Quick Cartridge Questions

As someone relatively new to vinyl, I have a few simple questions that I need help answering...

First, what is the average lifespan of a cartridge? I listen for approximately 10 hours per week, with a Goldring 1012GX. I cue, rather than drop, and I thoroughly wipe each record before play. Would 4-5 years be a reasonable estimate? Also, how do you judge when a cartridge needs replacing? By ear?

Next, out of curiosity, which cartridges are said to match well with the Pro-Ject Tube Box II?

Truthfully, I don't understand the emphasis on matching the cartridge with the phono-pre. From my uninformed perspective, I would think that the amplifier and speakers would at least be equally important in achieving a balanced sound. For instance, if one has a tube amplifier along with some warm sounding speakers, wouldn't ANY cart/pre combination sound a bit on the warm side?

Thanks for the help!
Most cartridges if keep clean and not abused, should last 1500-2000 hours.

The cartridge should really be matched to the tonearm first. The phono stage matching is more along the lines of cartridge output. You wouldn't be able to use a low output MC into a MM stage.
Stylus life will, generally speaking, be determined by stylus profile.

Cheaper, bonded conical styli would be the worst, probably not lasting more than 500 hours. A high quality nude conical/spherical stylus like those found on the Denon 103/103R should be good for around 800-1000 hours.

High quality nude ellipticals around 1200 hours.

The more exotic profiles with high quality styli (Fritz Geiger, Van den Hul, Micro Ridge and various line contacts) should be good for around 1500-2500 hours.

All of the above estimates assume good vinyl hygiene. Start playing dirty or damaged vinyl and the life span of the stylus will probably be reduced.
Thanks for the responses.

As a brief follow-up, which 'stylus profile' does the Goldring 1012GX fall under? And again, how does one determine when the cartridge needs replacing - by ear?

As a point of interest, what determines whether a cartridge is an appropriate match for a tonearm? I thought, perhaps mistakenly, that the tonearm was to preserve signal quality only - nothing more. How, then, can a cartridge be 'matched' to a tonearm? I'm genuinely curious (and obviously ignorant on the matter).

Finally, what does 'good vinyl hygiene' exactly amount to? I try to keep my records static/dust/dirt free, but I tend to let the stylus be as it may. Is there anything I should be especially cognizant of?

Thank you once again!
Looks like your Goldring uses a Fritz Gyger line contact stylus so it should be a very long lasting stylus.

If you're basically buying new records, keeping them clean is generally not a problem. However, if you're buying a lot of used vinyl then investing in something that will give you the ability to wet clean/vacuum your records might be something to consider. It need not be outrageously expensive to do a very good job. The KAB EV1 is a good example of that.

As far as stylus cleaning, you'll find lots of recommendations but the Magic Eraser is a very cost effective way of cleaning your stylus (make sure you buy the all white original Magic Eraser). Do a google search using "magic eraser stylus cleaner". $5 will buy you stylus cleaning for the rest of your life. I believe there are a couple of significant threads here on Audiogon about it as well in the archives.
Matching a tonearm with a cartridge refers to the arm's effective mass vs. the cartridge's compliance (low compliance = stiff suspension; high compliance = springier suspension). You wouldn't want to match a high-compliance cartridge with a high mass arm (like a Zeta), nor a low-compliance cartidge with a low-mass arm. The Vinyl Engine site had a page that was a good reference for this kind of matching data, but not sure if the page is still there. Google is your friend ;-).

One thing I've found is a great way to keep the stylus clean (and is easy enough to actually stick to using it with every lp side I play) is the Zerodust, which is just a rubbery blob you dip your stylus into and it grabs all the little fuzzies and particles that are picked up with normal play. No liquids to 'wick' up your cantilever and muck up your cartridge's innards. They seem expensive for what they are, but they're really great, and easy-to-use.