Here’s an easy way to explain the stylus for novices: if the whole cartridge assembly itself is a car, then the stylus is its engine.
It really is as easy as that.
Without the stylus, you will get nowhere. The stylus is that little piece of plastic with a small metal arm that is attached, and this metal arm is called a cantilever. Attached to this cantilever, at the very end, is the tip. The tip sits in the groove of the record and it is usually made of diamond or some other gemstone.
There are two types of styli, we have the spherical and the elliptical, and we will be breaking these down for you a bit more:
Pros: It is less expensive to make, it is a popular choice of needle, they have less drag, and they are great for scratching.
Cons: They have a higher record wear, with less frequency responses.
Pros: They have less record wear, with higher frequency response.
Cons: They are more expensive to make, making them the less popular choice and they are also harder to find replacements. They are also not good for scratching.
The stylus is the part that usually suffers the most wear and tear and they are the ones that probably need more frequent replacement. The stylus is also going to get dirty, too, often. So, it is always a good idea to keep a little brush handy so as to keep it dirt free.
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If you do not want to use a small brush, you can consider using something like the Onzo Zerodust Stylus Cleaner. A lot of the new cartridges come with cleaning brushes inside their packages.
The spherical stylus and the moving coil, combined, are economically friendly. Of some of the more popular brands and styles, you may even find 2 cartridges that are packaged together as a promotion with a slightly lower price point that is offered as when compared to buying two cartridges separately.