When to replace the stylus of your phono cartridge?

What a pleasure to walk into your living room or your listening room & admire your vinyl set up. Amazing pieces of technology maintaining your passion for music alive. If you want to keep your vinyl records sounding great for years to come, proper maintenance of your phono cartridge is essential. One crucial aspect of cartridge maintenance is knowing when to change the stylus. At Ortofon, we asked our product specialist to provide some precious tips to take care of your cartridge & identify when it’s time to replace the stylus of your phono cartridge.

When to replace the stylus of your phono cartridge?

Usage hours: The first indicator to consider is the number of hours the stylus has been in use. Ortofon recommends that with proper care, a stylus can last up to 1000 hours without any degradation of performance. For DJ systems used for "scratching" and "back cuing," stylus lifetime may be substantially less due to their unique application, with a maximum lifespan of about 500 hours. For more information, please consult our FAQ page.

Extra tip : too much weight on your DJ cartridge can shorten the lifetime of your stylus. Make sure to respect the technical guidelines of your model (e.g. : 4g recommended for the Concordes of the MKII range).

How to recognize the signs?

If you have no idea about the number of hours of use of your phono cartridge, here are some tests that can help you determine if it's time to consider replacing it. 

1. Audition test: If you suspect that your stylus might need replacement, conduct an audition test. Listen to a known high-quality recording that you are familiar with and pay attention to any changes in sound quality. If you notice significant degradation, it's a strong indication that the stylus requires replacement.

2. Visual Examination: Use a stylus microscope or a high-quality magnifying glass to closely inspect the diamond. Look for any signs of wear, chipping, or flattening of the tip. Even minor damage can have a significant impact on sound quality.

Regular Maintenance of your phono cartridge

By following Ortofon's recommended maintenance practices, such as using a fine antistatic fiber brush to clean the stylus before and after playback, you can prolong the lifespan of your stylus and potentially delay the need for replacement. However, it's crucial to remain vigilant and attentive to the signs of wear and tear.

Remember, the stylus is a critical component in the playback chain, and its proper maintenance is essential for preserving the integrity of your cherished vinyl collection.

Ortofon maintenance & set up accessories can help you to set up & maintain your cartridge properly. Check our dedicated product page for more information.