This is a difficult question to answer as the endurance of a record player needle can range a lot.
It depends on many factors such as what material they are made of, in what condition the records are, the weight of the tonearm and what is done in terms of maintenance. But generally speaking, a good quality diamond needle should be able to endure 500 to 1000 hours of playing. Other materials and especially low-quality needles can wear out in as little as 40 playing hours.
What can you do to extend the life of your needle?
While some of these tips are quite straightforward they are often forgotten with the daily use of your record player.
- Keep your record player, needle and records clean as dust between the grooves will wear the tip of the needle much faster.
- Don’t have to much weight/tracking force as that will also wear the tip faster.
- Rough handling of the tonearm can easily damage the stylus needle.
- Good room conditions in terms of heath and moisture are optimal for endurance.
If you would like to know more about extending the life expectancy read our article on how to properly set up your turntable.
How to tell if your needle is worn out?
The problem with recognizing a worn-out record player needle is that you can’t hear it happening. It must visually be noticed. Because when you hear crackling and popping it is likely already too late and your vinyl records are damaged.
In order to properly see how worn out your needle is you would have to use a microscope or strong magnifying glass. Using this you will that the sides of the tip of the needle are quite flat. Since the needle hits the sides of the groove and not the bottom, flat tip sides indicate how worn out the needle is.
Of course, another method would be to use a brand new needle for audio comparison. While generally, it is hard to hear a slightly worn out needle a comparison can give more clarity on the matter, no pun intended. If you would like to know more on how to find out when exactly you have worn out needle you need to replace read this article or watch the video below might be helpful:
Always go for a needle of high quality.
Never save money on your record player needle. Not only does it help with sound quality but also it will help you enjoy your vinyl collection for much longer. Cheap needles that are made of cheap materials can seriously damage your vinyl. And for me as a vinyl enthusiast, a 50-year-old record being damaged by a cheap needle hurts just thinking about it. So go for the highest quality within your budget and don’t be afraid to replace it in time.
While a cheap suitcase turntable might look nice it really could have a needle that only lasts you 40 hours. Damaging your vinyl and having to replace the stylus that fast can quickly become a more expensive operation. Therefore if you are looking for a more budget-friendly turntable that consists of high-quality components read our guides on the best beginner turntables or the best cheap turntables.