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Stylus lifespan

Discussion in 'audio' started by Frankiesays, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. Frankiesays

    Frankiesays Rats is life.

    How often do you replace yours? I use Nagaoka MP200, replacement styli only around a 100 notes direct from Japan, so I just bin it yearly, remember 'a worn stylus can damage records', at only £2 p/w who's to argue?
  2. linnfomaniac83

    linnfomaniac83 I bet you can’t wheelie a unicycle!

    Vinyl isn’t my main source and hasn’t been for some years, I stream 70% of my music now... however I rarely keep a cartridge for more than about three years, they still have plenty of life at that point. The only time I’ve ever suspected one worn is recently with a 2M blue... I bought it new and didn’t think it had seen much use but it sounds off, I’m going to take it to my dealer for a proper cleaning and check over.
  3. Frankiesays

    Frankiesays Rats is life.

    It depends how often you use it, I play vinyl for a few hours most days, for some its only a few hours per week.
    linnfomaniac83 likes this.
  4. linnfomaniac83

    linnfomaniac83 I bet you can’t wheelie a unicycle!

    Yes, I’d say it’s wise to change it annually then. As you say, £2 per week is nothing for something you enjoy and for the peace of mind.
    leroyd and Frankiesays like this.
  5. Frankiesays

    Frankiesays Rats is life.

    Anybody else ?
  6. ToTo Man

    ToTo Man the band not the dog

    I've had mine for 14 years and have only put about 200 hrs on it! It's an ML and rated for 1000 hrs so should in theory last me another 56 years! :D Whether the rubber suspension will still be up to its job is another matter. In fact it's been about 3 years since I last spun an LP so it could be knackered now for all I know!
    myles and Frankiesays like this.
  7. early

    early pfm Member

    I am very skeptical about stylus lifespans , I can't say I have ever worn one out and vinyl is my main source . Suspension faults , cackhandedness or boredom normally dictate a carts demise for me .
  8. Darth Vader

    Darth Vader From the Dark Side

    I have an MC cart so it has to be sent away for a new stylus. DV will exchange my cart for a new one for £2996 so er um at that price plus all the kerr fuffle with setting up a uni pivot arm I'll wait awhile. As others have done I mainly use ripped files into a DAC and only play vinyl occasionally where necessary and then stand back amazed.


  9. barryb

    barryb pfm Member

    Between 500 and 1000 hours depending on the cut and some other variables. There's a long running thread over on Hoffman with research detailing same.
  10. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    I am pretty much convinced that I'd never be conscious of any effect of wear - I'd obviously hear it, but I would not be aware of it, it is far too gradual. For me, the only way to judge would be to compare to another cart', ideally the same flavour.
    Thorn likes this.
  11. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    The answer probably depends on factors you generally don't know like compliance, tip mass, etc, as well as playing downforce. So varies from one design to another. I've used the same Shure V15/III styli for decades. Checked them occasionally, and still fine. But I have no idea how modern carts would compare as no-one publishes the relevant data on them. Being a skeptical enjineer I tend to assume that for this "no news is bad news" so fear the worst, but that's just my pananoia, not data. :)

    Bottom line then is as commented above: if in doubt and the cost is acceptable, replace at a suitable interval of time or playings, ideally as recommened by a maker, or by a checkup.
  12. davidsrsb

    davidsrsb pfm Member

    I always get rubber collapse or cantelever corroded before tip wear gets far.
    Tropical climate.
  13. Craig B

    Craig B Re:trophile

    The first bona fide scientific research into styli life was published by Harold D Weiler, entitled 'The Wear and Care of Records and Styli' in 1954. One micron R spherical tips (at ~7g VTF!) for mono LP replay may have been state of the art at the time, however, the same rules of physics apply.

    Shure's 'High Fidelity Phonograph Cartridge - Technical Seminar' from 1978 should also be considered as required reading. Shure were the leaders, where others would follow, when it came to research.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
    myles and Frankiesays like this.
  14. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    Thanks for that! :) The Shure references may be duplicated in AES journals, but even if they are, that page is a good source for everyone. The Weiler item seems to require a 'partner' to access it.

    I think Stan Kelly, Watts, and Walton may also cover this area, but again may be hard to find on the web.

    I tended to adopt the Shure argument which boils down to: Low tip mass and high compliance means lower forces, and thus lower wear and a longer useful life. Hence my irritation that almost no-one these days takes any interest in measurements of tip mass and compliance. We are left with playing force and max tracable levels as a surrogate.
  15. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    I do, honestly, wish that my maths was up to all the factors involved in a tonearm/cart' design and set-up.

    For those who are interested, (effective) tip mass is regarded as the mass at the stylus, which would have the same (moment of) inertia as the moving parts of the cart' considered as if one part. High numbers mean a reluctance to move from a stationary position or state of stable/constant velocity. See here - - typical figures quoted are around 0.5mg
    By similar logic, tonearm effective mass is the mass which, at the stylus, would have the same moment of inertia as the entire tonearm. See here -

    If you can get your mind round some of this, it makes a nonsense of some of the claims about tonearm counter-weights in particular. (Higher weight means lower moment of inertia, so more easily moved).

    As tonearm effective mass is so much greater than tip effective mass (grammes v. milligrammes - a factor of 1000), the cantilever assembly is always going to work far harder than the tonearm, so the stylus follows the groove, the tonearm does not.
  16. Big Tabs

    Big Tabs “telling it like it isn’t...”

    'How often do I change my stylus?


    I have a spare stylus (100 anni. cheaper option) but the original is still sounding okay, and looks okay via USB microscope. Can't remember when I got the cart. but approx. a year and a bit???

    (ortofon 2m black)

    I will find out one day.
  17. sq225917

    sq225917 Bit of this, bit of that

    Benz lp, sat on shelf unopened for three years I bought it six years ago. Only gets maybe 50 hours a year, still sounds fine
  18. Craig B

    Craig B Re:trophile

    You are welcome Jim!

    Weiler is in the public domain...
  19. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    I do have scans of a copy of Walton's book which was done for the UKHHSoc. However because it remains in copyright I can't make it freely available and I have no idea who owns the rights, so we can't ask! Example of how copyright can become a PITA for making useful data available.
  20. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    never less than 1000 hours unless it's damaged, and being an MC user, it's new cartridge time then. Luckily I only play 3 or 4 hours a week so, every 5 or 6 years ish...oh except I have two carts which I swap about so maybe every 10 years?
    Yup..maybe 3 or 4 pounds a week?

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