What’s the expected life of a Rega stylus?

How long should a stylus last before it needs a retip?

I’m sure I have read somewhere to expect about 1000 hours from a stylus. I also believe Rega charge 50% of new cost to retip. However, I can’t find anything on Rega website and very little else on the net.

I have had an Ania for just over two years, and I reckon it gets around 10 hours use per week. So i guess it’s coming up to the mythical number.

I have started to notice a very very slight amount of distortion, mainly on vocals towards and toward the later tracks, only on some albums.

Tracking weight and alignment are correct and all my vinyl is cleaned on a Project RCM.
I haven’t ever cleaned the stylus. I thought about getting an Onzow or equivalent, but previous threads reckon Rega recommend a blast of compressed air?

I will consult my dealer and/or Rega, but I just wondered what everyone else’s thoughts and experiences are.

You should clean it to make sure, but a stylus that has worn to the point of having audible impacts is way past the point it starts damaging records.

Believe or not, my Lyra cartridge last around 20+ years, it still sounds good to my ears. :slight_smile:

I have lost count of how many hours that I have been using it, but then I have been living in 2 different countries and 3 different cities, and my turntable is only at my place in CA.

The reason that I am saying this because I am surprised that your cartridge last for a little over 2 years?

PS: I do clean my stylus every time before and after I play, using the AT stylus cleaner/vibrator.

1 Like

It has an elliptical stylus so 1000 hours seems a good time to get it checked, they last longer than spherical styli but less than line contact ones on average. With any luck your dealer has a microscope to check it with ( I’m only going on my experience with Audio T in Reading who have been very helpful with their stereo Olympus over the years).
If you’ve not been cleaning it, it may just be encrusted, I had a DV17D2 that suffered from this but was good for another couple of years after a good clean (performed under the Olympus with a fine brush and some IPA).

Jico japan published guide
typical japanese honestly
( absolute worst case scenario / will not meet factory spec )

  1. Conical
    The Conical stylus is the most standard stylus type.DJs prefer this. Product lifetime is about 200 playing hours.
  2. Elliptical
    The Elliptical tip is good at reproducing high frequency area. Product lifetime is about 150 playing hours.
  3. Shibata
    The Shibata stylus can play 4-channel sound on quadraphonic records.Product lifetime is about 400 playing hours.
  4. Hyper Elliptical
    The Hyper Elliptical stylus is thinner than the Elliptical stylus. This gives additional frequency response. Product lifetime is about 400 playing hours.
  5. Super Analog Stylus (SAS)
    The SAS is the JICO’s Micro Ridge line contact original model. That tip resembles the cutting stylus and can trace record grooves precisely. The SAS is excellent at reproducing both high and low frequencies. Product lifetime is about 500 playing hours.

Stylus Shape Hours of Play Stated Life (hrs)

    Spherical/Conical                     150                          300 –  800

    Elliptical                                      250                          500 – 1,000

    Shibata/Line Contact              400                          500 – 3,000

    Micro-Ridge                               500                          ±4,000

I learnt 1000 hours, and though I couldn’t see any obvious wear under a microscope (but never compared new with old), in my heyday with vinyl I therefore used to change mine every 3 years, estimating an average of three hours a day play. If diamond I guess the brand makes no difference, though the profile likely would.

Ortofon state that with proper care 1000 hours is possible before noticeable degradation of performance. Proper care meanIng the cartridge is properly installed, adjusted and kept clean, playing clean records. Best case in other words. My 2M Fine Line must be a bit like myself - almost ready to retire!

As per my question

  1. Rega give no guidance on stylus maintenance on their website.
  2. How else can you tell if your stylus is damaged or worn other than an audible change?
  3. All my vinyl is spotless, so I wouldn’t expect undue wear and tear.

A microscope, if you have one.

Or, what I do is that I time my usage and replace it around the 1,000hr mark.

So, what is the degradation mechanism when it comes to cartridges? Is it purely wear, i.e. the tip profile is not as per the designed profile when it left the factory, or are there other mechanisms here?

there’s possible degradation to the suspension that also has to be taken into account.

I think that’s the prudent approach - keep track of usage and replace at 1000 hours. That way you can be reasonably sure you have got near maximum lifespan from the stylus and your precious vinyl collection isn’t being damaged.

For anyone interested - there are simple tally apps available that make it easy to keep track of how many hours you are racking up on your stylus. Just open the app at the end of a listening session and tap in the amount of album sides played. Approx 3500 taps will correspond to 1000 hours.

Suspension was the biggest factor for my 35+ year old Ortofon as the hours on it weren’t great. When i brought my turntable out of hibernation a few years ago the first play almost left the cartridge body riding on the surface of the record
as the suspension had degraded so badly. I didn’t sound too good either! And yes I did check the tracking weight. :0)

1 Like

They say increased sibilance is the first audible sign but knowing that lead to paranoia. :grin:

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.