Help with stylus cleaning
Perreaux SVX1 phono preamp
Musical Fidelity A3cr dual mono preamp
Denon DP-47f turntable
Ortofon Samba low output MC cartridge
Odyssey Audio Stratus Plus SS amp
Cambridge Audio Azur 740C CD player
Albert Von Schweikert VR-4 loudspeakers
Panamaxz 5000 line conditioner
One option that bypasses stylus cleaning fluids/brushes is the Onzow Zerodust stylus cleaner: http://www.elusivedisc.com/prodinfo.asp?number=ZERODUST
In case you are wondering what the Magic Eraser is, here it is :
Slice off a small section of the eraser and place it on the platter ( maybe tape the platter so it wont move on you ) and slowly lower the arm / cartridge onto the Magic Eraser. This will clean the stylus. Repeat a few times.
When finished place back inside the box or a zip lock bag. One small section or the whole box will last you for a very long time.
I too use the MoFi LP # 9 stylus cleaner. (I typically put the fluid on the brush, rather than directly on the stylus, to prevent it from getting onto the cantilever and possibly working its way up to the cartridge inards.)
One thing though: if you're getting that much dust on your stylus, that is an indication that your records need to be cleaned. I HIGHLY recommend that you get a vacuum record cleaning machine so you can wet clean and dry your records. Then you'll find your stylus will stay quite a bit cleaner, and your records will sound better and last longer.
My two cents worth anyway.
Ever since Doug Deacon introduced us to the ME, that's it! (followed by a 'touch' in the Onzow or a flick w/ a camel hair brush to remove any debris from the ME) The ME will remove stuff that nothing else will (confirmed w/ high-power pocket scope) -- even 'burned-on' vinyl solvents and mold release compounds from brand new records! In addition, the ME will clean out that little place between the cantilever and the back of the stylus where dirt gets jammed. All my other stylus cleaning implements (wet, ultrasonic, stiff stylus brush, etc.) have long since migrated to the back of the drawer. Here are some tips for using/preparing ME FWIW ;--)
1. Having CONTROL around a stylus is most important. To make a convenient and versatile tool, cut a 3/4" x 3/4" x 1-1/4" piece of ME.
2. Use a wood shrimp skewer or large toothpick to poke a small hole lengthwise halfway through the piece of ME. (Don't use an icepick or awl; the hole will be too big ;--)
3. You can now glue a handle into the piece of ME. A stiff but flexible plastic swizzle stick is best. The wood shrimp skewer is OK too. Coffee swizzles can break over unexpectedly. Apply a bit of super glue to about 1/4" of one end, and quickly insert into the hole in the ME with a single twist (don't twist back and forth or the glue will dry before you get the stick in ;--)
1. I don't like the 'dip' method, for either the ME or the Onzow (too many unrestrained elements involved ;--) If your tonearm rest has a clip that prevents upward movement of the arm, that's best. Otherwise, use a twist tie to hold the arm wand to the arm rest (yes, it's a p.i.t.a., but still preferrable to 'dipping'.)
2. Crack open the volume just a bit so you can 'hear' what you're doing!
3. Use BOTH hands, at least 'til you've had a little practice. Hold the 'handle' in your left and steady your left hand with your right hand. Lift the ME 'cube' straight up to the stylus and straight back down again. You will have no problem 'hearing' the the ME make contact with the stylus. Then, when you lower the ME, you will also hear a slight pop or tick, because the ME fibers actually 'grab' the stylus -- that's why it works so well. Do not pull the tool sideways or forward as you lower it away from the stylus (as previously when using a stiff stylus brush.) It won't clean any better; and depending on the physical design of the cartridge, you may damage the mechanism.
4. You don't really have to go any further. If there's (any) debris left on the stylus/cantilever, it will fall off with play. If you must, you can use a use a small short-handled camel-hair face powder makeup brush, brushing only back to front under the stylus -- one stroke is plenty.
5. Or, you can use the Onzow; holding it by the edges of the green plastic base, and lifting it straight up gently under the stylus, and then down. Again, having the volume turned up slightly will allow you to hear when its sticky surface contacts the stylus.
I'm not one who uses the ME before EVERY side of play! If your records are clean, and you've removed the mold release from them (preferrably when new) a touch with the Onzow before play should be more than enough. Under those conditions, every half dozen sides should be plenty for the ME treatment.
RE mold release: It is generally an organic substance that's incorporated right into the vinyl material of which the record is made, as opposed to (as I used to think ;--) 'sprayed on' just before the record is stamped! Enzyme cleaners won't affect mold release agents. YMMV, but I've only found two effective ways to remove it:
1.) Steam cleaning (I use steam with my Nitty Gritty, but there are some great 'steam' threads on AgoN and elsewhere, so I won't go into it here.)
2.) Solvent cleaning. I always use it on new records. They have a lot of release on them because it hasn't been 'played off. -- specifically (and only!) Micro Care Premier sold by many online stores http://www.musicdirect.com/product/73874
However, the SAME product (by the same company) is sold, for half the price, by other online retailers under the name of MicroCare CCC Contact Cleaner. Both contain the new, environmentally safe DuPont solvent Vertrel. The modern day substitute for carbon tetrachloride ;--) Here's a source
I always give my clean records a swipe with a GROUNDED carbon fiber record brush just before play. Hope this info is helpful.
05-07-11: Kurt_tank wrote:
I typically put the fluid on the brush, rather than directly on the stylus, to prevent it from getting onto the cantilever and possibly working its way up to the cartridge inards.
How does one put fluid "directly on the stylus" without the use of a brush? This I have to hear.
Terrific tip. I LOVE these cheap tweakz. I get so overwhelmed by markup and minor differences btwn exotic cleaning ingredients and tools.
So far this week, I'm turning to Aqufina and giving up on chemist-grade "super pure water" and also to magic eraser original instead of $$$ stylus cleaner.
Any experts out there have devastating criticisms of these cheap tweaks? (Perhaps they are not technically "tweaks," but rather "cleaning equipment.")
Mind you, this is all while using vpi 16.5 and so forth.
I have been using the LP9 on the stylus brush method for over ten years now and find this works very well. I have not suffered any damage to stylus or cartridges. It is perfectly safe to use and is very effective. Just an applicator brush's worth from the bottle applied to the stylus brush and then 2 or 3 short back front strokes on the stylus and all is well.
I don’t know if it’s related, but when I was using the Onzow Zerodust, my left channel went out on a MC cartridge with less than 200 hours on it. Since then I tried the StyLast stylus cleaner, the Magic Eraser, a nylon brush, and an electric blower. Presently, I prefer not to touch the stylus tip, and just use the blower to blow the debris off. Sometimes, I also use the same blower to blow dust off the LP before use.
If you're going to use a solution-based cleaner then do it sparingly.
My method is a dry stylus cleaner after every side. I got a very nice one included with a My Sonic Lab cart. Then, once a week I use a solution from Audio Intelligence--Enzymatic Stylus Cleaning Formula. It was recommended to me by the J.R. from Wally Tools. He sees a ton of carts, so I figured it's good enough for me.
My two cents.
Exactly! Since I went US years ago, I've found my stylus accumulates dust v-e-r-y slowly. I'll clean it after a dozen sides or so, but only because it makes me feel better.
Many audiophiles have never heard a truly clean record. I cringe when I see those silly turntable sweep arms to collect the dust. It's so much more effective to simply clean the record.
Going near a stylus with anything remotely solid is asking for it. Many people have broken off cantilevers. All you need to keep a stylus clean is and fine artist's brush and stylus cleaning fluid which is easy to make. First take the brush and with a very sharp scissors cut across the bristles at the 1/2 way point. To make the fluid measure out one cup of distilled water and add two drops of J+J's baby shampoo. Shake it up and put it in whatever container is available. Dip the tip of the brush in the fluid and with the soft artist brush you can wipe the stylus in any direction without hurting it, but do not get the fluid to far up the cantilever.
As stated above, clean records make stylus cleaning a monthly occurrence if even that. There is nothing on a new record that can contaminate a stylus other than dust. All additives are incorporated into the PVC in very small amounts and can only be removed as fast as the PVC is removed. If your stylus is catching anything but rare dust your records are contaminated with something like cooking fumes, smoke or bad record cleaning fluids that leave a residue.
Conductive sweep arms like the Hudson HiFi arm are not used to clean a record. They are used to keep a record from getting dirty by discharging static electricity and collecting any incidental dust, keeping it out of the path of the stylus. @cleeds mentions this because he has a vendetta against me and a very poor grasp of the situation. Ultrasonic cleaners work but by themselves make poor record cleaning devices. By using a suction record cleaner after ultrasonic cleaning you can improve the situation greatly. Air drying or fan drying the record is a mistake because you evaporate only the water and leave any contaminants on the record. Suction drying removes everything. The other problem is using contaminated water over and over again. Filtering the water will remove dust but not anything that is dissolved in the water. If you can only afford one machine you are far better off with a suction cleaning machine.