Cartridge Wear - New Cartridge

Oxfordian

Well-known member
Just wondering what the warning signs are for a knackered cartridge? Albeit I may have answered my own question.

My system started sounding a bit off a while back but I hadn't been well and to compound my misery I was also suffering with Covid which took ages to clear up so all in all I didn't pay that much attention.

In many ways I suppose that it was a gradual process of deterioration that my ears had adjusted to. But, in recent days when sibilance became more apparent than was acceptable and well known tracks started to sound 'off' in various ways that I realised that something was very wrong.

After checking all the basic things I couldn't find anything obviously wrong, I researched how long cartridge should last and found conflicting information indicating anywhere from 300 hours through to 7 years but the consensus seemed to put around 1000 hours of use up as a limit.

My initial reaction was that I was no where near 1000 hours of listening but then realised that the cartridge was around 30 months old and listening to it around 10-12 hours a week took me well over this notional 1000 hours limit.

So I decided to bite the bullet take the Elys2 upmarket and replace it with a Rega Exact, this came from Acoustic Streams my closest dealer and was installed last night.

First listen was an original pressing of Joan Armatrading - Me Myself I, a recent second hand pick up from Musical Nostalgia in Truro, wow what a difference, I was shocked at just how poor the Elys2 had become, all of a sudden I could hear the band, subtle sounds that have evaded me in previous listens with the Elys were now coming out of my speakers.

I am sure that we adjust to deteriorations in many aspects of our lives, hearing, eyesight etc but I wondered if a cartridge should be replaced after a set period of time depending on use or whether it is just down to our ears to get a message to our little grey cells and say 'enough is enough - replace that cartridge or stylus'.

If everything goes to plan my TT will get replaced later this year but irrespective of that I plan to replace the cartridge/stylus every 12-15 months but what do other vinyl lovers do with their cartridges, how often do you replace, is it over set time or based on use or something else? I would be interested to get your feedback.
 
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andybebbs

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Apr 30, 2020
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Had my AT vm540ml on since march 2021 and still sounds good to me, as for how many hours it has on it i have no clue as sometimes i play a couple of albums a week then nothing for a month or so.

Andy
 
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Had my AT vm540ml on since march 2021 and still sounds good to me, as for how many hours it has on it i have no clue as sometimes i play a couple of albums a week then nothing for a month or so.

Andy
I'm the same. Correct set-up and the nature of the LPs being played will effect stylus wear. I don't have a turntable with a built in timer also.
Time can vary quite a lot but generally your ears will tell you when said stylus needs replacing.
 

DCarmi

Well-known member
Hmm! I guess my Elys 2 is about 4 years old and no idea how many running hours. I don't detect any deterioration but then would I notice before it got really bad?

The Exact gets better reviews compared to the Elys 2 and a lot more expensive, so you'd expect a step up in performance. Otherwise, you'd probably be a bit disappointed.

Rega used to allow you to trade in your old cartridge for a discount but I don't know if this still applies.
 

Revolutions

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Aug 6, 2023
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I wish I knew the answer to this. Well, when my cartridge went, it completely went. Skipping all the time & left channel dipped in volume.

Glad you like the exact @Oxfordian - I was seriously impressed when I first heard it. And I’m giving the new one some hard playing, loving every album I hear.
 
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Oxfordian

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Hmm! I guess my Elys 2 is about 4 years old and no idea how many running hours. I don't detect any deterioration but then would I notice before it got really bad?

The Exact gets better reviews compared to the Elys 2 and a lot more expensive, so you'd expect a step up in performance. Otherwise, you'd probably be a bit disappointed.

Rega used to allow you to trade in your old cartridge for a discount but I don't know if this still applies.
I understand that I am not comparing Apples v Apples, my point is that the Elys had declined in performance without me really noticing until the point that it became very noticeable.

My belief is that Rega do still offer some form of exchange but with my nearest dealer a 90 minute drive away any cost benefit is lost in the time/cost factor to get there.

I just wondered what others do to monitor their cartridge over time.
 
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Oxfordian

Well-known member
I wish I knew the answer to this. Well, when my cartridge went, it completely went. Skipping all the time & left channel dipped in volume.

Glad you like the exact @Oxfordian - I was seriously impressed when I first heard it. And I’m giving the new one some hard playing, loving every album I hear.
Have you seen any sonic improvements after having the Exact tracking those grooves for a while?
 
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Oxfordian

Well-known member
Time can vary quite a lot but generally your ears will tell you when said stylus needs replacing.
That's my point, I'm not sure that your ears do tell you, at least not until it becomes irritating.

I love the idea that you could have a timer on your TT logging the hours for that cartridge, wonder if it could have a memory function for those who like to swap cartridges around. :ROFLMAO:
 
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daytona600

Well-known member
Rule of thumb
Clean records if you use a RCM
VTF , Azimuth , Bias , Zenith correctly set
Does not mean cartridge if dead , but wearing out / needs checked / replaced
Spherical 150hrs
Elliptical 400hrs
Hyper Elliptical 600hrs
Shibata 800hrs
Line contact Microridge 1000hrs
 
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Hmm! I guess my Elys 2 is about 4 years old and no idea how many running hours. I don't detect any deterioration but then would I notice before it got really bad?

The Exact gets better reviews compared to the Elys 2 and a lot more expensive, so you'd expect a step up in performance. Otherwise, you'd probably be a bit disappointed.

Rega used to allow you to trade in your old cartridge for a discount but I don't know if this still applies.
hopefully it should as you cannot replace the stylus on their cartridges which is why many move away from them.
Unfortunately, as ever, if you buy into a Rega system they want you staying in a Rega system
 

Oxfordian

Well-known member
Rule of thumb
Clean records if you use a RCM
VTF , Azimuth , Bias , Zenith correctly set
Does not mean cartridge if dead , but wearing out
Spherical 150hrs
Elliptical 400hrs
Hyper Elliptical 600hrs
Shibata 800hrs
Line contact Microridge 1000hrs
I came across this when looking for information on stylus wear, it made me sit up but the figures are replicated (or very close) in other places.
 

Gray

Well-known member
Never mind the stylus, when you look at those zoomed in pictures it's amazing that records last as long as they do.

And the overall crudeness of vinyl replay - it does well to sound as good as it (often) does.
(Especially the 12" 45 rpm jobs).
 
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Oxfordian

Well-known member
hopefully it should as you cannot replace the stylus on their cartridges which is why many move away from them.
Unfortunately, as ever, if you buy into a Rega system they want you staying in a Rega system
A bit harsh on Rega?

Over the years a Rega TT has been a starter deck for many people, myself included twice over, getting them into the wonderful world of vinyl, and I guess a good few have stuck with Rega long term, so they do have a formula that works its just not as flexible in some areas as other brands.
 
That's my point, I'm not sure that your ears do tell you, at least not until it becomes irritating.

I love the idea that you could have a timer on your TT logging the hours for that cartridge, wonder if it could have a memory function for those who like to swap cartridges around. :ROFLMAO:
I was going to mention a timer, or simply a counter for each side. Such things do exist, though I’d seek something generic, rather than ‘designed for vinyl’ which will probably double the price!

I play LPs so rarely these days that I almost always note it down in a diary. I keep a page for the purpose and note each side played. A side maybe averages around twenty minutes, so every three sides = one hour.

Like @Gray I used to swap cartridges quite often, but nowadays I’ve had three since 2011. They are the dealer’s Grado Black that was already fitted to my TecnoDec, a Shure M97xe I swapped it for, and the AT on my Technics that’s just over a year old.
 
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A bit harsh on Rega?

Over the years a Rega TT has been a starter deck for many people, myself included twice over, getting them into the wonderful world of vinyl, and I guess a good few have stuck with Rega long term, so they do have a formula that works its just not as flexible in some areas as other brands.
I too have owned Rega decks, so I agree perhaps a bit harsh but the basics are true
 
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Oxfordian

Well-known member
I was going to mention a timer, or simply a counter for each side. Such things do exist, though I’d seek something generic, rather than ‘designed for vinyl’ which will probably double the price!

I play LPs so rarely these days that I almost always note it down in a diary. I keep a page for the purpose and note each side played. A side maybe averages around twenty minutes, so every three sides = one hour.

Like @Gray I used to swap cartridges quite often, but nowadays I’ve had three since 2011. They are the dealer’s Grado Black that was already fitted to my TecnoDec, a Shure M97xe I swapped it for, and the AT on my Technics that’s just over a year old.
I like the diary idea, I might steal that.
 

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