How often should you clean your turntable stylus? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 33 Old 06-19-2020, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
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How often should you clean your turntable stylus?

As the title asks, just wondering how often the stylus should be cleaned (i.e. after X amount of records). Still learning the basics of all of this, and everyone seems to have a different opinion as to how often one should do this. I suppose it'd be no different than asking here, but it might be useful if the answers here are vastly different than what I've seen.

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post #2 of 33 Old 06-19-2020, 09:25 PM
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Each record side of play. It takes literally 1 second of labor from a good brush, like a Discwasher SC-2*, which can be used dry for those quick cleans. There's no need for fluids most times (and I generally let nothing but distilled water ever touch my stylus and LPs so when it dries there's zero residue). Just one quick stroke from back to front, never any other direction, is all it takes. Done.

A single play of a record with a dirty stylus can theoretically harm the grooves. Better safe than sorry.

I show closeups of how quickly a stylus can get caked with dirt while playing at the end of this video:

* This design may be found from other companies too. It is made of zillions of tightly bunched brush bristles packed so densely it appears to be solid to the naked eye. It is great at getting into every nook and cranny.

P.S. This looks to be functionally equivalent: https://www.amazon.com/Pro-Ject-Clea.../dp/B003COZIQ2
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post #3 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 01:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Each record side of play. It takes literally 1 second of labor from a good brush, like a Discwasher SC-2*, which can be used dry for those quick cleans. There's no need for fluids most times (and I generally let nothing but distilled water ever touch my stylus and LPs so when it dries there's zero residue). Just one quick stroke from back to front, never any other direction, is all it takes. Done.
Thanks! I do have a stylus cleaning brush, so I'm good there - it came with the anti-static carbon fibre brush I got when I began my quest to figure out why my other turntable was intermittently popping really loud.

I've cleaned (or at least I hope I have) only the once so far, but I will certainly be more diligent now that I know I can get through a bunch of records without any issues like before (12 without any problems, just minor crackles here and there). My next step, I think, is to get a proper record cleaner.

I've only ever used distilled water to clean. I use that a lot for picture framing, and a few other things related to my art practice, so i always have a supply handy.

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post #4 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 06:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Statz View Post
Thanks! I do have a stylus cleaning brush, so I'm good there - it came with the anti-static carbon fibre brush I got when I began my quest to figure out why my other turntable was intermittently popping really loud.

I've cleaned (or at least I hope I have) only the once so far, but I will certainly be more diligent now that I know I can get through a bunch of records without any issues like before (12 without any problems, just minor crackles here and there). My next step, I think, is to get a proper record cleaner.

I've only ever used distilled water to clean. I use that a lot for picture framing, and a few other things related to my art practice, so i always have a supply handy.
Magic Eraser is a popular repurposed/DIY stylus cleaner. FWIW, a stylus expert suggested it.
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post #5 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 06:51 AM
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I clean mine with an Onzow after the full album is played. I have washed every album I own and use a carbon fiber brush before playing anything.

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post #6 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by AlexLac View Post
Magic Eraser is a popular repurposed/DIY stylus cleaner. FWIW, a stylus expert suggested it.
Who is the expert?
I'm sure it can work. Just wondering about the "repurposed" part also. Does that mean "used"?



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post #7 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 09:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AlexLac View Post
Magic Eraser is a popular repurposed/DIY stylus cleaner. FWIW, a stylus expert suggested it.
Huh... so you basically just lower the stylus onto the pad and keep repeating until there's nothing showing on the magic erase? Do you wet the magic erase beforehand with distilled water?

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I clean mine with an Onzow after the full album is played. I have washed every album I own and use a carbon fiber brush before playing anything.
I've been using my carbon fibre brush first, then a bead of distilled water with a felt brush, and followed up with a final carbon fibre wipe afterwards before each side - but this is largely because they're records I haven't played yet, and haven't cleaned them. I think I'd just give it a brush for a bit next play, but I do need a proper cleaner to get any bit of crap out that I've missed with the rather nominal cleaning I've done.

It seems the general consensus is pretty much after each record. I'll start doing that, for sure.

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post #8 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 09:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ratman View Post
Who is the expert?
I'm sure it can work. Just wondering about the "repurposed" part also. Does that mean "used"?
I think "re-purposed" in the context of using it for something it wasn't necessarily meant to be used (i.e. cleaning your bathroom or kitchen).

Anyone with any sense would use a brand new one, obviously

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post #9 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 09:40 AM
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I “spin clean“ all the records I buy whether they are used or brand new before playing them. Some used records I have purchased on Discogs were professionally cleaned by the seller which is very nice. I also treat all my vinyl with LAST record preservative. I have albums from the 70s that I treated and they sound like they are brand new.
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post #10 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Each record side of play. It takes literally 1 second of labor from a good brush, like a Discwasher SC-2*, which can be used dry for those quick cleans. There's no need for fluids most times (and I generally let nothing but distilled water ever touch my stylus and LPs so when it dries there's zero residue). Just one quick stroke from back to front, never any other direction, is all it takes. Done.

A single play of a record with a dirty stylus can theoretically harm the grooves. Better safe than sorry.

I show closeups of how quickly a stylus can get caked with dirt while playing at the end of this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_EDuvPCJ04

* This design may be found from other companies too. It is made of zillions of tightly bunched brush bristles packed so densely it appears to be solid to the naked eye. It is great at getting into every nook and cranny.

P.S. This looks to be functionally equivalent: https://www.amazon.com/Pro-Ject-Clea.../dp/B003COZIQ2
You never clean your stylus....... All you do if performance starts to degrade is put a penny on top of the head-shell, It will bore through any dirt in the way. ). Anyone remember seeing used record shops trying this tactic to make records sound better lol.

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post #11 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 09:48 AM
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Onzow/Zero Dust and other similar gel pad sticky/adhesion methods can easily destroy a stylus if used improperly and many people do exactly that, such as in the attached video. I'm sure it works just fine if you place it down on a fixed surface and lower the stylus onto it but hand holding it is asking for trouble because any lateral motion in your hand, just a millimeter or two, can potentially grab the needle and rip the diamond tip right off or snap/bend the cantilever.

DON'T DO THIS:
At 6m06s he doesn't lower the stylus onto the gel pad as instructed but instead hand holds the gel pad and to add insult to injury the arm is locked down. WRONG AND WRONG.

It is important gel/grip methods are only used with the gripper in a fixed, rigid position and the stylus is then gently lowered onto it. Repeat as much as you want but never move the gripper during the cleaning.
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post #12 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Ratman View Post
Who is the expert?
I'm sure it can work. Just wondering about the "repurposed" part also. Does that mean "used"?
He is known on forums as Needlestein.

Ryan got it right. Repurposed as is something that is meant for something else and people find it works for cleaning stylus. It needs to be dry and chem free.
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post #13 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 10:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Onzow/Zero Dust and other similar gel pad sticky/adhesion methods can easily destroy a stylus if used improperly and many people do exactly that, such as in the attached video.

At 6m06s he doesn't lower the stylus onto the gel pad as instructed but instead hand holds the gel pad and to add insult to injury the arm is locked down. WRONG AND WRONG.

It is important gel/grip methods are only used with the gripper in a fixed, rigid position and the stylus is then gently lowered onto it. Repeat as much as you want but never move the gripper during the cleaning.
Oh dear, I would never do that hahaha I'd rather not have to buy a new stylus 2 weeks later.

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post #14 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 10:33 AM
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Huh... so you basically just lower the stylus onto the pad and keep repeating until there's nothing showing on the magic erase? Do you wet the magic erase beforehand with distilled water?

I've been using my carbon fibre brush first, then a bead of distilled water with a felt brush, and followed up with a final carbon fibre wipe afterwards before each side - but this is largely because they're records I haven't played yet, and haven't cleaned them. I think I'd just give it a brush for a bit next play, but I do need a proper cleaner to get any bit of crap out that I've missed with the rather nominal cleaning I've done.

It seems the general consensus is pretty much after each record. I'll start doing that, for sure.
Dry and chem free pads. You "dump" the styli gently on the eraser in a direct angle a couple of time. I doubt you'll see a lot of evidence as it's all pretty microscopic.
I think the idea is that the eraser is dense enough to catch the dirt your styli attracted. Don't take it as a gospel, I'm sure you'll find people who think it's terrible. It's mostly an inexpensive and relatively safe way.
I'm sure there are a lot of posts and vids on it, if you want to look into it. Personally, I use the dense brush every now and then if the styli looks dirty and the pad when that doesn't help.

I'd buy that Japanese gel pad, but it's like $40 which seems like a lot.

I don't really see the point in cleaning after every side, nor to wash clean a brand new record. But to each his own.
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I don't really see the point in cleaning after every side, nor to wash clean a brand new record. But to each his own.
I think it's mainly because there's crap in the factory that can get all over the record. Case in point, I opened up my copy of Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express for the first time (it was still sealed), and there was dirt, hair, and fingerprints all over the record! I was quite surprised.

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post #16 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 10:50 AM
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^^^^Exactly why you wash new ones. Not to mention release agent residue.

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post #17 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 10:51 AM
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I think it's mainly because there's crap in the factory that can get all over the record. Case in point, I opened up my copy of Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express for the first time (it was still sealed), and there was dirt, hair, and fingerprints all over the record! I was quite surprised.
Trans...
Europe...
Express...

It can happen, but most/many fresh sealed records are pristine. The one thing that happens often is some electrostatics from the paper inner.
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^^^^Exactly why you wash new ones. Not to mention release agent residue.
I collected records for 30 years and never done that. I don't think it's a bad thing, just slight overkill.
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There is sometimes residue from the factory even on brand new records. Also I have heard it said that the stamper machines which press the records get sprayed with a "mold release" compound so the LPs don't stick to the stamper plates and that also sometimes gets onto our new LPs.

Even just paper sleeve residue/dust can potentially be an issue.

EDIT TO ADD: DOH I'm late to the party!
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Too bad those still cost so much after so many years:

https://www.elpj.com/
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post #21 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 11:20 AM
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Too bad those still cost so much after so many years:

https://www.elpj.com/
They are unlistenable unless you clean up the sound, usually digitally (which many analog people hate the idea of). The thing is, no matter how much we clean a record there is always some residual dust and grime. We rely on the fact that these dust particles are extremely light and our record stylus plows right through them as easily as we might trace our finger across the top of a dusty turntable dust cover unimpeded and without any sensed resistance.

The problem is a light wave from a laser has no ability to move dust particles out of the way so instead it registers each particle of dust as a nice clean "tick" sound. These pops and ticks need to be removed in post processing.
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The laser has no way of telling what is an actually intended groove wall change and what is dirt.
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post #23 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
They are unlistenable unless you clean up the sound, usually digitally (which many analog people hate the idea of). The thing is, no matter how much we clean a record there is always some residual dust and grime. We rely on the fact that these dust particles are extremely light and our record stylus plows right through them as easily as we might trace our finger across the top of a dusty turntable dust cover unimpeded and without any sensed resistance.

The problem is a light wave from a laser has no ability to move dust particles out of the way so instead it registers each particle of dust as a nice clean "tick" sound. These pops and ticks need to be removed in post processing.
Thank you. I've cancelled my order

Seriously though, it makes sense now that you said it, I never really invested time in looking into it cause of the price. In a perfect situation it would have solved the many annoyances with vinyls.

I started collecting long before CDs came, and I never liked vinyls as a playable format. I don't get misty eyed over warm analog sound.

My main issue was always the surface noise. Sure, there are great pressings, but also so many mediocre to poor ones (especially if you collect avantgarde and fringe music often self-released in micro editions like me). The one thing vinyls have is the big covers. CDs sound a lot better to me, they just look like crap.
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Anyone with any sense would use a brand new one, obviously
Based on my experience on forums and a few decades of practical experience, "anyone with any sense" doesn't equate to "common sense". Kind of like drinking/injecting bleach to prevent Covid19.


Isn't there a cleaning substance on the pad? Wouldn't that leave a residue?


EDIT:
https://www.wired.com/2015/09/whats-...-magic-eraser/



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He is known on forums as Needlestein. .
An expert? Perhaps. I doubt it.



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An expert? Perhaps. I doubt it.
What do you doubt about it?
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What do you doubt about it?
Everything. How is he/she an "expert". There are experts on AVSForum too.



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Everything. How is he/she an "expert". There are experts on AVSForum too.
He is most famous for his retipping service that he has been doing for many many years.

Here's an example:

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post #29 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Based on my experience on forums and a few decades of practical experience, "anyone with any sense" doesn't equate to "common sense". Kind of like drinking/injecting bleach to prevent Covid19.


Isn't there a cleaning substance on the pad? Wouldn't that leave a residue?


EDIT:
https://www.wired.com/2015/09/whats-...-magic-eraser/
You mean those homemade Comet capsules I've been making these past several weeks are doing nothing?

Oh probably. Might not be too terrible if you're using it dry for this purpose, though? I'm sticking to the stylus brush I already have rather than rush out to buy a doomsday prepper stock's worth of magic erasers
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post #30 of 33 Old 06-20-2020, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexLac View Post
He is most famous for his retipping service that he has been doing for many many years.
What else made him "famous"?



If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough – Albert Einstein
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