Home Turntable accessories Best Stylus For Turntable

Best Stylus For Turntable

If you’re looking for the best turntable needles in terms of price and sound quality, you’ve come to the right place. In this review, I’ll share my thoughts on the various options and give tips on how to choose the optimal needle for your player. But first let me explain how the needle works.

A turntable won’t sing by itself. It needs a needle (stylus) to make the audial magic happen. The turntable needle is a small cartridge component with a sharp tip made of diamond or other gemstones. It gets in direct contact with the record and moves along its grooves to create an electrical signal. The signal is then delivered to an amplifier for further play-through via speakers.

So, let’s take a look at the finest needles the market has to offer!

Are record player needles universal?

Although some needles are promoted as universal, this is not always the case – most record players require a specific needle type. That is why you can’t just purchase a random stylus and attach it to the cartridge. First, you should carefully check whether they are compatible. However, keep in mind that some cartridges have needles pre-installed, meaning you won’t be able to replace the needle itself and will have to change the entire cartridge instead.

How to find the correct needle for your turntable?

The surest way to define the correct stylus model number is to check the manual that comes with the turntable. Record player manufacturers usually provide information about stylus compatibility. If you do not have a manual at hand, go to the company’s website and look through the record player’s page.

Make a Google request by typing “Turntable model + needle” in the search bar. The algorithms will pick the suitable stylus model for you, but always check the information about the compatibility in this case.

audio technica needle

Why change the player’s stylus?

It’s natural that vinyl needles deteriorate, bend, or even crack, which prevents the electric signals from reaching the amplifier properly. Thus, the sound quality changes, and you might even notice that a static sound takes over the tunes. You will hear crackles, fuzziness, distorted sounds, or pops that make the listening experience unbearable.

What is more, a worn-out needle can damage your records, thus putting the integrity of your precious vinyl collection at high risk.

In this way, if you want to enjoy the warm sound of vinyl without damage to your record collection, you should replace turntable styluses from time to time.

Best Turntable Stylus Reviews

Article navigation

Needles for Fluance, Music Hall and Pro-Ject

Ortofon 2M Red Stylus

Ortofon 2M Red features

The Ortofon 2M Red Stylus is compatible with the Ortofon 2M Red and 2M Blue cartridges. Thanks to the elliptical shape and diamond tip, the needle delivers excellent hi-fi sound with a 20-22.000 Hz frequency range. Unlike the Ortofon Stylus 10 which requires 1.5g of tracking force, this stylus will perform better with 1.8g. The needle delivers a particular sound with subtle quarks, more detail, and better channel separation, but high frequencies are a little bit disappointing.

Ortofon 2M Red Stylus specifications

The Ortofon 2M Red is a durable, accurate & great-sounding stylus that will definitely give your TT a considerable improvement.
Key specs
  • Material: elliptical diamond.
  • Needle forces, g: 1.6-2.
  • Compatible with: all-purpose.
  • Clean and crisp sound thanks to an elliptical shape.
  • A diamond tip for more precise record tracking.
  • 1.8g tracking force to experience less wear.
  • High frequencies are not as rich as desired.

Ortofon Stylus 10

Ortofon Stylus 10 features

The Ortofon Stylus 10 is the best stylus for turntable cartridges like Super OM 10, OM 10, Concorde 10, Concorde EC 10, and others.

Similar to Ortofon 2M Red, this is not a nude diamond. It needs only 1.5g tracking force to contact the grooves, and there is a stylus protector for less tip wear. It also has an elliptical form to provide great frequency response and channel separation.

Ortofon Stylus 10 specifications

The Ortofon Stylus 10 delivers awesome tracking that results in rich bass and mids but is slightly dull in the treble.
Key specs
  • Material: diamond,nude.
  • Needle forces, g: 1.5.
  • Compatible with: OM 10, OM 10, OMP 10, OMB 10, OMT 10, LM 10, Concorde 10, Concorde EC 10, Concorde STD.
  • Compatible with a wide range of Ortofon cartridges.
  • Super easy to install, nice solid tight fit.
  • Perfect price/quality ratio.
  • Dull high-frequency sounds.

Needles for Audio-Technica

Audio-Technica ATN95E

Audio-Technica ATN95E features

This elliptical stylus model features a bonded round shank and requires 2.0g tracking force to maximize the record performance.

Compared to ATN3600L with acrylic-coated cotton, this one has a hardened steel needle that delivers crunch-free sound performance, especially in the highs. However, it might be challenging to install and align.

Audio-Technica ATN95E specifications

If you need a high-quality replacement needle for the AT95 cartridge, do consider the ATN95E model! You’ll love its rich sound with deep bass and highs.

Key specs
  • Material: hardened steel.
  • Needle forces, g: 2.0.
  • Compatible with: AT95E.
  • Sounds crisp and clear.
  • Lightweight – hovers over the grooves without bouncing.
  • Perfect for keen listeners on a budget.
  • Can be a bit tricky to install and align.

Audio-Technica ATN3600L

Audio-Technica ATN3600L features

The Audio-Technica ATN3600L features a conical stylus that produces a stable sound. It is made of acrylic-coated cotton to ensure smooth contact with record grooves. There is a fair amount of rumble on high frequencies, but you can fix it by reducing the bass.

Unlike ATN95E, the recommended tracking force for this model is between 1.5 to 2.5g. This might result in needle wear within 300-500 hours of use.

Audio-Technica ATN3600L specifications

This stylus is a great replacement for AT-LP60 and AT-LP60USB turntables if you start your vinyl listening journey.
Key specs
  • Material: acrylic coated cotton.
  • Needle forces, g: 1.5-2.5.
  • Compatible with: AT3600 – AT3600L – AT3601 – AT3651 – AT3650L – AT3650C – AT3650 – AT3626.
  • Hassle-free installation.
  • A small shank with a fine needle tip – results in improved tracking.
  • Easily slides and sounds close to perfect.
  • Rumbles at highs.
  • Requires frequent replacement.

Needles for Crosley, ION, Jensen and other


GarTopVoiz features

The pack of two Gartopvoiz needles will work great for those vinyl enthusiasts who can’t opt for an original diamond needle for a record player.

Similar to Victrola ITNP-LC1, these styli are compatible with 33 ⅓, 45, 78PRM turntables. They feature a diamond ceramic tips that require 4-6g of tracking force to make the record sing. However, I had some issues with the GarTopVoiz needle as it failed to catch grooves, causing skips.


If you need budget-friendly replacement needles for your basic record player, take a closer look at this pack. You hardly find such quality in a similar price range!
Key specs
  • Material: diamond ceramic.
  • Needle forces, g: 4-6.
  • Compatible with: Crosley, ION, Jensen, Victrola, 1byone.
  • Suitable for a wide range of turntables.
  • Precise diamond ceramic stylus.
  • Works with 33 1/3, 45, 78PRM.
  • Might skip tracks and their fragments.

Needles for Victrola

Victrola ITNP-LC1

Victrola ITNP-LC1 features

There are three styli in the Victrola ITNP-LC1 pack. Considering that each stylus will last 50 hours under regular use, it will ensure effortless replacement.

This product shares the same characteristics with GarTopVoiz – 33 1/3, 45, or 78 RPM vinyl size, ceramic stylus, but the turntable compatibility sets them apart. Being specially designed for Victrola record players, the ITNP-LC1 is only suitable for this brand’s models (ITCDS-6000, VTA-290B, VTA-750, and many more).

Victrola ITNP-LC1 specifications

Although Victrola needles produce a pleasing sound, they may not satisfy listeners who love deep bass and juicy highs.

The pack of Victrola ITNP-LC1 needles is a good replacement for budget and less tech-advanced turntables.
Key specs
  • Material: diamond.
  • Needle forces, g: 3-5.
  • Compatible with: ITCDS-6000, ITRR-501, ITUT-5000, ITVS-200B, ITVS-750, ITVS-750B, ITVS-760B, V50-200, VTA-200B, VTA-220B, VTA-300B, VTA-600B, VTA-750 & VTA-750B.
  • Clicks right in – takes seconds to install.
  • Compatible with most Victrola models.
  • Great value for the money.
  • Requires frequent replacement.

When to replace a turntable needle?

The needle wear is defined by multiple factors like the stylus shape, tracking force, record condition, etc. The operation time of this turntable component can vary between 200 to 2,000 hours. However, the average lifespan of the needle is about 1,000 hours of playing time. The math is simple – if you are immersing yourself in relaxing vinyl tunes daily for an hour or so, you’ll need to change the stylus every other year.

There is another way to determine that it’s time to opt for a new stylus – by the sound quality. Once you hear any deterioration like blurring, fuzziness, distortion, crackle, spitting, channel imbalance, or any other additional noises, it’s a sign that the stylus has worn out.

Physical signs can also be used to assess the condition of the needle, so examine the needle’s tip for damage – it’s bent, damaged, or dirty, it’s time to buy a replacement.

What to look for when choosing a turntable stylus?

The playback experience depends on the quality of the entire turntable build. However, a stylus is one of the elements that have a direct impact on the record performance. Besides, as you already know from this review, not all needles are the same.

That is why you can not go wrong when choosing between various record player needle types. I’ll detail what to keep in mind when browsing through different stylus options.

Different turntable stylus shapes

The stylus’s shape determines its access to the LP’s surface, that’s why the sound quality depends on this parameter. Besides, certain needle shapes tend to cause more or less wear to your records, defining how long you’ll enjoy the tracks from the vinyl.

There are four main types of needle shapes: spherical, elliptical, hyper elliptical, and micro-ridge.

The spherical (also known as conical) stylus is the common choice among turntable enthusiasts due to its affordable price. It features a relatively large and it can reach fewer record grooves, which results in better performance of higher frequencies, but worse sound depth and more distortions.

Thanks to the dual radii construction, an elliptical (bi-radial) stylus goes over a larger groove area. Thus, it ensures a more advanced tracking and frequency response with less distortion. The elliptical model wears out more quickly, and you should keep an eye on the alignment of the tonearm and cartridge for better performance.

Being an upgraded version of an elliptical needle, a hyper elliptical (shibata) stylus makes greater contact with the grooves due to a sharper tip. This takes the sound to a new level delivering high-frequency performance and enhanced tracking. Moreover, it causes less vinyl wear and ensures a longer tip life. However, it is more expensive than the options mentioned above.

A micro-range stylus has the highest quality, but it is more difficult to manufacture. Thus, this is the most expensive choice that delivers the finest hi-fi sound with a prolonged needle life and minimal record wear. In fact, the micro-range model is the best turntable stylus option in the market these days.

Cartridge weight matters

Sometimes you’ve got to replace a needle along with the cartridge. In this case, figuring out the weight compatibility of the cartridge with the tonearm is essential to maintain optimal tracking force. A cartridge that has an appropriate weight will provide a balanced hi-fi sound without distortion during the playback. The perfect balance will ensure that the needle carefully tracks the record grooves without causing too much or too little pressure.

It’s not hard to define the optimal tracking force weight of the cartridge for your turntable model. Just check the device manual which should have the recommended cartridge parameters. If you have none, find out the cartridge number and search for the information online.

Budget and audio differences

The price range for record player needles can bewilder you with variety. There are $25 options as well as $15,000 ones.

But if you assume that you would opt for the most expensive stylus and the playback quality will change dramatically, you might be mistaken as the rest of your equipment is also responsible for sound reproduction. If you own an entry-level turntable and would like to upgrade it with a $500-worth needle, it will probably not make a huge difference. The bottom line is: always match the quality of the stylus with your existing assets.

Why so? Because the needle tip material is an essential factor in the product price and, consequentially, the quality of the playback. High-end options have tips made of pure diamond and deliver the most advanced audial experience due to an optimal weight. Thus, the needle will track the grooves more accurately, delivering higher frequencies with less distortion.

Cheaper versions have a diamond tip that rests on a metal piece, adding weight to the stylus. Thus, such a stylus is less responsive to smaller vibrations, which affects the overall sound quality.

How to extend the life of the stylus?

The turntable needles are not immortal. They will serve you for a specific period, even when purchasing the most expensive stylus with a diamond tip. However, there are certain steps you can take to prolong the lifespan of the needle.

  • Remove fingertips, dust, and debris from the records with a record brush every few plays.
  • Get rid of debris on the needle using cleaning products. Mind that the stylus tip is fragile, so be careful.
  • Do not drop the stylus on the record as it can blunt the tip over time. Let it gently rest on the vinyl surface instead.
  • If possible, track the playtime to make sure you know when it’s time to replace a stylus.
  • Consider changing the cartridge as it loses its sensitivity over time.
  • To prevent damaging the vinyl and stylus, properly align the tonearm so that the needle tracks the record grooves.


Does a turntable needle make a difference?

Yes, the turntable needle does make a difference in playback quality. It impacts how much sound is picked up from the record groove, affecting the accuracy of playback. Having a good stylus will ensure you get the finest possible sound quality out of your record player. A decent model can also help you to reduce record wear, as it will make less contact with the vinyl surface.

Why are Ortofon styluses so expensive?

Ortofon styluses have a range of features to ensure they provide you with optimal sound quality. These features include high-quality materials, such as diamond-tipped cantilever suspensions, which allow for accurate tracking and maximum resolution when playing vinyl. Ortofon styluses also may come with useful accessories, e.g., replacement needles, that will add to the longevity of your record player. This is why they cost more than other stylus options in the market.

Which stylus shape is best?

The right stylus shape for your record player will depend on a few factors, such as the type of cartridge and tonearm being used. Generally, higher-end record players use elliptical or hyper elliptical styluses, which provide more accurate tracking than spherical or conical shapes. However, it’s better to check with the manufacturer to determine the finest stylus option for your system.

How long do record player needles last?

The lifespan of a record player needle depends on several factors, such as the type of needle being used and how often it is used. Generally, higher-end styluses last longer than budget models and can sustain up to 2.000 hours of playtime. It’s important to make sure you regularly clean your stylus in order to maintain sound quality and reduce record wear.

Does playing scratched records damage the needle?

Playing scratched records can damage the needle of your record player. Scratches on an LP cause the stylus to jump and skip, which can lead to wear and tear on both the stylus and the record. So, do avoid playing scratched records!
Suggested articles

If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.