“Over and Under” $100 Stocking Stuffers From Analogplanet.com!

It's "that" time of year so here are analogplanet's stocking stuffers in three different price categories.

Under $100:

1) “In The Groove” rolling record dust remover ($20)
2) Milty Zerostat ($100)
3) Audioquest Carbon fiber brush ($25)
4) Rice paper inner sleeves 50 for $20 (Mo-Fi), 250 for $72.25 (QRP)
5) Audio Additives Digital stylus force scale ($79.99)
6) Audio Intelligent Premium One Step #6 Record cleaning fluid ($29) or The Disc Doctor’s One Step Quick Wash ($50)
7) ZERODUST stylus cleaner ($69.99)
8) Ortofon 2M Red MM cartridge ($99)
9) “21st Century Vinyl”: Michael Fremer’s Practical Guide to Turntable Set-up ($30.00)
10) Art Vinyl Play and Display Flip Frame ($52.50)

Over $100 But Under $500:

1) Record Doctor V Record cleaning machine ($199)
2) Furutech DeSTAT II ($425)
3) Feickert Next Generation Alignment tool ($250)
4) Pro-Ject Debut Carbon turntable with Ortofon 2M Red ($399)
5) The Doors Infinite Vinyl 45rpm Box Set ($399.99)
6) HRT Linestreamer A/D converter ($350)
7) Soundsmith Otello moving iron cartridge ($480)
8) Dino-Lite AM313 Digital Microscope ($300)
9) Sumiko Blue Point Special EVO-III HO MC cartridge ($499)

Way Over $100 and Way Over the Top:

1) Audio Desk Ultrasonic Record cleaning machine ($3995)
2) Furutech LP Demagnetizer ($2715) or Stein DE3 ($3200)
3) Acoustic Systems SMARTractor alignment tool ($650)
4) Graham Slee Era Gold Mk V MM phono preamp ($999)
5) The Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement cartridge ($15,000)
6) Rega RP6 Turntable/arm ($1495)
7) Kuzma StabiS Turntable/arm ($2075)
8) Music Hall MMF 9.1 turntable ($2195)
9) VPI Traveler turntable ($1500)
10) Miyajima Labs Zero mono cartridge ($1995)

Analogplanet’s gift giving ideas are sure to delight the vinyl fanatics in your life, whatever your budget.

Under $100


The In the Groove roller is a convenient, easy to use record dust remover that works as advertised. A few readers have claimed it leaves a residue on the record surface but I couldn’t duplicate their experience. It works well removing dust but it doesn’t do likewise for greasy fingerprints.


The Milty Zerostat is a relatively inexpensive but effective device for removing the static charge from your records, your turntable’s dustcover or from whatever seems to attract static electricity.

It’s especially useful during the winter in colder climates where low humidity exacerbates the problem. Add a can of Static Guard to the stocking and you’re well-armed to protect against nasty static discharge. Mute your preamp before using because pulling its trigger can produce a loud “pop” through your speakers as it discharges the static.


The Audioquest carbon fiber brush has been around since forever and is another efficacious and inexpensive dust remover if used correctly: do not apply pressure when using. Let the dual brush rows just touch the record surface. After a revolution or two, tilt the brush back so only the rear brush set touches the record and then gently slide the brush towards the outer record edge, dragging with it, the accumulated dust.


Into a rice paper sleeve is where you want your freshly cleaned LP. Choose your logo and your quantity, but don’t choose not to house your LPs in these sleeves!


The price of digital stylus pressure gauges has rapidly dropped over the past decade and now that they are priced well under $100 everyone should own one. When first introduced, the Winds unit cost $800 and was good only to one decimal point. How far digital has come!


For “everyday” vacuum record cleaning Audio Intelligent Premium One-Step Formula No. 6 or The Disc Doctor’s One Step Quick Wash are excellent choices.


The Zerodust stylus cleaner is not without its critics because if your platter moves while the stylus is sitting on its convex mound of gel, it could rip it from the cantilever. However, if you are careful, it is an extremely effective remover of caked on crud and grime. Not an every play cleaner but used occasionally in conjunction with a stiff bristled brush and a good liquid stylus cleaner like Mobile Fidelity LP#9 or Lyra’s SPT, the Zerodust more than earns its place in a complete stylus cleaning arsenal.


Ortofon’s 2M Red is a ridiculously fine sounding $99 cartridge. If you busted your budget buying a new or used turntable, it can help you through the “lean” period while you save for something better, but know that it will sound good and take good care of your precious records. Another good choice would be Shure’s M97xe.


Almost 16,000 vinyl fans have already purchased my turntable set-up DVD, which continues to sell well seven years after it was first released. In fact, November of 2013 sales were the strongest since the initial surge when it was first introduced. Yes, this is a humungous conflict of interest but no, I don’t care.


The Art Vinyl Play and Display Flip Frame is a handsome, well designed and manufactured wall display frame for your LPs. Once up, it’s easily opened via its hinged front panel, allowing you to remove the displayed record for play or to return to the shelves.

Over $100 But Under $500


The just reviewed Record Doctor V is an affordable vacuum cleaning machine that works well. The Spin Clean ($80) is the less expensive alternative.


The Furutech DeSTATII takes destaticizing vinyl, cables and whatever else you have that takes a static charge, to the next level. Its built in fan blows off dust and helps circulate the positively and negatively charged ions it generates. It’s expensive but it works as advertised.


The Feickert tool is a well-made, well thought out “universal” alignment protractor.


The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is a $399 turntable complete with $100 Ortofon Red cartridge that has no right being so well built and sounding so good for so little.


If there’s a Doors fan in your life, a serious Doors fan, this double 45rpm AAA box set is a “must have” even if he or she owns the Rhino digitally mastered set—in fact, especially if he or she owns that one.


The HRT Linestreamer is not an archival quality 96/24 A/D converter but it does sound very good and for the money probably can’t be beat. So if all you want to do is convert your vinyl to put on your ipod, it’s a great choice.


The Soundsmith Otello is one of the few products here that’s not been reviewed or auditioned but experience with the now discontinued SMCC1 tells me this less expensive moving iron cartridge will be an excellent tracking, highly resolving cartridge with a decidedly neutral tonal balance.


The Dino-Lite 313 is the “go to” digital microscope for stylus inspection and for setting 92 degree SRA.


When it was first introduced, the Sumiko Blue Point Special EVO-III HO MC cartridge was a standard setter at its price point. It remains every bit as competitive today.

Way Over $100 and Way Over the Top


The Audiodesk record cleaning machine is the most effective, easy to use record cleaning machine I’ve ever used and/or owned. The KL is another good choice at a similar price point. That fulfills my superlative quote for the year. Yes, there are less expensive ultrasonic machines like the UltraSonic V-8, but they aren’t as convenient, though one can simultaneously clean (but not dry) up to eight records.


The Furutech and Stein record demagnetizers are a skeptics dream come true: “you can’t magnetize or demagnetize plastic you moron.” True. But metallic impurities in the vinyl compound can and do become magnetized. And if it’s not that, it’s something else because these things absolutely work as anyone who’s ever bothered to try one can easily hear. The skeptics won’t bother to listen because they just know….


The Acoustic Systems SMARTractor isn’t all that expensive but for an alignment tool it is. It costs more than many spend on a phono cartridge or turntable. However, it is a brilliantly thought out product that helps assure accurate overhand and zenith angle set-up (review in March 2014 Stereophile).


This Graham Slee is a superb and special sounding MM phono preamp. Later you could add a step-up transformer if you’re going to a moving coil cartridge. For now why not get more from your MM, high-output moving coil or moving iron cartridge?


A $15,000 cartridge? Why not? We’re talking way over the top, here, right? Hear it before your outrage sets in. It’s big. However, it does not “stand alone” other than in the price department.


The Rega RP6, which doesn’t include a cartridge sits in the “sweet spot” of the Rega line. Yes, the RP8 blows the doors off the RP6, but the RP6 does all of the same things, which are all of the rhythmic and dynamic qualities for which Regas are noted, just at a somewhat lower level for half the price of the RP8. You can’t go wrong.


The Kuzma StabiS—the “pipe bomb” turntable—is among the greatest values in analog audio, bar none (superlative quota exceeded). The price includes a very fine unipivot tonearm. Silly good.


The Music Hall MMF-5.1, built for the company to its design specs at the Pro-Ject factory, may be the line’s “sweet spot” but the MMF 9.1 offers better performance and sound on a grander scale. It was great in 2006 when I reviewed it for Stereophile. Now with Pro-Ject’s 9cc carbon fiber tonearm, it’s even better.


VPI’s Traveler was this year’s surprise hit turntable. It’s made in America, now features a gimbaled tonearm and built-in SDS speed controller and it’s made in America for $1500.


If you collect vintage mono LPs from the “golden age” of vinyl, you really need to hear your collection through the Miyajima Labs Zero. It’s magical.

Those are this year’s analog stocking stuffers from analogplanet.com. Happy holidays!

myheroiscoltrane's picture

Here are some titles to look for if you're searching for some great holiday jazz:

Vince Guaraldi: A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy) -there's a reason everyone has this one...it fits nearly every holiday occasion and mood.

Ella Fitzgerald: Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas (Verve)- she's at her most festive on this one. Great version of "have yourself a merry little Christmas"

Ramsey Lewis Trio: Sound of Christmas (Argo) - this 1961 release (4 years before "the in crowd") is just crazy good - their trademark sound was fully formed even then. Check out the swingin versions of winter wonderland and here comes Santa Claus 

Ron Eschete: Christmas (Bainbridge) - great mix of solo and trio guitar

The Prestige Records Holiday Collection - this one has some gems including Dexter Gordon doing the Christmas Song and rare tracks by Don Patterson (w/ Pat Martino on guitar) and Bobby Timmons, among others....


Enjoy, and happy holidays!



CarterB's picture

Fun list, you've given me a few ideas.

Is the Graham your favorite vaguely reasonable MM stage? I thought I remember a $1200 Graham you reviewed as better than the Gold listed above. You've been recently touting the Music Fidelity M1VINL and the new Rega phono stage you wrote about in the new Sterophile. How do they compare to the Graham(s)? I am fine with a MM only stage as I have a 2M Bronze with dreams of a Black, and if I ever go LO MC, I'd want a SUT. But in the sub $2K range, it is hard to get a good feel for best MM phono stage. 

Michael Fremer's picture

Were I committed to MM I wouldn't buy a MM/MC stage. Why invest is something, half of which, you won't be using? You have the right upgrade path in mind. The new Rega Aria is actually reviewed here on analogplanet, though I briefly mentioned it in the RP8 review. Scroll down on the home page! The $1200 Reflex M was somewhat better than the Era Gold (as I remember it) but I wanted to keep it under $1000 and I think the Era Gold V is the "sweet spot" but honestly it's been too long for me to write authoratatively about the differences between the two.

my new username's picture

... some of the sleeves from sleevecity.com (Us old timers will know them by their previous name, SleeveTown. I guess they grew from being a town into a city?)

howardk's picture

Hi Mike,

I've been placing the ZeroDust Stylus Cleaner on the turntable plinth rather than the platter, which is much safer, assuming that your tonearm can be lowered enough to reach the plinth.

Also, you've recommended the Rega RP6, but it has not been reviewed in either Stereophile or AnalogPlanet.com.  Do you plan on reviewing that 'table in the near future?  Since you also recommend the VPI Traveler, a comparative review of the two 'tables would be really interesting.


Howard K.



Ajcrock's picture

 Given the April sales on the Destat II, I took the plunge.  Much better then the Milty.  I still use my carbon fiber brush first but that may just be not letting go of the past.  I guess I need to react quicker to Micheals's suggestions, or perhaps a little more income would help.