Technical Info & How-to�sUnderstanding Record grooves and Styli
Stylus Wear / Replacement:
How to Clean Vinyl
How to fit styli
Fitting Cartridges correctly:
Converting Vinyl to CD
The most important and yet probably the most neglected component in any hi-fi system is the stylus or needle. The relationship of the record groove and the stylus is very important.
The record groove may be looked upon as the storage place for the sound to be reproduced, and the stylus, the sensor that picks up the information stored there and converts it to electrical signals, which are ultimately converted to sound. The groove is etched into the master record by a triangular shaped cutting head. The cutting head creates a wavy groove with undulations that correspond to the various frequencies of the sound to be reproduced from both sides of the groove.
Only a small section of the stylus actually enters the record groove and it sits between the groove walls as shown here:
Note, only this section enters the groove. The stylus then tracks along the groove following its contours and relaying the impulses it picks up through the rest of the system
Lumen magnetic styli are available in two categories, the conical tip stylus, used for normal hi-fi reproduction, the elliptical tip stylus, designed for higher frequencies, more accurate reproduction and better track-ability.
The reproduction capabilities of the various types of styli depend on the way each one sits in the record groove. As this drawing illustrates; the wall contact areas are vastly different.
The conical tip stylus, although fine for normal hi-fi reproduction, because of its rounded shape, is unable to pick up the high frequency modulations in the record groove as accurately as engineered by the triangular shaped cutting head on the master recording.
The development of the elliptical tip stylus with its faceted sides, improves high frequency response by more closely resembling the shape of the cutting head, allowing the stylus to follow the contours of the groove more accurately
Remember, the stylus is the point where reproduction begins and its condition controls the final sound reproduction. No matter what type of stylus you buy, it will eventually wear out.
It is difficult to imagine the forces acting on a stylus in the course of playing a record but consider that when playing one 30 cm LP the needle can travel about 800 metres of groove and exert a pressure on the groove walls equivalent to somewhere between 1 to 2 tonnes per square cm.
The friction caused by these forces can heat the stylus at the point of contact to incredibly high temperatures. As only the shoulders of the stylus come in contact with the walls of a record groove, these are the areas that wear. The pointed tip of a stylus however, should not come in contact with the bottom of the record groove.
This drawing shows the stages of stylus wear.
By replacing your stylus at the recommended intervals, you not only maintain top quality sound reproduction but you save your valuable record collection from excessive wear and tear.
As a guide, sapphire styli should be replaced after playing about 150 LP's and a diamond stylus after playing about 500 LP's.
The following steps can be taken to restore vinyl, either for listening or for transfering to CD for keeping.
To maintain top quality sound reproduction it is vital that records and styli are kept perfectly clean. Dust is attracted to a record by static electricity so it is very important to clean your records regularly.
A speck of dust on your stylus or in your record groove will have the same effect as cleaning your stylus with sand paper.
Do not ever handle the playing surface of a record, even the cleanest hands can leave a saline (salty) deposit which will eventually weaken the walls of the groove and distort them to the point where the record can be permanently damaged.
Return records to their protective sleeves immediately after use.
1) Clean your record with a lint-free cloth and distilled water. Avoid the use of solvents or wetting agents that do not contain Benzene derivatives as they have the habit of leaving behind a residue. (Residues attract fine dust over time and clog the bottom of the record groove.) Alternatively mild soapy LUKE warm water can be used
2) Play the record in a "dry run". � This is playing the record once on your turntable using one of your Spare styli. With this in mind, if you have a number of transfers to do, I recommend having 2 new styli, one for the �dry run� and one for the transfer. It is not a good idea to use an old needle once you have cleaned the Vinyl.
For this it is not necessary to connect into your sound reproduction system. The purpose for this step is to kick up any accumulated dirt located at the bottom of the groove before re-cleaning the record surface. The bottom of the groove where the stylus is riding; this dirt should be removed from your disc before transferring the recording in order to minimize surface noise transfer.
3) Clean your record again as in step 1, this washes away the matter loosened during the �dry run� in step 2.
Now your record is cleaned. If making a transfer you�ll want to listen to one track on the record to check levels etc.
Styli should be dusted off with a soft brush after use. Stroke the brush from the back of the stylus only. Never use your finger tip to clean dust from your stylus
The Following Diagram show the most common stylus fittings used, take a close look for one similar to yours and follow the basic movement of the arrows on the diagram.
Please take care not to dammage the needle tip.� How to replace styli
Great accuracy is required when fitting a new cartridge, the allignment relating to the groove can save or damage records, not to mention the quality of sound producted. If you accidentally break the little wires, don't panic, we sell them!The following PDF is a protractor template to help you get this correct.� Cartridge Protractor