REVIEW: StylusTimer - stopwatch that keeps track of the heart of your stereo FeaturedWritten by Karl Erik Sylthe
Three weeks ago, we wrote a news article about StylusTimer , this odometer for the turntable. Now we have received a review sample that the designer Don Lindich has been so gracious to have the European distributor Tonar International send us. Tonar International is based in the Netherlands and is a company we met at the High End in Munich, and has a lot of vinyl accessories in the range. In addition to equipment for cleaning vinyl, these include stylus gauges, clamps and more. In Norway, the PU series from Nagaoka is well known, and is sold together with Jico MC and replacement stylus and much more of vinyl accessories from Tonar International by the Electronic Bureau at Kråkerøy in Fredrikstad.
Before delving into the StylusTimer itself, it may be appropriate to look at why it is here. What is the purpose of counting hours on the PU or the stylus when we don`t do this on any other element of our dear stereo system? The purpose, of course, is to find out when it is time to replace it, whether it is a MM-PU with replaceable stylus, or an MC-PU where we usually have to replace the entire pickup.
1000 hours is a typical life expectancy for a stylus, but this is far from exact math. Many factors influence on this, and not least there are considerable variations depending on the shape of the needles. Correct stylus pressure and clean LPs and stylus are also important parameters. Some claim that a modern stylus can last for 2-3,000 hours, but I wouldn't trust stis without the manufacturer indicating the same.
Regardless, it is a bit pointless to talk about usage time without us using a method for recording the same mileage. A writing colleague has had the procedure of counting LP pages by putting a line on a paper at each playback, some of the same method a cave dweller used in the old times of Robinson Crusoe to keep track of the days in the absence of a calendar. Whether he still uses this method, I dont know, but he has reported that it is challenging to keep this method for a very long time.
And here we are at the background that the StylusTimer originated. HiFi writer Don Lindich on the HiFi website Souns Advice was keen to know the lifetime of his $ 650 pickup, and he had no idea how "far" it had gone. He found no products on the market that could record the useful life, and thus he took the matter into his own hands. He analyzed what needs should be met. After patent rights were in place, he relied on an existing cabinet to keep costs down, while display and electronics are his own construction, and are nowhere to be found.
StylusTimer is a simple device and can fit in a box that is not appreciably larger than the device itself, which measures 65x70x18mm. On the back, we find a foldable hanger that forms a stand for those who want to have the StylusTimer in a standing position. There is also a wall mount if you want to hang it on the wall.
The front of the StylusTimer consists of a display with a four-digit counter that is large enough to be read at a typical distance to a listening position of 3-5 meters. The latter is a bit important, because in addition to the counter there is also a flashing "H" which tells that the counter goes. And since it only counts full hours, you won't get any other visual support from the counter until it's been a while.
Below the display we find three buttons - start, stop and reset. When you press start, a single "beep" comes in, while the stop button triggers a double "beep". "Start", by the way, is not quite comprehensive here, of course we talk more about "resume", since the timing is fortunately accumulated until you possibly press the third button - "reset". This resets the hour counter. But in order not to accidentally reset it must be held for a few seconds.
In the case of a battery change, there is a spare battery that "remembers" the time already registered. Of course, this is an important element - everything else would make it meaningless.
Compared to the price, StylusTimer has a surprisingly good quality feel. For us audiophiles who in many cases invest a six-figure amount (in NOK) on a vinyl rig this is important. When we go to the step of expanding the ritual habits associated with vinyl playback, it is important that it provides a satisfying feeling.
Otherwise, it is important, of course, to incorporate habits that can remind you of an automated process. Don recommends incorporating a procedure in which you use both hands at the same time to support the automation. This is best done by placing the StylusTimer on the left side of the turntable. As you lower the tone arm with your right hand, press the start button with your left hand. And similar procedure when playback is complete.
StylusTimer is well suited for use with just one hand. You automatically place a couple of the other fingers on the back of the device to provide back support in pressing the start or stop button with your thumb. And even though this seems like a little tricky details, it is important for the service to give a good feeling.
Some of us have arm with detachable headshell, and have added a habit of temporarily changing PU often. For us it is even more important to record the useful life, because then the gut feeling becomes even more weakened as a method. This is one of the reasons why Don Lindich has considered it important to keep the price down, so it should not be prohibitive to use more StylusTimer. For the same reason, the manufacturer operates with a package price for the purchase of two or five pieces.
StylusTimer is a simple but thoughtful design, filling a void in the market. The price tag is surprisingly low, and is more where you would expect it for a bulk product that was mass-produced and shipped in large container ships from China. But StylusTimer is definitely a niche product for audiophile vinyl enthusiasts, and from that perspective, this timer has a surprisingly low price.
Recommended for anyone who wants to have a serious relationship with the use time of the main component of the turntable and stereo system.
Recommended price for StylusTimer is NOK. 279, -
StylusTimer is imported into Norway by Elektronisk Bureau
Read more about the StylusTimer at the manufacturer
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