Over time, a vinyl record’s sound quality degrades for several reasons: dust accumulates on the record surface, the vinyl itself or needle becomes worn down. These factors cause poor sound quality, lower volume, and an increase in background noise. At this point, it is time to replace your needle.
The easiest way to tell is by examining the stylus under a magnifying glass. If the diamond tip is worn down past the axle of the cantilever (the long metal rod that extends from the cartridge), the stylus will need to be replaced. If it’s not worn down, you can get away with cleaning your stylus under running water (avoid wetting the housing).
The lifespan of a phono cartridge stylus varies from brand to brand. Generally, most modern moving magnet cartridges have a life expectancy of 1-3 years under normal circumstances.
What else causes a wearing down of a record needle?
The following factors influence the wearing down of needle:
First of all, the usage and environment you provide for your record player, including heating and humidity. Besides, it depends on how often you use your cartridge.
The next factor is the quality of the record you play and your listening habits. Here we speak about the number of listening hours per week and how loud you like to play your records.
Pay attention to the care for your stylus. It is important to neglect it or brush it gently after each use.
How to replace my record needle?
Here is a general walkthrough on how to change your turntable needle. There are many different ways to do so, so if you have any concerns about your particular turntable model, be sure to contact the manufacturer.
The first thing you need is a new record needle (stylus), and then you can follow these steps to replace your old one.
Don’t touch the needle with your fingers, as it is very easy for oil from the skin to get on the needle that can damage it, and you will be unable to play specific albums! To avoid this, you can wear rubber gloves during the replacement process. Another trick is to put a small piece of tape on the tip so it doesn’t come in contact with your skin. Then follow the following steps:
- Find the tonearm (needle arm) and carefully release it from its locked position. Once you have released the needle arm from its locked position, carefully lower it to the record surface.
- Loosen the screw(s) of the old needle and lift it slightly to pull it off. You may need a small knife or scissors to pry it off.
- Once your old needle is removed, carefully put the new one on. You can do it, pressing down evenly in the middle of the cartridge, placing a needle in the record groove. Don’t forget to tighten the screw(s). You can now lower and lock your tonearm back into its original position and enjoy another day of great music!
What record stylus lasts longer?
The answer is not general because it depends on two factors:
- The shape of the stylus tip
- The material used for making the stylus tip.
For example, a spherical stylus tip may last longer than an elliptical or hyper ellipse stylus tip. It is due to the spherical shape that does not generate high pressure while making contact. Therefore the diamond stylus tip is not easy to damage.
The other fact is that if the material of the stylus tip is more rigid, it may last longer. For instance, a stylus with a sapphire or ruby head can last for 20 years or even more.