A record player is a gorgeous blast from the past to own. Nothing beats listening to music on one, and it adds a vintage-inspired sense of home decor that’s timeless in any household. If you’re lucky enough to own a turntable, there are many working parts you need to be aware of in order to keep up on maintenance and ensure longevity.
One of the most important parts is the needle, otherwise known as the stylus. The job of every record player needle is to turn the vibrations (caused by the unique groove shape) into sound. As it moves along the grooves, the needle creates an electrical signal. This signal is then fed to an amplifier, which adjusts and adapts it to our listening abilities. Over time, a needle can bend, crack, and naturally deteriorate, which stops signals from transmitting properly. This causes a static sound to take over the music, making it unplayable. It also creates crackles, distorted sounds, and crackles or pops. Worst of all, using an old or damaged stylus can ruin your precious records.
Here, we’ll focus mostly on replacing just the record player needle, since replacing both needle and cartridge can get expensive. Still, it’s worth noting that some cartridges have the needle attached, in which case you would need to replace the entire cartridge. Be sure to research or refer to a user manual regarding your specific model.
There are useful tutorials online that can help you determine which needle is best for your needs, and how to replace it. Hard materials like diamond are desirable since harder needles protect records better than a softer material, which breaks down and fills the record’s grooves with abrasive materials, wearing it down. There are both nude and tipped options — nude is entirely diamond, while tipped often only features a diamond tip, and hence a reduced cost. Many needles are universal and can be used on multiple players.
Here are the best record player needles that’ll help your machine age gracefully.
1. Gartopvoiz Record Player Diamond Stylus Replacement
This diamond ceramic stylus comes in a two-pack with 4-6 grams needle forces. When it comes to installation, you don’t require any tools, and one person can easily get the job done. It works with 33 1/3, 45, 78PRM record players, and if you’re having trouble figuring out if the needle works with your player, this brand recommends consulting them before ordering. If you have a Corsley, Victrola, or Jensen, this choice is a safe bet.
2. Soofotoo Record Player Golden Needle with Diamond Stylus Replacement
This is a self-advertised universal needle that’s compatible with a number of record players. It comes in a pack of three and provides a more nuanced quality than many on the market. One buyer sings the praises of this Soofotoo’s model, saying, “super easy to install and significant sound improvement.” It has an innovative no-skip design thanks to the conical shape, breathing life back into old records. It even comes with a white plastic cap to protect from damage and scratching.
3. ZenTect 5-Pack Record Player Needles
Looking to buy in bulk? ZenTect sells the best record player needle value pick with their five-pack of diamond and ruby ceramic needles. On the product’s Amazon page, there’s a lengthy list of compatible record players but the brand states that it’s “not limited to” these models, so double-check. One buyer says that having the extra needles came in handy, “because I’m certain that my kids will break more of these.” A few backup options are always good to keep on hand!
4. Banpa 5 Piece Diamond Record Player Needle with Cartridge
For those who want to buy an additional cartridge with their replacement needles, consider Banpa’s single cartridge that comes with an extra five backup needles made with ceramic and diamond. One buyer notes that it “fits the record players that used an incredibly cheap all-plastic stylus” and other reviewers tend to agree. If you have a cheap turntable and are looking to improve the sound, search no further than this inexpensive, all-inclusive solution.
5. Crosley NP5 Replacement Needle
Designed by vetted audio equipment brand Audio Technica, this piece is a genuine Crosley replacement needle, featuring a diamond stylus and ABS plastic composition. It provides delicate but high-quality sound that won’t disappoint. As one hilarious reviewer puts it, “ Great. Thanks. Now I have to listen to my girlfriend’s rotten records again in crystal clear stereo.” Another user notes that it worked with a Pioneer PL900, for owners who are hesitant to buy.
6. Parts Express ST-17D BSR/Fisher Type Replacement Stylus Needle
This needle features a diamond tip and also contains synthetic sapphire. One side is diamond, while the other is sapphire. Concerned about compatibility? Scroll through the reviews to see if your player is listed — multiple owners mention what model they use and if the needle was effective for it. It’s garnered a ton of five-star reviews, including those who own vintage phonographs and older players from eras like the 70s. A solid option for anyone who owns an older device.
7. Banpa Record Player Stylus Needle for Crosley NP1 and NP6
This replacement needle comes in under $9.00 and is composed of ABS plastic and a diamond tip. It plays three speeds and comes with a one-year warranty, and if your length is slightly off, one consumer still encourages you to proceed: “These weren’t the exact length I needed, but they were so close it almost fit like a glove, so it worked wonderfully.” It comes with a plastic space for the spare, and it’s a more affordable (but equally effective) alternative to more expensive models.
8. Victrola ITNP-LC1 3-Pack Turntable Replacement Needles
Victrola is one of the most coveted record player brands out there, and you can finally buy a three-pack of their replacement needles on Amazon. It’s made of ceramic with a sturdy aluminum center. While it’s a little pricier than some of the other options on this list, going with a popular brand name is worth the investment in the long term. In terms of installation, one buyer says, “not the easiest to install, but less complicated than most.”
9. Durpower Phonograph Record Player Turntable Needle For Magnavox Micromatic
This Durpower phonograph record player needle comes in the original version, and an updated one, featuring a diamond .7 mil conical tip needle. One buyer purchased an old Magnavox Micromatic at a flea market with no original paperwork, and after comparing her needle to the photo in the description, was pleased to discover that the needle “fit like a glove.” However, another user notes that it doesn’t fit a curvier tonearm, and instead works better on a flatter tonearm.
10. Also consider: Byron Statics Record Player Bundle with Replacement Needle
If you’ve never owned a record player before, are looking to replace an old one, or simply want to buy a one-of-a-kind gift for a loved one, consider this kit, which includes not only a turntable but a portable bonus case and replaceable needles, so you don’t have to worry about the foreseeable future. It’s all nicely bundled up in a foldable suitcase, which is both stylish and easy to carry around. Plus, an AUX cord means you can play all your modern music on streaming services.
The 15 Vinyl Records That Should Be in Everyone’s Record Collection