Needles come in different types and qualities. Yet they all have one thing in common: they have a limited lifespan. Use of inferior and / or worn out needles can irreversibly damage gramophone records.
Turning records gray was a literal concept in the last century (when bakelite / shellac 78 rpm records were made); steel needles actually shred the records gray. After the Second World War, most records were made of vinyl (PVC / polyvinyl chloride). Vinyl records can also be turned gray, but in a figurative sense: you don't see it, but the grooves get damaged and that can never be repaired, not even with everything that Walvis Products has to offer in terms of maintenance.
Sapphire and diamond? A sapphire (stone) stylus has an expected lifespan of approximately 40 playing hours. Synthetic (pressed) diamond needles have a lifespan of 250 to 800 playing hours. With the hardness of the stylus, the quality of the sound reproduction also increases. Diamond needles not only last longer, they sound way better! Yet one diamond needle is not identical to the other. Here is some distinction:
- Diamond residual material: the tips of this kind of turntable needles are made from diamond powder (grinding residue) that is pressed together with a compound in the desired model of the tip. We also call them powder diamond tip needles. These types of needles have an average lifespan of 250 to 300 playing hours.
- Pressed synthetic needles: here the tip of the stylus is made of synthetic diamond, a production process in which carbon is pressed under enormous pressure into industrial / synthetic diamond. Standard needles are directly pressed here. Some of these needles are still polished after pressing. This gives a better scan, less distortion and less wear. The expected lifespan of this type of record player needles is 400 to 600 playing hours (depending on the needle pressure and other settings). This type of needle is harder than powder diamond tip needles. That immediately explains the longer lifespan.
- Polished synthetic needles: these are high-quality polished needles which are made of synthetic diamond. A harder needle gives a longer life and a better sound quality. The lifespan of this type of needle is 600 to 800 playing hours (depending on the size of the diamond from which the needle tip is cut). Nowadays there are also Sibatha and other Super-Ellipse needles made exclusively in Japan. Japanese synthetic diamonds are better than most European ones. The expected lifetime of this type of Japanese needle tips is no less than 900 to 1500 playing hours!
- Naked diamond needles: these come with a needle tip cut from a naturally shaped (genuine) diamond. These are the hardest diamonds that exist. The lifespan of a naked diamond stylus is around 2000 playing hours. In addition this long lifespan, the music reproduction of these needles is also mostly audiophile. A wider frequency range, more clarity and a more realistic reproduction is the logical consequence. Naked diamond needles are expensive, but also a good investment because of their much longer lifespan and the much more detailed representation of the recording on the vinyl. Fortunately, better new original elements are fitted with a Naked Diamond Tip as standard.
Also important: do not immediately play the same record again. Every stylus causes heat due to the friction with the groove walls of the vinyl. LPs and singles therefore need some recovery time. If the same records are played directly or too quickly in succession, the grooves of the record can be seriously damaged.
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