Cartridge care

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Holy Zoo, Jan 21, 2002.

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  1. Holy Zoo

    Holy Zoo Gort (Retired) :-) Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Cruz
    Returning to vinyl after many years, I realize that there are many things I never learned - just fumbled my way through or didn't care enough and probably thrashed my vinyl/stylus in the process.

    So... I'm coming to y'all for knowledge & advice.

    Question number 1:

    My new turntable doesn't have an auto-return, like the turntables of the 70's that I'm used to. Therefore, when the record runs out, the needle "loops" in the outter groove, with a "click" per revolution when the grooves meet.

    My question is: does it hurt the stylus to "spin in the groove" for a little bit (say, 30 seconds). Or, should I be up and ready to catch it before it goes all the way out?

    Indeed, just for my knowledge: if I fall asleep listening to a record, what happens if the stylus spins in the outter groove for, say, an hour? Is the stylus toast?

    Question number 2:

    How long does a stylus typically last? 1000 hours? 10,000 hours? Indeterminite?

    Question number 3:
    How can I tell when my stylus is toast? Are there any warning signs (sounds) that it's nearing the end of it's life?

    Question number 4:
    Can playing my records with a worn stylus (a stylus that's nearing the end of it's life) harm the vinyl?


    Ok... that's all for now! I appreciate any & all responses!
     
  2. Claus

    Claus Senior Member

    Location:
    Germany
     
  3. Patrick M

    Patrick M Subgenius

    Location:
    US
    Absolutely.
     
  4. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    As far as falling asleep listening to vinyl, there is an invention used called the Stylift. It's a weighted trap lift that activates when the arm gets too close to the label. It picks up the arm away from the record without much to modify your turntable.

    There's a few caviats, like the fact you have to remind yourself to "cock" the device back each time, and sometimes, no matter how good you are in positioning the little aluminum device, the "trap" picks the arm off quite quickly, and the "tink-THOOOMMP" will make you jump 4' off your sofa from a dead sleep.

    I totally forgot who made this wonder of modern arm-lifting, but it's swiss made. Check audioasylum, as they'll tell you basically what I said, I betcha.
     
  5. Grant

    Grant Senior Member

    Location:
    United States
    I once read that a cartridge should be replaced every five years tops, and to not just change the stylus.
     
  6. Holy Zoo

    Holy Zoo Gort (Retired) :-) Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Cruz
    Sckott - thanks for the Stylift tip. I poked around aa, and found something similiar here. Wish they had online ordering though :(

    Grant - do you know what happens to the cartridge that breaks down? I mean, it's pretty intuitive that the stylus wears out, but what breaks down inside the cart?

    jeff

    p.s. thanks, everyone, for your responses!
     
  7. Patrick M

    Patrick M Subgenius

    Location:
    US
    I'm not Grant, but I believe the answer is: the suspension.
     
  8. Grant

    Grant Senior Member

    Location:
    United States
    I'm not Patrtck but from what I recall it has something to do with oxidation of the springs or coils. They harden and reduce the vibration.
     
  9. Todd Fredericks

    Todd Fredericks Senior Member

    Location:
    A New Yorker
    Here are some of my answers...

    1. The run-out groove should not harm your stylus more than any other part of the record. It's just a continuous groove (usually with no info unless it's 'Sgt. Pepper' or some other clever albums/Jeff Lynne's 'Armchair Theatre' has a jingly bell run-out). You should remove the stylus from the groove in a timely fashion (don't run and trip on any furniture) because why add aditional play/wear time (save your cart's precious lifespan for some good Otis redding records).

    2. There are many factors to consider on how long a cart will last (anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 hours/depending on brand and quality). The best ways to hopefully get the best chance of a long healthy cart life (long live the cart) is to make sure it's set-up correctly (protractor/VTF/VTA/bias/no dimes taped on to help with dodgy tracking/get a test record/etc.), use a good stylus cleaner (avoid anything with alcohol/go with reputable brands/do some research/try to clean before every session/some people clean after every side/I use Disc Doctor stylus cleaner before every session then a small brush after every side/no complaints), be aware of dust (especially creeping into the suspension), avoid worn/scratched/dirty records (stick with VG-M records and keep them clean/you can play well-loved Beatle records but you're taking a risk) and finally, no DJ-back/forth scratching (as tempting as it can be, control thyself). The cart should last to it's fullest potential. All carts are different and have different lifespans. Some can wear out pre-maturely (**** happens).

    3. There are several ways to tell or suspect that a stylus or cart should be replaced. The best way is with a microscope (I have no f@##ing idea how to do this but a good dealer and a lot of clever people do). Other ways are increasing distortion (hey, the cart is clean and record is mint but what gives?), poorer tracking, a lessening in dynamics, big chips of vinyl flying everywhere fast as the rusty stylus carves through the record like a skate on ice (ouch!). Also, if the cantilever ever gets bent (even slightly), replace the cart.

    4. A damaged stylus will damage the grooves (forever). I'm sure you've heard some groove-damaged used albums were the music just distorts (usually towards the end of a side). The previous own had a damage cart (and/or incorrectly set-up one/etc.). I know some people who use a log to gauge the accurate hours of use with their cart (me never). I usually am aware of what my listening habits are (hours per day/vacations/cd listening/turn off the music and play the guitar/etc.) and do some pretty good estimates of much time has been put on the cart (I'll maybe think about it once a year or so for peace of mind/I have too many other things on my mind already/etc.). Some people are aware of how many records they play a day (a records is usually 35-45 minutes in length, so don't add extra milage in thinking CD lengths/etc.).

    Anyway, I hope this helps...

    Todd
     
  10. Patrick M

    Patrick M Subgenius

    Location:
    US
    Follow-up:

    The suspension on a MC cartridge.

    The suspension on a MM will get replaced with the stylus, so it's N/A.

    I've been using the same MM cart (with styli replacements) for 7 years, and I know someone who has been using a Denon MM cart for 13 years. YMMV.
     
  11. Richard Feirstein

    Richard Feirstein New Member

    Location:
    Albany, NY
    I have a top of the line Shure cartridge. My daughter when very young broke the poor tip off the thing. I was lost until I saw that Shure was back making replacement parts. It was very expensive at retail. I called Shure and they said to send in the broken part and they would replace it for a nominal cost. Great American company. (I don't know if they still perform that service but I would not be surprised if they do, unadvertised by the way). We should make a list of other companies that go out of their way to serve the public with Customer Service that goes way beyond what is expected or required. (I wish Sony was on that list, they were at one time).:D
     
  12. Andy

    Andy New Member

    Sorta off the subject a bit. But is there any reason to think the stylus of a $10K Clearaudio cartridge does less damage to a record than say whatever the cartridge is included with the Music Hall MMF7?
     
  13. Paul Chang

    Paul Chang Forum Old Boy, Former Senior Member Has-Been

    The thing with the lead-out groove is that the last groove is a loop. The groove gets heated up as the stylus plays through it. If you let it loop then the stylus will rip up vinyl from the heated groove, which gets stuck on the stylus. This is the same reason that repeated playing of a favorite track results in damaged grooves.

    I have a Express Machining (now Expressimo http://www.expressimoaudio.com/ - Audio Division of the aforementioned; based in Eureka, CA) "The Lift" installed on my turntable. As recommended by the manufacturer, I used clear silicon adhesive to "glue" it to the plinth. It took some time to find the right spot. Some may not want to stick a Lift on his super expensive table with super glossy finish but since mine is not that pricey I'm not troubled by it.

    At times the swivel shaft gets stuck when it is supposed to lift the tone arm. I think it is partly caused by the design itself but it can be easily corrected by lubricating the pivot joint. (I use the WD-40 with the red straw. Be careful not to spray it onto the turntable.) Adjusting the weight may help slightly but you don't want to overdo it otherwise The Lift will launch your toneare sky high.
     
  14. Andy

    Andy New Member

    Gonna have to try one of those things.
     
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