Look up Magic Eraser in the archives. It is what I use and have not had any problems since. Plus it is very economical.
18 responses Add your response
I had a similar problem years ago when I purchased a misrepresented cartridge from someone here on Audiogon. The "mint" condition cartridge had an accumulation of vinyl crud seemingly welded to the upper perimeter of the stylus and shank. I used a 10X loupe to keep an eye on things while I worked, which helped a lot. I glued little 1/5" square blocks of Magic Eraser on 1/5" wide by 2" long pieces of popsicle stick wood to make an easily controlled cleaning tool. I also had to use tiny folded pieces of 600 and 1200 grit sandpaper to attack some of the worst accumulations. They were folded abrasive side out, so there was a sharp, crisp edge of abrasive to use. It takes a steady hand, but if you take things slow, no problem.
Once you have the stuck on crud/gunk cleaned off your stylus, I would use "Zerodust stylus cleaner" on your stylus after each record play or at least after each listening session to prevent future build up on your stylus. Here is a link: http://www.musicdirect.com/p-7737-zerodust-stylus-cleaner.aspx
I would be very concerned that the stylus is damaged to begin with and this is why it is accumulating "gunk" in the first place. An undamaged stylus is smooth and does not "chisel" vinyl from the record and accumulate on the stylus. You really should have this checked out by a qualified service provider.
I clean my stylus with a little block of Magic Eraser after every play and there is a definite accumulation of tiny black vinyl particles soiling the white Magic Eraser after a few dozen plays. LPs are always spotless and cleaned with two vacuuming steps (cleaner and pure H2O rinse.) I have no doubt that set up parameters are spot on. I think it's normal for some constant debris to be kicked up from the grooves in spite of attention to cleanliness and setup. Otherwise, why would we need to clean the stylus in the first place? If someone is a complete slob about record hygiene and plays uncleaned used lps, I don't have too much of a hard time imagining a buildup of compacted crud after a few hundred hours. After all, the immediate point of contact between the stylus and lp surface is subject to immense heat and pressure (albeit very briefly.)
I use both: Magic Eraser and Stylast (both the cleaner and preservative, but the preservative only occasionally). I clean the stylus after each side of the record played.
I understand that there might be some accumulation after playing even a clean record, but I agree with Stevecham that an undamaged stylus should not be covered in melted vinyl. If that was "normal," it would be a much more frequently discussed issue, which it does not seem to be. I honestly cannot say I have seen any vinyl residue on the Magic Eraser since I got my Delos in 2010.
Going back to the OP, it appears there might be some damage to the stylus, or the poor stylus has seen some nasty vinyl. The OP did not explain whether he purchased the cart used, or what history it has, so I'd start with that. In the meantime, a careful use of the Magic Eraser might help to address the problem.
I went to Lyric Hi-Fi today and after looking at the stylus through a magnifying glass I can't tell if the stylus is damaged but there is something on it that Lyric was not able to remove.The Lyric rep said I should definitely have the manufacturer take a look at it.I need to get this cartridge problem resolved before I can decide on upgrading to a VPI Classic One.Hopefully Jonathan Carr will respond to this thread and let me know where to send it for inspection.I guess it's back to digital listening for awhile. Thanks
The Lyra Delos was bought new last March. Distortion started showing up after about 120 hours.I clean almost all used lps I purchase with the Vpi 16-5.I only play lps that are in very good or perfect condition.The Lyric sales rep said that he was able to remove most if not all of the gunk but still feels that something does not look quite right and that I should definitely have the manufacturer take a look at it.He also said that he could not find anything wrong with the turntable or tonearm.I need to get this resolved because it costs $35.00 cabfare(Brooklyn to Manhattan) to take the turntable to the shop and I have to lug this beast up and down two flights of stairs.Thanks for your responses.
I re-read your post and there are several things that you could clarify in order to provide meaningful advice. First, you say you got distortion "at times." Was this distortion correlated with anything like crescendos, loud passages, inner grooves, outer grooves? Any commonality of playback conditions when this distortion occurred? Second, were you cleaning your stylus prior to the noticed distortion and accumulation of gunk? Third, was this gunk accumulation evenly distributed on the stylus or was it an accumulation that was centered around the upper part of the diamond where it meets the shank? Any accumulation of debris I've ever seen has always been where the stylus meets the shank, the actual stylus has been pretty clean. Even the nasty used cartridge with the stylus gunk I mentioned earlier played and sounded just fine, as all the debris was above the stylus/record interface.
I bought the Lyra from Acoustic Sounds.I called Audioquest yesterday but the person who answered the phone said that the person I needed to talk to would not be in until some time next week.I was using the fluid that was included with the 16.5 when I bought it.I recently got a bottle of the Mo-Fi super record wash but I have not used it yet.Looking forward to the day when I will be washing and listening to lps again. Thanks
I just got back from Lyric Hi-Fi.Before putting it in the box Bob Herman with stylus pointing upward had me look at the stylus with a magnifying glass.You can definitely see something is stuck on upper left side of the stylus and I would guess this is what is causing the distortion problem.If Bob with all of his turntable experience could not get the gunk or whatever it is off I am definitely not going to give it a try for fear of damage to stylus.So if I don't hear from Jonathan Carr I will give Audioquest a call this week.A big thanks to Bob Herman of Lyric Hi-Fi for taking the time to inspect my turntable.Thanks everyone for your responses
Hi Montgomery, all:
We do get cartridges that are returned for mistracking, and the percentage of dirty styli far outweighs those that are damaged.
However, if your Delos has a tracking problem and you suspect stylus damage, I recommend that you either have Acoustic Sounds return the Delos to Audioquest, or that you contact Audioquest yourself (I'd suggest talking to Alasdair Patrick) and return it to him. We would be happy to take a look at it and determine if the stylus is dirty or damaged.
As regular cartridge care, I clean the stylus either after each side, or after each LP, depending on how much degradation in resolution and openness that I hear. If I don't clean after playing two LP sides, I find the degradation in resolution and openness to be too much to tolerate.
I use our SPT (Stylus Performance Treatment), which is a water-and-detergent-based cleaner, with a small applicator brush with soft bristles that is kind to the stylus, cantilever and suspension.
I have used some of the reusable gel-based cleaners, and I think that they clean well enough to be used on an alternating basis with SPT - that is, one side with SPT, one side with the gel - something like that. I suggest that you use your ears and go with what they tell you.
I have tried various harder-surface cleaners, such as Mister Clean, microfibers, motor-driven cleaners such as the Audio-Technica, also various hand-held bushes with short and stiff bristles.
Some of these can clean styli pretty well, but overall I don't recommend their use with our cartridges, because I feel that the possibility of damage to the stylus, cantilever or suspension is too high. Some people possess the precise, gentle touch needed to successfully use harder-surface cleaners, but not everyone is like this.
Some of the service cartridges that we have received were almost certainly damaged or misaligned due to improper cleaning procedures. It is no fun rebuilding a damaged cartridge when the nature of its damage was clearly avoidable.
In general, I suggest only using soft surfaces to clean the stylus. This is to stress the stylus, its glue bond to the cantilever, the cantilever, the suspension elastomers, and the suspension wire as little as possible.
With all of our cartridges we package a short-bristle brush that nominally looks like many other hand-held stylus cleaning brushes, but there is a difference. Our brush has been deliberately made so that its bristle surfaces are softer than normal, again so as to avoid overly stressing the stylus, its glue bond to the cantilever, the cantilever, the suspension elastomers, and suspension wire.
Incidentally, some chemical cleaners can weaken the glue joint that bonds the stylus to the cantilever, so there, too, caution and prior investigation are advised. For example, I absolutely wouldn't recommend any cleaner that uses alcohol or other chemical solvents.
In closing I will note that using a good LP cleaning machine will cut down drastically on the amount of stylus cleaning that you need to perform, and will likewise add many hours to the lifespan of your stylus.
kind regards, jonathan carr