Stylus And Contaminants

The stylus is a very small artefact, its tip typically measuring about 25 µ (microns) or one thousandth of an inch.

The groove opening itself measures 100 µ tapering down to its base, which is V shaped.

It is important to note that the stylus sits against the walls of the tapering groove and slightly above the groove’s bottom. Material at the base of the groove therefore passes underneath the stylus. Should a cleaning fluid lift this very fine material into suspension it is paramount that all of that slurry be removed else it will be deposited on the groove walls where it will degrade the sound.

 

Stylus Wear And What It Does To Records

A brand-new stylus will sit in the groove touching each wall at opposing microscopic points. The effective pressure at these two points is something like 8 tons per square inch (80MPa) so it is no wonder that the stylus wears. This is also the reason why abrasive dust must be eliminated from the groove else flat spots develop at each contact point. Should this wear be allowed to continue the leading edges of the flats will damage the groove walls. The stylus tip is made of diamond and is polished to an extreme degree of smoothness to eliminate friction. Even though diamond is the hardest material on the planet, it still experiences wear, making its dust highly abrasive. 

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