how to stop a record player properly

To stop a record player from playing just lift the stylus from the record. Don’t stop the turntable from spinning before you’ve done this. This way you’ll prevent some damage to your records and stylus on the long-term.


Introduction – How To Stop A Record Player

This is a subject of quite some debate and I’ve found there’s barely any useful information being shared surrounding it. It seems like a small issue, if it’s even an issue at all, but I want to help out here. Are there ways of stopping your record player that leave you with damage? I’ve found there are.


No Auto Stop

Let’s start this, which is mainly an issue for forgetful people. But forgetting to turn off your record playing after listening inevitably happens to everyone. If your turntable has no auto stop and you forget about your record being played then the stylus will keep spinning on the smooth end of the record also called the runout groove.

This isn’t a huge issue because of the minimal friction between the stylus and the smooth surface. But this minimal friction does cause damage on a very small scale. So if you let this happen, you might lose a few hours of your stylus lifetime. Which isn’t the end the world, but it’s easy to avoid.


Arm Weight

I’ve read about some rumors in multiple forums about the weight from the cantilever and cartridge on a vinyl record can cause damage even when not playing. So when you’ve pressed stop without lifting the stylus.

I’ve found that this in itself is nothing to worry about. So don’t worry if you forgot to take it off, there’s no damage done. But it is still a good idea to take it off. That’s because the abrupt shock of you for example accidentally bumping the tonearm while the stylus is still on the record can actually cause significant damage. It’s important to keep this in mind.


Stylus Heat

Finally I want to mention stylus heat. You see, as the stylus is vibrating from the playing record heat is generated. This heat remains in the stylus after stopping the turntable for a while. Now does the heat from the stylus left on the record cause damage?

The stylus surface temperature has been estimated to be ~300-500 °F (150-260 °C). This is ofcourse only at the contact points between the stylus and the record. This higher temperature can cause slight distortion in back-to-back playing. This small effect is estimated to last around 10 minutes after achieving the estimated temperature.

Does this mean that your record is slowly melting for 10 minutes if you leave the stylus on there after playing? The melting point of vinyl records is very much influenced by vinyl pallet recipe. If you’re interested in this this I have a section dedicated to this in Cleaning Vinyl Records With Alcohol – Yes or No?

But let’s get back to our potentially melting records. So the melting point of Polyvinyl Chloride, which is an important ingredient, is ~212-500 °F (100-269°C). Now these number may concern you, but you don’t need to worry. The high stylus temperature if only at the surface meeting points, which are tiny so the heat will be dispersed rapidly through the record which will remain at room temperature. So stylus temperature isn’t a risk at all. Let’s conclude this article.


Conclusion – How To Stop A Record Player

So the best thing to do after playing music is to just lift the stylus from the record. This is not because you’ll completely destroy your records or stylus if you don’t, but because it limits the gradual damage over time. It does this by:

  1. Preventing stylus lifetime being wasted on the runout groove.
  2. Preventing abrupt movement in the record player to damage your record or stylus.

Hopefully this was useful. If you liked this article please check out other similar educational articles. Or if you’re interested in my record player reviews & top lists check those out.


Sources

  1. David L. Haynes, John M. Brennan, U.S. Patent 4,348,754, Sep. 7, 1982
  2. Buchanan, J., March 30, 2009, from https://stevehoffman.tv
  3. Philips High Fidelity Laboratories, LTD., GA312/212 Owner’s Manual

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