StylusTimer is a Handy Cartridge Odometer

While there's some debate about how many hours a phonograph cartridge stylus lasts and how often it should be replaced, one thing's for sure: not keeping track of your cartridge's "mileage" makes difficult knowing when the time's come for a re-tip or replacement.

The just introduced and soon to be available StylusTimer aims to make it easy to know precisely how many hours your stylus has put in. The Turntable Odometer™ is a device invented by syndicated "Sound Advice" columnist Don Lindich. It's an hours-based timer that you place close to or on top of your turntable. Push "start" when the stylus hits the record. Push "stop" when the record ends and you wake up and raise the cueing lever. The important thing is to train yourself to remember to push "start" at the beginning and "stop" at the end. When you push "start" there's a single "beep" and the "H" (for hours) begins to blink. Push "stop" and there's a double beep and the "H" stops blinking. When it's time to change its single AAA battery (not included) the StylusTimer will remember the mileage. Hold the "reset" button for more than 3 seconds and the StylusTimer resets itself to "0" hours.

Just remember when you begin using the device that it's an hourly timer so when you hit "start" for the first time numbers won't start flipping! It's priced at a very reasonable $19.95. For more information visit the stylusTimer website.

So how long will your stylus last before it needs to be re-tipped or replaced? A reasonable time estimate is about 1000 hours, though both record and stylus cleanliness have a big impact on the "hourage". Dirty styli and records will reduce your stylus's lifespan while clean styli and records will increase it. Wear on "severe profile" styli usually can be heard as a loss of detail and softened transients, as over time the stylus's sharper contours "round out". There's less of a danger to your records than there is a lessening of your listening pleasure.

With StylusTimer, assuming you remember to use it every play, you'll eliminate the guesswork and know your mileage. If you have two arms on your turntable or various cartridges on changeable head shells, you'll need more than one StylusTimer and you should label each of them. If he hasn't already, I can almost see Mr. Lindich thinking of new, enhanced versions. At $19.95 each, having more than one on hand shouldn't be a problem for any record lover.

volvic's picture

Silly question, if you remove the batteries does it still remember the time elapsed if put in new batteries? Need four of these.

Don Lindich's picture

That isn’t a silly question at all. Yes, the hours are remembered when you change the battery. I realized during the design process this would be essential to the end-user.

Don Lindich
StylusTimer inventor

volvic's picture

Thanks for taking the time and kudos for incorporating that in the design.

Michael Fremer's picture
I said that in the write up.
volvic's picture

I'll admit I didn't read it fully, was so excited to see this offered that my emotions got the best of me. I was thinking just yesterday how I am going to keep track of four cartridges.

White Raisin's picture

Reading through the second paragraph was too hard?

volvic's picture

Are you Amish? Or just Midwestern? Some of us spend a full day of work and don't even take lunch and can only take a 30-second break and rifle through these articles, by just skimming the text. People like you who render strong opinions on these online forums are doing it because no one will listen to you out in the real world, your anonymity breeds boldness. Find something else to do.

White Raisin's picture

Don't shift this to me because you're too lazy to read an article that's just a few paragraphs long.

volvic's picture

I love it when a clown, who looks like he has severe learning disabilities, tries to tell me what to think or do.

OldschoolE's picture

Where was this when I started?! I made a spreadsheet to track my stylus hours: One column for record, one for side one, another for side two and lastly, one for time total for each side (in case I only listened to one side for some's happened now and again). I have it printed on a clipboard and just write things in.
I made the sheet because there was no "Stylus Timer", until now. My only concern with this timer though is me remembering to turn it on and off! The timer I trust, my short term memory, not so much!
I imagine if I force it, I could remember to use it especially if I keep it prominent near or on my turntable. I have two tables in use though, which means I would need to buy two. However, that can be later because both my styli have are in mid use already, but not near needing replacement yet.

Michael Fremer's picture
That's why it's best kept right on the turntable where it's difficult to forget.
Don Lindich's picture

What I did with my own StylusTimer is put it on the left side of the turntable.I put my right fingers on the cuing lever, my left fingers on the StylusTimer, and press Start when I drop the arm. It’s easy and intuitive, and actually feels very coordinated when you do it. If you do this for three or four records you will never forget, as it will feel unnatural to drop the arm with your right hand without pressing the button with your left. I came across this technique in my product testing and it really works!

Don Lindich
StylusTimer inventor

OldschoolE's picture

Thank you Don. That is along the lines I am thinking.:) I will be getting one eventually.

rshak47's picture

that I've used for years to keep track of number of sides played.

PAR's picture

I too use a "clicker" or tally counter to time my stylus use. One click per side. I read a post some years ago on one of the audio forums that the average LP side lasts 23 mins. I have carried out a small check and that seems reasonable although I also found that listeners to mainly classical repertoire may anticipate a little longer, circa. 25 mins. Note this is anecdotal only and not scientific. However number of clicks x 23 or 25 and you are roughly there.

Would I therefore buy Mr. Lindich's invention? Yes I believe that I would as soon as it becomes available in the UK.

Is there a web presence for the product and, if so, could someone post the URL?

Don Lindich's picture

StylusTimer is distributed in Europe and the UK by Tonar International and will be available next month. Tonar will be demonstrating it at their booth at the Bristol Hi-Fi show on Feb 21-24 if you are going to be there.

As Michael stated in his review, the product’s website is Soon it will be sold there, and I will be expanding the site with some helpful information and links as well.

For those living down under, it will be distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Decibel Hi-Fi.

PAR's picture there any way of turning off the beeps? I really do not want BEEP ...1st movement Beethoven 5, 2nd movement... BEEP BEEP....BEEP 3rd movement, 4th movement...BEEP BEEP.

Like being at a concert where some a'hole has forgotten to turn his digital watch off.

I hope that you understand my objection.

Don Lindich's picture

Right now there is no way to turn off the beeps, but that is a good idea. Perhaps for a future version.

The beeps are there so you don’t have to look down when you push the buttons. I like having them myself and given a choice I would rather have them on, but see this may not be the case for everyone. Since you are standing at the turntable and there is no music I did not think it would be a factor, but you have given me something to consider.

There may be a way to muffle them into inaudibility. I will look into this as well.

Don Lindich
StylusTimer Inventor

PAR's picture

... for the positive response.

"Since you are standing at the turntable and there is no music I did not think it would be a factor"

With much classical music the same piece continues over both sides. So it is necessary to "hold" side one in you mind while you cue side 2. Also much of this kind of music has both emotional and spiritual dimensions. In both cases one does not want to be ripped from the "zone" by unrelated beeps.

So you have just brought out the timer and I am already looking forward to Mk.II :-).

abelb1's picture

This is great, I've wanted something like this for a while. How sturdy is it? Can the buttons be pressed with just a finger or would one need to grab the unit in a hand grip to depress the buttons? Is there an option to disable the beep? Picky bunch aren’t we?!

Don Lindich's picture

It has an integrated stand that flips down from the back. You can push the button without gripping the entire unit. It’s lightweight, it is not heavy duty but it is not flimsy either. That’s the best way I can explain it.

There is no option to disable the beeps. When I work on an update that will probably be incorporated. However people are going to need to buy version 1 for me to be able to afford to bring out version 2! :-) Help me help you... it is only $19.95 with free shipping... :-)

Don Lindich
StylusTimer Inventor

PS I really do think it is better with the beeps but after reading the post above I can see why people might not want them all the time. I think in use most people will think it is better also. It is reassuring to hear them at the beginning and end of the record, and they are usually over 20 minutes apart when the album plays.

Zardoz's picture

I've already contacted Don about getting one. He said they would be available in about a month.

Don Lindich's picture

Send me an email at if you want to be contacted when they are available. As noted above, it will be about a month from now. If it wasn’t for that darn coronavirus it would be sooner than that! Unfortunately that has delayed the manufacturing and shipping process. I have received some actual production units already, which is what Michael received and of course I have one next to my own turntable. Unfortunately I only received enough for demo and review purposes.

samman's picture

How I wish something like this was incorporated into my Phoenix Engineering Roadrunner. An internal clock would have been easy to track each time it went on. That being said, this would be a really GREAT item if I could set it and forget it. Meaning it detects the motion of my spinning table and starts, and then stops when the table stops. Here's the problem with the current model: When I remove an album, I have to turn the thing off, and then on again when I put on the next one. Sometimes I'm distracted, etc., and if you don't shut it off, it continues to count hours when you walk away. Then your actually adding time that the stylus didn't play. If you forget, oh my, one could add hours! Each day! So, adding a motion detector would be the cat's ass. I never have to worry about it or look at it until I want to know the hours. THAT would be perfect.

hiwattnick's picture

KAB is also coming out with a similar product called the, “Stylus Minder”.
It’s on the top of the “what’s new” section of the site, but will cost more at $89.95.

samman's picture

There are so many items listed under "What's new." Why don't you just post a direct link to the item.

samman's picture

Now this is what I'm talking about. It may cost more, but it has several features to "accurately" monitor time of usage. You can choose to have it automatically shut off after 20 minutes (average per side) or add a motion switch to have it turn on and off like I suggested in my post above. Well worth the extra money in my opinion. The Stylus timer above needs to incorporate this into their product, or else it will only be a matter of time before its forgotten on, and there goes the reason for its use.

hiwattnick's picture

Sorry, I was having difficulty getting the link to copy, so that’s why I gave the site’s link and mentioned where it was in the site. Looks like you found it anyway. Thanks for leaving the link.
I agree with what you said about the extra cost being worth it. It seems to be an overall better product, IMO. Kevin at KAB designs some good stuff too. I’ve been buying stuff from KAB for many years now, and have never had a problem.
Have a great week!

scottsol's picture

The 20 minute turn off feature converts the KAB device into an outrageously expensive tally counter (clicker). The reason for using a timer is to provide a more precise elapsed time figure than simply counting sides played, an advantage that disappears with the auto shut-off.

Of course, there really is no need for a precise figure because the expected lifetime for a stylus is itself very imprecise. The real advantage of the timer is that it might actually be used consistently, whereas something low tech like making a mark on a notepad for each play may be neglected after a short time.

jPad7's picture

I've been using a Marathon brand 100 hour countdown timer. It shows minutes and seconds and shows two separate timers that I use for 2 different cartridges. When I reach 100 hours I put a sticker dot on the case to keep track. It doesn't take long to get in the habit of clicking it on and off as part of the record changing routine.

Glad to see the stylus life is now estimated at 1000 hrs. When I started timing I'd read it was 400 hours.

gorkuz's picture

But by "handy" I actually mean a bit too "manual" for me and prone to be forgotten...or that it will run on if you snooze off to discover that an automatic cue lift (even given most of us reading this are not really likely to have an auto lift unless it's the Razr-Lift sort) has just made the time registered inaccurate. But that's just me, your "smileage" may vary. At the price a nice doo-dad to play with and laudable.

I see the KAB version despite the $90 price does have some useful features like the 20 minute option and another I personally find more interesting, being capable of using it by building the necessary bits for it to work: a remote activator input. That one could guarantee accuracy.

However, what really matters is stylus *wear*, not running hours. This will not only vary considerably with the situation and setup but 1000 hours is really just a guess anyway and is bound to vary from stylus to stylus as well. So I will stick with the more dependable and less every-time fussy technique of actually looking (under magnification obviously) at the stylus to determine if it is time as that goes by enough, or the sound quality tells me it's time to check.

But it is a nice idea and gives us something more to fuss with to go with our analog obsessions. We do need more stuff to fuss with, don't we, to feel more involved?

lofimadness's picture

Internet search is a wonderful thing.

Sorry to be a buzzkill guys, this isn't groundbreaking

The "inventor" just beat me to the punch.

Mikey, we could have "invented" one with your face imprinted on it.
I'm ALARMED it's too late. WHAAAAA!!

Don Lindich's picture

That is a simple kitchen timer that does minutes and seconds. It does not do hours with a flashing indicator, no memory, no 3-second reset, so it is not suitable for use with a stylus. The shell may be the same but the concept behind it, and the guts inside (which I designed and own) are completely different.

Also - please be nice.

romec's picture

Gee, you were beaten to the punch because you malingered. True, it's not rocket science. It's simple, practical and does the job with a little digit help from the user. It's how you get to market fast, instead of over complicating the device with unessential conveniences. Add other auto functionalities and installation will become more complex and may affect the aesthetic of the turntable.

Don Lindich's picture

I tried to edit my reply to lofimadness above but cannot. To elaborate further, I could not find anything suitable to do the job of tracking stylus time like StylusTimer does but it did not exist, so I created it myself. I then tried to bring it to market at a price affordable enough that’s everyone who wants one, can get one. Hopefully as a music lover and turntable fan you can appreciate it. f I was relabeling a simple timer as you accuse me of doing I would be deserving of the ridicule, but what I have is unique and made especially for the purpose.

Don Lindich's picture

StylusTimer is now available for sale with free US shipping at

rudirudi's picture

and I just ordered one.