Do the more basic stylus shapes (conical and elliptical) cause records to get worn out quicker?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by colby2415, May 19, 2017.

  1. colby2415

    colby2415 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I have heard this repeatedly and I just want to get my facts straight. Some think that the more basic shaped styli such as conical styli are more damaging to a record and it's grooves than say a shibata or micro-line stylus due to the type of surface contact they make with the groove walls. I am not sure what to believe anymore. I am just curious as to whether it really makes a difference to record groove wear.

  2. Sid Hartha

    Sid Hartha Well-Known Member

    The Midwest
    I've never heard of this. Can you post some examples?
  3. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    'Some think', well maybe some think too much. Never heard this rumor before. I highly doubt the styli mentioned cause more wear otherwise they wouldn't have lasted in production as long as they have been and currently still are.

    I have played my early 60s albums repeatedly with both types of styli and they still sound great all these years later. All my carts were either conical or elliptical although now I'm using a contact line nowadays.
  4. George Blair

    George Blair Forum Resident

    Portland, OR
    Who are you listening to?
  5. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    A worn stylus wears out records
    A stylus tracking too light wears out
    Conical retrieve less information
    Are excellent on worn records
    Some conical are quite sophicated
    ( Denon ) eliptical .micro ridge,
    Are more detailed .This is usually
    Reflected in costs.
    Set up correctly all are fine.
    Grant, 4011021, Panama Hotel and 16 others like this.
  6. The Pinhead


  7. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    I don´t think much tests have been done on this. Shure did some tests in the -60s, maybe You can find something there.
  8. colby2415

    colby2415 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Not listening to anyone in particular, I always take this crap with a grain of salt.
    I actually just found this stuff randomly searching google one day. This is why I am questioning the validity of the statement in the first place.

    VINYL 101: The Turntable Cartridge And The Stylus - Vinyl Junkies

    Here's a quote from this page

    This could be true, but whether the difference in contact area causes that much more wear I do not know.
  9. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    Oh gosh, that approaches nonsense. Every type stylus "contacts the record in two small points on each side"...
    There's a lot lot lot lot more to it...
    vwestlife, dmckean and Hubert jan like this.
  10. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    East TN
    Conicals and basic ellipticals are just fine on record life, provided they're tracked at recommended forces (use the middle to high forces of the range) and records are kept clean, and styli changed when necessary.
  11. Spsesq

    Spsesq Forum Resident

    New Jersey
    I have always been told that; assuming the cartridge is set up correctly; the tracking force is correctand the antiskate is correctly holding the stylus in the center of the groove, the the difference between the stylus shapes determine the amount of detail in the recording the stylus pulls out of the groove.

    It's an information gathering comparison your are making, not a record wear comparison.

    I look at it like a camera lens: the larger the aperture, the more light is let in and the more information about the image is collected...same here.. the finer the stylus, the more groove surface is contacted and the more information is gathered from the groove.

    I personally have seen this difference when upgrading from an Ortofon 2M red to an elliptical 2M Blue to my current Shibata 2M Black. Each upgrade revealed more details in the particular recording than the level below while none of them wore out my record grooves because they were set correctly.
    The FRiNgE, Heckto35 and Aftermath like this.
  12. colby2415

    colby2415 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    The scary part is that this is easily found online, most people don't take everything with as much a grain of salt as they should when it comes to stuff on the internet.

    Yeah, it seems most common that people say the more advanced shapes draw out more detail from the grooves. Interesting that you noticed a difference when upgrading, as for me it was the totally opposite. Went from the 2m red to a mp-110 and a m35x as a secondary cart, but I end up using it way more than the elliptical naga. Sometimes it just sounds better, I don't know how to explain it but it doesn't really seem that the elliptical stylus really gives more "detail" from my experience.
  13. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Forum Resident

    Theres too many variables. Two different vinyl blends can have different plasticity or pliability values. Thus the exact same stylus at the exact same pressure will have different interactions with the surfaces. This sort of stuff is for nerds that are thinking too hard about things that will never affect them in real time. I'm waiting for records I've had for 45 years to wear out. Ain't close to happening yet. Maybe when I'm 345 years old.

    PS Since the mid 70's I've used used elliptical and fine line/shibata type stylus' tracking at around 2 grams or so.
  14. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    It's not the first time that I have heard thst the Shure M35x hits the spot.
    I believe Steve Hoffmsn himself
    Said something along the same lines as Colby 2415.
    I may try one , always keep an open mind!
  15. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    There are some very old studies you can find on Vinyl Engine or AudioKarma IIRC. Personally, I wouldn't worry about groove wear. The main thing to worry about is keeping records clean, setting up your cart properly, and changing styli before they are worn out and start carving up your records. Use whatever cart works best for you, your system, and the features you care about. Every cart is a compromise to some extent. If you have a removable headshell and can easily swap carts, it's nice to have more than one available like different tools in a toolbox for different purposes.
  16. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    No simple answer would be right!
    In simplest terms, yes the stylus shape makes a difference in wear and wear rate.
    Also in simple terms, the conical is the least safe on a valuable record collection. Some audiophiles recommend the conical, with the claim their records have never been harmed.

    Some valuable Nerdology according to this

    The truth is that the conical is suitable for older records which were cut to a limited frequency range to about 15 kHz, and some not even that much. However the elliptical and line contact stylus also track older records flawlessly IME, never had a record damaged by a high quality premium stylus shape.

    Second truth, the conical mistracks the more aggressive groove, the inner groove, the highly pitched groove (higher frequencies plus higher amplitude = greater acceleration forces) The conical is forced vertically in the lateral groove (mono groove) or "pinch effect", more commonly described as inner groove distortion (IGD) No conical is capable of tracking without pinch effect. This is a fact of the physical universe, unchangeable, and not a matter of anyone's opinion (very valuable information here) Pinch effect places an inordinate amount of pressure on the groove walls, which leads to the common visual/audible observation of inner groove wear, where groove wear appears first.

    Third truth, the conical is forgiving of setup errors. A record is less likely to be damaged by a misaligned conical vs. a misaligned line contact (devastating)

    Fourth truth, a high quality elliptical or shibata, or line contact places less stress on the groove walls, much higher trackability, lower wear rate, very much lower. This is provided the elliptical or shibata is aligned accurately and also that the stylus is cut and polished to high quality standards. (which virtually all shibata types are)

    Fifth truth, a low quality elliptical can damage your records, even on one play... the equivalent of a worn or chipped stylus.... IMO.. avoid cheap $10.00 generic replacement ellipticals.

    Keep em spinnin,
    Steve VK
  17. colby2415

    colby2415 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yeah, didnt know he was a fan of the m35x either, it is a great little cheap cartridge and I am so glad I decided to take a chance on it.
    H8SLKC likes this.
  18. Hubert jan

    Hubert jan Forum Resident

    AFTER 60 YEARS playing records cheap conicals or budget ellipticals fullfilled all my expectations regarding sound quality provided the needle is renewed when sound is degrading.
    600 dollar replacement needles snake oil. Big scam, I have been scammed too once.
    The Pinhead and H8SLKC like this.
  19. Spsesq

    Spsesq Forum Resident

    New Jersey
    In your case it seems like you are comparing different cartridge brands AND stylus types. I respectfully propose that in order to really hear the differences in purely stylus type, (conical, elliptical and Shibata/fine line) you should compare similar cartridges that use the same or similar mechanics. Ortofon is a perfect example as the 2M line uses the similar mechanics up through the line and yet have distinctly different stylus types as you move up the line. I did notice a major difference when upgrading within the same cartridge family.

    I went from a 2M red cart with conical stylus to a 2M blue elliptical and noticed a detail enhancement in clarity in the highs, clarity in the voice and less distortion in the high hats and cymbals. The elliptical Blue stylus was very good. good for most people. But I listen to a lot of jazz, classical and rock and I wanted more detail.

    So, when I went to the 2M Black, (still within the same 2M family) the better cartridge design, internal wiring and Shibata stylus was night and day from the 2M Blue. Much more detail in my classical music, more instrumental separation in the sound stage. However, because of the increased surface area of the groove contacted by the Shibata stylus as compared to a conical or even an elliptical stylus, (and I did point this out in another thread) the 2M Black made errors in pressings, surface noise and imperfections, dirt, dust and static MUCH more pronounced. At first I thought, "I am not happy, this sounds terrible". But when I cleaned some records very thoroughly and bought some really good pressings as replacements for old worn albums, boy, what a difference!

    My Japanese pressing of Genesis Duke is fantastic, quiet and all of the instrumentation is clear and the soundstage very distinct as to positioning of the voice, drums, keyboards and guitars. You can really separate out each musical position. And playing my Deutch Gramophone or early Decca pressings of classical music reveals things that I did not hear before. In order to use this cartridge you must have pristine records, RCM cleaned and de-static paraphernalia used or you will hear all the imperfections the lesser cartridges did not pick up. You will also hear why some high end critics pan certain re-mastering recordings or pressings because your stylus will pick up all the faults.
  20. colby2415

    colby2415 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Makes sense, or in other words it is more than just the type of stylus tip that affects sound quality. Also is the 2m red actually a conical? I always thought it was an elliptical stylus.
    Heckto35 and Spsesq like this.
  21. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Yes, according to Vinyl Engine database, 2M red is elliptical. Ortofon does offer a 2M mono cartridge with a conical stylus. (not a 2M red)
    Gramps Tom and Spsesq like this.
  22. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Marysville, WA
  23. Spsesq

    Spsesq Forum Resident

    New Jersey
    My mistake, yes a 2M Red is elliptical v. 2M Blue which is a nude elliptical

    2M Red:
    Frequency range - 20-22.000 Hz
    Frequency response - 20-20.000 Hz + 3 / - 1 dB
    Tracking ability at 315Hz at recommended tracking force *) - 70 µm
    Compliance, dynamic, lateral - 20 µm/mN
    Stylus type - Elliptical
    Stylus tip radius - r/R 8/18 µm

    2M Blue:
    Frequency range - 20-25.000 Hz
    Frequency response - 20-20.000 Hz + 2 / - 1 dB
    Tracking ability at 315Hz at recommended tracking force *) - 80 µm
    Compliance, dynamic, lateral - 20 µm/mN
    Stylus type - Nude Elliptical
    Stylus tip radius - r/R 8/18 µm
  24. colby2415

    colby2415 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    so what exactly is the difference between the two? Kinda curious now.
    Heckto35 likes this.
  25. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Portland, OR, USA
    "Nude" refers to the stylus tip being a complete diamond mounted into the cantilever shaft with the minimum glue required:

    As opposed to a "bonded" stylus (which is standard), where just the tip that contacts the record is diamond, which is bonded to a metal shank that is fitted to the cantilever:

    The top picture is a manufacturer's, so it of course looks prettier. The direct mounting along with minimum adhesive and interface materials give advantages that might improve sound in implementation. Since more diamond crystal is required with a nude stylus, the material cost is more.

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