Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

the thin end of the wedge
SuperRA
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Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by SuperRA » 05 Aug 2014 08:34

Under a microscope of course. I just ask because I don't know the history of some needles that were on my family's old TTs. It is likely that it wasn't used too much and since these needles are hard to come by (old stanton), might as well use them up if they still have life. I just need to know what to look for.

Thanks.

elmopio
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Re: Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by elmopio » 05 Aug 2014 12:47

SuperRA wrote:Under a microscope of course. I just ask because I don't know the history of some needles that were on my family's old TTs. It is likely that it wasn't used too much and since these needles are hard to come by (old stanton), might as well use them up if they still have life. I just need to know what to look for.

Thanks.
Older stylus usually hold up better from my experience. Some may say 200 to 300 hours is proper before damage happens on your Lp's. But its up to you. If you have a microscope great way to look. if not you can buy a decent one on Amazon for less then 40usd. Here some shots of my Pickering XV-15 with a original 625E
WP_20140805_001 1.jpg
Pickering XV-15 with original 625E stylus
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625E After cleaning.jpg
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Some say it need to be changed but I love the way she sounds compared to the replacement. And here is a shot of a replacement stylus
Replacement 625E.jpg
Replacement 625E
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I purchased on the cheap. And you can tell after listening to it. But I am not in the mood to break in yet.

Tinkaroo
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Re: Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by Tinkaroo » 05 Aug 2014 12:54

Did you use a macro lens for that close up shot, and if so what make and specs?

elmopio
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Re: Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by elmopio » 05 Aug 2014 13:05

Tinkaroo wrote:Did you use a macro lens for that close up shot, and if so what make and specs?
2MP,10x-50x Optical Zoom, 200x Digital Magnification. I didnt I am using a Digital microscope. http://amzn.to/1y1buS9 I love this tool.

Tinkaroo
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Re: Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by Tinkaroo » 05 Aug 2014 13:14

elmopio wrote:
Tinkaroo wrote:Did you use a macro lens for that close up shot, and if so what make and specs?
I dont know if you are asking me or him but I didnt I am using a Digital microscope. http://amzn.to/1y1buS9
I've never seen one of those before. It looks like it takes pretty good photos.

I have a Sony 100mm f2.8 and a 50mm macro.

I also have a Pickering XV-15 that I'm looking for a decent aftermarket stylus for. When I bought it, it had an aftermarket that was the wrong one for the cartridge.

I think that if a stylus is well cared for and used on good condition, clean records you should be able to exceed those hours of use figures. They also want to sell new styli, so they probably erred in their favor on the numbers.

dtmarc
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Re: Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by dtmarc » 05 Aug 2014 13:26

Hello,

you can of course check the status of the stylus with a microscope, but this does not guarantee you that the cartridge is in good condition.
The suspension ( rubber suspension blok ) may be affected, dry or collapsed.
If the stylus looks good, stands cartidge and listening.
If it crashes on the disc or seems closed flat without dynamic, the suspension is probably dead.

SuperRA
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Re: Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by SuperRA » 05 Aug 2014 16:33

Thanks for showing the cool pics. So I take it if the suspension is good, a sharp looking tip means it still has life and as it nears the end of it's life it will start to dull out and round off?

Doug G.
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Re: Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by Doug G. » 05 Aug 2014 19:21

The pictures included in this thread really aren't useful for determining stylus wear as the wear facets are extremely small and involve just the very tip of the stylus.

Read this thread from Audio Karma to see what is involved in successful visual detemination of stylus wear:

http://audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?t=225960

Doug

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Re: Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by lensmanMK2 » 05 Aug 2014 22:24

with doug on that one..

i wasnt a happy camper after getting a decent microscope+ proper illumination with 2 LED torches.

iluminating it is,and slightly trouser browning when you realize how many sides youve played with a chisel.

BTW ive got one of those scopes,they manage about 50x optical and the software can zoom to 200x,in other words if you zoom you'll get a pixellated mess. 200x is enough to see large plant cells and amoebas!havent seen any with mine..very handy bit of kit for the money though.

if you want to go digital check out the intel QX3;its not as good as a "real" microscope but it can give enough resolution at 200x to detect stylus wear.

Doug G.
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Re: Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by Doug G. » 05 Aug 2014 23:15

And please don't take my comment as insulting. It's just that seeing stylus wear is very exacting and anything less than 200X power won't cut it.

Lesser power is good for seeing if the stylus is basically intact and clean but to see actual wear, you have to get down to the nitty-gritty. Almost any stylus will look nice and pointy at 50X power.

BTW, the author of the thread I linked was Gerald Shaver (Karma16, Sparky) who, sadly, passed away a year ago in May. He could be a little abrasive but boy did he know records and playing them. Actually, I think the source of his rubbing people the wrong way, sometimes, was his impatience with enthusiasts going off on a wrong path and being disappointed. He wanted everyone to enjoy playing records to the maximum they could.

Doug

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Re: Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by analogaudio » 05 Aug 2014 23:38

Sorry to be discouraging but I agree with Doug, those shots above show that there is a stylus, no more, the wear patch is too small to be seen at this magnification. The right tool for the job is the Shure stylus microscope giving 200x magnification that included the side lights needed to see the wear patches, they change hands on ebay for a few hundred, but are rarely seen.

For a couple of hundred you can buy a new Chinese microscope with 10x objective and 20x eyepiece but you will need to rig up your own side lights, some small LED flashlights are suitable. The Shure is neat because the eyepiece is a zoom type, you can center the stylus image in the objective and then zoom in to see the detail. It can be done with a new microscope for a few hundred dollars and some ingenuity with lighting. The microscope needs adjustable mechanical stages in two directions so the stylus is centred precisely in the field of view.

something like this might be suitable

http://www.amscope.com/microscopes/40x- ... stage.html

although a 20x eyepiece option would be better, and it needs side lighting from above on both sides.


Try a search online for stylus microscope images, find out something about how wear patches appear.

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Re: Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by spittenkittens » 05 Aug 2014 23:49

I was lucky enough to find a solid college level microscope in the box unopened in a thrift store years aback for $20.00. I use it in full sun light to check stylus and even then it is not easy. The best way is to change it once a year. Keep the old one just in case one gets damaged etc. You will need a replacement sometime and they don't generally get any cheaper. I buy spares when I can afford them and have them safely stored for the future. I would guess you will hear when a stylus is worn but by then you might have already done damage.
I play my records at least 2 hours a day, so once a year would not be to soon. 1000 hours is what most company's tell you on average.

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Re: Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by analogaudio » 06 Aug 2014 00:23

PS once upon a time the local record store, where they also sold replacement styli, had a stylus microscope right there in the store and checked the wear for you, that's what the Shure (model SEK I think it was) was made for, to use alongside Shure replacement styli in the store.

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Re: Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by spittenkittens » 06 Aug 2014 00:37

I remember those days, our local Lafayette electronics store had one as well. They would probably still there as raelco(new name, same great stuff) and would check it if they have the tools. They still sold stylus when I left salt lake city 13 years ago.

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Re: Is there a way to visually check if a needle is good?

Post by analogaudio » 07 Aug 2014 23:58

the real deal has shown up on ebay, a Shure SEK-2 stylus microscope, complete with illumination system, cover and manual, in mint condition, not often seen!

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Shure-SEK2-Styl ... 1429001519

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