DS Audio's ST-50 Stylus Cleaner Adds Elegance to "Drop In" Stylus Cleaning

At CES 2018 optical cartridge maker DS Audio introduced the ST-50 an elegant-looking "pad" type stylus cleaner that uses a transparent urethane pad developed for semi-conductor "clean room" air scrubbing.

Of course there already is a similar one on the market from Onzow, but its Zero Dust uses what appears to be a somewhat different material formed into a convex mound mounted within a tall profile hard plastic box.

The ST-50 is a more elegant looking, compact design of metal backed by a thin leather square designed to present to the platter a softer surface. Its lower profile makes it more compatible with a wider variety of tone arms.

To use, simply remove the cover, carefully place it on the platter and gently lower the arm onto the pad, lifting and lowering a few times after which the stylus should be 100% dirt and dust free without the use of brushing or potentially dangerous liquids. Some manufacturers that use cement to bond styli to cantilevers, such as Ortofon specifically recommend against using solvent based liquids that can dissolve the bonding material.

The ST-50 works as promised and its low profile is less likely to create "incidents". However, as with the Zero Dust it's critical to insure that your platter doesn't rotate while the stylus rests on the pad.

Used as directed though, there's less stress placed on the stylus than there is with the stiff brushes recommended by cartridge manufacturers that use cement-bonded styli.

When the transparent pad appears dirty, simply remove from the housing and rinse carefully in water as shown in the video below. The ST-50's price has not yet been set but it will cost between $80-$100. Yes, it is more costly than the plastic cased Zero Dust but it has an indefinite life so if you care at all about design elegance as well as effective stylus cleaning, the DS ST-50 is the ticket.

HiFiMark's picture

About $5 for a supply that will last years, if not decades. Take a nice, clean flat square (mounted in a small, old ring box perhaps), drop the stylus in 2-3x before each record, as shown in the video: squeaky clean. Looks brilliant under my 30x jeweler's loop.
Got the idea from SoundSmith "How To" section. I'm enjoying quite a lot more music for the money saved!

torturegarden's picture

Similar idea - I use Moongel and use it much like you use the Blue Tack. Cost me around $6 and will probably outlast me. http://rtom.com/moongel-damper-pad/

HiFiMark's picture

Looks like a good approach. Here's the SoundSmith link for anyone interested:

Tommy O's picture

A dollop of Silly Putty on a new quarter (nice non-magnetic coin) works great and will last forever.

Tommy O's picture

The Silly Putty does NOT leave a residue.

scirica's picture

I've been a fan of the Onzow for a while, other than the fact that you have to be careful with it. This does look like a more elegant, albeit costly, solution, but I'm sure I'll buy one when they become available.

rexlibris's picture

Where can I order this?

Sgood@verizon.net's picture

So the chemical composition of the blue tack doesn’t leave a residue On the cantaleiver or tip?

HiFiMark's picture

First question I asked. Decided since it's a Peter Ledermann recommended approach and I have a SoundSmith cartridge hung on my tonearm, I'd go with it. Two years now and my analog rig sounds tremendous...

cgh's picture

But can it outperform magic eraser?

nagysaudio's picture

Playing one side of a new record gets the stylus looking brand new clean.

SeagoatLeo's picture

I used the Extreme Phono stylus cleaner prior to using the Magic Eraser method (noted above). It cleaned but did become contaminated after two years (used E.P. for 8 year period) and purchased more units. Also, the E.P. has a very shallow opening for the stylus to enter the cleaning goo. Oznow reportedly doesn't clean as good as E.P. Try the Magic Eraser method (don't use liquid cleaners unless you are positive the cleaner won't loosen the stylus or migrated up the cantilever).

Collecting records for 59 years. I clean the stylus after EVERY record side. Benz Ruby 3 on it's 11th year/2,500+ hours with virtually no signs of wear. Besides cleaning every side play, alignment and tracking correctly are essential. P.S. I have been using another effective method for the past three years-the Magic Eraser.

von Hohenbalken's picture

I have used Magic Eraser for many years and it works perfectly. But it can be awkward to use unless the size is modified. I can deal with the awkwardness.

DietChapstick's picture

I would love to know what the markup is on the pad itself.

mauidj's picture

Come on Michael call it for what it is............a con!

cgh's picture

These urethane gels are produced as mats to be stepped on when entering a clean room, thereby removing dust from the bottom of the shoe. There's a Japanese company about a 4 hour drive from DS Exports that can make a mat big enough to make several hundred of these cleaners. The clean room picture in the video was an easily found stock photo obtained with a google search.

CJB's picture
CJB's picture

I use spray dust mop treatment and a camel hair brush. The brush gets a short blast of the spray, I make sure it's dry, and it takes all the dust off the stylus and cartridge body. Easy, cheap.

CJB's picture
JEB-42's picture

I really like this for one main reason; it sits on the platter and I can lower the stylus on to it. The ONZOW also works great but it relies on my hands. $80 to save a $5k to $15k cartridge accident? I'll happily spend the $80. I like the ideas of the blue tack and Silly Putty but I'd be frightened of any residue getting on the stylus.

robbiesd's picture

I mounted my Amcam Audio stylus cleaner container (same as Onzow) with double sided tape to a short section of 1 1/2" wood dowel I stained and put felt on the bottom of. I cut the dowel so that the top of the cleaning pad is equal in height to a record. I then slide the cleaner over next to the platter and lower the arm/stylus into it a couple of times, lift the arm up, slide the cleaner out of the way and enjoy my music choice. This takes the "hands" out of the equation. I like that this ST-50 is low profile but then one has to put it on and off the platter each time. My concept keeps the cleaner on the plinth, and no "hands" risk. I've gotten to where I dry brush with my left hand while I raise and lower the arm into the cleaning pad with my right at the same time. One quick moment to clean both the LP and the stylus.

jokerman's picture

Just a heads up that I recently bought the Onzow cleaner because I was seeing lint on stylus that I couldn't get off. After using it once or twice I noticed that my midrange sounded distorted and grainy. I did not put 1+1 together but soon thought of the Onzow product since it coincided with using it. My cartridge/stylus typically lasts about a year and this one is only 4 months old. I was worried that the whole cartridge might be bad. I had a replacement stylus (Goldring 1042) and after I put the new stylus on, it was back to normal. I feel pretty certain that the Onzow was somehow responsible for the problem although I don't know what caused it. I looked at stylus under magnifying glass and couldn't see any obvious problem. Maybe it is residue. The surface of the dome is soft so I just dropped the stylus onto it once or twice. It made a loud sound each time I pulled it off. So anyway, just a warning to people about what I experienced. I imagine this product uses very similar materials.