Stylus shape?

Is there a generally held opinion on what shape of stylus yields the best sound? I'm speaking of stereo, not mono.

Thank you.
The shape of the stylus related not only to the better sound, but also to less record wear and longer life-span of the stylus itself. 

1) Conventional stylus is Spherical/Conical and Elliptical.

2) Advanced styli are: Hyper Elliptical, Shibata, Line Contact, Micro Line, Fine Line, Stereohedron, Micro Ridge, S.A.S., Van den Hul, Fritz Gyger, Replicant-100 .... and more.  

there are different names because of the different registered patent for each of them, in reality some of them are nearly identical to each other but registered under different patent. Look at this image

Advanced profiles are much more expensive.

Dear @musicfan2349 :  "  what shape of stylus yields the best sound.."

the stylus shape is only one of several parts in the design and manufacture of a phono cartridge and per sé is important but not determinant  in the overall cartridge quality level performance.

Exist several carrtridges with elliptical stylus shape that performs really good.

The build quality level in a cartridge is more important as it's too the analog rig that surrounds the cartridge and your ability to make the rigth overall cartridge/tonearm set up. The more advanced stylus shape needs a lot more effort and knowledge levels to make that set up in the rigth way where the cartridge can shows its real quality level performance .

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,

@rauliruegas mentions setup. +1, the more extreme the styli profile the more effort to acheive its potential.
The designer and builder in such handmade transducers contribute a lot to the differences in sound so much so that bench racing by virtue of stylus shape or materials is difficult...
Here’s a rough-and-ready comparison, from a guy who’s mounted at least a half-dozen cartridges with a now ancient Dennesen Soundtracker --

Conical styli are inexpensive and easy to set up for pretty good, easy on the ears sound but they come up short on detail, imaging and air.

Elliptical will give you more detail, imaging & air than spherical/conical, and they’re still reasonably easy to mount and align onto the arm.

Chakster’s list of advanced shapes can all get you close to nirvana but set up and alignment become critical. Stylus rake angle has to be right on, which means you have the tone arm properly leveled (which can be a ticklish process). This includes having to account for how much the tracking force might deflect the tracking angle. It the adjustment is off, say hello to distortion, particularly as you reach the dreaded inner grooves....
Proper alignment of advanced stylus profile is not so difficult, manufacturers always give us recommended tracking force, the rest is just the same as with any profile (azimuth, overhang, tonearm vta).

Tonearm without adjustable VTA is junk if it wasn’t designed for one dedicated cartridge.

Azimuth adjustment can be made with a proper headshell with adjustable azimuth and overhang.

Protractor like Dr. Feickert NG is a must have for proper alignments (Baerwald, Lofrgen, Stevenson).

Everything can be adjusted if your vision is fine without any special devices.

Don’t be afraid to use advanced profiles.
back in the 70's, the 'shibata' stylus was pretty popular. where doe's it stand today? or is it still available??
The answer to your question is the line contact shape . It comes with different names as many have mentioned but they are basically the same shape with slightly different contours . They are more dificult to set up correctly but as long as you guide yourself with the same principal as for any other stylus shape you'll be ok , you just have to be more exact .
Eliptical would be #2 and conical #3 . 
Always remember that stylus shape is not the only determining factor in sound quality nor is it the most important but rather it is many factors that when each is placed in its proper place gives you the best performance possible in a given situation
back in the 70's, the 'shibata' stylus was pretty popular. where doe's it stand today? or is it still available??

Great profile, some of the best LOMC cartridges like Miyajima comes with Shibata profile today. 

Soundsmith’s Full Stylus Explanation Here


essentially 3 types of Stylus: conical; elliptical; advanced (see chackster’s list of advanced shape types/names above)

each providing progressively more groove side-wall contact surface.

both fidelity and stylus life increase progressively as side-wall contact surface increases. As noted, advanced shapes need more careful alignment to get the benefit, and avoid damage they can cause if misaligned. they also go deeper in the grooves, so the lp’s cleanliness is more important for quiet play.


Jico gives the amount of playing time where a stylus will maintain its specified level of distortion at 15kHz in 4 categoties, breaking the advanced into 2 categories:

  • Spherical / Conical - 150hrs
  • Elliptical - 250hrs
  • Shibata/Line contact - 400hrs
  • SAS/MicroRidge - 500hrs
So, advanced shape sounds better, costs more, but lasts much longer.

Shape/increased groove side-wall contact also reduces wear of the lp’s groove.

Required tracking forces vary, the force increases/decreases wear of both stylus and groove wall

The material of the shaft/cantilever the tip is mounted on varies: light weight and stiffness both desirable, aluminum/boron/gems saffire, ruby, / rare earth metals .. thin/stiff equals brittle, so progressively more caution is advised.


then you get into the cartridge body type and refinement, the specifications reveal some/much about that, but only your ears count.

Dear @g_nakamoto : Ortofon use Shibata shape in some of the cartridge models.

Btw, """  advanced shape sounds better, costs more, but lasts much longer..."""

lasts much longer?: this is a misunderstood because the time lasting an stylus does not depends on its shape but for other reasons as  clean it and clean the LP surface because in theory the advanced  shapes  increased groove side walls makes a longer lasts time but that " increased groove.." in reality does not happens due to the tonearm tracking error and non perfect accurated cartridge/tonearm alignment along that not all LPs are say 180grs. and comes with no waves that affects the stylus rake angle during cartridge tracking.

I own many cartridges with elliptical stylus shapes that have more hours than the ones stated by Jico and we have a good example with the spherical stylus shape in the Denon 103 that last for " ever " ( I own too. ).

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
I don't read or know of an audiophile that after 400-500 hours re-tipped his Lyra Titan or even after 1K.
A great profile on a great cartridge on a great head shell matched with the wrong tonearm is not so great. 

By ''parts versus wholes'' discussions we can clearly see the
differnce between ''holistic'' and ''parts'' (quality) approach. Buy
musical (aka ''sound'') valuation we can easilly see that  ''parts''
approach does not work. As example we can mention Sony XL
88 D with which ''some Aussie'' fel in love and proclaim to
be ''the best ever''. With elliptical stylus? Yes! So those
''shapes'' are obviously not relevant. 

With elliptical stylus? Yes!

No, it's Super Elliptical (often called Hyper Elliptical by other manufacturers) 

Dear chackster, Freud invented ''super ego'', ''common one'' and
''it''. This would mean that there are 3 of us in each of us. I think
that ''super chakster'' would be exactly the same as the other two. 
BTW I thought that you prefer ''micro ridge'' . Which one is more
''super'' elliptical of micro ridge? 
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, well it must be.........
Thank you all for your inputs! (See what I did there? =;^)

Yes, I completely understand that a the stylus on a pickup is only one part of a successful analog system and that the whole can be, should be, more than the sum of its parts. 

I was looking for opinions and information on the various shapes, etc. which was answered for me rather nicely. Best regards to all...
Well, Nandric always referring to MC design. 
But MM/MI cartridge manufacturers often making one cartridge with different styli (user replaceable), on the same cartridge body the advanced stylus profile will be better. Ortofon did it, Grado did it, Grace did it ...  
Dear chakster, your statement is too ''general''. Nanric refer always
to specific MC's and their designers.  That is how you learned from
your older brother  wich one to buy (grin).
That is how you learned from
your older brother wich one to buy (grin).

It is true

p.s. I feel that everyone is older here :) 
The paradox is that when you are young you want to be older
while when you are older you want to be young. 
You dear chakster have ''other'' problem than I. 
The Shibata and microline styli have the most potential as they meet the groove with very narrow horizontal profiles, closer to that of the original cutting head. The Shibata was developed initially to track perfectly the 44kHz carrier wave of the RCA quadrophonic disks.

However, so that they don’t wear out so fast they have long vertical profiles increasing their total contact area. They are therefore far more sensitive to correct SRA adjustment than are less sophisticated shapes. Adjustment for correct SRA probably is the most challenging one for most vinylphiles. Compare to the correct alignment of a tape machine’s reading head.

Many users are therefore disappointed with these styli compared to a good elliptical one.
the biggest issue is that then we do listen the music we don't want to cut record like cutting head or to follow the groove like cutting head 

Supereliptical nothing fancy just size 2x7 um