The FLUX HiFi Sonic Electronic Stylus Cleaner: You Only Thought You Were Cleaning Your Stylus Before

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As a bonafide vinyl junkie and dyed in the wool stereophile, I have seen my fair share of gizmos, tricks, and gadgets come down the pike that promise to “remove veils from the listening experience” and “open up new windows in the recordings.” While some did work to a degree, many were a bunch of hooey. Some only delivered a minute portion of what they promised. So to say I have become jaded about such things would be a fair cop.

Now, as a vinylphile, I will be the first to stand on the soap box to state you have to keep your stylus clean if you want to maintain your records and continue to get the best out of your cartridge, which in turn will continue to give you listening enjoyment.

You can imagine then how I raised an eyebrow when my go-to stereo guru, Charlie Schnyder of Stereo Haven, nipped my ear one day and told me he had this cartridge stylus cleaner that made his cartridges sound like new, and that I would hear a marked difference on my own cartridge after just one use.

“Hmmm” said I. “Really?” said I. “But I clean my cartridges regularly and do a good job,” said I.

Said Charlie, “Yes, but not this good.”

Said I again, cautiously: “Hmmm.”

Well, never let it be said I’m not open minded (opinionated, yes), so when I finally got an opportunity to visit Charlie’s shop--and after spending many hours listening to exceptional music and stereo equipment there (try doing that on Amazon!)--he sent me on my way with a Flux HiFi Sonic Electronic stylus cleaner, and said, “Just try it.”

Flux1       Flux 2

When I got back to the Shire, I turned on my rig and let it warm up nicely, and played some smooth jazz off the CD just to get the speakers and cables warmed up as well.

I first listened without using the Flux HiFi Sonic, and played the same song a couple of times (“Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends” from the 50th Anniversary remaster), then waited an hour for the grooves to rest and get back into shape. I then played the song again to refresh my memory, then, following the directions on the Flux HiFi Sonic, I applied a drop of the included fluid to the business end of the unit, turned it on, lowered the stylus onto the pad, and watched my watch tick off 15 seconds (the prescribed time in the directions). I then lifted the style up and put it back in the cradle, turned off the Flux HiFi Sonic, turned on the table again, put on the record, cued it up and sat back.

Flux3

“Hmmm,” said I again. Only now it was not a “hmmm” of the sort that would suggest an “I knew it” attitude. No, this “hmmm” was the “hmmm” of the sort that I told me I was going to have to eat a honking big piece of humble pie. For you see, apparently while I thought I was doing a good job cleaning my stylus, apparently I wasn’t doing as good a job as I thought; for what I was hearing now was what I used to hear when my cartridge was new, but which, over time, had lost due to a layer of something (dare I say the veil word here!?) getting between the data in the grooves and the stylus. Whatever it was that had gotten in the way was obviously no longer there, because Ringo’s drum was now deeper but also tighter, Paul’s bass was tighter as well, and Paul and Ringo’s voice where brighter--not in a harsh way, but in a more natural sounding, human way.

Why hadn’t I noticed that my cartridge stopped conveying this?

As near as my layman’s pea brain can figure (and describe), it must be like the old “boiling a frog” adage that goes something like this: If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will immediately jump out; but if you put a frog in a pot of room temperature water and slowly turn it up, you will cook him and he won’t know it.

So here, too, must be what happened to me. Over time, even though I was cleaning my stylus, a small amount of something must have been left behind.

Now you might not think that a minute amount of “whatever” shouldn’t make that much of a difference. But when you consider that the music information that is cut into the record is so small that you can’t really see it, and the stylus tip, which is so small itself, rides between those grooves picking up information from both sides of the groove walls--information that conveys everything from tonal character of the instruments, voices, the spacial and acoustic characteristics of the recording hall, venues, soundstage and much more--it doesn’t really take a lot to put a veil (there I used it) between what is in the grooves and what the stylus picks up. I’m talking about losing subtleties for the most part, minute nuances if you will, that your stylus picked up when it was new that it can’t “see” anymore, and that you have lost hearing (in this case me) a minutia at a time.

Now, there are some stylus cleaners out there that do a good job--okay, a decent job--up until now, but what the Flux HiFi Sonic does is just that much better than all of them.

Back to the frog analogy, I guess that the minute amount of “whatever” left on my cartridge, after cleaning, reduced the dynamics of my cartridge performance so little over a long period of time that I did not notice the decline in resolution until I cleaned it with the Flux HiFi Sonic and: wow! I was a cooked frog, because I could hear the difference easily.

So my advice to everyone is simple…if you have found that your cartridge no longer thrills you like it did, and you’re not quite sure why, don’t be so quick to rush out and buy a new one thinking your stylus is worn out. (Yes, it could be, if you used it a lot and never replaced it.) Before you do that, invest in a Flux HiFi Sonic. You just might find that, like me, your stylus isn’t worn out and your tastes haven’t changed. You’ve just been slowly cooked by not getting your stylus as clean as you could have, and you could unveil (ha-ha) renewed life to your existing cartridge, saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars on a new cartridge where, without a Flux HiFi Sonic, the same thing is going to happen again over time.

Back in the early 1970s, Alka-Seltzer came up with a commercial that that had a catch phrase, “Try it, you’ll like it.” I’m reviving that catch phrase here (just as the Flux HiFi Sonic revived my cartridge), and adding to it: “Buy it, you need it.”

A bargain high fidelity accessory/necessity at $150.00 (extra cleaner available), it is a no brainer.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0