FLUX HI FI Electronic Stylus Cleaner

Electronic stylus cleaners have been around for decades. Though very popular in the 1970s and 1980s, these vibrating devices rapidly fell out of favor for a very good reason.

The older ones incorporated a high frequency oscillator that ran at a very high speed—higher than any musical frequency a cartridge's suspension and motor would ever "see" playing back a record. It seems obvious now that such a high the frequency oscillation might damage the delicate cartridge suspension system, especially back then when high compliance MM cartridges ruled the grooves.

Erring on the side of caution made more sense so the once popular devices seemed to suddenly disappear, replaced by manual tightly packed stiff-bristled brushes and various formulation of "mounds of goo" like the Onzow Zerodust as well as some "home brew" concoctions.

The new FLUX HI FI Electronic Stylus Cleaner marketed in America by Dynavector cartridge importer TOFFCO claims to have solved the older units' drawback by incorporating a lower frequency oscillator. I first saw this $150 unit today at the Atlanta HiFi Buys store grand opening.

I asked if I could take it for a test spin on the store's Lyra Atlas and I got the go ahead. The FLUX is a relatively lightweight curvaceous plastic affair powered by two AAA batteries. You are instructed to apply a drop of supplied fluid to the tightly packed fiber brush, gently lower the stylus onto the brush and push the "on" button for approximately fifteen seconds after which the stylus should be clean.

You are cautioned to be sure that the platter is not free to rotate. Before actually lowering the stylus of the $10,000 Lyra Atlas onto the brush pad, I placed the unit on the Brinkmann Balance's hard platter surface and activated the device with a push of the top-mounted button. While the bottom surface of the lightweight unit has attached to it a pair of fiber pads intended to grip a felt mat, these pads were not effective on the Balance's hard, smooth platter surface so upon turn-on, the FLUX unit was free to "dance".

I carefully held it in place to stop the movement and noted that the sound it produced was considerably lower in frequency than the older ones I'd been accustomed to using. This indicated that the FLUX did indeed oscillate at a lower, safer frequency. I was told by a store employee that the importer claims to have used it safely many times before marketing it—which makes sense given that TOFFCO also imports costly cartridges!

I carefully put a drop of supplied fluid onto the vibrating pad and lowered the stylus for the recommended fifteen seconds while carefully steadying the housing. An LED illuminated upon turn-on, which made easier watching the "action".

I'd bought a used record and cleaned it but once was not enough because a "gummy" had attached itself to the stylus. After fifteen seconds I lifted the arm and the stylus appeared to be completely clean and free of the "gummy". A close inspection revealed that it was.

The FLUX HiFi electronic stylus cleaner works as promised and seems to vibrate at a low enough frequency to be perfectly safe. Though I used it only once I can confidently recommend it, though if you have a hard, smooth platter you should modify the unit with some kind of stickier pad on bottom. In fact, considering the $150 price, the manufacturer should do this in its next product run.

OldschoolE's picture

I'd be scared to use this even on a $100 stylus. That's why I meticulously clean my records because financially, it's much easier to replace a record one can get most places than it is to replace a stylus. I use the hand brush (c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y). I'm about to try the zerodust soon (needle dip method) to see if I like that. I don't get gummies and such, but the stylus should be cleaned (brushed, dipped..whatever the preferred method) frequently in my book.
Oh yeah, aren't those gummy bears just murder on cartridges! I know what you meant by "gummies", but it also caught my funny trigger.

gMRfk6LMHn's picture

I still have my Audio Technica Ultrasonic Stylus Cleaner bought a long, long time ago. I used it sparingly/carefully and never had any issues with stylus/cantilever.

James Dublin Ireland.

PS: Loved your recent radio interview!

Ortofan's picture

...it once managed to detach the stylus from the cantilever of a Shure V15-V. Haven't used the cleaner ever since.

mauidj's picture

"(it) seems to vibrate at a low enough frequency to be perfectly safe. Though I used it only once I can confidently recommend it"......... does not fill me with confidence ;-)

Johnny Vinyl's picture

I'll stick with my trusted dry brushing and Onzow.

fork's picture

that's my combo. Can't see how this device would be an improvement.

burkut's picture

Very handy tool. Cleans much better than dry brush. Also cleans the cantilever, difference audible.
How can I attached picture to reply ?

drrsutliff's picture

Works extremely well. Previously used a Magic Eraser dip followed by a stiff brush as my primary cleaning tools and procedure. Have also used the Onzow Zerodust in the past. I visually compared the stylus of both my Ortofon Cadenza Bronze and Benz Ebony with a 10x magnification loupe using the above method and the Flux HiFi. The Flux HiFi was simpler to use and cleaned better IMO.

Tullskull's picture

I have no problem with this product other that it probably cost less that $20 in parts.

The efficacy is in the number of oscillations the stylus is exposed to with the sonic cleaner. Wouldn't be surprised if it isn't similar guts used in those cheap sonicators sold for cleaning contacts. Hmmm. Maybe this will be motivation enough for a diy project???????? uh nope!

scottsol's picture

The most popular electronic stylus cleaners in the U.S. were the Audio Technica AT637 and the identical Signet SK305. They operated at about 400 Hz, that last measurement I've seen was 415Hz. Despite this they were, and still are, often referred to as ultrasonic cleaners. I have even seen the Flux identified as such.

The Goldring cleaner is another cleaner that was said to be ultrasonic but was not. Goldring has also stated that the maximum cantilver deflection from it's device would be about twice that of the hottest LP.

In any case, the use of ultrasonic frequencies would make no sense as these were mechanical cleaners that did not rely on the cavitation of a fluid.

As far as I can tell these products might only dangerous when used for a much longer time period than the 5 to 20 second recommendations, a not unlikely situation given the intensity of likely users.

I'm sure that the Flux is a fine product , but I am not convinced that it performs better than the originals.

bdp24's picture

Michael, if scottsol is correct about 400Hz being the vibrating frequency of the Signet SK305, why are Flux (and you) asserting that the Signet oscillates at "a very high speed"? If one of those statements is true, the other isn't. If the 400Hz figure is correct, why and how could the Signet damage a cartridge suspension? What is the frequency at which the Flux oscillates?

AriKona's picture

The only problem I would have is that such frequencies can sometimes affect the bond between the cantilever and the stylus. I'm afraid until there has been some long-term data produced, I will hesitate on this one. My wallet thanks me, at least temporarily. Good review...and guarded.

rom661's picture

For the record, Mike at Toffco, also the U.S. importer, is no longer the importer for this device. However he recommends it enthusiastically. Many cartridges he sees returned simply need a good cleaning and he told me this makes a cartridge like new again in terms of being clean. The reduced friction would likely help with stylus wear and life as well. It is different than prior variants on the idea in that it is a lower frequency and does not cause nearly as much excursion of the stylus/cantilever making it effective but safer than the old school ones. No, I don't work for anyone involved and though I'm a dealer I don't sell this.

eugeneharrington's picture

After much hesitancy, I purchased a sample via a German Seller on Amazon.de. I got no response at all to an inquiry I made from Flux in Germany. This may have had to do with the time of year, August, since the month of August is the holiday month in Europe. Many smaller businesses close down for the month. Anyway, in spite of Flux's website stating that it can be used with all turntable/arm set ups, I certainly did not find that to be the case with my SME 20.2/SME V/Lyra Kleos set up. I had to raise the arm in order for the stylus to 'sit' in the cleaning pad. The cleaning process itself went very smoothly, but having to raise the arm and alter the settings each time I need to clean the stylus is a major drawback, at least for me.