Needle Stylus - HiFi
The small metal tube hanging underneath the tonearm is what is known in phonography as the stylus or needle. It is a crucial part of the phono cartridge as this is the only part that touches the record grooves. In most cartridges particularly moving magnets, the stylus is user replaceable, hence your interest. In moving coil designs, the whole cartridge needs to be replaced or sent back to the factory for re-tipping.
The stylus unit is actually made up of three to four parts. There is the (1) stylus itself which is made of a hard material typically diamond. It is mounted on the end of a short arm called a (2) cantilever that can pivot as the stylus tracks and is moved by the record grooves. The cantilever is fastened to a (3) grip, an appropriate term for a contraption that you hold to insert the stylus unit into the cartridge. A few manufacturers include a (4) record brush along with their stylus.
Differences in Styli
Styli come in a number of shapes and facets. The best styli try to duplicate the shape of the cutting stylus used to produce the original master disk. For these types of styli, you will see such terms as MicroLine or MicroRidge.
Another styli that is reserved for the higher priced models is the
Linear Contact (LC). This type of styli provides a vertical contact area several times more than that of the elliptical, thus enabling it to respond to minute grove modulations.
elliptical stylus has two radii, with the front being wider than the side radius. Elliptical styli are available in several sizes, such as 0.2 x 0.7 mil, 0.3 x 0.7 mil and 0.4 x 0.7 mil. The first number is the side radius. The smaller the side radius, the better its music retrieval potential.
The conical stylus is probably the most widely used stylus. This is because it usually comes as an original part of a fully equipped standard turntable. It is the simplest and least expensive among all of the styli shapes. Its spherical tip, typically with a radius of 0.7 mil, touches the center of the groove walls. The conical stylus can be found with lower to moderately priced turntables.
Current State of Needles and Styli
At LP TUNES we specialize in replacement needles and styli. We stock these for both old and new cartridges. See our extensive list of supported brands listed in our menu.
Please take this advice seriously. We recommend that you purchase at least two replacement styli especially if you are buying for an older cartridge. Manufacturers have been phasing out many replacement styli through the years and so the next time you need one for your older cartridge you may not be able to find it. At any rate, you can count on us to look for continued supply and availability of these increasingly rare diamonds.
How can I tell which stylus/needle will work with my turntable?