The Finish Line for your Phono Cartridge- Stylus Wear by Mike Bodell

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Bill Hart, May 24, 2019.

  1. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin
    Well, that's interesting-- with an enclosed turntable. For me, I'm always (despite compulsive housecleaning) seeing dust motes, surface lint, etc. even though my room is pet free, and the windows are sealed, good HVAC system. And I figured that stuff just migrated to record surfaces during handling and play, including the vortex action of the platter -- something that Percy Wilson discussed in his 1964? paper.
    So, apart from vinyl shavings, what could it be? Perhaps some crud in the grooves that doesn't get fully removed during a wet cleaning? I've certainly seen stuff come up from a bad used record despite deep cleaning, but that's pretty rare. Or maybe it isn't. Veddy interesting.....
     
  2. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin
    I wouldn't get too carried away. You can do a good wet clean/vac/whatever and that's pretty much it. It is part of the compound, along with a bunch of other stuff, including thermal stabilizers and materials that allow better 'flow'. If you have access to the AES archive, there are some papers on it from the old days. There are some patents out there too that discuss it. A lot of vinyl compounding is proprietary and you will probably hit a wall at some point.
     
  3. Ray Parkhurst

    Ray Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    It does seem like this topic is very controversial. Some folks say there was mold release on older records, and certainly not on modern stampers. Some say the mold release is in the formulation, and may even "sweat" over time to lubricate the grooves! Others say nay, that it's just the cooling cycle that releases the record from the mold.
     
  4. BendBound

    BendBound Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bend, OR
    See this link to Vinyl Engine on the topic: Easy way to clean off mold release?- Vinyl Engine. The nine-post thread even has a letter from Jim Pendleton of Osage, who makes Audio Intelligent record cleaning solutions. I have encountered this vinyl snow a few times, but in my experience it is uncommon. There are a lot of threads on various audio websites about vinyl stamper mold releases compound. What I have been told is that something is added to the vinyl formulation that makes it easier for a pressed record to be released from a stamper. Maybe on occasion whatever is added is a bit too much and it leads to the stylus dandruff you showed. I suspect its a transient issue. But I have been told by the owner of one of the jazz reissue houses that the pressing plant they use did not stray stuff in the molds to release records from stampers. Someone knows. I don't.
     
  5. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin
    There are a lot of threads here on Hoffman about the subject, Mike. We've delved into this subject many times. Since it is part of the vinyl compound, it wouldn't manifest itself as something separate from the record surface. To the extent there is any sort of lubricant type residue-- which I think is overstating it- it ought to be ameliorated by a good wet clean with a decent fluid. No disrespect to the poster who raised it, but I don't think it's some distinct contaminant called mold release agent that we are seeing in those photos.
     
  6. Ray Parkhurst

    Ray Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    Keep in mind this "vinyl snow" for lack of better name was present after 144 plays of the same record without cleaning. Just a little bit flaking off on each play left a light dusting of snow on the stylus and record. While the stylus looks big in the picture, it's really very small, and the total amount of this snow is miniscule.
     
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  7. BendBound

    BendBound Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bend, OR
    I did notice an earlier SHF thread where you participated on this same subject, back in 2016. I also don't think its a distinct contaminant called mold release agent. But I am curious on what it is, and I wonder if its vinyl snow.
     
  8. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin
    Because it is part of the compound, I doubt you'd see 'shedding' of any sort of mold release agent apart from the vinyl itself unless there were some sort of chemical reaction. I doubt that heat at the contact point or friction from the stylus would cause the migration of the mold release agent to cling to the stylus. We'd need a materials science person to answer this, since I'm not.
     
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  9. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    sweet VA.

    Perhaps a tire analogy would work here?
    :wiggle:
     
  10. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin
    I think tires are molded, not pressed, no? How A Tire Is Made
     
  11. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    sweet VA.
  12. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin
    Hey Willie, just so you appreciate that there is merit to cross-disciplinary approaches and value in having enthusiasts participate in comparisons, experiments and "tests" (why leave all the fun to reviewers?- hell, we diss many of them anyway), I did a variety of comparisons and tests when I was into motor sports- one involved testing exhaust systems on Porsches. There were a bunch of different aftermarket ones that touted different performance characteristics. Through one of the enthusiast sites, a bunch of people got together with a speed shop located in the Midwest who provided the dynamometer and other test gear. Various people contributed exhaust systems; the one that was elusive was a Ruf, a product made by a then well-known 'tuner'/specialty builder. I agreed to fund the purchase of the exhaust system for testing with the understanding that if it 'won' I would have it installed on one of my cars (a GT 2 tricked out into a club sport- basically a track car with a VIN number). Ruf also agreed that if their product didn't produce more power than the others, I could have it returned by the speed shop and get a refund.
    The Ruf didn't win. The one that did was far cheaper. What they didn't tell me what how loud the damn thing was- your teeth would rattle.
    Moral of story- there are always more questions to ask.
    I salute the enthusiasts willing to dig down and try to address the questions that plague us in any hobby or pursuit. I like to think of it in terms of the old British (and perhaps other countries') enthusiasts clubs- the explorers, amateur scientists, geographers and other 'learned societies' that were, I think, more common in the late 19th and early 20th century. There was a huge amount of enthusiasm for science, experimentation and "technology" (stuff that was accessible to the shade-tree mechanic, like the Wright Bros. and didn't require huge overhead). I certainly don't put myself in the category of someone that smart, or making revolutionary "discoveries" but as a ideal or model, it's a cool thing to aspire to--
     
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  13. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    sweet VA.

    While I've considered most of this thread fascinating parlor chat sprinkled with interesting factoids....what Ray is doing has really caught my interest.
    Hats off to Ray!:tiphat:
    Just wondering how many repeated plays that poor LP can take!
    We shall see!
     
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  14. BendBound

    BendBound Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bend, OR
    I agree. Does anyone have a turntable with continuous play capabilities for mounting an Ortofon 2M Blue? This nude diamond elliptical tipped cartridge can be played at 2.0 grams. I'd like to see how a long contact diamond wears at that tracking force. They cost about $235, and if a bunch of us were willing to go in on it, and someone was willing to run it, that would make a terrific companion test.

    The diamond appears to be gem quality, as seen in a larger image: 2M Blue.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
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  15. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    sweet VA.

    Interesting.
    Although I run mine at 1.8 which is the recommended weight. But 2.0 is an acceptable weight according to Ortofon, yet at its max.
     
  16. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Location:
    Boston MA
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  17. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    There is not traditional release agent as one might use in other molding applications. In some plastic molding applications, the form is polished with hard (smelly) wax, in others, a spray barrier per-use. Not here.

    About the only evidence I can put forth is from this 1942 video - manufacturing shellac discs from "18 different ingredients". At 12 minutes, we see a technician polishing a fresh metal stamper face with a compound and wiping it clean (not sanding the reverse), arguably with a substance left behind that might get on the first record pressings. You can see five minutes later in pressing, that there is nothing done between subsequent pressings, it's simply "1. insert labels; 2. insert biscuit; 3. stamp; 4. remove".

     
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  18. BendBound

    BendBound Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bend, OR
    You could just have the tip checked at 600 hours on the way to 2,000. :shh:
     
  19. Ray Parkhurst

    Ray Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    I still need to image the stylus, but the experiment just finished 192 hours. The 2nd 48 hours of the last 96 hours yielded about the same "look" to the record, a slight graying. Dry brushing showed a light layer of the same fine dust. I collected the dust for later analysis if I can figure out what to do with it. After the dry brushing there was still a hint of gray on the surface, so I wet cleaned, and it's now quite glossy again.

    This record has now seen ~576 plays. I will probably give it a listen before starting the next read point. Depending on how the stylus has worn, I may still do a check and clean each 48 hours, and may even do imaging each 96 hours. What I'm worried about is diamond dust causing the potential acceleration of wear that we've discussed.
     
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  20. Ray Parkhurst

    Ray Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    OK, here are the images at 192 hours. I'm surprised to see only a small amount of additional wear. The contacts are not even well-formed yet, but as you can see they are starting to show higher contrast versus the surrounding regions, which indicates a more polished and/or flatter contact surface. I am not really confident yet in assigning a measurement to the contacts since they are not uniformly polished. You can still see some roughness to the surface, so it's clear that a full contact "flat" has not yet formed, even at 192 hours.

    Going forward I will probably only show the contact flat images until I see significant wear that would show up in the profile image. The tip view is not really giving me much info yet either, and I may drop it all together, but will need to see what info it gives once significant wear is present. So here are the contact flat images at 192 hours:

    Outer Contact
    [​IMG]

    Inner Contact
    [​IMG]
     
  21. Optimize

    Optimize Forum Resident

    Location:
    EU
    Great work!
    Regarding using the same recording all the time.
    It is like lapping that continues grove with that same diamond over and over (~576 times).
    That specific groove and diamond will shape to each other. Because they are lapped together.
    That said the diamond will unnaturally* have a greater contact area seen over the whole that specific continues grove.

    How that will affect the wear is something to discuss. And I understand that it is not feasible to use manny records..

    * Unnaturally as is the natural usage is to play more or less always different LPs.
     
  22. Ray Parkhurst

    Ray Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    Yes, that is a reasonable hypothesis. If true I'd expect to see a "longer" wear patch, more like we'd see on a line contact stylus. So far this is not happening though, but perhaps it will happen after longer play hours. If the groove is indeed being shaped, it would only happen along the long radius dimension, not along the record play dimension. Thus the minor radius would probably wear more normally and we'd still see true flats wearing along the minor radius.
     
  23. Ray Parkhurst

    Ray Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    Another variable mentioned at the beginning of the experiment which could affect wear is the linear tracking tonearm. How much additional wear might occur due to anti-skating force of standard tonearms?

    A variable not mentioned, but related to playing the same record, is that this record is now extremely clean. It started out very clean, but after the first read point it was essentially like new, though it of course had the initial wear from the experiment. At this point it has nothing on it but whatever (presumably) vinyl dust has been worn from the surface, and I am cleaning that off at each read point (or more frequently). Most folks play records which are as clean as they can get them, but unless new will have some dust and dirt. Could playing 576 even slightly dirty records be much worse than playing one clean record 576 times?
     
  24. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin
    Linear trackers have different issues- high horizontal mass is one potential issue. Another is the means by which the tonearm 'tracks' the record- there were a lot of different approaches that created more problems than they solved and could potentially put stress on the cantilever. I use a linear tracker as my 'main' arm and I'm pretty vigilant about set up and maintenance. I don't know what challenges the arm you are using presents.
    On the question of repeat playing, I thought the question-- or at least one of them-- was whether it wore the record itself out by constant back to back playing for days-- and whether that record wear would, in turn, cause some additional kind of wear on the stylus that would not result from playing 576 different records.
     
  25. Ray Parkhurst

    Ray Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    The SL-10 is a servo-based linear tracker, so it senses when the arm has moved slightly and then runs a motor to move the arm into correct position. Thus there is always a small error but much less than a standard arm. It has a nice gimble and very light arm, both of which minimize the horizontal mass. Some linear trackers slide on an air bearing, and although this minimizes errors, the horizontal mass is much greater. I'm not sure about resonance control between the two methods, but I've never had an issue with resonances on the SL-10 with any T4P cartridge.

    I believe there were a few questions related to single-record playing. The biggest was wear, and I think we're seeing that on this record with the "vinyl snow". That's the simplest explanation anyway. The other question was if the repeat playing would deposit diamond dust from stylus wear onto the grooves, thus causing accelerated stylus wear. Hopefully my periodic cleaning will mitigate this, but if the dust embeds into the vinyl and doesn't come out with wet or dry cleaning, it might still be a problem. There has been so little stylus wear so far that this could not be an issue as yet.

    That leads to the big question: why is the stylus worn so little at ~200 hours? It has barely been polished. It may be that the wear will increase and we'll see the expected 600 hour lifetime, so I don't want to make predictions yet, but I honestly expected much more wear than I'm seeing. There must be a reason for it...
     

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