A turntable’s stylus is available in different shapes. The hi-fi world is packed with technical jargon, and modern vinyl records haven’t escaped the conjecture’s gravity. Music-lovers care about the way vinyl is played back, and they’ve determined stylus shapes to be of incredible importance.
How Stylus Shape Works
A record player’s stylus, or needle, is the tip that tracks and plays a vinyl record. A lot of styli are crafted from industrial diamonds, though sapphire, too, can be used. The two most common shapes available are conical styli and elliptical styli. While both types offer unique, high-quality listening experiences, both have different qualities that impact playback
The Conical Stylus
A conical stylus, also called a spherical stylus, resembles a sphere—much like a ballpoint pen. Because of the spherical stylus’s shape, spherical styli each have a large radius. Thus, they can trace less of a record’s tiny groove modulations which are associated with higher frequencies. The benefit of that is they pick up less debris and imperfections that lay deep in the record’s groove. If you are listening to older or more damaged records you will hear less pops and clicks during playback. They’re the least expensive stylus available, and they’re also the most commonly used.
The Elliptical Stylus
An elliptical stylus, also called a bi-radial stylus, has a dual radii design, and it can make contact with a larger groove area upon a record’s surface. So, it’s a little more precise than a conical stylus. An elliptical stylus has some improved frequency response, lower distortion and improved phase response. Because a record’s inner grooves are hard to track, an elliptical stylus might be one’s best bet when targeting deeper, richer sounds a record can provide. On the downside, however, an elliptical stylus wears down quicker than a conical stylus, while also requiring precise alignment so they are resting perfectly in the record’s groove.
Which Stylus Shape is Better?
Technically, there is no “better” when deciding between a conical stylus or an elliptical stylus. A conical stylus might suit those who favor feasibility and lower prices. Meanwhile, an elliptical stylus is better used by music-lovers who want an improved phase response and lower distortion. Some record enthusiasts prefer to have both on hand depending on the records they are listening to. If you want to listen to older, perhaps more damaged records a conical stylus will allow you to enjoy those records while hearing less of the imperfections. If you want a richer sound opt for an elliptical stylus as you will get to hear those higher frequencies that are not tracked as precisely with a conical stylus.
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