Once your vinyl record doesn’t play smoothly, and there are frequent sound distortions or skipping, you know your turntable needs fixing. One of the most common problems found in record players is the wearing down of the stylus. Most manufacturers have their own recommended period before you should replace the needle of your turntable. Still, if you notice any differences, you should replace them before the said amount of time, usually around a couple of years.
If you don’t replace your needle as soon as you notice any unwanted changes, you could be damaging your vinyl records with every play. But before you cash in for a new stylus, here’s a few things you should know that will help you with your purchase.
Cartridge vs. Stylus
It’s easy to assume that needle replacement is the cure as soon as things go wrong with your record player. However, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, the problem lies in the cartridge. This part of the turntable is also susceptible to degradation and produces effects similar to a worn-down stylus. Albeit, this is a rare occurrence.
If you are sure that the needle needs replacing, examine your record player model and determine if the cartridge is non-removable. If this happens, then you can easily change the stylus. On the other hand, if screws are mounting your cartridge to the player, you can also replace the whole cartridge with the stylus.
Another critical factor to consider is the stylus shape. It is a vital part of choosing your purchase because the condition of the needle dramatically affects the sound performance of the record player. It also determines the alignment precision, imaging, and depth of the sound. Spherical, elliptical, and line are just some of the many shapes to choose from. The
Shibata stylus, on the other hand, provides extended bass and higher frequencies. Satisfied users shared that Jico replacement styli have good Shibata options to offer.
It’s good to know which shape will best suit your playing needs. For example, performance-wise, you can’t go wrong with the elliptical, Shibata, and line tip, hence making them more expensive. These styles also wear down faster because of the increased contact with the vinyl record. Meanwhile, the spherical tip is relatively cheaper, easier to use, and wears down slower, but it is not the best audio-wise.
After you’ve decided on the stylus shape, check in again with your turntable model and make sure it is compatible with your record player.
Know Their Lifespan
Replacing your stylus as soon as you notice any distortion or damage in your record playing is crucial to your turntable’s health. The noise and static you hear when this happens will damage your records and degrade their quality over time. While most will say 1000 hours is the average playing time before replacing your needle, this may vary with different models and manufacturers.
It is advisable that you also check the lifespan of the stylus before finalizing your decision. This will give you a proper estimate as to when to replace it again. Knowing how long until your needle wears out also prevents you from further damaging your records and helps you maintain their integrity.