is my stylus damaging my records? - diyAudio
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Old 15th September 2012, 05:48 PM   #1
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Question is my stylus damaging my records?

i got a turntable used from a DJ and i'm not sure if i can use it without getting a new stylus. he was very serious about vinyl and had tons of high end equipment and shelves of records. he said that i "should be able to use it for a while without replacing the stylus"
before you go off about how i need one, i have a new stylus coming in the mail but it probably won't be here for a week and a half. i've played 1 new record on it about 2 times as is and noticed distortion (it was the same on earbuds and speakers, so it's neither of those). i read that a worn out needle can permanently damage new records so i'm very concerned about this. i don't know if i permanently damaged this record. i will listen on another turntable today to see if the distortion is still there but my question stands, can i listen to anything on it before the new one comes without damaging anything?

the turntable is a denon DP-26F and the distortion i noticed is when the "s" sound is made (or sounds similar to it), it sounds kind of flat and tinny/static-ey. it's not too noticeable unless you're really paying attention. does this sound like the kind of thing that would damage new records or should i be okay playing new records once or twice before the new needle is here?

sorry for the long post. i'm new here and i don't know how you guys like your questions to be asked
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Old 15th September 2012, 07:06 PM   #2
BrianL is offline BrianL  United States
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It's hard to say. You'd need a microscope to inspect the stylus for wear, assuming that visually you can't see anything wrong such as a bent cantilever. You'd then need to know what stylus wear looks like on your particular stylus. The recording may be 'overmodulated' (comes with built-in distortion...). It may be that the high frequency content of the syllabants is beyond the cartridge's ability to track even with a brand new stylus. It may be that the phono preamp is overloading on the transients. It could be that the phono cartridge and tonearm are not optimally aligned and set up.

Without knowing how much playing time has transpired and what the DJ did with it, it's hard to say what his comment means, but I doubt the time is measured in hours or minutes.
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Last edited by BrianL; 15th September 2012 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 15th September 2012, 10:11 PM   #3
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A brand new perfect stylus can wear out records too. The most common error is to run the force too low. The best place is at the high end of the recommended force. If the manufacturer says 1 - 2 grams, run it at 2. The stylus losing contact with the groove wall is where the problem is. When it crashes back it causes a little tear in the surface, much like cutting yourself with a knife. The stylus banging around in the groove is the raspy sound you're hearing - mistracking.

You've discovered the problem with vinyl. It wears out despite your best efforts.

G
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Old 16th September 2012, 08:39 AM   #4
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so good news. i took the record to my girlfriends house and listened on her dads' fairly high end sound system and the record sounded great on their turntable. no distortion at all so i think it's safe to say it isn't/hasn't permanently damaged anything... it just sounds like ****. i hope the new needle makes it sound better. the turntable doesn't have any anti-skating settings that i know of. i could put something on the arm to add a miniscule amount of weight if you guys think that might fix mistracking
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Old 16th September 2012, 07:32 PM   #5
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My turntable works best at 1.5 grams. I had some records develop ripped up highs, hissy S's and all, when a Grado FTE needle lost a chunk of the diamond suddenly, about 1975. My Mother's Top Value Stamps purchased RCA ceramic cartridge record player also ripped up the highs off some beautiful Mercury Living Presence albums she bought me between 1965 and 1969.
You've got to look at the needle periodically with a kid's toy microscope, but beyond that wear is over feared. I've been playing some LPs 40 years, and since I quit using the RCA ceramic cartridge (5 g) and the Grado FTE, no audible wear. I do have to rinse the records occasionally to get the dust off. I used a 1961 purchased AR turntable 1969-1979, and a better tracking BIC 940 changer since them. The BIC has always had a Shure M97 Era IV cartridge in it, no stylus replacement. One thing I really like about the BIC, it always tracks the records, even warped ones the AR wouldn't play, and doesn't skip when I walk across the wood floor the way the AR would do.
Caveat- my ears are limited to 14.5 khz since ROTC summer camp in 1969 where I fired the howitzer. Oddly, my SP2XT speakers have the same limit.
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Last edited by indianajo; 16th September 2012 at 07:38 PM.
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