The advent of digital music, iPods, MP3s and music streaming has taken the sheen off Vinyl records and the era they represented, but audiophiles will conced that the best way to enjoy music remains Vinyl. Vinyl records, with their big covers (and the great album art that was produced for it) remain the most truthful reproduction of the original music to date. In an era of MP3s, of course, things such as fidelity and quality are chucked out of the window for the sake of convenience.
The way to play a Vinyl record is through a record player, of course. The record player stylus (or needle – whatever you may choose to call it) spins at a fixed speed around the grooves on the record, producing sound. There is a whole process to playing records – picking out the right one from the library (which could run into thousands for the real audiophiles), taking out the record carefully so as to not get any fingerprints on it, wiping it clean with a static-free cloth, and finally, putting it on the player and carefully aligning the record player stylus on it.
Contrast that to picking a song off your iTunes – you just have to point and click. The ease with which you can change songs is the reason why many in this generation are not able to appreciate music fully, and enjoy the depth, fluidity, and continuity of an album.
One of the things that remain very important when it comes to playing vinyl records is the quality of the record player stylus. So much depends on this little piece of equipment that a malfunctioning or low quality stylus can completely ruin the music. Of course, a high quality stylus won’t mask the deficiencies of a low quality turntable, but a quality record player stylus can definitely bring out the best from your turntable.
If you are an audiophile, or just enjoy listening to records once in a while, it is imperative that you invest in the best quality record player stylus you can buy. An inferior stylus can ruin a record completely with just one play. Considering how rare and prized vinyl records are these days, it could be a big loss. So no matter the quality of your turntable, always invest in the best quality stylus you can buy.
And finally, make sure that you replace the stylus often, as it is the part of the turntable that is most in contact with the record and can wear out over time. A good rule of the thumb is to replace the turntable needle after every 250 hours of playing.