Are you looking for ways to turn your good-sounding Hi-Fi system into an even better one? Or maybe you’re a new vinyl-head wondering how to revamp your new turntable? If either applies to you, then you’ve come to the right place.
Upgrading your Hi-Fi system does not entail purchasing a new turntable entirely. Oftentimes, the overall sound quality of a record player can improve significantly just by modifying a few of its key components. For example, a stylus upgrade is an excellent place to start.
The mechanical movements from the stylus are translated into audio signals by the cartridge. These signals are then transmitted to the speakers and converted into that sweet sound of music you hear. Consider these five upgrade options for your record player needle to maximize your turntable experience.
Replace The Stylus And the Cartridge
Depending on the cartridge on your existing turntable, you may be able to replace just the stylus. In other cases, replacing the entire cartridge might be your best bet.
Since the stylus and the cartridge are fundamental to the transmission system of your turntable, the interplay between these two components is crucial to achieving a fuller and richer sound experience.
Cartridges are not universal, so the advantage of replacing the entire thing is that you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues. The disadvantage is that this option is usually more taxing and expensive than swapping out just the needle.
With the wide variety of cartridges available, it is helpful to choose manufacturers who offer customer support for finding the best cartridge suited for your turntable – and your budget – such as Nagaoka Cartridges.
Nagaoka offers consultation services on their products and technical expertise to determine the optimal cartridge and stylus for your Hi-Fi system at the best value for your money.
Swap Out the Just Stylus
Swapping out the stylus is a less expensive option than replacing the entire cartridge. However, remember that these elements are not universal. Compatibility between these parts matters because the trackability of the needle affects the vibrations detected by the cartridge and, ultimately, the quality of the sound produced.
Hence, in choosing the right needle for your player, it is best to know the features compatible with your cartridge. Further stylus options are listed below.
Consider A Nude-tipped Stylus
Turntable styli come in various shapes (e.g., conical, elliptical), types (nude, bonded), or tip materials (e.g., diamond, sapphire).
A bonded stylus has a diamond at its tip connected to a metal shank as its body, making it heavier than one entirely made up of diamond. This gives the former an advantage in tracking force since it has a greater weight.
Conical vs. Elliptical Stylus
Conical (or spherical) styli have tips similar to a ballpoint pen. Although they are more widely used because they are less expensive, they tend to produce audio with less clarity, especially in higher frequencies.
Compared to a conical stylus, the shape of an elliptical stylus allows for contact with a larger surface area of the grooves of a record. Therefore, elliptical styli have the upper hand in this aspect. Their tracking is more precise, producing richer, crisper audio quality. The drawback is that they tend to wear down faster, so paying careful attention to proper stylus gauging and calibration becomes more crucial.
Indulge In Diamond Or Sapphire Tips
Generally, diamond-tipped styli have a standard lifespan of 1,000 hours of playtime, while sapphire-tipped styli have an expected lifespan of approximately 40 hours. So it’s no surprise that diamond tips cost more than the sapphire ones – their price points are justified by their longevity.
Replacing your stylus has more than one benefit. Aside from the satisfaction of improved sonics from your record player, upgrading styli counteract the deterioration of the turntable over time and protects your vinyl.
Treating your stylus with care and cleaning out your records may prolong its lifespan, but all record player needles wear down eventually. So, keep note of these upgrade options in your next turntable purchase to guarantee the optimal listening experience.