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Old 27th Nov 2023, 9:09 pm   #1
Goldie99
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Default Stylus condition Q. ?

Hi - having a bit of a nostalgic trip back to the late '60's ('Tommy', The Who to be precise...), but not getting quite the original LP sound I was expecting. Maybe just old age, but I'm wondering more about the cartridge / stylus at the moment. The deck is a fairly basic, but hopefully proficient enough Dual 505-2, with an Ortofon cartidge, stylus is a DN165E - this is about the best photo I've been able to get - if you zoom in it's almost still in focus. Just wondering if the stylus is either past it, or simply very dirty / damaged ? Opinions ?

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I see replacement sylii are still available - although I'm seeing prices from £30 - £75 for the same stylus number / code. Seems like a wide price range ? or is there some other difference I need to watch for ? Recommendations ?

Cheers, Alan
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Old 27th Nov 2023, 10:18 pm   #2
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

You need a proper stylus magnifier to check condition....and then of course you need to know what it should look like! They are available for not much money. You can clean it with a proper stylus brush. When you say 'not quite the LP sound you were expecting' what were you expecting? What is the sound you are hearing? Fuzzy, scratchy, crackling on certain sounds? The deck should give a good account of itself assuming it is set up correctly...and of course if the LP is in excellent condition. Price of styli does vary depending on if it's a genuine or a copy.
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Old 27th Nov 2023, 10:59 pm   #3
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

Another thing to bear in mind. That record over its lifetime has probably been played on gear with a spherical stylus, but lots of those Ortofons were elliptical. These give great top end but, due to their profile and the way they ride the groove, also accentuate sounds associated with wear which just don't show up with other styli. Maybe a factor here?
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 1:20 am   #4
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

You need to look at it with high magnification, from multiple angles. However, from what I can see, it doesn't appear to have many miles on the clock. When a stylus has been used for a while, it tends to get a build up of dark 'fungus' around the tip.

NB - The Ortofon OM tips are out of IP protection to my knowledge, and there are clones around from the likes of Tonar. I have NO idea if they are as good as the original.

edit - an example: https://shop.mantra-audio.co.uk/acat...2.html#SID=108

It may well be something else up with the system, as Ben intimates.
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 1:57 am   #5
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

Alan, you have not mentioned the amplifier you have connected the cartridge to.

Does it have a phono input suitable for this type of cartridge?

Is the LP Mono or Stereo?
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 6:07 pm   #6
Goldie99
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

I had another look at it this afternoon. I've now removed the headshell, and tried 'cleaning' the stylus with IPA and a very soft artists brush. The cartridge lead connections looked a little tarnished too, so were also cleaned lightly, and 'nipped up' a little for a snug fit. The deck set-up should be accurate vis a vis the manual, at about 1.5g tracking (I don't have any stylus scales either), and 1.75 on the anti-skate setting (the elliptical setting).

The LP is the original stereo recording I bought new, probably in 1970/71. At the time, I would have recorded it straight onto cassette tape, and used the tape as much as possible, so the LP's had relatively little wear & tear for at least 10-12 years while I was a student. It would have been played after that on a Sansui SR222 MKII with Grado F1+ (elliptical) on the upgraded headshell, all of which in the mean time has been 'borrowed' by one of my daughters (how do they always manage to do that ?!). Overall though, the LP should still be in pretty good shape.

Anyway, the stylus 'cleaning' has certainly helped a lot. There's still more 'surface noise' than I'd like, but having compared to a couple of other LP's of the same era but with even less usage, I'm inclined to think the rest is now just down to dirt on the LP, which I guess is inevitable after 50+ years... Does anyone have any recommendation for a reliable cleaning service ? I'll probably order a new stylus anyway, so would also be interested to hear from anyone who's used / is using one of the cheaper stylus 'copies', as suggested by 'knobtwiddler'. I did try looking on the vinylengine site earlier but it seems to be down at the moment.

The rest of the set-up is also very 'true to the '70's', namely a rebuilt, recapped, and slightly modified NAD 3020 (now with protection circuit / relay), and a pair of the early Mission 700's.

Thanks to all for the comments & thoughts - it's been a while since I had much involvement with vinyl, but it's coming back... slowly.
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 8:02 pm   #7
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

Vinyl records do sound different to digital sources, even when both are very high quality. Lots of people like the analogue vinyl sound, but having got used to digital you may be hearing things like compliance distortion which just aren't there with digital. Your record deck and cartridge are decent enough entry level HiFi but hardly golden ears stuff. You may also be losing some hearing sensitivity, as most of us over 50 are.
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 9:17 pm   #8
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

If you can find a good one, look out for the Hi Fi Sound Audio test record. That will show up any problems with with your pick-up arm weight/tracking. Mine is dated 1974 but it was probably in production for a good few years. I have a fairly modest Marantz direct drive turntable and I've adusted the weight to 1.5gm with a digital stylus pressure gauge (available cheaply on eBay) and the side-thrust by ear when playing the test record that gave the best result on the most difficult tone. It just about copes with the highest modulated test tone which it's unlikely encounter on most records.

I tend not to take too much notice of the counter-balance weight readings on the pre-marked scale which is why I prefer the digital scale
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 10:10 pm   #9
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

I have recently started to listen to vinyl again.
Often, when I look at the LP it is "grubby" (finger prints and worse).
I wash them using a soft sponge and washing up liquid.
First wet the disc under the tap (only warm, not hot, water). Then gently scrub along the tracks. If the disc is particularly dirty I use a soft paint brish to clean along the grooves (not across the tacks). Then rinse and dry using a soft, fluffy towel.
This improves the sound no end.
To be honest, I am really surprised how good vinyl sounds, apart from a few clicks & pops.
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 10:32 pm   #10
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

Quote:
I'll probably order a new stylus anyway, so would also be interested to hear from anyone who's used / is using one of the cheaper stylus 'copies', as suggested by 'knobtwiddler'.
I've not tried using the cheaper copies on an Ortofon cartridge but I did buy a cheaper one for a Shure M95 cartridge from Mantra Audio and I felt that it was a bit disappointing. It certainly didn't track as well as I was expecting. I then bought a Jico hyper-elliptical stylus which was about 3 times the price but far better with far less distortion.

I notice that there is one site selling the proper Ortofon stylus for £59 so that's the one that I'd go for.
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 11:03 pm   #11
Ted Kendall
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by majex45 View Post
I wash them using a soft sponge and washing up liquid.
First wet the disc under the tap (only warm, not hot, water). Then gently scrub along the tracks. If the disc is particularly dirty I use a soft paint brish to clean along the grooves (not across the tacks). Then rinse and dry using a soft, fluffy towel.
This is asking for trouble - the only way to remove water from microgrooves reliably is with suction to overcome the surface tension of the liquid. Anything less frequently leaves mud in the grooves, necessitating wet playing or proper cleaning. There are some dealers offering a record cleaning service using the Keith Monks machine, the original and in my view still the best.
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 11:07 pm   #12
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

You have to face the fact hat a good genuine stylus is going to cost money. My record deck arm uses a 'P' mount cartridge so I'm a but restricted but I found an Audio Technica which replaced the original Marantz type that made a huge improvement. A genuine AT replacement stylus cost around £35. I found 'replacements' on eBay for half that price and bought one as a spare. It was very disappointing and I suspect it was conical rather than elliptical. I bought another AT stylus from the dealer (same one that supplied the cartridge) as a spare and it's as good as the original....you get what you pay for!!!
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 11:38 pm   #13
G3PIJpeter
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

Take your courage in both hands and try the PVA glue treatment - see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJIf2I_47ZE
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Old 29th Nov 2023, 12:43 am   #14
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesperrett View Post
Quote:
I'll probably order a new stylus anyway, so would also be interested to hear from anyone who's used / is using one of the cheaper stylus 'copies', as suggested by 'knobtwiddler'.
I've not tried using the cheaper copies on an Ortofon cartridge but I did buy a cheaper one for a Shure M95 cartridge from Mantra Audio and I felt that it was a bit disappointing. It certainly didn't track as well as I was expecting. I then bought a Jico hyper-elliptical stylus which was about 3 times the price but far better with far less distortion.

I notice that there is one site selling the proper Ortofon stylus for £59 so that's the one that I'd go for.
I have only used Jico replacements for Shure carts (several types, including m97). I have several test records and test kit. In my mind, the Jico tips are as good, if not better (the SAS-B has a boron cantilever - vastly superior to Al) than the originals. The SAS-B will out-track anything. I have not had the chance to compare it against the berylium-fitted V15MR, but I suspect it would aquit itself well, if maybe not quite as flat. There has been plenty of scrutiny given to Jico's jewels, and they have stood up.

If your budget isn't up to Jico, maybe look at Tonar. They are a lot less expensive, but I have had dealings with the company and I don't think they'd sell junk. But as a rule, with styli - as has been said - you get what you pay for.
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Old 29th Nov 2023, 3:47 am   #15
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldie99 View Post
Does anyone have any recommendation for a reliable cleaning service ?
I've got a "Spin Clean" record cleaner. It's a basic unit, but cheap and it certainly cleans up records nicely. There are probably better options out there for a price, but it's basic and it works.
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Old 29th Nov 2023, 10:25 am   #16
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

Whilst there are various ways of cleaning records, there is nothing one can ever do about a secondhand record's playing history. What styli were they played with, conical, elliptical, Shibata - and at what tracking weights? These8 characteristics are all part of the provenance of that record. BTW, I concur with knobtwiddler above, I have had long-term dealings with Tonar. Their Management team are dedicated and their offerings are genuine.
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Old 29th Nov 2023, 11:58 am   #17
Craig Sawyers
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Default Re: Stylus condition Q. ?

There is no remedy for damaged records. But even they can be improved by getting rid of greasy fingerprints, and nicotine goo.

Back in the day, when I lived in the North East where the water was soft, I used to wash records in the bath, with a squirt of washing up liquid, and one of those Milty cleaning pads. Rinse and dry.

Now I have higher tech solutions (ultrasonic, and a vacuum system), and records from estate sales I clean and then put in different sleeves, so I know at a glance which records I've cleaned and which not.

Craig
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