Stylus Wear Question

Was wondering if anyone can either recommend a digital microscope, and its uses, or should I just send the cartridge out for a pro inspections /repair.  .
Inspection cost about $30, send it to professionals.
They do not charge this fee if you process with repair/retip
Have you thought about contacting the cartridge manufacturer?
A manufacturer that values customer service should be willing to tell you how much wear has accumulated on a stylus, and readjust the suspension if the cantilever shows signs of skewing or sagging.
Thanks to both of you....Its an Ortofon Winfield.   When I checked Ortofon's website, it seems that they only have an offer to buy the old one toward a new model.   I'll look further to see if they can take a critical look at it.....thanks again.
I noticed my local jeweler has a nicer stereo microscope than the 200x Stereo Wild Heerbrugg I have access to. Excellent lighting too! Just a thought . . .
..about Soundsmith.   There is no doubt that he would do a great job....just wondering if I'd get back the same abilities as my Winfield.
Inspection & rebuilds are two different things . . .

Only Ortofon builds a Winfield.

I strongly suspect their Replicant 100 stylus would have an above average lifespan for wear.
Even if you have an appropriate microscope, you have to know what to look for. I agree that sending it to a specialist makes the most sense. With Peter, you should find out what their turnaround time is. Steve at VAS is also solid (NJ). The concept here is simply inspection at this point, not "retipping"- if the stylus is worn, you may be able to take advantage of some trade-in/up program from the manufacturer. 
I found one of those old Shure stylus microscopes a few years ago. It's pretty cool... as an artifact. 
You can have someone other than Ortofon inspect. If there is wear you can send it to Ortofon.

Andy Kim at has a quick turn around time.
If you have Replican 100 stylus and you are the first owner of this cartridge then you can roughly count an hrs of use, the Replicant 100 can be used for 2000 hrs at least. If you like the sound - do not worry, this stylus profile must have a long life-span (if you followed manufacturer’s recommendations regarding optimal tracking force and antiskating). I think it will be fair to say 2500 hrs life-span.
Been playing records since the 1970's. Brush dirt off the stylus after every side. If it sounds good it is good. 

Murphy's law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

Millercarbon's Corollary: Turntable testing expands to fill the time available for listening to music.

Best to get a microscope, but it takes some time getting used to. I bought a Dino-Lite AM4515zt on Ebay for $250.  I still can't take the really nice high resolution pictures like some of the ads here on Agon, but its good enough for me to see the wear - more practice required, I guess. When you send in the cart for an inspection, with shipping/insurance, costs can add up.  Also, some may not send you a magnified image and you'll just have to take their word for it - not worth it IMO.

Ortofon does very little for you.  When I was having issues with my Anna cartridge, they basically said the same thing where a trade-in was the only option. A bunch of wahoos, if you ask me.
from my experience, the key to a good picture with a USB microscope is an adjustable but rigid stand to reduce vibrations and ease the movement into the correct position.  
I haven’t found a great one yet…
  the Replicant 100 can be used for 2000 hrs at least.

@chakster   for a long life of the stylus and to obtain a minimum wear we must advise that it is also important to clean well the records, even better if washed with record cleaning machines.
Dear @stringreen  : In the last 2 months did you listen, on LP tracks that you know very well, some anomalies that you never listened before?

If not then you have not to worry about but by the contrary then the JC advise is the best one.

A microscope can serve to you as for just some fun and nothing more because you are not an expert for can say by sure that the stylus tip has something " wrong " but some cartridge anomalies not necessary could come because the stylus tip degradation but from the cartridge suspension too and this you can determine in any way.

The Windfeld is very good performer and maybe you can take advantage through Ortofon to own the Ti that's even better.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
@karl_desch , absolutely right. If you do not have an adequate stand with Vernier control all you will see is a shaky mess but there are reasonably priced digital microscopes sold with decent stands. 
There is also some truth to what Raul says. You need to know what you are looking at and for. Early on wear is hard to see and your lighting needs to be perfect to see it. You will have to spend several hours learning to use the microscope. If you are mechanically inclined it should not be a problem. Alignment problems are easy to see. I always take a picture of the stylus when it is new so I can compare profiles. It is easier to spot wear this way. I also use the microscope for setting VTA. This is the only thing I look at with the stylus mounted otherwise always remove the cartridge for examination. 
With clean records styli will last a long time. Given the huge range of record hygiene I think it is folly to try and predict how long a stylus will last in any given situation.  
At the risk of tooting my own horn, I did a deep dive on this issue- stylus life- in helping Mike Bodell publish an article on the subject entitled "The Finish Line for Your Phono Cartridge." Mike, who is a geologist by training, found that his cartridge was beginning to exhibit signs of wear at far fewer hours than those claimed by the manufacturer, which led him to explore the subject extensively, starting with Harold Weiler’s seminal paper from 1954. Mike updated Weiler’s work based on what he was able to learn, including discussions with manufacturers and retippers and a search of the literature. He also had help from Ray Parkhurst, who not only did the photomacrographs for the article, but in a thread on the Hoffman forum, did a real time test of wear using a lower stylus force than I am accustomed to-- interestingly, Ray’s real life tests showed very little wear at 1,000 hours, when Mike’s expectation based on the data should have revealed otherwise. (I think part of it may be stylus pressure- remember when the ultra light stylus force designs were all the rage? Maybe they had something there). I guess the main take away is that the multiple thousand hours claimed by some manufacturers is probably the outside limit.
One user on the Hoffman forum said he had been running a cartridge for years without any noticeable wear. But, once he finally convinced himself to have it inspected, it turned out that it was worn (I think it was a London Decca) and had it redone by the manufacturer. The user reported that he had not realized how much gradual degradation occurs over time that you don’t really notice. (I find the same with tubes).
The other take away for me was to keep track using a tally counter. It isn’t a big deal to click the counter each time you play a side- this is "rough" approximation, not scientifically exact, but gives you some idea of how many hours of play are on the stylus. You might find the Bodell article or the Hoffman thread of interest if you curious about the subject. (I like working on these projects with specialist authors and always learn something).

Dear @whart  : Years ago Ortofon made it its own research about and the results showed that a good stylus tip starts to have signs of playing degradation at early as 500 hours even that the lisrteners can't be aware of any single anomaly down there through the LP play, in that same research found out that close to 1K playing hours sympthoms  srarted listenable.

""  I think part of it may be stylus pressure- remember when the ultra light stylus force designs were all the rage? Maybe they had something there). ""

Not exactly because the VTF is determined by the overall cartridge designs where are involved the cartridge weigth, compliance and that coils been centered.

Some cartridges as the SPU needs high VTF figures ( not all models. ) but all is perfectly calculated by the designer not only in the SPU cartridges but in any cartridge for the playing hours the designer has as the cartridge design target about with out gone in detriment of accelerated stylus tip degradation or LP surface degradations.

Of course I can be wrong but that is what I remember and learned through reading designer point of views on that regards.


The user reported that he had not realized how much gradual degradation occurs over time that you don’t really notice.

This is why it’s important to have more than one cartridge (or additional stylus in case with MM/MI) so you can compare used and almost unused sample.

The OP has the most advanced modern profiles in the history - The Replicant 100 
it's like car shock absorbers, you travel miles and miles getting used to driving and slow but inexorable wear and you don't notice it until the car begins to skid more and more with the passage of time.
I have been away for a while and am sorry that I missed this discussion last week.  I have a Wild-Herrbrugg M5 microscope, (actually I also have an M3), and use it religiously to check for wear on my stylii.  Wild-Herrbrugg has been absorbed into Leica, but is still very much in business and these microscopes, especially the M5 are the cats meow for our purposes.  We used one for years to check the condition of stylii for our customers when I worked in retail.  McIntosh encouraged their dealers to have an M5.  Audio Technica encouraged their dealers to have an M3.  These instruments are old fashioned, optical bi-focal microscopes.  Too expensive by today's standards I suppose, but I am used to using them and and fortunate to have them.  I wish there was a way to share them with you.