I've been using the Zerodust for a while with great results. Quick and easy to use.
25 responses Add your response
I've used both and prefer the Extreme phono.
Once the Zerodust gets dirty, you have to wash it, and it loses it's effectiveness. Eventually, mine seperated from the paper backing, and became useless.
The Extreme Phono, you can just kind of fold it over and it will eventually settle into a new position with a clean surface.
I have been using the zerodust for 2.5 years with great results for day to day use. I still from time to time like to use my brush cleaner.
I would also like to point out that Riffer is cleaning it wrong. I remove the gell from the little box and wash it very gently in mild soap. I then blot the back of it dry with a paper towel and air dry the top. Mine comes back good as new 2.5 years later.
I can't comment on the extreem phono product.
in use the brush after each side and the gel after each listening session.
can't comment on any other but I'm guessing they are pretty much the same so go for the cheapest.
I have heard of some who use Magic Eraser, they take the gel out and use that. another suggestion i've swiped from another poster is below. the guy who i stole this from is adamant about stylus hygeine.
Go buy a mouse pad with the sorbathane-like wrist protection pad.
Open the plastic covering over the pad and remove the inner "jelly"
Cut into squares and keep the hard backing on the bottom attached...twice the size of sugar cubes seems good.
Lower stylus on wait thirty seconds and viola all dirt gone.
There is no residue as it doesn't cling to the stylus.
When it gets dirty go rinse in distilled water and clean with dry cloth without removing fibres...such as a microfibre clothe.
Keep in sealed container or in Gladwarp to avoid drying out.
It lasts for ever........give the other pieces to friends
My friends and I have been using for years with no ill effects
Microscopy reveals no residue or sound degradation
Crazy, cheap...but true.
As the co-discoverer of the Magic Eraser as stylus cleaner, I still agree with Spencer. We've owned a ZeroDust. We still have an XtremePhono lying around somewhere. We've tried RRL #9 (liquid).
None of these works as well as a properly applied Magic Eraser followed by a dry brush. I've been using it for over two years with successful results and it costs next to nothing. Search the archives on VA and you'll find literally hundreds of testimonials.
A friend recently sent his (very expensive) cartridge in for inspection and possible retipping. It was no longer sounding clean and dynamic. The manufacturer told him it didn't need retipping. It needed cleaning. This stylus had been religiously "cleaned" with a ZeroDust after every side.
Jonathon Carr of Lyra explained to me that heat and friction from the stylus-vinyl interace leave a mono-molecular layer of vinyl bonded to the stylus after each side. This layer must be removed or it will continue to accrue. (A stylus with this layer tends to look cloudy or yellow.)
Gels won't remove this layer, they aren't aggressive enough. Liquids won't remove it unless they contain alchohol or other solvents that are dangerous to the suspension. What's needed is something that will physically abrade those vinyl molecules loose. Linn used to recommend a bit of fine sandpaper. That works, but the Magic Eraser is safer and probably more effective. It is compliant enough to clean all sides of a stylus without stressing the cantilever, yet abrasive at electron microscope levels of magnification - exactly what's needed.
YMMV of course, but the Magic Eraser combines sound scientific backing with the practical endorsement of hundreds of satisfied users. I wish I could sell them for $25 apiece!
I second the Magic Eraser. I put crazy-glue on a plastic coffee stirrer and jamb it into a sugar-cubed size piece. Then with the TA in its rest (locked down) I lift it up against the stylus/cantilever and then back down. No back-and-forth action! Not necessary -- I've checked w/ a scope. THEN I use the ZeroDust to remove any particles. I've found it removes more than a soft brush, there's no risk of damage, and most important (again I've checked this w/ a scope) the ZerpDust removes the crap in that pesky spot BEHIND the stylus up near the cantilever -- whereas brushing (back to front) won't get rid of it.
Grain alcohol (Everclear 190 proof, almost 100% grain alcohol) dampened on either a vdH or AQ -type stylus brush or on one of the original vibrating versions (uses the same kind of brush) will get rid of the glaze Doug mentions, but only if you use the 100% grain alcohol. "Dampened" means you put several drops on the brush 'til it saturates, then just before use (100% grain evaporates in a flash) press the brush against a tissue or clean cloth and use immediately. There's no chance of any getting up the cantilever this way (it evaporates too fast anyway!) and it will get a stylus absolutely "sparkling" new.
I'm totally against any kind of stylus conditioners (StyLast, etc.) First of all, I can't imagine any kind of coating (except maybe epoxy!) sticking to a stylus through more than one rotation of a record! And there exists a real possibility of it travelling up the cantilever -- and besides, how are you supposed to get the build-up off the cantilever after several applications?!
If you want to improve the stylus/vinyl interface, treat the vinyl. I really like Last preservative. I know a lot of people don't, and I don't use it on every record myself, but here's what it does: Vinyl has a lot of volatile compounds in it (stuff that evaporates out in time like "new car smell") An older record (over 10 years, not sealed) will, to a greater or lesser degree, lose enough of these compounds to cause a certain amount of microscopic crazing (like a dry riverbed or old furniture finishes). Last replaces these compounds. It can't repair the microscopic cracks of course, but it causes the vinyl to "swell" just enough to close them up.
The "problem" with Last Preservative, is that no amount of post-treatment buffing will make the record immediately playable, nor will a quick spin on your vacuum record cleaning machine totally get rid of any excess. You simply have to play the record at least once so the stylus pressure can "squeeze" any excess out of the reconditioned vinyl. Other than that hassle, this is not bad thing for the stylus, which I've checked afterward, and the residue seems to come away cleanly with just a ZeroDust.
The good news is you only have to do it once every 10 years ;<)) It will not be affected by subsequent cleanings with record solutions, if they don't have alcohol in them.
Neil's tips for using the ME are exactly right. Here's one more especially for those with shaky fingers or poor closeup vision.
It's just as effective and possibly safer to dip the stylus into a piece of ME as it is to poke the stylus with a piece of ME on a stick.
Cut off a coin-sized piece of ME and glue it to, well, a coin! Place the coin on the platter and dip the stylus in and out a couple of times using the cueing lever.
It does make sense that a ZeroDust or ExtremePhono could remove loosened particulates better than a dry brush. Now where did I put that thing... ?
Never heard of Magic Eraser, what the heck is it?
A member I bought a cartridge from threw in a ZeroDust he had lying around as an afterthought when I picked up the cart, so I didn't pay for mine. I'm glad I didn't. Oh, it works perfectly well for removing dust and grime from the stylus. But from what I can tell, the polymer 'gel' material itself is the same kind of stuff that 'plastic worm' fishing lures are made from, minus any additives like colors or stanky oils. You can buy that plastic for about $20/gallon in bulk from tackle suppliers, and a gallon will make several hundred plastic worms in molds you can pour yourself at home, using either a microwave or an inexpensive warming pot to heat the liquid plastic to about 350F degrees, at which point it turns from milky to crystal-clear and takes a permanent set when cooled. Commercially made plastic worms (with extra additives) sell for a few bucks per package at retail stores. ZeroDust sells the equivalent of one worm's worth of molded soft plastic as the stylus cleaner, packages it in a toylike hard plastic container with a little piece of foamboard as a substrate, and charges audiophiles, what, $80 a pop? Sheer genius.
Tending bar to help put myself through grad school I dreamed of the day I would be wealthy enough to market jars of pimento stuffed olives soaked in Boodles gin to the rich and famous.
'Teeni Tots - bet you can't drink just one.
Now, years later, I can only dream of marketing jars of foamed melamine cubes soaked in grain alcohol to wealthy boomer vinylphiles. StyloPhilo - now with Scrubbing Stubbles. Get in on the ground floor for distribution - meet your quota and earn points towards a Proscenium Gold in dashing uber-pink. Dirty needles - who needs 'em?
No one hit wonder, we'll follow that up with ITG (In-The-Groove), the ultimate marriage of nano-technology and bioscience, delivering tiny enzymatic engines that literally eat the dirt right out of the grooves then, like a truck load of guys tossing gravel on potholes, miniaturized self-burnishing Spackle-Bots back-fill nasty microscopic cracks with a proprietary polycarbon blend made under ISO2000 conditions from fine shelf-ripened VG quality shaded dog retreads. A light vacumning and you're done. Don't wait, Get In-The-Groove Today.
From publicly available BASF documentation:
======== snip ===========================
To understand the astonishing capabilities of the Magic Eraser, we have to take a closer look at the special properties of Basotect®. On curing, melamine resin becomes almost as hard as glass, explains Dr. Christof Möck, responsible at BASF for the global business management of this special foam. The hardness of this material is one of the secrets of its cleaning talent: like extremely fine sandpaper, the foam eraser rubs the particles of dirt from the surface. Basotect® still manages to remain soft and supple thanks to the fine structure of the foam created by foaming the resin. Unlike rigid polystyrene-based foams such as Styropor, open-cell foams have interconnected air chambers. In the case of Basotect®, only the cell strands formed when several cavities impinge on each other remain. What looks under the electron microscope like foam on bath water is actually a finely structured three-dimensional network consisting of extremely slender and therefore flexible plastic filaments. The large, almost freely accessible surface produced by this airy structure binds the abraded particles of dirt and contributes to the eraser's astounding grime-removing capabilities.
Basotect® is used for soundproofing and insulating in music studios and cinemas but also in the construction and automotive industries. The foam has recently also been used in the manufacture of ultra flame retardant airplane seating because of its low weight, reports the specialist Möck. The magical cleaning effect was only discovered through the persistence of developers aided by a little luck.
======== snip ===========================
Me? I found the Extreme Phono goop works fine, but can leave tiny gooplets of itself on the stylus. Magic Eraser takes too many dips to do the trick and only works part of the time. ZeroDust is not perfect, but its what I use, along with StyLast, after every side. Not for hollow cantilevered cartridges, StyLast claims its good for one side only and while I have no science on its efficacy, it has not had a problem in my system for over twenty years and my carts tend to last a long time.
Zaikesman, I think you can still get the Zerodust for 1/2 price from Mehran (the ZYX guy) at Sorasound. You can buy a lifetime supply (one package) of Magic Eraser at Home Depot for around five bucks (maybe less, I cant remember)
You're probably right about the low cost of the gel material, but the Zerodust is designed specifically for it's purpose, and is very convenient to use. Certainly worth 40 bucks.
We all have a dream, but a hot-pink Proscenium? ;-)
My resident audiophile and materials scientist (aka Paul) is familiar with the molecular properties described in that passage you excerpted from BASF. That's what first gave him the idea of using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser as a sylus cleaner.
If Mr. Clean ME doesn't clean your stylus you can always use it to scrub the ink off your printing blankets!
I used to think the same as Nsgarch, namely that aggressive cleaning with something like the ME was only necessary every ten sides or so and that a dry brushing was adequate otherwise.
Jonathon Carr of Lyra encouraged me to clean more frequently, for reasons I posted above. I took his word for it and do seem to get better results, FWIW.