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Tips

Routine Static Reduction Tip

 

Static electricity is bad for the performance of your stereo system. It just is. Depending on where you live, the amount of static electricity that builds up over a very short period on and around your system can be significant.  Synthectic-based carpets or rugs, AC outlets, transformers, cables, CD's, LP's, you name it, all attract and hold a static charge.  You can significantly reduce that static charge by wiping down your entire system with a cloth treated to eliminate a static charge specifically.

 

A basic example of this would be the Endust for Electronics moistened cloths, available at most supermarkets for about $8 for 70 wipes.  A more specialized treatment would be the Nordost ECO 3X spray, which is about $40.  With this product, you supply your own microfiber cloth to spray and wipe down the system.  In practice, I think it's a wash that is less expensive in the long run, but in my experience, the ECO 3X is considerably more effective. With either, thoroughly wipe every inch of cabling, all over each component, the component rack (including under each component), all around the tonearm (don't break that cartridge!), the bottom surface of your turntable, external power supplies, speaker cabinets, every AC plug and receptacle, and if a light switch is attached to the system, there too.  Do it every two weeks or before any "serious" listening session.  It's easy and it works.

Stylus Cleaning Tip

The pressure applied by the very small stylus contact points onto the LP is tremendous.  The stylus is a very hard material, but the LP, by comparison, is not.  A stylus tracing a record groove will always run into some debris. Due to the high pressure, the temperature of the stylus can build up and get pretty high.  This is especially true with a poorly aligned and optimized phono cartridge.  Depending on the nature of the debris, some of it can get adhered to the stylus surface with high heat, making it very difficult to remove.  I always recommend using two cleaning methods to keep your phono cartridge's stylus clean and free from anything that will impede it from smoothly tracing the groove.  General cleaning with a small brush, polymer bubble, or sonic cleaner works great for general use.  But periodic cleaning with a solvent-type cleaner is also recommended.  Only a solvent-type cleaner can "melt" off the stubborn heat adhered gunk that will get deposited onto the stylus.  I've looked at hundreds of styli under a microscope to see how well different cleaning methods make the stylus look pristine.  Only those fluids that are designed explicitly for stylus cleaning seem to do the job consistently well.  Also, they have been designed NOT to harm the delicate elastomer in the suspension system of the cartridge.  When using these fluids, I've found that holding the moistened brush on the stylus for about 30 seconds to bathe the gunk in the solvent is highly effective.  

 

There is also a stylus treatment that is a preventative rather than a cleaner.  Lyra makes a product called SPT, a surfactant applied to the stylus before you play a record, which reduces friction and temperature of the stylus in the groove.  I think it does an excellent job in making it easier for the stylus to "see" more of the record groove.  This MAY be evidenced by the fact that at the end of the record side, there is a small amount of debris around (not adhered to) the stylus, even when playing an immaculate LP. It appears that the stylus is getting into areas of the record surface that maybe it was previously moving over due to friction-induced mistracking and pushing dirt up and out of the groove. Regardless, it seems to slow the process of debris getting stubbornly adhered to the stylus, and when used, the record is quieter, and the music sounds better.  All good stuff!

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