I was surprised by how much #%$^& the Onzo took off my cartridge.
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I vote for neither.
My DIY stylus cleaner works better than any commercial stylus cleaner I've tried, including Extreme Phono, Zerodust, LP #9 and Last.
Due to shipping in a vertical or reverse postures, the cleaner may leaked out. If that happens, just yank open the case and scrape the content back into the center of the case and flatten the lump.
If any one need more cleaner due to the leak, please send us an e-mail with your address. We will be happy to send you a refill pack without charge.
Zerodust, Magic Eraser, and liquid-on-a-brush puts 10-100x more force on the cantilever then what it's designed for (i.e. 2.0g VTF). If you have an electronic stylus force gauge, you can measure how much force is applied with the cleaning action. Assuming one has heavy fingers, and cleans the stylus before every play, the life expectancy of the stylus could be seriously reduced.
Thanks for the interest. I don't know why more people haven't tried it, perhaps I made it sound more dangerous than it is. As Twl pointed out, unless you do something klutzy it's as safe as any other method.
If you can't find the "components" for the Magic Stylus Cleaner send me an email. I'll make one up and send it to you, or send it in "kit" form if you want that DIY thrill! No charge of course.
BTW to all,
This may be obvious but the world's best stylus cleaner is a clean record. I flick the stylus with a dry brush after each side, as I'm sure you all do, but I often spin for *days* without needing to do more. That's on a system that averages 6-8 hours/day. Clean your records well and stylus cleaning becomes nearly redundant.
Extremephono wrote, "Zerodust, Magic Eraser, and liquid-on-a-brush puts 10-100x more force on the cantilever then what it's designed for (i.e. 2.0g VTF)."
I'm sorry but that's just a huge red herring...
1. People have been using all these stylus cleaners for decades without damage.
2. We all know how far our cantilever deflects when we cue a record. My cantilever deflects far less when I'm cleaning the stylus. I'll wager I'm applying .1x the normal VTF, not 10x.
3. On the few occasions that my stylus actually needs cleaning I typically use the Magic Eraser with the system powered up. If I were applying 20-200g of force my speakers would certainly tell me.
If we're going to use scare tactics, let's make sure we consider all the risks, since any stylus cleaner presents risks if you're a klutz or careless. The risk with the Extremephono is dunking the end of the cantilever into the goop and having to pull upward to remove it. (People HAVE done this BTW.) This is far more dangerous than any amount of upward pressure. No cartridge is designed to withstand downward force on the cantilever. The suspension is already at its limits of travel, so any downforce will be transmitted directly to the cantilever. SNAP!!!
Are we scared yet? ;-)
I tried the matchbook striker based on 30 years of use by Twl, one of the most experienced analog professionals on this or any forum. And yes, I was terrified the first time I used it.
It actually works okay and the price is certainly right! The biggest downside is that it's quite stiff. It's awkward to clean all sides of the stylus and impossible to get up into that corner between the back side of the stylus and the cantilever. That little niche is a grunge magnet.
The DIY one I mentioned is spongy, conformable and reaches everywhere with ease. It's a bit like having ExtremePhono or ZeroDust on a stick. But since it's slightly abrasive (less so than sandpaper) it loosens hardened-on deposits that they leave behind. My stylus used to have a slightly yellowish cast. Now it's clear.
"The risk with the Extremephono is dunking the end of the cantilever into the goop and having to pull upward to remove it. ... This is far more dangerous than any amount of upward pressure. No cartridge is designed to withstand downward force on the cantilever. The suspension is already at its limits of travel, so any downforce will be transmitted directly to the cantilever. SNAP!"
This is exactly my concern and has been with all polymer based stylus cleaners. Suspension rubbers are small and thin so that they will not attenuate the vibrational force picked up off the record groove. This said, they are not designed to absorb all the extra force while pulling the stylus tip from the goop pit.
Scared yet? Yes.
I've tried liquid cleaners,the green sandpaper stuff given to me during a Linn clinic and the zerodust (I now live in Japan) but I still use my Audio Technica Stylus cleaner I bought nearly 20 years ago ! in case you don't know, its a battery operated device with a lit dense brush end on which the stylus is placed and gently vibrates. Its normally used dry but can be combined with a fluid if stylus is very dirty. Very effective and safe as only the normal cartridge downforce is used.
Ditto 10-4 on the AT vibrator. AT fluid, LAST fluid, whatever. Artist camel hair brush for dusting, whatever, but not w/ a gun to my head will I sandpaper a stylus.
Vibrating devices - such as the AT stylus cleaner - have produced excellent results in all sorts of applications for as long as dry cells have been around.
I have had good results with the Extreme Phono cleaner.
It did arrive with a little substance leaked out, and it still leaks from time to time, and can cause a mess if it's on anything.
Other than those problems though, it seems to clean my Linn Arkiv well, and I have never have heart palpitations while using it.
I have 4 of these - the Exteme Phono, the Mr. Clean DD special, the Onzow Zerodust, and a Signet. Here is my experience:
The Mr. Clean Eraser - some people clip off a chunk and fix it to a small stick or toothpick. It works ok, but requires several usages to get the stylus clean. Least expensive, and for me, least effective though I would chose this over a Last stylus brush.
The Exremephono - works well at cleaning the stylus. However, occasionally (maybe 1 out of 20 uses) a tiny glop of it will adhere to the stylus tip. It seems to have greater adherence to the stylus - 'sticktion' if you will. The clamshell container is easy to use, but I thought there shoulda been a bit more goop in it for the money.
The Signet is effective, but I believe it is not made anymore. To use it I have to place it on the TT and lower the stylus - I hate doing this because of the off chance I might move the TT. I use it rarely.
The Onzow Zerodust - US retail can be expensive, though there is a chap (Mehran, username=Sorasound) selling these here on Agon for $25-$35 dollars. If the Zerodust is at full retail cost ($70) I'd go with the Extreme... however for ~$35 the Zerodust is the best, imo. It is gentler than the Extreme and under no circumstances will it leave goop on the stylus because it is not goopy, and it is easily more effective than the Mr. Clean Eraser. After a couple-three month's of use I wash mine with distilled water and its like new.
I examine my stylus after every play with a 30x loupe. Normally I find that with the Zerodust or Extreme you do not need to brush. That is anouther reason I prefer them to the Eraser. Brushing is a liability if you ask me - at least I don't trust myself enough to do it with the Last type brushes - which are kinda course. Occasionally I will use a v. small camel's hair paint brush to clean around the cantilever. Camel's hair (versus synthetic) seems quite soft and safe.
That's my experience - YMMV.
Ooops typo - shoulda said 20x loupe. But yes, every play. The loop is mounted on a small stand and set to stylus height, so its easy to move in close and look. It just takes a few moments. Guess I'm being finicky but worth it to me and now its a habit. The Zerodust does the job almost every time, but I'll also clean with LAST cleaner once every few days.
Well, I tried out the Extreme Phono but was quite disapointed, at least by the packaging -- I couldn't get the %#%$# thing open! It was just too much trouble. I put a Speed mat under my Ringmat Anniversary, though, and it was like buying a new (and much better) TT. Anyway, now I clean with Record Research stylus cleaner at the start of each session and either a mr. clean or a camel's hair art brush between sides.
I've used Extreme for over a decade on a Lyra B and now on a Benz Ruby 3. Some of the remarks above are accurate, sometimes difficult to fumble opening the clamshell, goop falling out when sent, etc. However, I never had extra goop on the stylus and use it regularly (every five records). In between uses I use a dense record brush. I am considering using the Magic Eraser method (up and down only) instead of the record brush as the brush may pull the cantilever (or not, my cartridges last more than 2500 hours). I recommend the Extreme for best results.