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Phonograph Stylus Wear Experiment

BendBound

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Based on discussions in various threads on multiple audio forums, the lifetime in wear hours of a phonograph stylus remains an open and frequently intensely debated question. Manufacturer’s claims for example range from a few hundred hours for conical styli, up to 500 hours for elliptical styli, and into the thousands of hours for more advanced shapes. We have even read claims for certain stylus shapes lasting up to 20,000 hours. The problem is that manufacturers don’t provide contemporary research or data to support these longer life claims. To add to consumer confusion, a review of select manufacturer’s owners’ manuals from the early 1980s onward reveal a dramatic change in much longer stated wear hours along with less specificity and greater ambiguity in their statements. That period of wear hour creep so to speak coincided with compact discs (CD) displacing vinyl records, a trend that has only recently reversed, with vinyl in 2022 eclipsing CD sales. In one pertinent yet recent example, Ortofon moved from stating “up to 2,000 hours” in stylus wear to “Ortofon recommends replacing your stylus after no more than 1,000 hours to preserve the life of your records” in the June 2023 issue of Stereophile. This recognition of more believable stylus wear lifetimes is welcomed, but without technical support these claims are assumed to be marketing numbers, even if well intended.

What is needed to support any claim on stylus life is an experimental framework used to gather data across a range of stylus shapes and VTF conditions. Ideally this work would come from the industry, updated to include a full range of stylus shapes, including newer advanced stylus shapes that simulate the cutting head used in making record stampers. Unfortunately this work is not available to consumers and that fact has created significant confusion. Determining how long a diamond stylus lasts regardless of its shape is like asking how long is a piece of string with multiple answers offered for the same stylus shape.

A first attempt to address this question was made by Steve Hoffman Forum member @Ray Parkhurst (Note, aka Vinyl Engine [VE] member @ray_parkhurst and ASR member @ray_parkhurst) in his Stylus Wear Study recorded on the Vinyl Engine website (Stylus Wear Study (1)). Unfortunately, his results were not widely accepted due to the nature of test conditions. That experiment used a linear-tracking turntable, a low VTF cartridge, and repeated play of a single side of a vinyl record for the duration of the test, 1,000 hours. This procedure was deemed too different from normal use by a majority of observers.

A proposed more mainstream set of conditions would be as follows:

- Standard but good quality turntable with dust cover
- Alignment and anti-skating per manufacturer
- Standard mount cartridge
- Elliptical stylus
- Typical / moderate VTF
- Play multiple LPs in VG+ or better used condition
- Records cleaned with widely accepted methods
- Stylus cleaned and alignment checked periodically
- Typical household environmental conditions, monitored for temperature and humidity.

The cartridge will be secured very tightly to the headshell to prevent any movement. Additionally, one of the unique features of Audio-Technica MM cartridges is that their styli are inserted upward into the belly of the cartridge and lock securely in place with an audible "click." This eliminates any possibility of forward/backward or side-to-side movement of the stylus. To be absolutely sure, @BMRR will check the alignment at each read point to verify nothing has changed.

To make the test practical, each record side will be played for ~12hrs with the TT on automatic repeat. The room and TT will be monitored for temperature and humidity, including under the dust cover. Then the record will be flipped, the stylus cleaned, and the other side played for ~12hrs. This routine will be repeated with a fresh record each day until the conclusion of the test. The stylus will be removed at pre-determined playing time intervals and sent to @ray_parkhurst for photomacrographic imaging. This analytical process will be conducted at 0hrs (i.e., the new stylus), 48hrs, 96hrs, 240hrs, 360hrs, and 480hrs, with timing adjusted based on observations. A further test point after 480hrs would be added if necessary. In my opinion, Ray is an expert in styli imaging and through considerable experience has learned how to evaluate stylus wear, as seen in this Vinyl Engine entitled Stylus Evaluation Imaging.

VE member @Tetonbound (SHF and ASR @BendBound) will supply records for this experiment. Twenty (20) records at least will be employed in VG++ to NM condition. These records were cleaned in an 80 kHz ultrasonic (US) tank (made by Vibrato) for 20 minutes, rotating on a Vinyl Stack spindle assembly. The set up will include circulating cleaning solution through a Neo•Pure PH-27097-S35 water filter, to 0.35 microns. To ensure good US cleaning, only two records at a time were processed. The solution was a laboratory grade triple distilled water, Ilfotol surfactant (wetting agent) and isopropyl alcohol (~99%) in a process and chemical proportions adapted from Neil Antin (PRECISION AQUEOUS CLEANING OF: VINYL RECORDS, 3rd Edition, January 2022). Then after the US cleaning, all records were vacuumed on a VPI17 using AIVS Formula No.6 record cleaning solution, rinsed using ultra-pure water, and revacuumed until visibly dry. All records were further dried in warm air from a SIMCO Ionizing Aerostat machine to eliminate static charge on the vinyl. All cleaned records were re-sleeved in Diskeeper™ sleeves, made by Sleeve City.

To provide additional data on the sonic impact of record wear, two records will be recorded by @Tetonbound before the experiment using a Tascam DA-3000 pro-level recorder at 96kHz and 24 bit. These recordings will be done on near mint records to establish a baseline of sonic quality of selected records. At the end of the experiment the same two records will be re-recorded at the exact same recording levels to evaluate sonic degradation and high frequency loss, if any. One record will be the first played in the experiment, and the second the last played, so that data will be available for examine record wear from the stylus in both it’s new and worn conditions. We are still working through how to get to vinyl wear and change in sonic qualities from the wearing stylus and we do note experience here as seen in this Audio Science Review "Test" thread.

This experiment is designed to establish an acceptable baseline for stylus wear for one stylus shape at a specific VTF. We envision follow-up experiments to gather data on other stylus types and/or under different VTF conditions. Our goal is to provide guidance on stylus wear supported by a rigorous process with photomacrographic images, and on expected degradation of the sonic qualities of the vinyl, if any.

Since @ray_parkhurst and VE@BMRR live on extreme opposite sides of the U.S., the VMN95E stylus will rack up quite a few frequent flyer miles for this experiment, pushing the expected total elapsed time for this experiment to be ~3 months, but images taken at each read point will be published so the community can follow along with the experiment. A final report is planned once the test and analysis is completed.

If there are any others who would be willing to volunteer to do a similar experiment with a different stylus type, or to contribute financial support to this and follow-on experiments, please reply to this thread or by PM to either @BMRR on VE, on ASR @ray_parkhurst, or @BendBound.
 
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BendBound

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Please see this thread on Vinyl Engine for this Stylus Wear Study 2.

@ray_parkhurst demonstrated his skills in photomacrophaghic representation of stylus tips and in gauging degree of wear. This includes all shapes of stylus tips, especially advanced tip shapes. I would direct you to page 76 in this link where he imaged my worn Replicant 100 stylus on an Ortofon A-95 cartridge. Please read through the discussion of the wear on this Replicant 100 since Orofon technical engineers in Denmark estimated the number of wear hours on this advanced tip shape, and Expert Stylus & Cartridge Company (think Mr. Wyndham Hodgson's UK firm) also provided a written description of its wear.

See this link that details Expert Stylus & Cartridge Company.

This ASR tread will be updated with periodic progress reports separate from those on Vinyl Engine for the duration this test. The information in both treads will be complete, while we expect the feedback and discussion on both threads to develop a life on their own merits.
 
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BendBound

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Audio Science Review has already touched on aspects of stylus wear, and a read of the following threads informs us that this venue is an ideal space for this kind of dialog and discover.

Our team has noted the following ASR threads:

The Truth About Phono Cartridges.

Testing.

When Does A Stylus Need Cleaning?

Macro Photos Of Phono Styli.

Phono Cartridge Response Measurement Script.

The Truth About Vinyl Records.

I've begun a new thread that we hope will add to this conversation on stylus wear.

In the When Does A Stylus Need Cleaning thread, there was mention of the article published in The Vinyl Press, entitled The Finish Line For Your Phonograph Stylus...

That article I wrote in mid-2019 to chronicle my path of discovery on research done since the mid-1950s to present on stylus wear. It all began when I learned that the stylus on my Ortofon Cadenza Black was producing sibilance. I asked the manufacturer of the phono preamp I use how long did styli last based on his experience. He told me 500 hours, and I knew I had about 700 hours on mine cartridge. He pointed to me Expert Stylus Repair & Cartridge, who later retipped this cartridge. They told me 500 hours was critical wear on a stylus that used a VTF of 2.0 to 2.5 grams. My personal research included forums such as this one to find anecdotal stories from other folks who also learned that their stylus tips did not last for many thousands of hours. Even as my own experience on my set up suggests the number of hours to critical wear, my fundamental recommendations are straightforward: 1) keep track of the number of sides of vinyl you plan on a cartridge, and 2) have it checked for critical wear at around 500 hours of use. That's it. Your cartridge on your set up may last 1,000 hours, depending on VTF, record condition (including how clean they are) and perhaps stylus tio shape, or maybe the tip is done at 500 hours. But you will never know if its not checked. For the record, I take no stock in folks who simply claim, they cannot hear a difference. Unitl a musician at my home pointed out sibilance, I did not really know how to "hear" it.

This experiment is designed to learn for ourselves how long a stylus tip lasts, in this case an elliptical shape using 2.0 grams of VTF on very clean records in essentially VG++ to NM condition.
 
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GXAlan

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Two comments:
1) This is great! Do you need to raise funds?

2) can you run a second test in parallel with a stylus in the runout groove? Then you can run 24h/day for accelerated wear.

It would be interesting to see if the wear is faster than expected because you are stressing the same part of the stylus, or less than expected because you are only stressing one part of the stylus.
 
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BendBound

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The next two photos show the kit I use to as described earlier use ultrasonic cleaning and VPI17 vacuum finishing for the records in this experiment. I also use a SIMCO Aerostat to knock down static, and a simple internet search will show you what those look like. Once cleaned, the records are put into a new Diskeeper™, from Sleeve City.

[IMG]


[IMG]


Now I want to discuss the records involved in this experiment. The stylus wear experiment (2) will use 20 records for this test. The condition of the records is as follows:

Twenty (20) records:
1 VG
2 VG+
4 VG++
9 NM-
3 NM
1 M, Sealed

We wanted a realistic set of records in mostly terrific condition, but also we wanted a few records that are in average condition. That is how I play records on my turntable and the wear my stylus is subject to. We did not want only NM records for we don't believe that represents real life use of most turntables. Nor do we want all VG or VG+ records since most of us work to upgrade or we are picky about what cartridge we use to play them. All records are ultrasonic cleaned and finished on a VPI17 vacuum machine, as noted prior. From that perspective, these records are on balance in better condition and better cleaned than most users I know. This next chart shows the near normal distribution in condition of the selected vinyl records for this test.

52890157820_3831ea653c_c.jpg


As far as the records selected for this experiment, they date from 1958 for the sole mono title, then from 1961 to 1989 for the stereo titles. Most records are from the 1980s, but numerous titles are from the 1970s and some from the 1960s.

The records are a mixture of rock, folk, country, R&B, easy listening, Broadway musicals, gospel, orchestral music and classical. These titles feature singers, some bands, some choirs, but also classical, for example Bach organ music. They come from obscure record companies such as Westminster Records, but most are RCA, Epic, Capital, Angel and MGM.

The bottom line is that we believe these records and their condition are representative of records most of us play. Finally, the manner in which the records are cleaned means that stylus life will likely be optimized in this test, and not foreshortened due to dirty or already worn vinyl.
 
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BendBound

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Two comments:
1) This is great! Do you need to raise funds?

2) can you run a second test in parallel with a stylus in the runout groove? Then you can run 24h/day for accelerated wear.

It would be interesting to see if the wear is faster than expected because you are stressing the same part of the stylus, or less than expected because you are only stressing one part of the stylus.

We plan to run a follow-on test for likely a Shibata stylus tip shape, with a higher VTF. BTW, our test now runs 24-hours a day, time recorded subtracting tonearm return time per day, time to flip the record, take other measurements (temperature and humidity), and clean the stylus,

We have raised $220 so far, and that includes materials we have paid for and contributed to this endeavor. We have burned through most of those funds for this test. Because we need to send the stylus back and forth across the country, shipping costs will devour the remaining funds. So supporting funds would be nice, since the next cartridge and records for the test will be more expensive. If you or others here are willing to donate to this experiment, please send me BM.

Let me see if I understand your second question. Are you asking if a test can be run perhaps on only one record where the stylus is simply traveling in the runout groove? If so, our concern would be that some folks who will use that as a reason to altogether dismiss the test. Its not how records are played, so the such a test is no indicative. That is not to say such a test is not valid, just what we anticipate how the results would be received.

As a general comment, we come to this test completely open to what we will find. We plan to show images on a regular schedule, so that we all get to follow along with the progression of wear. We have benchmarks as established by Audio Technica and JICO. For example, Audio Technica advises...

Replacing the Stylus

Stylus life expectancy varies according to stylus profile type and the frequency of record and stylus care. Following is the approximate life expectancy by stylus profile type.

Conical – 300 to 500 hours
Elliptical – 300 hours
Micro Linear – 1000 hours
Shibata – 800 hours

Now, these hours are close to what JICO published in owner’s manuals, as follows:

JICO specifies 3% THD at 15kHz as being the point where a stylus is past its best and technically out of spec. See this list for the expected hours to reach this point for different stylus types.

Spherical / Conical – 150 hours
Elliptical – 250 hours
Shibata / Line Contact – 400 hours
SAS / MicroRidge – 500 hours

JICO is not referencing completed useful life, which is a bit frustrating. Its true a tip can be used beyond this threshold, but its reproduction of sound will degrade further from the 3% THD (that most humans cannot hear) and the cartridge is due for a tip replacement soon. Tell me someone who has the equipment at home to measure 3% total harmonic distortion at 15Hz.

On that last point, if someone here can help us with THD, we'd like to hear about it. We have procured for this test a sealed copy of the CBS Laboratories Technical, Professional Test Record STR-100.

According to Vinyl Engine, Columbia Special Products Professional Test Records, the STR-100 was designed to evaluate pickups and systems, was recorded with a constant amplitude characteristic below 500Hz and a constant velocity characteristic above 500Hz. The record tests include: Sweep Frequency, with the sweep rate synchronized for use with a graphic level recorder; Spot Frequency, with voice announcements; Channel Separation; Wavelength Loss and Stylus Wear, to pinpoint oversize or worn-out styli, and excessive pickup tracking force; Compliance; Phasing; Vertical and Lateral Tracking; Tone Arm Resonance, to check system performance at low and sub audible frequencies and thus reveal undamped resonances which may cause equipment overloading.

We are trying to put together a program to evaluate the sonic impact of stylus wear on the output of the cartridge.
 
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BendBound

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With respect to evaluation of stylus tips, please see this Vinyl Engine post and two others on the same page by @ray_parkhurst who shows us his equipment in one post and below shows how he images. This equipment and procedures will be employed for this set of experiments.

Ray Parkhurst's Equipment and Methodology.

Note, the final post by @ray_parkhurst on this page shows the T(0) on stylus for the test Audio Technia VMN95E cartridge.
 
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GXAlan

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We are trying to put together a program to evaluate the sonic impact of stylus wear on the output of the cartridge.

Agree 100% but running the runout groove gives you a negative or positive control however you look at it.

Suppose you hit 1000 hours and there is no wear under real world testing. If the run out groove is worse, you can see if 1000 hours makes a difference. Maybe there is detectable wear.

In that case, we can say that the rated life of a stylus applied to run out groove only and the real world run out is far better than the manufacturers.

Suppose you hit 100 hours and there is a lot worse wear that we thought. But maybe the run out groove is less stressful. You might be able to see that the 100 hours on the run out groove is clean. This would mean that we might really want to change the stylus more frequently than expected.

Suppose you run the complex mix of music and it turns out that the wear is exactly the same as it with the run out groove. Your work has proven that we should be able to test future designs and geometries on the run out groove which would simplify future work.
 
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BendBound

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Agree 100% but running the runout groove gives you a negative or positive control however you look at it.

Suppose you hit 1000 hours and there is no wear under real world testing. If the run out groove is worse, you can see if 1000 hours makes a difference. Maybe there is detectable wear.

In that case, we can say that the rated life of a stylus applied to run out groove only and the real world run out is far better than the manufacturers.

Suppose you hit 100 hours and there is a lot worse wear that we thought. But maybe the run out groove is less stressful. You might be able to see that the 100 hours on the run out groove is clean. This would mean that we might really want to change the stylus more frequently than expected.

Suppose you run the complex mix of music and it turns out that the wear is exactly the same as it with the run out groove. Your work has proven that we should be able to test future designs and geometries on the run out groove which would simplify future work.
Thank you for adding this detail and I see where you are going here. Allow me to share our thinking, now that I've had a few hours to ponder what you propose.

Running the stylus on the runout groove will wear the stylus tip as if the stylus has hit the bottom on the groove. This phenomena is something Ray looks for in serious worn stylus tips. If you examine stylus wear images, its clear that facets are created along the sides of the tip by contact with the vinyl grooves. I've seen images of worn vinyl grooves that indeed show the sidewall wear, meaning at those points of contact. Ray has images that show this wear, and he can measure the size of the facets and estimate wear hours. But in extreme cases he has imaged the bottoming out of the stylus, never a good thing.

We are interested in seeing how a stylus tip actually wears through a series of progressive photomacrograph images, examined at specific hour intervals. We have given considerable thought to how to conduct the experiment that will solicit the greatest acceptance of the results. That is our goal. So even though we use 12 hour intervals per side of record, that's the extent of wear that side of record and the stylus tip will endure per side. As noted, the records are cleaned and in fine condition.

But you have surfaced an interesting angle to this, that may be something we consider for a later experiment.
 
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I highly recommend that you also measure the cartridge at each interval and track it that way. Please see JP's thread on his measurement script as well these posts I made on potentially "seeing" wear in cartridge distortion measurements.


 
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BendBound

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Okay, USER, based on your thinking, I did more work to understand what you are proposing. I needed to understand what is and what is in a runout groove. I'm still a bit confused on what a runout groove looks like. But clearly, a runout groove can contain music, or not as in most cases.

This is what I have found so far, and I am hoping you and others can help shed some light on this. Because at first I’ve wondered if the runout groove was not really a groove per se. Likely I am mistaken and will be happy to be corrected. Do you know?

I found this: Locked Grooves Endless Fun Literally. So this link suggests that the runout is really a groove and some records use it for music or sonics, as the example videos will show. This tells me there is something to what you are suggesting.

Now in my search, I found also a fascinating video about what it looks like for a stylus to move in a record groove. Video of Vinyl Record Needle Under A Microscopic.

This link helps me think about what’s in the groove if its silent: What Is Deadwax Or The Fun Out Groove. Work with on my thinking here: would a soundless runout groove modify friction on the sides of the stylus tip? My thinking is that most runout grooves are a simply cut straight sided groove where unlike in the video clip above the stylus tip is not moving back and forth giving us sound...therefore a straight groove may not have the same level of frictional wear – lateral or otherwise – as playing grooves with sound.

I'm looking for discussion here because I have not considered just playing one record's runout groove for the entirety of a test. Thank you in advance.
 
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BendBound

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I highly recommend that you also measure the cartridge at each interval and track it that way. Please see JP's thread on his measurement script as well these posts I made on potentially "seeing" wear in cartridge distortion measurements.


I want to know how to do this. What equipment is required, etc. What I have is a Tascam DA-3000 recorder. The software I use is IzotopeRX9 and Ozone9, but its not clear these are useful. I can use Audacity instead if the script is written specifically for that. But I'd likely need some coaching to figure out how to use it,
 

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Okay, USER, based on your thinking, I did more work to understand what you are proposing. I needed to understand what is and what is in a runout groove. I'm still a bit confused on what a runout groove looks like. But clearly, a runout groove can contain music, or not as in most cases.

This is what I have found so far, and I am hoping you and others can help shed some light on this. Because at first I’ve wondered if the runout groove was not really a groove per se. Likely I am mistaken and will be happy to be corrected. Do you know?

I found this: Locked Grooves Endless Fun Literally. So this link suggests that the runout is really a groove and some records use it for music or sonics, as the example videos will show. This tells me there is something to what you are suggesting.

Now in my search, I found also a fascinating video about what it looks like for a stylus to move in a record groove. Video of Vinyl Record Needle Under A Microscopic.

This link helps me think about what’s in the groove if its silent: What Is Deadwax Or The Fun Out Groove. Work with on my thinking here: would a soundless runout groove modify friction on the sides of the stylus tip? My thinking is that most runout grooves are a simply cut straight sided groove where unlike in the video clip above the stylus tip is not moving back and forth giving us sound...therefore a straight groove may not have the same level of frictional wear – lateral or otherwise – as playing grooves with sound.

I'm looking for discussion here because I have not considered just playing one record's runout groove for the entirety of a test. Thank you in advance.
A groove like the runout groove that has no signal on it will have less friction between it and a stylus than a groove modulated with signal. The wearout rates for the stylus will be quite different for those two scenearios.
 
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I want to know how to do this. What equipment is required, etc. What I have is a Tascam DA-3000 recorder. The software I use is IzotopeRX9 and Ozone9, but its not clear these are useful. I can use Audacity instead if the script is written specifically for that. But I'd likely need some coaching to figure out how to use it,
PM sent. You simply need to record the first track of the record in either 44.1 or 96k through whatever method you normally use to record. Audacity simplifies the recording process. Then run the script by following the instructions on page 1 of the thread. No need to freak out as it really is pretty straightforward if you can already record an LP. You don't really even need prior Python experience. [Waves hand.] We can help once you get started.

And as I have mentioned privately, get a few test records as you are likely destroying them, compare the records by measuring the fresh cartridge with all of them so that you note any potential differences, and finally, measure a control cartridge so that you can later distinguish between test record wear and stylus wear.
 
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A groove like the runout groove that has no signal on it will have less friction between it and a stylus than a groove modulated with signal. THe wearout rates for the stylus will be quite different for those two scenarios.
Thank you. Our experiment is working to understand how long a stylus of a certain shape and specific VTF will last. The work essentially revolves around imaging, photomacrography at specific run hours. But we have received interest from the Vinyl Engine community to look at both record wear and the sonic signature of an increasingly worn stylus.

On those last two potential objectives, Ray, who does the imaging, can take photos of a record groove. We've seen such images that clearly delineate wear. To get those images you need to cut up the record. To see progressive groove wear, we'd need multiple copies of the same record, preferably all new, also run to different hours.

In the Phono Cartridge Response Measurement Script thread I can see a very level of skill and technology addressing response of a record signal, moreover to secure a frequency readout of a phono cartridge. This type of approach would be ideal to pair with photomacrographic imaging of progressive stylus wear. We are not set up to do this and its why we have come to this forum. Our objective is to answer questions on stylus lifetimes and we are prepared to run experiments with numerous cartridges to get a sense on this, all fully documented. Another allied effort is for an Ortofon cartridge now new with the Replicant 100 stylus tip, and that experiment will unfold over a handful of years in normal play. The run we are about to begin is on an Audio Technica elliptical stylus tip, run continuously until critical wear is achieved.

The Script thread here is totally new to us.
 

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For the sake of the thread I'll post my findings from measuring severely worn cartridges. (As per my links above, this was all already posted to the Measurement Script thread.)

Here are the measurements of two severely worn Audio-Technica cartridges. Click images to increase size.

AT71E - Denon DP-30L II 1.png
S20221201_0009.jpg

AUDIO-_1.PNG
S20221130_0004.jpg


The second monstrosity also has clear suspension issues. These measurements are also extremely good at showing us this.

Images follow Ray's advice to use a 45 degree angle.

As I do not have any "before" measurements and don't know how long these have been played (not that it really matters as much to me as I can take these images) I am interested in the findings of this experiment. However, with these cartridges we are lucky to know that Audio-Technica cartridges (especially these cheaper ones) generally all have a similar FR with the traditional rise after 5kHz that you find as the result of using cheaper cantilevers. See the measurements below. I can provide many more examples.

Audio-Technica 8008 - Denon DP-30L II - 1.png
Audio-Technica AT3600L - Denon DP-30L II - 1.png

Audio-Technica AT15Ea - Denon DP-30L II - 1.png


The difference is generally with distortion. However, I have found that the worst or, better put, cheapest cartridges have distortion no worse than -18dB (I have measured many cartridges and it is clear price has no relation to quality). So from these experiments, it seems to me that wear is very much "visible" in measurements but surprisingly not really in frequency response as we might assume but in distortion between 3-10kHz. Given the general lack of attention to this on internet forums and given the state and prices of the re-sale market (and general inability to photograph wear), this all makes sense to me. There must be so many badly worn cartridges being sold for top dollar out there and people will likely never know the difference as, as Floyd Toole has proven in the only real proper study of the phenomenon, frequency response by far matters most for listener preference. See:
Given all of this we need proper corroboration and I'm looking forward to the results of this endeavor. I also highly recommend that you keep track of channel balance as it is something I have not covered and may be something important that is affected by wear. You may likely need a different test record for that. If you get a good copy of the Tacet: Vinyl Check, it may be a decent option. The CBS test record is not good for channel balance. More, this will require very, very precise cartridge set-up.


Other issues:

Here is a NOS AT120Ea with hardened (rubber?) damper. (I recommend that you avoid buying older AT cartridges as they often seem to suffer from this.)
Audio-Technica AT120Ea - Denon DP-30L II - 1.png

B&O SP-12 with an "issue"

Bang & Olufsen SP-12 - Denon DP-30L II - 1.png
PXL_20221215_162441983.MP.jpg


Finally, a Pioneer PC-290T that I never photographed but I'm sure is fucked.

Pioneer PC-290T - Denon DP-30L II - 1.png
 
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USER, This is absolutely stellar work. Thank you and thank you for responding to my initial BM. Ray and I began to discuss this experiment after I had published the Finish Line article. Ray had a linear tracking TT and a cartridge he donated that used a VFT of 1.25g or 1.5g. So he carried on with that experiment, now a baseline for the equipment he used. Since that time, we have baked on the idea of doing work we believe the cartridge manufacturers should provide. I've asked for this research and been told by Ortofon since I use mostly their cartridges that its proprietary.

That notied, after the May 2019 paper, I researched owner's manuals over time as available on VE. I learned in particular that Ortofon "evolved" their advice in them for one cartridge type as an example. In the early 1980s before the CD took hold, Ortofon gave clear instructions on number of albums of play to reach critical wear. 500 was the number. At the moment I don't call the stylus shape or VTF, but it was a common Ortofon cartridge. Yet I detailed what I found on that on the Steve Hoffman Forum and on Audiogon in lengthy posts. Since I had consulted and interviewed Ortofon USA in NY, and I now knew the head guy there, he received a link to the Finish Line paper and I sent him my discovery of Ortofon's evolution in owner's manual advice for one cartridge from ~500 hours to "up to 2,000 hours" of use by the late-1990s.

This head guy later told me in a phone conversation that he petitioned Ortofon Denmark to change that advice from "up to 2,000 hours" to 1,000 hours. Evidence that this has occurred now appears on the far righthand side of page 139 in the June issue of Stereophile in an Ortofon advert entitled Is your stylus destroying your record collection? If you read the opening paragraphs of the Finish Line paper, you will see that is precisely where I began my odyssey.

The one area where this work has yet to be accomplished is for advanced stylus tips, those simulating the cutting head for making a record stamper. Now I have seen some very long hours being touted for these tip, above 2,000, even as high as 20,000 but more often up to 5,000. Mr. Wydham Hodgson has a lot of experience in this space and in a phone conversation he told me diamond tips, even those taking advantage of vector properties in crystal structure last for only 500 hours. That's his opinion, one that appears over and over again in the compilation of prior work done on this subject. But maybe its really 1,000 hours for those folks who have clean vinyl and take care of their stylus tips, and use lower than 2.0 grams in VTF. This is what we hope to learn.

Now, I have no idea where to acquire Python of the other bits, so yes, I am interested in your help. We can send you audio files at frequency and bit rate you note. But help me understand where to get the software in the event I want to go there at some point later down the road. Also, help me with how often the CBS record can be played? You can see our expected sampling frequency for examination of the stylus tip. This analytical process will be conducted at 0hrs (i.e., the new stylus), 48hrs, 96hrs, 240hrs, 360hrs, and 480hrs, with timing adjusted based on observations. A further test point after 480hrs would be added if necessary. Do we need a new record for each of those points or can we use the same record for several? Also, is there a particular track we should record or is it a side or the entire lp?

Likely more questions will come to mind. But man oh man, I love what you are doing here with this analysis.

Thank you, Mike
 

USER

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Now, I have no idea where to acquire Python of the other bits, so yes, I am interested in your help. We can send you audio files at frequency and bit rate you note. But help me understand where to get the software in the event I want to go there at some point later down the road. Also, help me with how often the CBS record can be played?
This is all on page 1 of the thread. If you are using windows follow the step by step instructions that I posted on post 6. The link is on step 1. If you are on mac os, follow JP's instructions.


As far as how often the CBS record can be played, I note on the thread that I haven't seen evidence of wear even after 100 measurements (of cartridges in good condition). See the measurements I posted in the thread. However, YMMV and intentionally measuring worn cartridges changes the variables.
 
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There must be so many badly worn cartridges being sold for top dollar out there and people will likely never know the difference as, as Floyd Toole has proven in the only real proper study of the phenomenon, frequency response by far matters most for listener preference.
Because of his capabilities, Ray has acquired many cartridges from a popular auction site claiming very low hours on them. He images those and notifies some sellers that in fact the cartridge is worn out and not as advertised. So in this way, he has assembled a small collection of good one that he likes to image and uses for play in his system.

Further I've noted the same type of service is available to others for a modest fee, if you search "Phonograph Stylus Evaluation Service" on the most commonly visited auction site.
 
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