Home Vinyl How long will a phono cartridge last?

Over time, wear and tear on the parts or a certain weariness in listening can lead to the desire to change even the best phono cartridge. An essential piece in terms of sound, it is one of the elements that can be easily changed, on certain models, provided that certain important points are respected.

Depending on the models and the times, the resistance of cartridges to time may have varied. The fact remains that needles are the first parts to suffer the effects of repeated listening since they are estimated to have a few hundred, even thousands of hours their optimal life expectancy. After this period, you will generally notice a kind of “disembodiment” of the sound, which will be flatter than before, and sometimes a really degraded signal.

The part being exposed to dust and friction, it is logical that it deteriorates quickly; however changing only the needle may not be interesting, especially on older models where the spare parts park is no longer available. It is, therefore, simpler to replace the cartridge entirely. An idea which can be doubled by the search for an upmarket: by switching to a model higher than the original cartridge, the gain can be felt in terms of musicality on certain variations, or of the depth of the details on others.

But you can also adhere to the standards of cleaning and prevention so that the cartridge lasts 1,000 hours, or 2000:

  1. Cleaning of record by using a record cleaning machine once in a while.
  2. Cleaning of the stylus by means of a fine antistatic brush. Removing dust from the diamond tip before and after playback of each record.
  3. Proper adjustment of anti-skating, azimuth and tracking force.


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