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Project Genie: Suddenly muffled and crackly?


Standard Member
Was listening to my turntable at the weekend and after changing the record the sound become unlistenable! It was really muffled and crackly, especially in higher pitched noises. I hadn't changed anything on it, and have checked all cables and earths which seem fine.

Could it be the stylus? Do they wear out? Any other suggestions? Could it be my rubbish setting up of the counterweight that has worn the stylus out so quickly(if that is possible!)?


Established Member
The change is quite sudden and dramatic, so something happened when you finished playing on LP, took the needle off the record, changed the LP and placed the needle back down. (Just call me Colombo!)

Fist thing that comes to mind is loose cartridge tags - those tiny tags that connect the cartridge to the tonearm wiring. They are easy to touch and budge even if are careful, and each of the four deals with a particular channel and frequency.

Just check that these are all connected and tight.


Established Member
What do you normally clean the stylus with?

When did you last clean it?

Have you got a STRONG magnifier to look at it, if so, take a looksee.


Standard Member
I dust every record before playing and blow away any dust on the stylus. Never cleaned it before other than that though? It's only about 10 months old. Should I be cleaning it?


Distinguished Member
My first thought was also a dirty stylus.

The stylus can get dirty it two ways.

- Simple dust and lint can accumulate on the stylus and actually lift it up partly out of the groove. This can usually be seen by a close look. I use a simply natural fiber soft artist brush to wipe the stylus off.

One must be careful though. You don't want to bend the cantilever, the small arm the stylus is mounted in. Best to use only forward movement on the brush, and definitely minimize side-to-side movement.

- Next is the accumulation of pure crud on the stylus. To see this, you need to look very very close, frequently with a magnifying glass or small microscope. This crud is like a fine cement caked to the needle.

The best way to clean this is with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. This is an ultra-fine scrubbing pad, available in most grocery stores. Set the stylus down on the dry pad a few times and it will rub all the crud off with no damage to the stylus. But once again, the Stylus must move straight up and down on the pad, no side-to-side or front-to-back movement. Side or front movement runs the very real chance of damaging the cantilever. It doesn't take any pressure beyond the simple weight of the cartridge to scrub the stylus clean.

This is not something you want to do frequently; two or three times a year is typically more than enough.

To clean my records before play, I clean them with a microfiber cloth that has been moistened with a fine mist of some home made record cleaner. In my case, it is distilled water with a couple drops of isopropyl alcohol, and a couple drops of some old Radio Shack record cleaner I had laying around. This is in about a 3 or 4 ounce spray bottle. So the amount of alcohol is very very very diluted. It simply gives a very mild solvent quality to the distilled water. The Alcohol is optional, one could use a fine mist of common distilled water, just a light mist to make the dust cling to the cloth.

When you look at cleaning fluids, you need to make a distinction between Record Cleaning, meaning cleaning before play, and Record Washing, which literally means washing the record. Both are typically referred to as 'Record Cleaning Solvents', but the record washing is much more powerful, and more likely to leave a film.

There are also Stylus cleaning fluids that typically come with a special stylus cleaning brush. These tend to not be cheap though. But on the other hand, a tiny bottle will last for many years.

Just a few thoughts.



Established Member
There's a fairly brilliant bit of gel that you can lower your stylus on to and it will remove dirt as you lift it off. The gel itself can be cleaned off by just washing in cold water. Here's a link for info: Onzow Zerodust Stylus Cleaner - Analogue Seduction

There s a guy on ebay that sells it a lot cheaper than the above price, direct from Japan.


Standard Member
Did some more fault finding, and it appears to be a problem with the right channel on the turntable. Without the stylus attached,
when the right phono is plugged in and you turn the volume up a bit you get a really bad buzz that doesn't occur with the left channel. I think it's the actual cartridge that might be broken possibly, or maybe a dodgy wire into the phono socket from the arm.

The problem is now compounded by my incredibly clumsy hands. I had one of those 'why the chuff did I ever even do that' moments when I was disconnecting the cartridge and managed to break the right+ve cable when removing it. The annoying this is that the turntable was under warranty so I could have returned it to Richer Sounds to get it fixed before the cable break, but now even if I solder it back up they won't look at it as they'll just blame the dodgy cable:facepalm: Think I'll just take it to a indie hi fi shop and ask them to fault find, fix the cable and replace the cartridge if that's found as faulty.

Thanks for all the suggestions guys though, has been really useful!

Mr Pig

Prominent Member
I think it's the actual cartridge that might be broken possibly

I had a cartridge pack in years ago and it did exactly what you've described. To check, reverse the left/right cables on the cartridge and see if the fault moves over. If it does, it's the cart.

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