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Lifespan of styli.

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

  1. twiiii

    twiiii Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,055
    Location:
    west Texas
    Keeping your records spotlessly clean extends the life of a stylus, has been my experience. And Yes some cartridges the suspension stiffens with age increasing the wear. How this relates to the performance of your particular cartridge is a good question. I keep a few test records and when tracing the tracking grooves if I start to notice a deterioration, then its time for a new cartridge if a MC or a new stylus assembly for a MM cartridge. Early Shure and Ortofon from the 60's had a very difficult time in dry climates was my experience.
     

     

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  2. restorer-john

    restorer-john Addicted Member

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    With all due respect to you ETI_5000, (anyone who built a David Tillbrook Hitachi mosfet amp back in the day is good in my book) we've seen those lovely pictures ever since the cartridge/stylus manufacturers realised they needed to get people replacing their styli on a regular basis to keep making money.

    My favourites were the fabulously exaggerated wear shown on the Goldring posters and catalogues when I was selling HiFi gear (and lots of cartridges and styli). It was common knowledge in the industry that those images were faked. We had those large posters alongside the stylus wire racks with hideous 'microscope' pictures of worn and chipped styli- they did their job very well.

    I'll dig out a few of the old master catalogues and scan the marketing images of 'worn' styli...

    Here's some great EM shots:

    http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/stylus-photos-high-magnification.138956/

    I'd like to know how a diamond stylus that supposedly has been 'smoothed out' with wear is somehow more likely to damage a record as compared to say an aggressively shaped new elliptical?
     
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  3. DustyOldPile

    DustyOldPile Vinyl Goddess

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    This has been argued and pondered for decades and probably millions of forum posts. Those that have done the research and may actually know the answer are probably stylus engineers and manufacturers and they're not talking because they're in the business of selling replacement stylii. In truth, the stylus is probably tougher than you think. In truth, you'll probably get bored with it, accidentally bend the cantilever, sell the table, find something better and so on before you'll wear it out.

    I love my MC Denon DL 300 but I think when it goes, I'll probably go back to MM's and replaceable stylii. I can't say enough good things about the Empire 2000E/III matchup with the LPGear likely JICO replacement stylus. The Denon is subtly better but not to the point where I'll take a chance on a new one...and the original 300's are getting pretty old. I had two of them, one of them had the cantilever literally turn to dust before my eyes and I'm rather suspicious of the one that I still have...how long before that happens to it? But the diamond...I can't find or hear any trace of adverse wear. I've heard of QC issues with the new DL-301 MKII, suspension breakdowns after < 1 year, etc. so I'm leery when I could buy half a dozen old Empires for that.

    In the analogy of the 150 lb man wearing spikes on a roof, that really doesn't apply here as the stylus doesn't ride in the bottom of the groove, the tracking force is distributed between the left and right sides of the stylus, somewhat unevenly -- it shifts as the stylus tracks the record. It's probably closer to the 300 lb guy in workboots than the 150 lb guy in spikes.

    I've heard worn stylii but only back in my radio days when those turntables ran 24/7 at tracking forces way in excess of what us goobers are using. And with the abuses of DJ's that didn't always respect the gear as much as I did. I can't recall the replacement frequency...when I did my shifts, I had my own secret stash of stylii that I'd switch out.
     
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  4. jrtrent

    jrtrent Super Member

    Messages:
    3,317
    If you look at post #26, I think you'll find that engineers, manufacturers, and retailers have spoken; it's just that some people don't trust what they have to say.
     
  5. DustyOldPile

    DustyOldPile Vinyl Goddess

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    Would you? I don't. They have a vested interest in selling stylii.
     
  6. jrtrent

    jrtrent Super Member

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    3,317
    Of course I trust them, just like I trust my doctor, dentist, auto mechanic, appliance repairman, and so on. If I didn't, I wouldn't buy their service or products.
     
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  7. DustyOldPile

    DustyOldPile Vinyl Goddess

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    Maybe it's because I'm female, and have had so many auto mechanics, appliance repairmen, so on, try to blow smoke up my fabulous hinder that I do NOT trust anyone who ventures to profit from their advice without doing my homework.
     
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  8. the_nines

    the_nines AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Amazing pics.

    Thanks for sharing.
     
  9. bobins08

    bobins08 Loving the dream Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Exactly .. you trust but verify.

    Stylus wear out and so do suspensions. How long it takes is a function of a lot of things, most of them covered here many times.

    Clean records, a good arm, proper alignment, and wipe the darn stylus tip off before each play it will last a long time.
     
  10. pdm4606

    pdm4606 Super Member

    Messages:
    2,956
    Location:
    Las Cruces, NM
    I have some diamond stylus from way back in 1960's that I thought were toast. But a few years ago I got a decent microscope(an AO Spencer) and started checking diamond tips. I was shocked at how good most of these things are.
    Some from as far back as 1960. A few even earlier. One shocker was my original tip for my original GE VR II mono from maybe 1958. Looks like new. It was my first mag. cart I used first in my Garrard then my first AR. By then I started going stereo with a few Shure and a Pickering. All of those look like new. I have bought replacement stylus for these but found I didn't need it.
     
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  11. melofelo

    melofelo Addicted Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    Noticable sibilance on the last track of your records where there was none before is a good sign that a replacement stylus is due soon...especially if it's basic spherical or 'pseudo' elliptical . More advanced stylus geometries tend to sit deeper in the groove with a greater contact facet surface between the diamond and groove profile , so surface wear rates may extend far beyond the approximate 600 to 800 hours of good quality transcription you'd get from a half decent elliptical before the closely spaced grooves and reduced amplitudes in groove modulation on the last track of an lp begins to trip it up in the higher frequencies.
     
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  12. marcmorin

    marcmorin AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    it sits as deep in the groove as the width of the side radius allows. a .2mil elliptical sits deeper than a .3mil shibata. If you were referring to how far down in the V it goes, that's dependent on the width of the stone between side radii. about 1 mil is about as wide as can be
     
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  13. melofelo

    melofelo Addicted Member

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    by depth , I'm assuming that the groove is modulated and that a spherical tip will ride higher in the apex of the curves than a more extreme elliptical profle like a hyper elliptical , shibata or fine line that has the front and rear faces of the diamond profile much narrower than the side contact elipse patches.. but I could be wrong :).. a stylus tracking a stereo groove is deflected up and down as well as side to side at 45 degrees I think ? so I'm just guessing really..
     
  14. melofelo

    melofelo Addicted Member

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  15. DesertTwang

    DesertTwang Active Member

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    That is indeed a great question. I would tend to agree.
     
  16. revox-b77

    revox-b77 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    This is interesting. If you think about wear, it happens on the sides where it contacts the groove walls. So as a stylus wears it should also begin to have larger contact area. The width narrows and the styli rides deeper in the groove. As this is happening there should actually be less pressure on the groove as the contact area has increased. Eventually you should get to the point where the tip of the diamond is actually touching the bottom of the groove. By the time this happens the stone would be touching 100% of the wall from top to bottom albeit with a much wider contact area. This should also be the point of the least pressure on the grooves as the contact area has maxed out. So would it also be the case that record wear is at it's least at the end?
     

     

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  17. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

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    Except for the sharp edges carving vinyl ribbons off the walls.
     
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  18. malden

    malden Addicted Member

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    5,343
    Lifespan of styli? Depends on the stylus.

    I imagine that a precisely formed and highly polished diamond tip stylus will outlast any of the cheap after-market "needles" that are commonly referred to as "best bang for your buck". Those cheap needles do not go thru any extensive quality control or testing other than the occasional listening tests done by those who swear by them and make comments such as "sounds good to me".

    Take ball bearings for instance. Two bearings from different manufacturers, both stainless steel. One is high precision with tight tolerances, the other just gets the job done. Which one will last longer and cause the least damage to the bearing races?
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
  19. bimasta

    bimasta Super Member

    Messages:
    2,647
    "I'd like to know how a diamond stylus that supposedly has been 'smoothed out' with wear is somehow more likely to damage a record as compared to say an aggressively shaped new elliptical?"

    "That is indeed a great question. I would tend to agree."

    Me too. Playback quality might suffer, but not the groove walls. A chipped stylus is another story, but uncommon unless you drop it on a hard surface.

    BTW, I read once that the pressure of the stylus tip on the tiny spot of vinyl is equal to the pressure the Empire State Building puts on the city block it sits on. No idea if it's true, or just colorful writing.
     
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  20. ChrisFix

    ChrisFix New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Anyone have an idea why the stylus of my AT120E (nude 3x7 eliptical) appears black at the tip? Looks burnished, but it has low hours and was never abused. Just wondering if that seems normal. It plays, and to me, sounds great...
     

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