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

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

  1. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    Yes I have seen that too. Seems to come from a front/back cut. Hard to say if it matters.
     
  2. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    I have only tested with a low hours Shibata, and distortion at high freq is high. If I feel motivated I might try some other cut.
     
  3. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin
    I wonder whether some amount of initial stylus wear is part of what I experience in the break-in process of a fresh cartridge/stylus. My experience has been that most of these, out of the box, do not sound at their best, and often can sound a little bright or strident on high frequency passages. I generally associated cartridge "break-in" with relaxation of the suspension, but wonder if part of it is also some additional polishing of the stylus tip during the initial hours of play?
    Obviously, there are a lot of variables in any given set up, but having installed and played-in 4 different fresh cartridges in the last 6-8 months, all of them sounded better, less strident on high frequency passages, with a few miles on them.
     
    Slick Willie likes this.
  4. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I’ve gone back and forth on whether it’s better to break in on a pink noise track or by just playing music, largely for this reason. If the diamond needs some polishing to really be fit for play, wouldn’t I rather not do that on grooves I care about? Or is that final polishing not really harmful to the vinyl, anyway? I understand the argument not to “waste” stylus life on noise tracks, but is it really being wasted if that part of the life doesn’t sound good, anyway?
     
  5. Drewan77

    Drewan77 Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK/USA
    I can understand that & may agree as long as every bit of listening is 'full concentration' & without distraction.

    However I suspect most of us own a proportion of less well cared for LPs & sometimes just put something on in the background. Personally, I would rather be playing music during the initial life of a stylus & if there are concerns, then perhaps use one of these records.

    Maybe I'm naive in believing that well looked after vinyl is actually pretty resilient (some LPs I purchased in the early '70s still play & sound great in spite of numerous turntables, cartridges and plays). I've been following Ray's experiment with interest & find the reported condition of the LP in question to be as interesting as the stylus itself.
     
  6. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    I think that really good needles are already well polished. Anyhow it´s not easy to say what is contributing to what we hear; if we hear a difference in sound from new needle. Several things are going on at the same time; cantilever flexing, spring deflexion, damping resistance, stiction, friction.

    Without knowing we can choose the one that seems likely to have the most influense, the risk of being wrong is large.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  7. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Location:
    Boston MA
    This has been my experience as well. I just had my Hyperion retipped and it did sound a little bright and strident on high frequency passages as compared to the cart when at around 300 hours.
     
  8. Ripblade

    Ripblade Well-Known Member

    Location:
    The Six
    My theory is that there's a small amount of micro mistracking that occurs until the stylus seats itself in the groove. The initial contact points aren't necessarily aligned properly with respect to zenith, azimuth, SRA, etc. until the final polish from the stylus is established in situ. This becomes apparent when looking at a cheap bonded stylus with just a few plays under a Shure type 'scope...the wear facets are irregularly shaped until sufficient hours averages them out to fit the groove wall.

    Just a theory...:magoo:
     
    Aftermath likes this.
  9. Thomas_A

    Thomas_A Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uppsala, Sweden
    I would say it may so. The cut is a bit off to the right when viewing front with white lines trough the cut, and also the right side is not as smooth as the left. I made a zoom up of Rays pic, hope this is ok.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Morbius

    Morbius Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookline, MA
    Isn't that the contact patch that Ray has been talking about?
     
  11. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    Seems there is a problem. Why in the world would they do a cut like that?
     
  12. Thomas_A

    Thomas_A Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uppsala, Sweden
    That is the front so no contact there. I just think it may be small accident when making the front-back shavings to get the elliptical shape. It can be seen from the sides as well, the contact patches have a sharper line on one side, but not the other side. If it would be on purpose I would think they would do the same cut front and back. I am not sure what it means but it may cause some more record wear. It is important to have a good polish of the tip to get lower noise and wear.
     
  13. Thomas_A

    Thomas_A Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uppsala, Sweden
    I would think is just a mistake when doing the polish or cutting in this case.
     
  14. Ray Parkhurst

    Ray Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    Flat cuts on stylus faces are very common. They are the common way to turn a conical stylus into an "elliptical". Usually they are quite large and can be seen across a much wider area of the stylus face (see my avatar for a typical example). The 480LT interestingly only has a cut on one face, and it's fairly small. I think it is a "true" elliptical that was enhanced with a small cut to further improve pinch effect.
     
  15. Ray Parkhurst

    Ray Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    The picture you show is not showing the contacts. The focus is on the laser-cut notches, not the ridge. You can see a little of the ridge, out of focus, behind and to left and right of the cuts. If you can take another similar photo, but focused a little farther back so the ridges are in focus, we can see how the stylus is actually wearing. It might be easier to see if you shine the lights in from the side rather than the front.
     
  16. Ripblade

    Ripblade Well-Known Member

    Location:
    The Six
    It could also be an index mark. If the stylus is a true biradial elliptical, there needs to be some indication of the 'front' of an otherwise round shank, or establishing correct zenith at the point of insertion into the cantilever would be nigh impossible.
     
  17. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm

    Yes low cost ellipticals have these types of front/back cuts. What is different in this case is that the cut is so sharp, which is an oddity.
     
  18. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    All low cost needles have a round shank.
     
  19. Ray Parkhurst

    Ray Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    I bought one of those DigitNow MP3 encoders, and have been doing some digitizing, but the result is total crap. High distortion and a crackly sound! It is very disappointing.
     
  20. Ripblade

    Ripblade Well-Known Member

    Location:
    The Six
    Doesn't your computer have a Line In jack? If not, the Mic jack might have Line capability.

    Which soundcard?
     
  21. Ray Parkhurst

    Ray Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    It does indeed, but I had no software to do the capture. The crappy DigitNow thing came with Audacity (which I understand is free anyway) so maybe I can use the sound card directly. I plan to try it.
     
  22. Ripblade

    Ripblade Well-Known Member

    Location:
    The Six
    There's got to be over a dozen software recorders out there, many of them free. I use VSThost for the capture and a couple of others for editing, but Audacity works just as well and does practically everything.


    I suggest record at the highest sample rate and bit depth supported, then down convert for wide compatibility before publishing.
     
  23. Ray Parkhurst

    Ray Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    I downloaded AVS Audio Editor and it seems quite intuitive. Is it worth paying $59 for? It works fine with my Realtek HD audio.
     
  24. Ray Parkhurst

    Ray Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
  25. Ray Parkhurst

    Ray Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    I have tried the AVS software, and the results are better than with the DigitNow box, but I can't seem to get rid of some low level "buzz and hum" when connected to the computer. Seems there is a grounding problem with the computer. I'm sure there are solutions but as I remember this is why I gave up trying to record audio on the PC long ago. Never could get it clean.

    The Behringer box linked to above actually may have an advantage since it has a built-in preamp and local TT ground. Maybe that's the solution, ie to force a clean/isolated ground connection directly from the TT. It would be inconvenient but maybe would at least give me the ability to do some captures without that buzz and hum.
     

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