I am sure many of my readers are familiar with the Japanese company DS Audio, manufacturers of the amazing optical cartridges. But last year they came out with a great accessory for vinyl enthusiasts - the ST-50 stylus cleaner.
For years I have been using Zero Dust stylus cleaner for my cartridge and was happy with the results. For $10, how can you go wrong?
So when I was offered to review the ST-50, I was curious to compare the two.
The ST-50 utilizes specially designed urethane gel previously only used in industrial clean room conditions, such as semiconductor manufacturing. It prevents dust from entering a clean room by absorbing it at a micro level. Casing is made of aluminum with nickel plating surface finish. Back pad is made of real leather. I noticed the high quality and elegance of the design as soon as I unpacked the stylus cleaner.
Using the accessory could not be simpler. You place it on the platter of your turntable and gently lower the cartridge onto the urethane gel pad 3-4 times.
The urethane gel seems to pick up more dirt from the stylus than the Zero Dust, which uses just a simple piece of silicon. Also the ST-50 is very gentle on your needle, with no extra force or pressure being applied to it. With Zero Dust you push the silicon pad up, which may not be a good thing for your cartridge. The result is quite evident when playing records following the cleaning, with all the micro details being retrieved from the record grooves.
Here is my Ortofon 2M Red immediately after cleaning.
ST-50 stylus cleaner can be used with both MM and MC cartridges, as well as DS Audio's own optical cartridges. The gel pad is easily removed and is washable in tap water. After drying for 30 minutes, it is ready to be used again.
For vinyl enthusiasts in the Toronto area who wish to buy this accessory, Sonic Artistry is the authorized DS Audio dealer. Make sure to contact Jonathan or Ed and they will gladly help you with the stylus cleaner or anything else analog you need. I want to thank them both for providing my review unit.