I’ve recently been doing some research on stylus cleaning and was alarmed to find that some cartridge manufacturers recommend not using any type of liquid stylus cleaner.
The rationale being that the liquid can seep into the cartridge’s suspension via the cantilever and cause damage.
While I tend to rely mainly on dry brushing with the little brushes cartridge manufacturers supply with their cartridges for my stylus cleaning, I have also used liquid cleaners such as Nagaoka’s AM 801 in the past to ensure a pristine stylus.
A number of audiophiles who eschew liquid cleaners highly praise the Zerodust stylus cleaner from Onzow. Zerodust is basically a glob of gel in a boxed housing that you place on top of the platter and lower your stylus onto. It removes any dust, dirt or other debris that can build up on the stylus tip.
While the Zerodust is highly regarded, it costs around $80 in Canada. Quite expensive for what is, essentially, a glob of gel. I’m certainly not averse to spending large amounts of money on products that help me maintain my analogue system in some way (e.g., record cleaning) and I’ll fully admit that I do plan to make the Zerodust my next purchase but there is an alternative out there for the budget conscious.
A number of analogue audiophiles have experimented with alternatives for effective dry cleaning and come to the surprising conclusion that the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser can be an excellent stylus cleaner.
That’s right, an item ostensibly marketed as a sponge that ‘erases’ marks and streaks on floors, walls and various household appliances that you can purchase at your local grocery store for about $4.
All you need to do is take one of the two supplied sponges and cut it to a manageable size. It is also advisable to put a toothpick in the side so you can have something to hold when you use it.
For my own purposes, I didn’t need to alter the height of the Magic Eraser. When placed on the plinth of my turntable, it sits at a height just above the platter. For others, you may need to cut down the height, attach the Magic Eraser to a piece of cardboard and then place the Magic Eraser on the platter when using it.
At this height, you can easily and safely lower the tonearm and stylus onto the Magic Eraser (using the cueing lever) without the stylus going too far down into it. You only need to penetrate the surface enough to clean the stylus, after all.
When you’re doing this, make sure to have one hand holding the toothpick on the Magic Eraser and the other on the cueing lever of your tonearm. Gently lower the stylus into the Magic Eraser and then raise it. It works best if you ‘dunk’ it a few times.
As far as I can tell, the Magic Eraser is doing a great job so far. My stylus is certainly free of any and all debris.
That said, a few words of caution are in order if you’re going to try out the Magic Eraser.
First, it’s always best to follow up with a quick brush using your standard stylus brush. This will remove any possible residue that could be left behind.
Second, do NOT use it to brush the stylus (i.e. in a back-to-front motion as you would with a stylus brush or liquid cleaner). The Magic Eraser should be firmly held and kept stationery so that you can raise and lower the stylus into it (incidentally, much as you would with the Onzow Zerodust cleaner).
Some people on the internet claim that the Magic Eraser can be used this way but, quite frankly, I wouldn’t try it with a stylus/cartridge you value at all. The Magic Eraser is composed of dense, interlocking fibres and, I suspect, if you started using it as a brush you could easily rip the stylus right off the cartridge’s cantilever. The key is to be very careful.
Third, don’t overuse it. The default cleaning method should be a few brushes with your standard stylus brush. I’d only use the Magic Eraser occasionally (i.e. after playing quite a few records).
Finally, do not use any Magic Eraser but the ‘original’ version (the one in the blue packaging).
If used carefully, the Magic Eraser is a handy little alternative dry stylus cleaner until you’re prepared to pony up the cash for something like the Onzow Zerodust.
Bron: analogueplay 22-04-2011
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