Cartridge wear with clicks and pops…?

As the title says…I am looking for input about cartridge wear.

I currently have a Hana Red , which to be frank was a stretch for me financially. I love it…!

While most of the vinyl I play is in mint condition and carefully cleaned etc I do have some older vinyl , both original stuff I bought in the day ( 1970’s , but taken care of..) and original pressings from late 50’s on.

The question is.

When playing the older stuff with some clicks and pops am I “ exponentially “ increasing the wear on my Red? 
With the price part of me could rationalize buying a nice “ starter” deck and cartridge ( denon 103 type thing) to play my less pristine vinyl on.

Rational fact based opinions? 
Not anything I’m obsessing over but the thought floats though my mind occasionally so i thought I’d see what you all thought.

Thanks in advance for the thoughtful input!



@ zimick If you are concerned as a result of the idea being that the Clicks/Pops are caused by contamination in the Groove, the link gives clear description on calculating styli wear as a result of a particulate size in the Groove.

I use the manual cleaning method outlined and have become a very contented owner of Very Old and Very New Vinyl using this guidance.


you are doing more damage to your electronics then to stylus with clicks and pops.

they present large amplitude spike on the input stages that destroys those.


@pindac - not concerned about contamination/ dirt/ gunk in the groove but by the ( perceived) added stress on the needle going over whatever is causing the clicks/ pops. 
@czarivey - I get it but I think if I had a big scratch that vinyl wouldn’t get played! 

im probably curious about something I shouldn’t be…

@zimick ,

It is not a problem at all. Cartridges wear out, cars wear out, women wear out. I'm always thinking about the next cartridge in line;-)

Czarivey, can you provide a reference to support your contention that ticks and pops destroy input stages? Seems nonsensical to me.

I'm not concerned about travelling at 120mph only the outcome of the potential crash that is in most calculations a increased likelihood to occur.

Have your styli pass over certain particle type and dimension and the styli's Honed Edges only has one future, Blunt Guaranteed, Detached Maybe?

@OP. I've never heard of a stylus becoming detached from a cantilever due to groove contamination. Regarding buying a second TT/Cartridge, if you don't have one, an utrasonic record cleaning machine would be a better investment. You'll get less clicks and pops and your records will sound better as well.

It’s actually sort of an interesting question. All I can say is for myself, I never worried about anything short of a damaged groove or extremely loud pop. Your speakers will let you know in short order if it’s something that could damage the stylus. My cartridges always lasted a long time and I never agonized over record condition. But I guess there may be something to what you say. A smooth road creates less wear than a rough one. Maybe buy some new/mint copies of those old records you want to play again and relax. 

Even if in perfect shape, some music is nostalgic but nothing special sonically, no need for a special cartridge. Use your MM with replaceable stylus with a quick switch.

Another good reason to have an arm with a removable headshell. Many current makers of darn good TTs use tonearms with fixed cartridges, a big objection of mine.

Fixed headshell better than removable headshell? BULL. Think about the famous SME 3009 and 3012, they all had removable headshells. So many other great tonearms with removable headshells.

I have two Shures for this: V15vxmr body with replacable Jico stylus SAS on Boron, with brush for warped LPs, and Shure 97xe with brush. Both it’s elliptical stylus with brush and the Jico SAS fit the cartridge, so depending on .....

Adjust tracking weight and corresponding anti-skate. Two considerations: select a MM with same tracking range as your MC, then just switch headshells. Also compare cartridge playing height (stylus down, in the groove), if ’enough’ different, arm height might need a tweak, or get one with essentially the same playing height.

I had one cartridge for years and years. Now I have a half dozen cartridges I switch for various reasons, including MONO of course, And friends bring their cartridges here to listen/compare.

This assumes you have the few inexpensive tools and fairly easily acquired cartridge alignment skills. You will want those skills when the originally supplied cartridge is worn anyway.

Installing a cartridge on a fixed arm is harder than pre-installing it on a loose headshell, then attach headshell and refine overhang, null points. VTA and Azimuth is the same, fixed oe removable. I buy headshells with adjustable azimuth. No sides gives open access to cartridge wires


@lewm. Right-right after loud POP, I've started hearing significantly audible humm from both speakers. Input opamp IC and couple caps needed replacement on my power amp that was at that time around 17 years old.


Speakers, maybe in extreme cases. I only wonder about input stages. On my bench I’ve driven phono stages well into overload while watching the wave form on a scope, say at 1kHz. The wave form distorts but no permanent damage is done. However I own nothing with an op amp input. Maybe they’re more fragile. I don’t doubt that a sudden transient might damage certain speakers.


That "pop" was the op amp blowing probably not the record. 


You and I certainly do not have to worry. It is virtually impossible to harm a Sound Labs with signal. It requires a pitchfork. Modern subwoofer drivers ( the good ones anyway) will hit their bump stops before any damage is done to the wiring or suspension. If you overdrive them you get a very annoying burp which is difficult to misinterpret. Even the voice coils are hard to burn, copper ribbon on Kaptan formers. That would require a large DC offset. 


Op using outer ring on my VPI Tt it does minimize clicks and pops. That’s my experience on my Hana SL cart.

I recent years bonded styli have undergone changes to the properties of the adhesives  selected to produce the bond and how the adhesives properties are able to manage energy transferred through it to the cantilever. Science is a must for identifying the ideal substance to function as the adhesive. 

Prior to the race to find the ideal adhesive substance, there are chosen adhesives that fractured under the stress created through energy transferral. 

There are quite a few who were left scratching their heads as the needle drop merrily skated from the outer to Inner dead wax.  Anti Skate is the first to be concerned about, a missing styli is not even contemplated.

Contaminated Vinyl LP Grooves was the most common description on offer from the manufacturer. After seeing numerous returned Cartridges in a filthy state, the description was most likely a viable one.