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I know this topic has been covered before but I thought it might be good to have an ongoing thread regarding stylus cleaning methods and to showcase any new products/methods that may be released....and of course, to respectfully debate these different methods which are aimed at achieving what we all want....a pristine clean diamond!
My internet research has uncovered a variety of stylus cleaning methods and concepts:
---- Various brush types
---- Audio brand name liquids (usually expensive versions of commonly available and far cheaper chemicals)
---- Gels.....such as Onzow Zerodust, Moongel (an 'oilier' version of Zerodust) and VP DustBuster (all fairly expensive)
---- Iso Propyl alcohol (Recommended by Soundsmith but decried by Expert Stylus)
---- Non alcoholic lens cleaners
---- Ultrasonic cleaners (debatable cost/effectiveness that still relies on a liquid)
---- Green paper (WTF is that? I see Linn sells it's own version of this)
---- De-mineralized water
---- Distilled water
---- The child's toy - Sticky Hands! (a Zerodust alternative)
Personally and I know some will back this method but maybe not the product used to undertake it......I use 'Sticky Hands'. I will explain why. Back at the start of my audio journey in the '70's, I used to use a Rotel stylus brush for regular cleans with occasional use of a brand name liquid (can't remember the brand). On my return to analogue a few years back, I read about the risk of stylus cleaning liquid' if wrongly used, ie: using too much, entering the cartridge via cantilever and potentially destroying it, so then I stuck to dry cleaning methods, ie: brush only. Realising this was not totally effective in the long term, I started using Magic Eraser and swore by it for quite awhile until I read that it is made of a dense conglomerate of micro fibres which can sometimes end up on the stylus. These fibres are quite abrasive (which makes them so good for cleaning surfaces) and could cause premature stylus wear or vinyl damage if they are still stuck on the stylus during playback. Worse still, some (clumsy, it has to be said) people have extracted their diamond completely off the cantilever using Magic Eraser. I then discovered Sticky Hands, a child's toy made of the same stuff (I believe) as Onzow Zerodust. Super cheap, super effective. Not wet but not dry.....sort of a 'Goldilocks' solution, no fibres, no motile liquid, no abrasion.....and in the hands of the non clumsy, no chance of diamond tip removal. Some may think, 'and no ego boost' but hey, it's actually just about having a clean stylus.....isn't it?
Here's some screenshots taken with my phone of just one of my 'Sticky Hand' results:
Denon DL103 before shot (after playing a newly bought but 'brushed only' second hand LP and obviously, before the LP was treated with Revirginizer!)
The same DL103 stylus after three light dabs of a 'Sticky Hand':
Impressive result, wouldn't you say? I was challenged once on the use of Sticky Hands by someone who said that when you stick one of these toys to glass, it leaves a mark or a 'residue' behind on the glass......good point but I believe Zerodust does the same thing. So, I guess I'm a 'gel stylus cleaner type guy' but I'm sticking with 'Sticky Hands' as the 'go to' product.....it's a no brainer to me at about $2 for five of these things and they're cleanable, just like Zerodust, which costs anywhere from $35 to $70 for a small pot of, what is essentially, the same product.
These gel type stylus cleaners (and Sticky Hands) are made of 'plastisol', a thermal polyurethane (TPU), a melt blend of a mixture of poly (styrine-ethylene-butylene-styrene) triblock copolymer and plasticising oils. I have sent an email to a US company called Polyone, whose business is polymers, on what this toy is exactly made of and it's merits or contraindications as a stylus cleaner. I will report their reply.....that is, if they bother to reply.
I'm not here to convert anyone or to claim I have found stylus cleaning 'nirvana', just to share my experience and my resulting opinion. Everyone will have a different story/experience or maybe a similar one. Share your opinions and even better, back up your stylus cleaning methods/theories with some before and after shots with a 'scope. The USB type one's that revealed the above images are as cheap as and easy to set up and use......and we all love close up stylus shots, don't we?
Anyway, one vote here to 'Sticky Hands'......laugh if you must but I say 'once you go tacky, you'll never go back-y'?** but simply let us know what you prefer.....and why.....with pic's if possible.?
Cheers....and happy 'clean stylus' SQ to all.??
** more appropriate edit....fair point @Hensa ?