What are the tell tale signs of a worn out stylus?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by kozy814, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. kozy814

    kozy814 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I have a Sota Moombean table which I've owned since the mid-late 1990's. I am the original owner. The cart I have on it now is a Benz Micro Silver (a replacement of the MC20E2 which I bought setup from a local dealer). It's been a great sounding set-up. Lately when I play records I've been hearing distortion in the bass mostly. Also sibilance in many vocal passages. This is when I play LPs I know are good cuts that do not usually have this problem. I'm pretty good about cleaning the stylus, and have done so many times over the last couple weeks to mitigate the sonic distortion. Needless to say I am not playing vinyl right now.

    Looking for input and possible suggestions for a replacement cart, as it seems like that's the direction I will be going next.

    TIA!
     
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  2. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker sh.tv member number 666

    Location:
    Northern VA, USA
    Sounds like you need a new stylus. That's what happens with the worn one on my 440MLa. I have to constantly clean it and it can't get to the end of a side without distorting.
     
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  3. Quidjay

    Quidjay Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San Francisco
    sibilance and distortion are definitely tell-tale signs. It's time.

    It sounds like that stylus had a great run, though!
     
  4. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Southern US
    For me it’s when I start jonesing for a new one.
     
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  5. Gethan Wall

    Gethan Wall Agent Provocateur

    Location:
    Parts Unknown
    Hey Phil, how many hours did you get on the MLA til it started doing this?
     
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  6. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident

    Interesting...I've never gotten distortion in the bass from a worn stylus, but the sibilance where there wasn't any before is a tell-tale sign. Also, hearing ticks and clicks where there weren't any before is an indicator as well -- time for a new stylus.
     
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  7. kozy814

    kozy814 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Well, now the ticks and clicks are there. It almost sounds like innee groove distortion on the outside tracks. It's very obvious in acoustics passages. My Sterling Lee Hulko cut of Tea For The Tillerman sounds like gunk. I bought a second copy thinking it's worn out!
     
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  8. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    You'll hear it first, just like you are experiencing. It's one of the best arguments for a test record, because you can run the tracking tracks and see how it does. You have to retain some memory of how it performed after original installation and after some period of 50-100 hrs. Re-level, re-check, re-clean, and then do it again. If it is picking up distortion at a lower +db track that it did new, you have degraded performance. Obviously, some people use a cart for thousands of hours. Lots of people tend to note a change at around 800 to 1,000 hours. That's me.
     
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  9. kozy814

    kozy814 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks everybody for the great info!! Pays to be part of a community of well knowledged "professional" enthusiasts as my wife likes to call me. :D

    Now i need to select something new. Considering all advice at this point :cool:

    Probably not going with the Benz as I would like a bit more output. Maybe the Ortofon 2M Blue....
     
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  10. tables_turning

    tables_turning In The Groove

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic, USA
    Best to keep that worn stylus away from your vinyl until you decide on a replacement. :tsk:
     
  11. kozy814

    kozy814 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yessir. I stopped. Its CDs right now.
     
  12. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Something extra to check out: Have a look at at the stylus azimuth (should be straight up at 90 degrees) and the cantilever (should be centered) If you notice off-center of the cantilever, most of the problem is suspension fatigue. This can be caused by improper anti-skate and over the life of the stylus which will cause cantilever to rest off-center with stylus lean. The off-center cantilever throws the stylus out of line with the groove, increases distortion, impairs trackability, and increases stylus wear.

    It seems to me after approx 1000 hours, you should not have a bass distortion problem, nor any prevalent sibilance. (may indicate more than normal wear on the stylus)

    If you notice this, have a look at the anti-skate mechanism of your turntable. May I ask what arm you have on your Sota?
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018 at 5:08 AM
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  13. kozy814

    kozy814 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I got some photos the other night to give myself a closer look at things. The cantilever appears to be pretty much dead center. Though I don't have a photo, I think the stylus rests at dang near 90 degrees. Not seeing a ton of fatigue here on the mechanism, which surprised me a bit. I don't really see much in the way of wear on the stylus either. Guess some thing can't be seen even with magnification
    [​IMG] ...
     
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  14. kozy814

    kozy814 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Not certain on the arm. It appears to be similar to the Syntec S220 these come equipped with on the current models. It's been so long since I bought this that I unfortunately don't have the paper work. I have an email out to Sota to gather more data on what they did in that era.
     
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  15. Spin Doctor

    Spin Doctor Forum Resident

    The 2M Blue will definitely give you more output. I found it was too much of a good thing. In my case it brought everything forward and really spotlit the horns. I tried to give it some break-in time, but it didn't feel like it was getting any better and was getting on my nerves, so I got rid of it. The higher level models may be more refined, I'd suppose.
     
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  16. 911s55

    911s55 Forum Resident

    What are the tell tale signs of a worn out stylus?

    When you start asking for opinions on an internet audio forum.
     
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  17. kozy814

    kozy814 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I think Sota may be outfitting these now with a 2M Blue. I sent them a note asking for a recommendation for this table (but you guys are quicker to respond and probably a bit more unvarnished :cool:). I would not have a problem spending a bit more $$ than what the 2M Blues goes for. Really the best in that price point is my goal. And I think MM may be the way to roll with my setup.
     
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  18. Spin Doctor

    Spin Doctor Forum Resident

    Yeah. The way to choose components is through synergy. You want to add stuff that makes your system sound the way you want. In my case, I didn't really need the added output.

    A friend of mine has a Sota Sapphire, but I don't know what cart he's running.
     
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  19. kozy814

    kozy814 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I totally appreciate your input. It's the kind of perspective I won't get in a comments section on Amazon for example. I think I've been spoiled with the way this table has sounded. I'm afraid any major change will mess with my "zone" so to speak.
     
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  20. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker sh.tv member number 666

    Location:
    Northern VA, USA
    many, many hours! I don't have a counter but as can be seen in the listening on vinyl thread i play a lot of records.
     
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  21. Gethan Wall

    Gethan Wall Agent Provocateur

    Location:
    Parts Unknown
    I have the new VM540ML bought it in November last year, still going strong, I play about 5 records a day.
     

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