While everybody else is obsessed with the latest and greatest technology, do you adore the old-fashioned sounds of vinyl? Vinyl truly has a special sound. Something about the experience of playing a record seems to keep you more connected to the music than using digital files.
If you want the best sound from your record player, it is essential to maintain it properly. Replacing your record stylus is an essential element of record maintenance.
When to Replace the Stylus
In general, a stylus should be replaced after about 1,000 hours of record playing time. How often you replace the stylus depends entirely upon how much you use the record player.
If you're listening about an hour a day on average, you'll need to change the stylus every few years. If you listen to your records all day long, you may need to change the stylus every year. For those who only occasionally listen to their record player, styluses can last for a decade or more.
What is the Stylus?
The stylus is a needle that fits into the grooves on records and produces the audio signal. This needle is generally cone-shaped and made of diamond or sapphire.
In many ways, the stylus has the hardest job of any part of your record player. That's why it is made of such a durable material. Here are a few reasons why styluses get dirty more quickly than other parts of the record player.
•In the action. The stylus runs over the surface of your record, which means that if you don't keep your record clean and dusted, the stylus will tend to collect dust and debris.
•Non-stop contact. Being in constant contact with the album hour upon hour is hard on any material, even diamond or sapphire.
•Delicate contact. Your stylus needs to make just the right contact with the record, but no more contact, to produce sound without hurting the album. As time goes on, it can be very easy for the stylus to be misshapen even the slightest amount and make a less delicate contact with the album.
Why Does a Record Stylus Need to be Replaced?
Your record stylus needs more attention than other parts of the record for a few very important reasons:
•Impure sound. If your stylus gets dirty or worn out, its sound will not be as clean as it should be. For vinyl enthusiasts who value every aspect of the music, this can be a serious problem.
•Damage records. A Worn stylus can put too much pressure or inappropriate pressure on the record's grooves, resulting in not only compromised sound but also damage to the record itself. A very misshapen stylus could even carve into the vinyl.
How to Keep Your Stylus in Good Shape Longer
•Clean your records regularly
•Never play a scratched or misshapen record under your stylus
•Clean your stylus frequently
How to Know it is Time to Change Your Stylus
If you haven't kept track of how many hours your record has played or you have picked up a record player used, you may not know when it is time to change the stylus. Here are some things to keep an eye out for:
•Look closely. Use a magnifier to look for jagged edges in the head of the needle or residue that shows signs of wearing on the albums.
•Pay attention to sound quality. A dip in sound quality is one of the first indications of stylus wear
•Take jumping seriously. A needle jumping out of the grooves or skipping across them may injure your records and also shows that your stylus is old.
Maintain Your Record Stylus
The next time you listen to your favorite Elvis Presley vinyl, the last thing you want is to hear a screech and realize that your stylus has dug into the vinyl. Maintain your record stylus and change it regularly so that you can feel confident that your records will sound their best and last as long as possible.