Digital microscope recommendations

I'm at a point where I am concerned about the wear and tear on my Lyra Delos, and would like to check its condition through a microscope. Does anyone have a brand/model they can recommend at a reasonable price? Also, what am I looking for? Is any possible damage so obvious it doesn't need an explanation?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
On recommendation from MF I got the Dinolite 320 which includes measuring software so one can accurately set RTA - could not be happier, got the matching stand too - a MUST - also to get close enough one needs to remove the clear plastic shell on the front of the microscope - VERY VERY carefully - after that it works great.

I bought mine on Amazon about $300 with everything - well worth it - considering the price of the gear it's used upon.


Sorry its a model AM313 not 320

Pbnaudio...what is RTA? I've never heard of that. There is VTA and SRA. Fremer is a big fan of SRA (Stylus Rake Angle).
I was hoping for something much cheaper than $300, but it's good to know this particular model has proven reliable.

Also, what is it that I'm supposed to be looking for? Is wear and tear obvious when examining a stylus up-close?

Above gives some indication on what to look for - but google it yourself and explore

MoFi -Work with me here - Real Tracking Angle :-) a combination of SRA and VTA my inability to type made it up :-)

All in good fun


Works for me :-)
The website linked has a lot of great info. Thank you.
Now if only all the cutter heads used the same cutting angle we would be all set (they don't).
By far the best most reasonable priced one I know and that I used nearly every day is this.
How much did you pay for it? For some reason, seller sites do not list the price for this particular model. Thanks.
Some models are $150 and they go on up. The one that I use is $550 and it's used in a lab.
Nice. Thank you for the info.
Thanks for that URL, Pbnaudio. It partially answers one burning question: how much magnification is "enough" for examination and photographing of styli. One set of photos on the page specify 80X, to get a pretty good side view of a stylus. In another set they used 200X to get a very close up view of the working surface of the stylus tip. This tells me that anything more is superfluous. Does anyone disagree?


Have you used the digital microscope to peer down into the record grooves yet? Let us know what you see in the groones. It would be interesting to hear what you see if you did a before and after cleaning view of the record grooves.
The Supereyes B008 scope was suggested by Mike of Continuum in a thread on another site. It is 500X with led illumination. I bought one from a HK vendor for $80. It will arrive sometime next week.

This scope comes with MB Ruler, which you can also get for free on the net. Mike uses it to measure SRA as part of the mounting process, or so it was said in the thread I read. Of course, I am sure listening is the final step.

Many of the stands for these scopes are cheaply made and too flimsey. Dino makes a good one for $43. The scope I bought was without stand but I already have one.

Looking forward to examining my carts and mount!
This microscope looks very promising and it costs a fraction of what a comparable Dino-Lite would cost. Please share your experience once you've used it. Thanks!
Per your request Actusreus, here is a photo I took last night:

Guess the stylus design .......

It is a new JICO SAS that is mounted on my old Shure V15 Type III cart. This cart is not in use as my MC Sigma Genesis 2000 is getting all the playing time.

I received the Supereyes scope in the mail yesterday. Gamma was reduced for black background. I used a glass coffee table and one extra led "book" light. Magnification is about 250X as I was over a half inch from stylus - closer gives higher magnification.

In the next few days, I'll be using the measuring feature to determine SRA for my Sigma cart. Mike at Continuum uses a glass disk to rest the cart (mounted on tonearm). This gives better light distribution.

The Supereyes scope is like a large Mount Blanc pen. It is smaller in diameter than the Dinos I have seen, about a three-quarters inch in diameter. You need a mounting platform for these things as dialing in focus is tricky. I have an old flexible lamp that I converted for use - the rigidity was very helpful. Used hose clamps to hold the scope on the platform.
Many thanks this is most useful.Do share your experience of measuring SRA.If its not tooo complicated, I intend to join the SRA club !
Actusreus and Sonnyboy here are my results with this scope.

First, if you are going to check your mounted stylus make sure your watch is off, you are not wearing a long sleeve shirt, there are no pets near, and you will not be distracted. This is difficult work with a high cost for failure.

I used a rectangular piece of glass on top of the platter as the platform for the stylus. The Supereyes scope was right up to the glass, giving almost 400x. I took about 20 photos using the Supereyes software, all with different lighting or scope position. (Remember to make sure antiskate is not on by the way.)

Here is an unzoomed photo that gives a good edge of glass reference for the MB-Ruler software:

I then zoomed this image to

Note the unusual angle of the front facet (facet 33). The back facet is the one I measured (facet 39). The stylus appears to be a Fritz Geiger like design sold by Soundsmith (i.e. optimized contour).

With this stylus design, Wally's approach I do not think is appropriate. Using facet 39 for SRA, I got 91.77 degrees. The patent suggests 90 degrees but I get better music closer to 92 degrees.

Measuring this was difficult because of the stylus type. If you have an A90 or other fritz design stylus, I can help you with the technique. Otherwise, I think most stylii would be easier like the ones in Wally's and MF's posts/articles.

Sonnyboy: Given MF's article about your stylus SRA from the factory, you should probably do this just to ensure you are not dealing with an unusual situation requiring a huge VTA adjustment.

Whew, it has been a long day.
Thank you very much for posting your feedback and pictures. Sounds like the product is a winner for the price. Btw, I appears it should have come with a stand included in the price so perhaps you should inquire with the seller about it.

Jragsda, Do you know if this microscope will work on an Mac? The manual only mentions Microsoft operating systems.
Peterauer - only works on Win 7, Vista, and XP. If you have virtual windows in Mac environment, it should work according to my IT guy.

Actusrens - I paid $73.95 plus $6 shipping. No stand at that price. I suspect, but do not know, it is same up/down stand sold with other models; not useful for our purposes. Given the scope's small diameter, you may have to wrap it to fit in the $43 Dino stand which articulates like my adustable lamp improvisation.
Just saw this stand at the site suggested by Actusreus:

This is by far the lowest price 360 degree stand for usb microscopes I have seen. I will certainly buy one.
Hi Lew, **In another set they used 200X to get a very close up view of the working surface of the stylus tip. This tells me that anything more is superfluous. Does anyone disagree?**

I used to examine styli professionally with an Audio Technica microscope designed for that purpose. Magnification was 100, 300, and 500X. 200X might be adequate for most styli, but some of the micro - extended contact types, like microridge are very small. I'd think you would need at least 400X. USB scopes are not really designed for stylus wear examination. You need 2 high intensity lights to illuminate the sides of the stylus. Wear is determined by the light reflecting off the sides. When a stylus is new, you only see a dot of light. As it wears that dot spreads into a larger area. That larger area is flat, and reflects the light.

A picture chart came with the scope that showed the different types and examples of wear. 100X is useful for checking for cracks, chips and general condition. I know the old Shure scopes were 200X. I believe these were made before micro type styli were invented. You can see how small the picture is in the link. A micro type is much smaller and it becomes impossible to evaluate wear.
Guys, would this supereyes b008 scope be also good for record examination or one has to go stereo? I go crazy trying to identify problems with some records, a scope would help.

Check out They have a whole range for a fraction of the cost. Have ordered a sub $10 model. There is a $30 model that looks pretty much like the $300 models !!
Thanks! They actually have superyes for $75 and nice looking but cheap stands. Still, I'm wwondering if nybody tried examining winyl surface with it?
Fleib, Thank you very much for your informative review. I also found that 2MP USB scopes really can´t see micrometers, and it´s even almost impossible to see a sharp pic of a stylus at 200X because the pixels themselves become visible. Depth of field is problematic with high magnification anyway.
So a real stereo microscope, e.g. an Atala BYO-500T with 400X and 1000X is the solution for me to study Micro-Ridge´s and Shibata´s wear.
Anyone try this one?

Portable USB 2.0 CMOS 2.0MP 400X Digital Microscope with 8-LED Illumination

Sbrownnw, I just purchased one of those. Depending on the advertisement they claim up to 800x magnification. Full magnification requires pulling the clear plastic barrel off to get close enough to focus. It provides a good overall image of the stylus, but is insufficient to detect subtle degrees of stylus wear. The view might be improved with an external LED backlight. I am tempted to work on lighting before upgrading to a better microscope.
Two things seem to be discussed here: checking for stylus wear and checking for SRA angle. These are very distinct applications and may need different instruments. I think an inexpensive USB microscrope can be used for SRA but not really for stylus wear. At least that is my experience.
I don't think you need a stationary microscope to check for stylus wear. I certainly don't want to dismount my cartridge to check for wear. Many of the Dino-Lite microscopes will serve both purposed just fine.