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Seriously, do styli wear OUT?

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Seriously, do styli wear OUT?

Postby keiko5 » 31 Mar 2010 20:38

I did a search and didn't come up with anything, so I apologize if this has been discussed before. Does the actual diamond stylus wear out? I ask this question in all seriousness, and would like to limit the discussion to the stylus, not the suspension or the cartridge.

I have never worn out a stylus myself, and of the many used cartridges I have acquired over the years, I have not come across one with a worn out stylus, although I've had one with a chipped tip and several missing the stylus altogether. After mulling this over, I'm wondering do they actually wear out, or do they behave more like bearings and wear IN? In other words, do the high pressure spots of a stylus slowly wear down, thus increasing the overall contact area with the record, thereby reducing the rate of wear? I envision it to be kind of like bedding in brake pads, with high initial wear and then almost no wear after that. And because wear would likely be highest in high frequency grooves, the stylus would likely wear into a shape condusive to tracking the high frequency undulations. So the hours spent breaking in a cartridge may be as much about wearing the stylus IN as it is about freeing up the suspension.

Who has actually worn out a stylus from playing records?

Kevin
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Re: Seriously, do styli wear OUT?

Postby flavio81 » 31 Mar 2010 20:59

keiko5 wrote:In other words, do the high pressure spots of a stylus slowly wear down, thus increasing the overall contact area with the record, thereby reducing the rate of wear? I envision it to be kind of like bedding in brake pads


Great question.

For a conical or elliptical stylus, the new stylus contacts the groove in a point. After prolonged wear the horizontal contact surface of the tip elongates, which means high frequencies will not be traced anymore and thus will be "erased" progressively by the diamond.

What you want is a long vertical contact surface and a narrow horizontal contact surface.

I hope my explanation is clear. Cheers.
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Postby JaS » 31 Mar 2010 21:09

In short, yes they do wear out and yes it's audible (and bad). Believe me, if I could get away without buying new styli I would!

This page is worth a read if you get 5 minutes and even has pictures :)

http://www.micrographia.com/projec/proj ... ny0300.htm

Regards,
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Re: Seriously, do styli wear OUT?

Postby keiko5 » 31 Mar 2010 21:17

flavio81 wrote:Great question.

For a conical or elliptical stylus, the new stylus contacts the groove in a point. After prolonged wear the horizontal contact surface of the tip elongates, which means high frequencies will not be traced anymore and thus will be "erased" progressively by the diamond.

What you want is a long vertical contact surface and a narrow horizontal contact surface.

I hope my explanation is clear. Cheers.


That is exactly my question. I visualize that as the long vertical contact line will wear but only until it 's shape is optimal for tracing the groove of the record. and since the high frequency grooves produce the highest pressures on the stylus, it seems reasonable that the stylus would wear into a shape that best accomodates the high frequency grooves. The long vertical contact surface may wear, but only until the contact area is optimized for the shape of the groove.

Which gets me to thinking (ouch!)... if styli wear in to a shape optimized for the shape of the groove most often encountered, should you have one cartridge/stylus to play records that you know have an abundance of high frequency passages, and another for mid-rangey records?

I think I just answered my own question. So the follow up question is, how long can a stylus last before it is "too worn"? I've seen report ranging from 600 hours to several thousand hours.

EDIT: Thanks JaS! That is a very neat and convincing article.
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Postby GTH » 31 Mar 2010 22:57

So the follow up question is, how long can a stylus last before it is "too worn"? I've seen report ranging from 600 hours to several thousand hours.


Start to listen for signs of wear as you approach 2000 hrs of play.
Insert clever phrase here!
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Postby Whitneyville » 01 Apr 2010 04:09

Life expectancy is controlled mostly by two factors. How clean are your records, and how good is the diamond of your stylus? Even diamonds can be polished with softer stones, running them long enough against an abrasive wheel (lap-wheel for jewelers). The Mohs hardness of diamonds ranges from 8 to 10, ten being the hardest crystal on Earth. There are VERY few diamonds that are 10's, and most of those are microscopic and end up being used to "work" both gemstones and industrial diamonds. But even a "10" can be polished with softer diamonds with enough time. Good old dust (mostly silica) is hard enough to wear the stylus in the about 5 mile long groove on each side of an LP. My sister and I wore the diamond stylus off her old Zenith Corba-Matic record player/radio combo I still have. She got it for her 2nd birthday,and I was about 8 when the stylus just was gone from the cartridge(I'm 4 years younger). Now most of our records were 78's, but often I listened to records from 10 AM to 5PM because the TV stations went off in the afternoon! I also listened to the radio by the hour. I still have many of those records too.
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Serously, do styli wear OUT?

Postby Terry Robinson » 01 Apr 2010 05:03

Afternoon all:

It's difficult to add anything more to what has already been posted here, but I tend to think that--given very clean gramophone records, and a sensible playing weight (say less than 2.5 grams)--the suspension on a pickup cartridge will "die" before the needle does.

I have "been thru" quite a few Denon DL-103's and, given the cart's playing weight of about 2.6 grams, the needle probably still had quite a few hours left on it--but the suspension was "gone".

Of course, the type of needle, and the price of the pickup must be taken into consideration, as well. A cheap pickup will have a "fairly ordinary" needle fitted, and its suspension will be fairly ordinary, as well. A very expensive pickup will, on the other hand, have a sophisticated sus-pension and will be fitted with a top-grade diamond needle--this accounts for the high price of these pickup's.

Cheers,

Terry.
C.D.'s are just a passing fad -- gramophones will live forever.
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Postby Ericus Rex » 01 Apr 2010 16:36

What does a dead suspension sound like?

I have a Benz M2 which I've lately noticed is sounding darker than it should (or are my ears hearing darker than they should?...anyway...). I also get more pops than I do with a Grado Black ($60 cartridge!) and get a noticeable warble in pitch with off-center records. Is this a sign that my stylus is worn out? Or my suspension is worn out? Or both? I bought it second hand and have no clue how many hours it has seen.
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Postby Alec124c41 » 02 Apr 2010 02:01

I have an OM40 stylus that drags its a88 on the ground. The suspension has lost almost all structural strength.
The old ADC carts had metal on metal suspensions, that could become mini batteries in humid conditions, and erode.
A few years ago I bought an Ortofon MC200 (cheap) that had apparently spent the previous 20 years in a storage unit. The suspension had hardened, and the sound no bass. A droplet of rubber treatment helped immensely.
And yes, I wore out a Shure stylus almost 40 years ago. The sides were flat, and the angle at the front became a cutting edge...

Cheers,
Alec
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Postby fantasia » 02 Apr 2010 02:20

YES

you can wear them out and as above the cleanliness of your vinyl is very important, as is the wear on your stylus I bought an AT311E a clone of the at12
it was fitted with an at12S stylus, which you could hear instantly was worn!!!!!!!

when i replaced the worn stylus with a new one, dramatic sound quality improvement!!!!!!!

I barely played one side of an old unimportant LP and put something Different back on the rega RB-300. It sounds lovely now!!!! i change carts often so i can't tell how many hours it has at the moment.

I would guess 600 hours i would start checking!!!! this is difficult these days as inspection microscopes aren't around much and owning a good one isn't cheap!!!!

I have to confess i do it by ear!!!!! I would hazard 600-800 for conical elliptical stylii

more at least 1000 may be 1000+ - for the more exotic Line contact types.

Iam under going a project to re arm all my cartridges the MM ones with new stylii for a rainy day. Because, stylii will get hard to obtain.

regards

Fantasia :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
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Postby banerjba » 02 Apr 2010 03:21

My records are all bought new or in mint condition. They get a dry clean before each play. Some have been wet cleaned as needed. I have never really worn out a stylus that I could hear.

I have records from my youth 30 years ago when I had a Panasonic music centre with budget AT cartridge. I used it heavily for 6 years before changing the stylus (think 6,000 hours or more). I still have my records from that time and they still sound fine. Mind you, even as a kid I cleaned my LPs before playing. and used good sleeves. Stylus brushes are good things too.

I have cartridges that are nearly twenty years old and the only failures I have ever had were cantilevers. That said, at 1,000 hours, I change stylus or usually just buy another cartridge since they usually do not cost much more.

My 1992 vintage Sumiko Blue Point has 3,000 hours on it and still sounds fine.
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Postby Whitneyville » 02 Apr 2010 05:40

'Banger, most of my LP's are not even in good condition. They've been picked-up at yard and garage sales, usually in filthy condition. I clean them thourghly before "auditioning" them to see if they are "keepers", "maybes", or skeet targets, and there seems to be little rhyme or reason to which ones are the best. My sister and I always used a Zenith brand record cleaning cloth before playing our records, but 78's seem to always have lots of dust in the grooves, as there are far fewer safe liquid cleaners for them. My greatest "find" was a complete set of 45 RPM 12" RCA Victor "Red Label" recordings of Beethoven's piano concertos. The carboard "case" was filthy, but the EP's were pristine. I rather like the 12" 45 EP's sound quality. I've forgotten the artist right now, but they were recorded in Italy (before Van Cliburn). The "resonace" of the piano strings is very obvious on these recordings, and I'd bet it's a Snable piano (I've played one.) It has a "German" sound to it- slightly "sparkely" in the upper registers. My "junque-yard" LP's are why I'm saving for a VHP record cleaner. I've spent over an hour cleaning a "skeet bird". :roll:
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Re: Seriously, do styli wear OUT?

Postby andyr » 02 Apr 2010 13:01

keiko5 wrote:
I did a search and didn't come up with anything, so I apologize if this has been discussed before. Does the actual diamond stylus wear out?

Who has actually worn out a stylus from playing records?

Kevin



Hi Kevin,

Sorry, I scanned quickly through these posts but not deeply.

Dear God ... does the stylus wear out? :shock: Yes, it does ... why would you think it doesn't? "Diamonds are forever" is the name of an Ian Fleming "Bond" novel and the film of the same name ... not the actual truth about diamonds. :)

But the trouble is, if you use it to the point that it is "worn out" - and can hear it ... you will have done damage to your LPs, as the chisel-edges formed on each side of the diamond from the wear, will have started to shear off the HF undulations.

So I for one, have certainly never "worn out a diamond". :D

So the issue becomes ... how many hours does the diamond last before it is approaching a "chisel-edge"? :?

Different stylus shapes have different lives ... and differently priced cartridges have different quality diamonds - which last a different number of hours. So what I suggest you need to do is:

* use a 'click counter' to count the number of sides you play. Treat each side as 1/3hr and then you get the number of hours.

* then you need to decide whether your stylus is a '600-hr diamond' or a '2,000-hr diamond'. As a rough guide, I guess you could go with the cost of the cartridge. If it's $500, you have a 600-hr diamond; if it's $5,000, you have a 2,000-hr diamond. I believe there are some cartridges which last up to 3,000 hrs ... but I'm not sure which ones these are.

I am treating my Benz Ebony LP as a 2,000-hr diamond.

And BTW, every one of my LPs is treated with my Nitty Gritty (so they're clean). LPs bought used are treated twice before I play them. :)

Regards,

Andy
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Postby fscl » 02 Apr 2010 14:45

Check out this thread:

http://www.vinylengine.com/phpBB2/viewt ... sc&start=0

Though a discussion on stylus shapes, there are insights into stylus life.... wear. I missed this the first time around.

Fred and bought a kidde micro$cope to try to see but still wondering because what I thought was worn out from time of use seem to be OK visually? :-k ](*,) and continue to sound OK....?
Music is Everything....Except Predictable....WFUV Fan.
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Re: Seriously, do styli wear OUT?

Postby keiko5 » 02 Apr 2010 16:39

andyr wrote:Dear God ... does the stylus wear out? :shock: Yes, it does ... why would you think it doesn't? "Diamonds are forever" is the name of an Ian Fleming "Bond" novel and the film of the same name ... not the actual truth about diamonds. :)

But the trouble is, if you use it to the point that it is "worn out" - and can hear it ... you will have done damage to your LPs, as the chisel-edges formed on each side of the diamond from the wear, will have started to shear off the HF undulations.


But a stylus doesn't "all of a sudden" achieve a chisel-edge and start grinding away the vinyl. I envision the stylus as being slowly lapped by the various radii it encounters as it weaves its way through the groove. And the lapping process would produces radiuses and not chisel edges. I can see where chipping and breaking of the diamond would occur suddenly, and if this is the basis of most stylus wear then so be it.

I am not trying to be contrary, I'm just trying to visualize what is happening to a stylus as it surfs the record waves. Thanks for the thoughtful discussion.

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