Do you brush your teeth after every meal? Seriously, once dust has been deposited onto the stylus, the damage is already done; dust having been ground into the groove walls. The answer is to keep your records clean. There are many cleaning regimens that are quite effective, try doing a search. You may also need to purchase some new inner sleeves if the ones with your records are harboring dirt, as this will just be deposited back onto the records. Don't cure the symptom, cure the disease!
Don't worry-just play (and enjoy) records that are fairly clean. The good folks at Rega will even say that the stylus cleans the record for u. To a degree, I agree!
Clean your stylus with Linn-supplied green paper on occasion. It's slightly abrasive and easy to use.
So many of us are taking all the fun out of the vinyl experience.
I agree with Viridian about the primary importance of record cleaning, but there is more to stylus maintenance than that. Even "perfectly" clean records (ie, wet cleaned and vacuumed) leave a deposit of vinyl molecules on a stylus. This occurs during every play.
If these deposits aren't removed they continue to accumulate. (Grunge bonds with more grunge.) The heat and friction of the stylus/groove interface burnishes these deposits into a hardened layer that becomes progressively more difficult to remove. Clean tracking and sonic performance slowly but inexorably deteriorate until it becomes noticeable. At that point the cartridge owner thinks he needs a new stylus or cartridge. He doesn't. He needs to perform proper maintenance.
JCarr taught me this and it isn't theoretical. I've seen/heard/tested it on two dozen styli that I've rehabilitated for friends. They dry brushed after every side, but the buildup was thick and getting thicker, as was their sound. I have seen this buildup on (and removed it from) $100 Shures and $8,000 LOMC's.
Note to Heyitsmedusty: when brushing/cleaning a stylus, brush only from back-to-front (the direction the record groove travels beneath the stylus). Don't go the other way unless you have a very light touch. You could damage your cantilever or suspension.
For the best/cheapest/easiest-to-use stylus cleaner, do a search here or on VA for "Magic Eraser".
Sorry to A'gon regulars for sounding like a broken record. I know you've all heard this 100 times.
Nothing personal Lidisfarne but Roy at Rega is famous for his Attitude about such things. He doesn't believe in using good wire either. I say, his loss, but don't make it yours, unless, of course, you want to. Using Linn supplied sand paper on your stylus is an equally bad joke. Those of us who care to go the extra mile get to enjoy the benefits. We wouldn't do it otherwise. It's like saying that anything better than CDs on a boombox is "taking all the fun out of" it.
I agree with Dougdeacon and Viridian. Careful brushing by itself does not do it. Tried extreme phono plus brushing and still got stuff on the stylus. Now having adopted the Magic Erasure, my ears hear a change and my eyes and magnifiers no longer see any build up. Just my experience.
Playing vinyl is not fun, it is a chore. Listening to vinyl is ......
When I was a kid I used to use my finger to clean the needle. Good thing it was my father's stereo(!) Sorry Dad.
Anyway, I notice that when I clean the stylus after every play the records sound better, clearer with a lower noise floor. Actually, I clean the cantilever and underside of the cartridge body too. I have done so for over 25 years, and never had a problem with any of my cartridges. I used to use a brush, but now I use "KING of SPONge" (same as le magic eraser, but with smaller pores). KOS, available at dollar stores, comes in different sizes and I cut it into small wedges and use the end corners to clean the stylus and cantilever.
Piedpiper - "Using Linn supplied sand paper on your stylus is an equally bad joke." I don't know if you've tried the Linn green paper, fwiw I've got it in my arsenal of cleaning stuff and sometimes it really does the trick. I think it might relate to what Doug noted "The heat and friction of the stylus/groove interface burnishes these deposits into a hardened layer that becomes progressively more difficult to remove". It seems like occasionally, or perhaps just over an extended period, the non-abrasive techniques run into something they are not effective against.
yes yes yes and you should make sure as above you clean the records first with a machine, good sleeves, i alsways dry brush the record and clean the stylus before i play. its a pain but it makes it better. please do not drink and clean play cds instead
I thought of that, and it does make sense, except I can't help wondering what effect it has on the stylus itself, as opposed to the gunk that builds up on it. Obvoiusly they think the green sandpaper does minimal damage. I personally would trust processes that involve solvents rather than abrasives. For some reason these Scotsmen seem to enjoy flaunting this cavelier attitude. I have alot of respect for Ivor and Roy and their products. It must be something in the single malt stuff...
I agree with Viridian and Dougdeacon. Clean vinyl and keeping a clean stylus is the best way to go in my opinion. Cleaning the vinyl takes a little time and effort. Cleaning the stylus is quick and easy. I clean my stylus after each side and follow with a dip into a Zerodust. It takes about 15 seconds and keeps the stylus free from any buildup. I probably don't need to do it that often, but it has become habit. I began doing this about 2 years or so ago and am happy with the results.
New inner sleeves after wet cleaning and a dry carbon fiber brush before each play, followed by stylus care above seems to work well and has just become the routine and is done without other thought.
And like Doug mentioned, if you brush your stylus, ALWAYS go back to front and be gentle.
After each record side, I brush with the supplied stylus brush that came with my Dynavector. Always from back to front about 2-3 times. Every 2 days or so, I do the simple Magic Erasure cleaning.
Oh, and I also clean each side of the record just prior to playing with a carbon fibre brush.
RE the appraisives vs. solvents question; don't forget that we are dealing with diamonds here!! I would be much more concerned with solvents attacking the adhesive and the suspension.
Hadn't thought of the adhesive gluing the stylus onto the cantelever. I had thought of migration of solvent up the cantelever to the suspension. Doesn't seem to be a problem for either though.
This is all waaaaaaaay too much work; I am going back to 8-Track or perhaps Elcasette.
Thanks for the tip on the KOS. I don't know if smaller pores would clean better, but they might reduce the risk of snagging the stylus.
We're on the same page re: the lazy, hazy, crazy Roy. Wire doesn't matter. VTA/SRA changes aren't audible. Scraping dirt against a plastic groovewall with a diamond chisel at hundreds of psi will magically clean the groove without damaging the plastic. As you said, whatever floats your boat.
Two seconds of ME (or KOS) after each side is enough to prevent all buildup, but it's nowhere near abrasive enough to damage a diamond - as Swampwalker pointed out. In fact, if a stylus is neglected and the buildup gets thick/stubborn enough, the ME won't even remove that.
Just last week I saved a ZYX UNIverse that hadn't been cleaned in a year. It sounded horrible and the owner was worried the cartridge was toast. The ME wasn't aggressive enough to remove all the baked on crud so I resorted to Linn's trick, a few delicate swipes with a sliver of 2,000 grit silicone carbide paper. Voila! Stylus looks like new, cartridge sounds like new.
As Jeff Jones said, you do what you have to do. For emergency rehabs a little tough love Linn style works wonders, and so does single malt!
Do I brush the cart or my teeth with the single malt????
So the Magic "Green" Linn paper has always bothered me (I know it works - I don't dispute that in the slightest; I've used it for years in an emergency capacity, and have seen the before and after results under a scope).
How can the relatively flat surface profile of a piece of 2000-grit sandpaper possibly clean a chisel-shaped sliver of diamond? While I can see this working well on a spherical or elliptical stylus profile, I have a much harder time wrapping my head around how any of the thin, tapering profiles (line-contact et al) can be so well-cleaned by the green paper - after all, aren't we merely grazing the very tip of the stylus? It is not as if we were wrapping the sandpaper around the diamond itself, ala a good shoe-shine. While I tend to believe the surface of the abrasive material deforms slightly under pressure, I don't think it does so enough to catch the "sides" of the diamond itself (maybe I'm wrong). Yet, the diamond comes out looking all spiffy and new, with the baked-on gunk that accumulates at the cantelever/stylus bonding point completely expunged....Any thoughts on this?
Personally, I drink the single malt then lick the cartridge but I'm into piercings too.
I use stylast and the little brush that comes with it. I use it when I can see grunge (or "gradois" pronounced Grah-Doo -- it's a New Orleans word) on the stylus. I also sometimes hear a dirty stylus -- but I can only tell the difference on records I'm very familiar with.
I'd say this happens about every ten records.
As for the parts of this thread about vinyl being work/worth the work -- it's fine to be all anal about each dust speck if that floats your boat, and there are times when I do the whole wet-dry-vacuum-sweep-blowdry-fluff-and-fold, and then there are times when the prospect pushes me toward cd's. When that latter event happens, I recall my blissful teen years of loving music and not caring about every snap, crackle and pop (and also taking dust gobs off my old Dual with my fingers) and I play the record all dirty and nasty. Embrace your inner schizophrenic and do what feels right at the moment. If you have to scrub up like a surgeon every time you want to hear a record, and it takes longer to prepare to listen that to listen, my guess is that you will spend an awful lot of your listening time alone and listening only to a record vacuum.
The author of this thread notes regularly seeing dust on the cartridge brush. Records seem to attract dirt. Heck, on a dry winter day, a record will pull a cat hair from three rooms away.
A 20X loupe mounted on a small stand sits next to my tonearm. When the arm is at rest the loupe is at stylus level. It takes just a quick peek to check the stylus *after every side*. I'll see some dollop of gunk on the cantilever or stylus about half the time. (And yes I use an RCM.)
If the gunk is not removed its gonna be stylus baggage through the next groove and either attract more gunk or drop off on the record somewhere. Plus, crud on your cartridge is more likely to make worse sound not better. If I see stuff on the stylus with the loupe, I remove it before play.
If not brushing, dipping, scraping or lathering, at least try *checking* your stylus after every side.
One unattentive customer called me in for a house call regarding a turtable that wasn't tracking at all only to find that there was a massive dustball lodged on the cartridge. I had given him a brush which he hadn't bothered to use, being your basic slob.
Brushing after each side is the least you can do. Beyond that, Last stylus cleaner, which, incidentally, is different from Stylast (Last's stylus preservative to be used after the cleaner) is one traditional next step. I tend to think that each technique/product has its benefits and limitations.
I don't know if this was mentioned,but it is a better idea to brush each side of an lp after it plays out.This way it can go back in the jacket/sleeve,clean.The inner sleeves of album "jackets",are a source of contamination for many sloppy hobbyists.So each time we play an lp,it starts out clean.Keep platter immaculate.I "ripped off" my daughter's make up brush for platter care.
I second the Zerodust gob as the quickest and most importantly SAFE way to clean the stylus tip. I for one do not have the eyesight or manual dexterity to precisely vector in on that diamond nugget. Sittiing in the goo for approximately five seconds once a week (make sure your best friend or wife) doesn't witness this anolog / human bonding moment ---- keeps my grooves happy.
Before this thread is ended I think we should play a little game of truth or dare to determine how many accidents have occured during these lovely intimate cleaning moments. Kiss and tell anyone?
Vinylrowe, if I told you "no accidents yet" I'd jinx myself. So I won't!
Zerodust is better than nothing, but it will not prevent or remove the buildup discussed above. Try this: glue a piece of ME to a quarter or a heavy washer (for weight). Place that on your platter and dip the stylus into it a few times with the cueing lever, just like you do with a ZD. It will clean better, guaranteed, and be just as safe. No surgeon's eyes or fingers required.