AOM Logo November 1998


Immedia Needle Nectar Stylus Cleaning Fluid
A Little Dab'll Do Ya


Blair Roger

The Sound of One Digit
I remember back in the carefree '60s when no one had heard of compact discs and really didn't care about perfect sound forever. We all used our fingers to clean the needle on our record players, the index finger to be precise. Oh sure, there were fuss-pots that used to have little bottles of stuff with nail polish brushes built into the caps, but they were always the guys who insisted on changing the records themselves, and I thought they were pretty wacky to care that much about having a clean needle. I mean, really, if the music sounds fuzzy just scrape the needle off, right? And if that doesn't work, tape a couple of pennies to the headshell.

The Age of Enlightenment
Now that we've grown up and become sophisticated in the ways of the world, we've learned that needles are actually called styli and they come attached to very fragile cantilevers which are in turn attached to very expensive cartridges that we use on our turntables. Given the cost of high-quality phono cartridges, and the equally high cost of re-tipping, it really pays to lavish attention on the stylus. Furthermore, using a properly designed brush and an effective cleaning fluid goes naturally hand-in-hand with cleaning your records, because a clean groove traced by a clean stylus sounds better and lasts longer.

Needle Nectar Stylus Cleaning Fluid

A couple of months ago, the jungle drums told me that there was a new stylus cleaning kit on the market called Needle Nectar. Intrigued by the name, I decided to give it a try. It comes in three parts: a little spill-proof bottle, a cleaning brush similar to the one provided by LAST with their products, and a small, resealable plastic baggie containing the above parts and the instructions. The fluid is claimed to be water-soluble and, for this reason, evaporates slowly. This also means that you don't have to worry about any solvent effects on the adhesive that attaches the stylus to the cantilever. Additionally, the fluid is said to contain no vinyl-damaging lubricants. The baggie is provided to store the wet brush for future use so you don't have to wet the bristles each time the stylus is cleaned. The whole package makes sense and is very economical, even at US$25.00 for a ¼ ounce bottle.

The instructions for use are very simple and I quote directly from the bottle: "Leave tonearm unlocked on rest. Place a drop of Needle Nectar on brush. Pull brush from rear to front of needle. Never push brush from front to rear." That's all there is to it and it really works. I examined the stylus of my Lyra Lydian cartridge under high-power magnification before and after cleaning. I can't tell you how horrific it looked before I cleaned it. I had no idea how much groove pollution had accumulated on the stylus because it's not visible to the naked eye - trust me, it's there! A shake of the bottle, a drop on the brush and a couple of careful swipes and the stylus was left resplendently translucent, just like new. It gave me a warm feeling to see all that vinyl detritus banished from my world.

The sound, you ask? Well, I can't attribute any particular quality to it except to say that a clean stylus tracing a clean groove is a good thing. Of course, a stylus sans grunge is operating under optimum conditions, and one is bound to hear improvements in clarity, a lower noise floor and so on. I think perhaps, it is the long-term benefits of stylus cleaning that are often overlooked. Considering the tremendous pressure and heat generated in playing a vinyl record, how could one doubt the benefits of having a clean, un-plated stylus? The stylus works as it should, more details are resolved, and the groove is protected from wear and damage.

There are several other stylus cleaning fluids on the market, but I would recommend this one because of the clever packaging which allows easy and economical use of the product. I really like the spill-proof bottle with the built in dropper nozzle. The brush never goes back in the bottle so the cleaning solution is never contaminated. Needle Nectar is a first rate product that works.

Immedia Needle Nectar Stylus Cleaning Fluid
Available from Media Access
P.O. Box 423, Baldwin WI, USA, 54002
phone: (715) 698-3254, fax: (715) 698-3256
web: http://www.mediaacc.com, e-mail: paul@mediaacc.com
Price: US$25.00 for ¼ ounce (7.39 ml)

Source of review sample: Media Access
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