Record Damage and Conical and Shibata Styluses

I have some interesting information for people to consider who have been having problems with crackly or clicky playback of their vinyl records.I have been looking at the U.S Patent for the original Shibata stylus profile.Here I quote fom the text "...When this(standard) elliptical stylus is placed in a record groove...the area of the above mentioned contact surface figure becomes small.For this reason,the elliptical stylus can easily bite into the groove walls(plus heat!)....the parts of the groove walls with small waveform undulations are particularly subject to severe damage,whereby the signal to noise ratio of the reproduced signals becomes small." should we all quickly change over to conical and shibata styluses?
The conical and elliptical styli both touch the groove wall just at one point on each side (wall) of the groove ("the area of the above mentioned contact surface figure becomes small") The only difference is that the conical stylus rides higher in the groove than the elliptical, so the two contact points are higher up the groove wall. An elliptical stylus is made by simply taking a conical stylus and shaving a flat bevel into the front and back of the cone which makes the bottom of the stylus have the shape of one half of an ellipse. Shibata styli added additional beveling to the sides of the stylus in an attempt to achieve more contact area but could only do so in a limited way or risk shattering the diamond.

Enter the laser which permitted shaping the diamond without actually touching it. This allowed for the development of the "line contact" or "micro-ridge" stylus (same thing) which oversimplified, you can visualize as an upside-down pyramid turned 45 degrees to the groove, so that two of the opposite sloping edges touch each side (wall) of the groove in a line from top to bottom.

This provided for better retrieval of the information in the groove, as well a allowing more contact area and reducing the PSI (pounds per square inch) of pressure against the groove wall(s).

An additional benefit of the line contact stylus has to do with the playing of (old) records that had been played with only conical or elliptical styli. First, imagine a horizontal "wear line" halfway down the groove wall(s) like a layer of different colored rock halfway down the wall of the Grand Canyon. This is from the contact point of the conical or elliptical stylus on each side of the groove.

The line contact stylus, by contrast, touches the groove wall in a "line" from top to bottom of each side of the groove, JUMPING OVER the wear line from the old stylus. IT DOESN'T TOUCH THE WORN PART OF THE GROOVE, ONLY NEW VINYL! Cool, huh?

I'll never forget back around 1990 when I got my first van den Hul cartridge, and was playing some favorite records from my 60s college days. They'd been reasonably well cared for, but previously played using Shure cartridges with elliptical styli -- and they were somewhat "crackly and clicky" as you put it. Imagine my surprise when the playback with the vdH was almost noise-free! I'd been told to expect that by the fellow who sold me the cartridge, but it was really quite amazing to hear.
Stylus chatter within the goove wall can be caused by many things including stylus playback type and original cutter head geometry. Shibata also claimed that his stylus geometry would playback virgin vinyl that was untouched in previous play while using a elliptical stylus. I remember seeing and reading information for Shibata to prove this particular Point. AudioTechnica at one time had cartridges that had several replaceable stylus's ..I remember the Shibata type not being my favorite.Tom
Hi Tom, yes I have the same memory about Shibata as you do. That they never really took off, although I don't know why and never owned one. But I wondered if it might be that they were simply succeeded by the line contact type. I just can't remember the exact timeline anymore.
The patent was originally submitted on March 8 1972 and patented in November 27 1973.Now in talking to a Linn dealer from whom I purchased a Linn K18 Mark 2 cartridge second-hand,he stated quite unequivocally that this cartridge's profile was a Shibata and said he thought it's high-end was especially good.A lot of people also fondly remember this cartridge,one poster on Vinyl Asylum I think even stating that it was the best moving-magnet cartridge ever made.I have it on a second table and it outdoes a Denon 103,but that's not really broken-in.
Here is a summary of the abstract to the patent for the Shibata..the idea seems actually brilliantly simple.The Shibata stylus-"a contact surface contour of a shape which is short in the longitudinal direction of the groove and long in the depth direction"...."A portion of a conical stylus body is partitioned from the remainder of the structure by one or two planes inclined at a specific angle relative to a centerline axis passing through the vertex point of the conical stylus body"...".One or two cut faces made on the body"..."Suitable points on the two lateral sides at the lower part of the edge line part and parts in the vicinity thereof contact"-the opposed wall of a groove."These have a large radius of curvature."
Stefanl, that's very interesting (patented Nov. 1973) In an interview, A.J. van den Hul says that he began manufacturing the line contact styli in 1976, so it was only an interval of two or three years.
Yes,I have the Van Den Hul patent somewhere and I will find out.I think it was finally approved around 1978.What I found striking was the claim in the patent that the Shibata profile does not wear out a record after a few plays as a "coventional elliptical" stylus does.The resonance point of the Shibata also that fluctuates with temperature,is outside of the frequency band used.Signal to noise ratio is higher due the type of cut,the resonant point has shifted also causing the disc itself to be more stable in relation to the stylus and thus less resonance is actually generated.The high frequency band performance is also improved in the 40-50Khz area.
The Shibata was developed for RCA's quadrophonic program ("CD 4") in the early 70's, as they needed a sharp stylus that could track the then-very high frequency 30 kHz. carrier signal that held the musical information for the back two channels.

The Shibata is not dead. The Grado Reference (the $1,200 model) and new Shibui (a highly modded Denon DL 103R) both use a Shibata, I believe, as do many other cartridges.

I have a van den Hul Frog, and am not certain that the care required to set azimuth and VTA with a Shibata / line-contact stylus is worth it. I'm all for vinyl, and don't mind cleaning records or getting off my ass to pick up the arm at the end of a record, but what a pain it is to dial these things in.

Hi, Tom. Hope you're well.
Was RCA connected to the Victor Co. of Japan Ltd. because the U.S patent states that they are the assignee and Norio Shibata the inventor?From what I have researched,it is worth spending the time to align a Shibata type stylus correctly as it will be rewarding.
JVC or Japan Victor Corporation were one in the same. The Victor comes from RCA. JVC in the late 60's and up was an R/D arm for many companies including RCA and Panasonic. Seed money came from both of these players.Tom
RCA was evidently a subsidiary of JVC:

"RCA was one of the first companies to release quadraphonic product in the United States with it's line of Quadraphonic 8-Track cartridges. (These early "quad-8" tapes can be distinguished from the more common RCA Q8's by their orange colored graphics and solid cardboard album graphic sleeves.) The reason for getting these tapes issued early was to insure that RCA quad product was out into the marketplace while their parent company in Japan (JVC) completed work on perfecting their new CD-4 discrete system for quadraphonic record albums. Early CD-4 LPs released in Japan were suffering from excessive wear and tear. Many of these LPs deteriorated after being played just a few times. This caused JVC to announce at that time that their CD-4 discs should only be played on their specially equipped systems. This problem hastened the development of the "Shibata" stylus, which increased the surface area of the stylus, thus decreasing the pressure on the grooves. With a new improved vinyl and the Shibata stylus, RCA was now ready to introduce the Quadradisc to the American publiv [sic]."

There is still some guy in the States who used to work for Audio-Technica making his own CD-4 Shibata cartridge and selling them to people who still maintain a quadrophonic collection.I e-mailed him about their suitabilty for stereo playback and as I thought,he said that would be well within the cartridge's capabilties.