Stylus Warm-up Time

Do you prefer to warm up your stylus before listening i.e. by playing one side (or 2) of an "expendable" LP?

How long is considered acceptable warm up time?

Do you listen immediately or do you wait until the optimisation period is up?

Also what temperature range do you listen at? (My preference is 21-23 degrees C ambient although it doesn't mean I'll stop listening if it goes to 23.5 ;^)


...I should also comment "....and suspension" ;^)

The sound certainly improves after the cartridge has been playing for a few minutes, but, it is hardly the case that the cartridge is mistracking or doing anything that could damage the record so there is no point in playing some "expendable" record or wasting time playing something you don't want to hear.  The first few minutes will just sound a little muddy and dull sounding until the suspension of the cartridge limbers up a bit. 

Thanks Larry.

Not that I'm trying to "impose a view" here. I've noted that some people will put an LP on then flatly refuse to listen until at least 30 minutes have elapsed. If that were me then I guess I'd be using old 2nd hand LPs rather than burn out a favourite when I'm not even there to appreciate it. ;^)

So I'm really trying to get an insight into this phenomenon :)

I've found that the cartridge definitely starts to bloom, letting the soundstage expand in all directions, after 1 to 2 sides. It is definitely noticeable.
It takes longer for my amps to come on song than the cartridge, but I warm everything up by playing a couple of sides without any critical listening- i'm sure that's more than enough for the cartridge.  I know that the amps (Lamm ML 2) really start to open up at around the 45 minute mark, and continue to improve after that. I don't regard the cartridge warm up as risking any damage to the records if that's the question. 
An audiophile who I respect warms his cartridges with a hair dryer before listening at ambient temps below 70F.  In winter conditions of 65F in the listening room I sense  that cartridges need 10-15 minutes in the grooves to wake up.   
hair dryer?
srtweaker, how do you know which is actually warming up, the amps, preamps  or the cartridge. I'm guessing that every component is turned on at the same time?
Lol !!!! :D :D

Dear DGarretson,

Interesting solution! J

So, 65F is about 18.3C. I used to listen at those temperatures in Winter but didn’t do anything to compensate other than adjusting the VTF from e.g. 1.65g to 1.68g.  At the time, the Linn Ittok was excellent for this purpose as it gave a very precise readout of the downforce (better than some gauges IMO).

At the moment I’m using the Phantom II and it doesn’t allow visibility of the VTF setting so I always have to re-check with a gauge as a precaution.

Currently, I maintain the ambient temp within reasonable limits whenever listening and leave the VTF alone.


Did your friend consider the low-power filament bulb fitted to an anglepoise holder? ;^)

(I never liked those things – just something else to catch your sleeve on and cause an expensive accident!) :D


All the best,

Post removed 
Well, it would certainly make sense if the hair dryer in question was one of those new fangled ceramic or tourmaline jobs, you know, what with the negative ions and all.

I heat my LP's up in my microwave before I drop the stylus into the hot grooves.

david99 stop it.
..Brings a new meaning to the term "Liquorice Pizza"...  ;^) :D :D
Harry Weisfield suggests in the manual for my new TT: "a 60 watt light put above a turntable in a cold room will heat up the cartridge just enough to make it much more compliant and track better". "We have found almost all cartridges work and sound best at 72 degrees".
Me... I'm old school... I hope that good old fashion listening all day long will work? Actually, all weekend long.
Should (we) start a thread.. "Listening at optimum temperature"?
I keep my thermostat at 68 degrees. I guess this means I need to turn in my Audiophile Membership Card.
This thread is satirical. ....right?

(God...I hope so)
Does anyone also pray while warming up the cartridge? 
Warming up cartridge would be too much for me, yes the improvement can be audible but I never do such a critical listening unless I am testing something, either different pressings or subtle changes in the system, but I understand those who do.
This is a true audiophile thread.
I have never put vinyl on and thought, "I should listen to this again right now as it might have improved itself." My turntable is next to my gear rack on its own little table and gets ambient heat from my tube power amp, although COME ON MAN...
David99. What heat setting and amount of time do you set your microwave at?

is there a special mechanism to hold the record off the floor of the microwave turnstile giving more even heat distribution?
I tend to listen to vinyl more in the Summer, when I find I need not worry about the cartridge warm up. 

I must say that I find cleaning the cartridge stylus and the record surface and removing static electricity also important. I find 45 rpm rereleases quite good but so short duration as to be a pain. Until I learned that most master tapes were being redone in quad DSD, I was hellbent on digitally capturing my 45s and doing equalization post digitizing. Now I await the quad DSD downloads.

Audiotomb-the LP spins on the microwave turntable of course.
I push the button for the popcorn setting.

I think Stylus warm up time exists, but imo Listener warm up time plays a bigger part, and takes longer, especially for those still working, married, kids... 
In this case Listener warm up time will vary based on the kind of day one is having. During extended periods filled with anxiety, audiophiles have been known to liquidate gear, as they just can not get set up to listen, and put the blame on the gear :^)

The "stylus" is the diamond, and does not warm up, or is it affected by temperature.

The elastomer suspension in the cartridge lossens up after the first few sides of play (after a period of non use), and then the sound improves noticeably (with a high resolution system).

Elastomer properties change with temperature.

Not to be too pedantic, "warm up your stylus" is a figure of speech, Don, but your input is much appreciated. ;^)

While diamond is an excellent thermal conductor the contact area is minute and generated heat has to go somewhere so I would surmise it will both manifest in the vinyl and travel elsewhere. Since the interface is small the heat-sinking effect of the cantilever would be similarly small. Whether that transmitted heat has an influence on the suspension I'll leave open to discussion.

I would also imagine the vibration of the elastomer generates a certain degree of heat as well. Would it be as much as the former? I don't know.

How any change of state affects SQ is the reason why were here ;^)

David_99....if NASA & the cryo-addicts can deep freeze their CDs, you can microwave your black pizza...  ;^)

Here is a related aside. An interesting little factoid for your mental archive. I’ve maintained this viewpoint for decades and I’ve never seen an "official" confirmation until now but, even today, many folk are still surprised when it is mentioned. The only difference here is that received wisdom indicated the recovery time was 24 hours but this source indicates that the LP could be played 50 times in succession without severe/audible effect and that it might take hundreds of plays (or more) before you start to hear a difference. Please bear in mind it is the writer’s opinion so stay safe! Quote :-

"Records are made from a polyvinyl chloride/polyvinyl acetate copolymer at 90/10 mix roughly and its melting point is between 110 and 120 degrees centigrade. I was a record production and development chemist at EMI for 6 years and mucked around with various record mixtures. The stylus does indeed ’melt’ the plastic at a macro level, the plastic immediately resetting itself back to where it was: there would be no noticeable degradation of the record in the short term but repeated playing, especially the heavy modulated grooves of the record, will over thousands of playing, eventually give a degradation that is discernable. Nowt to worry about in the short term though: dust is probably a greater enemy as is plasticiser migration from record inner sleeves."

Oh no! Now we have to worry about anti-static sleeves. Aaaaaarghhhh!!!

A final note : This report had me wondering how they could tell the difference between "thermal wear" and "physical wear" i.e. measure the heat at the interface? Then it dawned on me....thermal camera trained on the "hotspot" (?????)

I find a tumbler with 2-3 fingers of Bourbon applied orally to the listener while preparing the turntable for a listening session warms the music ever so delightfully.  

Just watch out those 3 fingers don't become 18 fingers ;^)

I remember a study on the perils of drunk-driving when subjects were each plied with a drink then invited to write a simple statement after each additional drink, "I'm not too drunk to drive".

After a few one bloke eventually wrote, "I'm not too drunk to drink" ;^) :D