Best stylus type for needledropping used records?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by gloomrider, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. gloomrider

    gloomrider Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA, USA
    This thread over on Vinyl Engine got me thinking. I purchase lots of used vinyl for needledrops. I currently have an Ortofon 2M Bronze with a "nude fine line" stylus. I have read that line styli tend reveal more of the vinyl imperfections than some other stylus types. Is this true?

    I'm curious what others think about a good stylus type choice for abused (or "well loved" as the graders in Amoeba like to say) vinyl.

    Thanks
  2. krlpuretone

    krlpuretone Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Grantham, NH
    I've found the opposite - in my experience, a line-type stylus is less prone to picking up surface imperfections.
  3. Stefan

    Stefan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    I've seen similar threads and several different ideas about this topic. For many folks advocating the AT440MLa/AT150MLX subscribe to the theory that since the stylus tip is finer, it rides lower in the groove and since much of the wear on used records was possibly done with larger spherical styli, the ATs are tracking undamaged surfaces. However, that's only really relevant for one kind of damage. For other kinds of damage this aspect may actually be either irrelevant or else make it worse. This would include lines across the groove that create clicks, imperfections in the vinyl that cause pops, or dirt, grime, mold release compound, etc., that actually gets lodged down in the bottom of the groove where the finer styli actually track. Plus these cartridges tend to produce more details, which means the damage, dirt, etc., get reproduced with more, er, "fidelity." :)
    shadowlord likes this.
  4. Bob_in_OKC

    Bob_in_OKC Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    I was kind of wondering if this might be the case, since a line contact stylus makes more contact low in the groove and scratches are across the top.
  5. Stefan

    Stefan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    This being said, my first cartridge after jumping back into vinyl in 2006 was an elliptical (OM20 Super) and all the carts I've had since (AT150MLX, 2M Bronze, 2M Black, AT-OC9MLII) were much better for noise in general. Mind you out of those four the 2M Black was the noisiest.
  6. Vocalpoint

    Vocalpoint Well-Known Member

    I never think about what "stylus" to use when tackling any needledrop - be it a new or well loved record. For me - it's all about how well you clean that record prior to dropping it.

    I too have a Bronze in my Technics and any drops done with it sound fantastic - but I maintain - it's due to a good cleaning regiment. Get that crap off the record before dropping it - is the key takeaway. Then let the cart do it's job.

    VP
    c-eling likes this.
  7. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Some types of records are better suited for Conical tips. RCA Dynagroove, London Phase 4, and similar and mono discs are best with one.
  8. missan

    missan Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Stockholm
    I believe it´s difficult to say as noise can depend on many things. Normally I see little problems with noise if the frequency response is reasonably flat.
  9. gloomrider

    gloomrider Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA, USA
    I've yet to see a "stylus selector" control on a turntable, but it would be pretty cool if there was such a thing :goodie:
    Thurenity likes this.
  10. Paul Chang

    Paul Chang Forum Old Boy, Former Senior Member Has-Been

    Manual ones do exisit. :winkgrin:
  11. jim tavegia

    jim tavegia Forum Resident

    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    If you could change out carts easily, like the older 4 pin cart shell types with the locking ring, I would have 2 spare head-shells. One would have a Shure M92 (or similar) on it and the other would have another model with a spherical tip. I would first play any used vinyl on one of those before it ever made it to one of my main tables. See which one is quieter.

    Second, a SpinClean would be mandatory for the first cleaning of any used vinyl I have. That is what I do. No vinyl gets played until it is cleaned.
    Strummergas and c-eling like this.
  12. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    For the really bumpy rides I throw on my Ortofon Serato 120
  13. JBStephens

    JBStephens I don't "drop needles" or "pull triggers".

    Location:
    Western NC
    I strongly advise against dropping records. They tend to break rather easily. :)

    To correctly transfer albums requires a variety of styli, each suited to the particular groove you're working with. An AT Fineline is a good choice for fidelity. A 0.7 mil conical is the choice for mono, and don't forget to always sum the channels to eliminate the vertical signal, where a great deal of noise comes from. If you want to get extravagant, get a 1.0 mil stylus for mono... that's the width of the original cutting sylus. A conical might give you unwanted inner groove distortion, however. In 15 years of digitizing everything from cylinders to LP's, I can say with all honesty that there is no such thing as "one size fits all". A minimum of two is needed, better three, to do the job. And, as noted, CLEAN the record thoroughly, preferably with a wet vacuum machine.

    Good luck and have fun.
  14. Robin L

    Robin L Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Fresno, California
    On the other hand, for junkyard dog LPs you want a stylus that's rugged, easy to replace and cheap, as the likelihood of damaging a stylus with a damaged record is on the high side. Shure m-44 styli are about $30 a pop, Shure 97 replacement styli are around $50.
  15. Paul Saldana

    Paul Saldana Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hallandale Beach
    image.jpg
  16. back2vinyl

    back2vinyl Well-Known Member

    Location:
    London, UK
    Just my opinion but I think the top priorities in needledropping should be a) very accurate tracking and b) a fairly neutral frequency response, rather than how quiet the stylus is in the groove. a) would certainly point to a MicroLine-type stylus. You're never going to get rid of all surface noise whichever route you choose so better to get a cartridge that does a) and b) very well and then use a light application of ClickRepair to get rid of the ticks. It won't have any effect on the music.
  17. Beattles

    Beattles Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Florence, SC
  18. gloomrider

    gloomrider Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA, USA
    Thanks. Where I was going was record wear. I thought I read somewhere that an elliptical wouldn't reveal the wear as "accurately" as a line stylus. Sometimes, it's either not possible or not financially feasible to find a clean copy of a particular title to needledrop. I agree completely with your priorities. But sometimes a) can cause you to want to give up on the effort if all you have is a worn LP.
  19. Ben Adams

    Ben Adams Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    Gloomrider, I use a microline stylus, either a Nagaoka MP-500 or Shure M97xE w/ Jico stylus for most of my drops. I prefer the detail that the microlines bring out, but they do tend to accentuate pops and ticks. However, they deal better with overall record wear and are best with inner-groove distortion.

    For records that simply have too much surface noise where software tic removal is not a real option, I swap out to my Nagaoka MP-110, which is a very good sounding elliptical. It has a warmer overall sound but definitely loses something in resolution.

    Most of the time, the existing tics and pops on an LP are something I can clean up with various software solutions (like ClickRepair or iZotope) and wind up with an enjoyable archival needledrop, so I generally stick with one of the microlines. Maybe 1 record out of 20 requires the MP-110.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2013
    Thurenity likes this.
  20. Thurenity

    Thurenity Listening to some tunes

    I do something very similar to what Ben does, except it's the AT440Mla, with either my AT120e or MP-110 as my swap-out carts. I have a list of all the settings for each as far as tracking force + three different headshells (Technics TT) so it literally takes me 20 seconds to swapout / readjust tracking force and away I go.
    Ben Adams and c-eling like this.
  21. Ben Adams

    Ben Adams Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    Oh! I can't stress this enough. CLEAN YOUR RECORDS FIRST. Even new ones! There aren't capital letters big enough to make that point. At the very least, invest in a Spin Clean. Cleaning will remove the source of many pops and tics, reveal more high end clarity on even damaged LPs, and also will help preserve the life of your stylus.
  22. back2vinyl

    back2vinyl Well-Known Member

    Location:
    London, UK
    Ah, I see what you're saying. But I think the advantage of a MicroLine is that it would get past the worn area and dig deeper into the groove to reach virgin vinyl - at least in theory!
  23. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Sometimes the MicroLine does, sometimes it reproduces it worse. Try it, if it works great use it. Try other options if it does not.
  24. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Quoted for truth and for reality. These reasons are why professional archivists have all those stylus options and some or many oddball custom tips available. For the best reproduction of the groove walls they reproduce.
  25. gloomrider

    gloomrider Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA, USA
    If there is one thing I have learned as an audiophile, getting more stuff to solve one problem always creates three more.:wiggle: