Advice about my non-automatic turntable
June 9, 2016 6:08 AM   Subscribe

I have a non-automatic turntable for the first time (Systemdek IIX), and it has a decent cartridge and stylus on it. Sometimes I leave the room when a record is playing and can't get back before the record ends. How harmful is it for the stylus to be in the (spinning) runout groove for a while? How long is a while? In short, should I always remove the stylus from the record before leaving the room?
posted by OmieWise to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, if one side of an LP is about a half hour long, you're leaving the needle in a vinyl groove at least a half hour before it hits the runout groove -- plus, the runout groove doesn't have the 'wiggles' in it to make sound like the audio groove does so there's theoretically less friction going on, so if it takes you five, ten minutes to realize the music stopped before you pick up the needle, you're not doing any significant damage to the needle.

Small particles can do more damage to a needle than the vinyl groove does, and I know when I clean a record I don't pay a lot of attention to the runout groove, so it's likely there's more dust and debris to nick the needle, but that's not the runout groove's fault.

And, it's possible for the needle to hop out of the runout groove and drag on the paper label, which isn't so good for the needle either.

So, in short: the runout groove isn't so bad on its own, but it's probably best to pick up the needle as soon as you can.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:14 AM on June 9, 2016

My problem was not leaving the room, but falling asleep and waking to the thump, thump, thump hours later. The biggest issue is that a stylus's life is measured in paying hours and you are using up those hours playing nothing. You get roughly 1000 hours, depending dramatically on conditions, before the diamond shows significant wear, so the question is how much of that 1000 hours are you burning up. My understanding is that the "wiggle" and the subsequent wear on the stylus's suspension is not really a factor - it lasts far longer than the tip. The diamond or synthetic used is very strong, but hours of being dragged along vinyl and through dust (i.e., tiny rocks) takes it toll.
posted by rtimmel at 9:43 AM on June 9, 2016

Post Script - I just checked and it looks like there are still after-market "lifters" if you are so interested. Here is a thread from a couple of years ago that discusses them (I have no idea if the forum is credible or if any of the items are any good - but it is a starting place).
posted by rtimmel at 9:46 AM on June 9, 2016

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