages:
    50
    Location:
    UK (& regularly US)
    Very difficult to understand this claim.

    I've used the Goldring Gyger S (1042) stylus for many years on Goldring, Roksan Corus & Audio Note IQ cartridges.

    Using the A-B method I mentioned in post #21, audible degradation is easily noticeable beyond ~1500hrs. Treble frequencies reduce, bass is less focused, overall the sound is more 'dull'.
     
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  12. vwestlife

    vwestlife Well-Known Member

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    Thomas Edison claimed infinite life from his "permanent" diamond stylus in the 1910s and 1920s. "There are no needles to change. That bother is done away with. Wear on the record has been reduced to a minimum, for the diamond stylus simply floats over the record. Edison Records are indestructible."

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. DesertTwang

    DesertTwang Active Member

    Messages:
    395
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    What if I'm not concerned about sound, but about preserving my records? I could totally imagine that a worn stylus may not show its wear in a frequency response plot but produce increased wear on the grooves. i wouldn't be surprised if a worn stylus would still be able to track just fine and therefore sound as good as a new one. The question is, what does it do to the record?
     
  14. stereofisher

    stereofisher For the Love of the Music Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,159
    Location:
    Southeast NY
    Interesting post. As a kid it was 1000 hrs. Have had Shure M97s go almost immediately. Have a Shure M91ED with an EVG stylus that started sounding crappy. Had maybe 10 to 20 hrs on it. At first I thought it was the record. Put it on my Garrard Zero 100/ Shure V15 and the record was ok. Replaced the stylus and the 1219 sounded better. Have used these EVGs with no issue til this one. As said above replace when it sounds like crap.
     
  15. SoundsAlike

    SoundsAlike Super Member

    Messages:
    1,858
    Location:
    Greensboro, NC
    So, let's say 1000 hours will wear out any kind of stylus to the point replacement is absolutely necessary.

    If that's 60000* minutes and the average LP is 20 minutes long each side, thats 1500 lps played entirely
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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  16. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

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    Let's call the average LP 40 minutes, 20 minutes /side. 1000 hours = 60000 minutes. 60000 ÷40= 1500 LP, 3000 sides.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
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  17. SoundsAlike

    SoundsAlike Super Member

    Messages:
    1,858
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    ah I see what I did wrong thanks
     
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  18. luvvinvinyl

    luvvinvinyl Aggie! Staff Member Admin Subscriber

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    Location:
    Windsor, Ontario, Canada
    To put the length of time into a "real-world perspective", 2080 hours is a full work year. (52 weeks/year x 40 hours/week)

    So, how long does it take you to log 1000 hours on your stylus?
     
  19. DavidTT

    DavidTT AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    557
    Ah, to listen to music as a full-time job!

     
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  20. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

    Messages:
    26,038
    Location:
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    The calculation is based on 1000 hours of acceptably enjoyable results, one quarter should yield at least critical listening quality for the average estimates.
     

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