Japanese optical cartridge pioneer DS Audio has just launched its first audio accessory, the ST-50 stylus cleaner. Elegant in appearance, easy to use and designed to last a lifetime, it delivers flawless cleaning to even the most delicate of styli.
Four years ago DS Audio broke new ground with the world’s only optical phono cartridge, borrowing technology developed and honed in various scientific, industrial and medical applications. Continuing in that vein, the company has once again drawn on proven know-how and materials in order to create its first audio accessory.
The source of inspiration on this occasion was the cleanroom. Cleanrooms are microparticle-free rooms that are used in a variety of fields, from pharmaceutical and medical environments to food technology, photonics and various electronics applications. The ST-50’s cleaning pad is made from a transparent urethrane resin that was specially developed for semi-conductor engineering cleanrooms. In the same way that it prevents dust from contaminating the cleanroom by absorbing micro-level dust particles, it effortlessly removes particles of dust and dirt from the stylus tip.
To use, simply remove the cover, carefully place the ST-50 on the turntable platter and gently lower the arm to touch the stylus onto the gel pad. Lift and lower the arm two or three times (taking care not to rotate the platter during cleaning), after which the stylus will be completely dirt and dust free.
The ST-50 is designed for use with all types of cartridge and stylus – from optical cartridges to MC and MM, and its slim profile makes it compatible with a wide variety of tonearms. Compared with the use of brushes and solvents, it is extremely gentle and safe. No excess force or pressure is being applied to the stylus tip and there is no risk to cartridges that use cement-bonded styli, whose bonding can be dissolved by certain solvent-based cleaning liquids.
For a product inspired by industrial applications, the ST-50 stylus cleaner is an aesthetically desirable piece of kit. Elegant and bijou, its sleek aluminium casing has a smart nickel-plated finish while the underside is padded with real leather, presenting a soft, high quality surface to the turntable’s platter.
The ST-50 is also designed to last. Its urethrane gel pad is washable and re-usable. To maintain optimal cleaning power, simply remove the pad from the casing and rinse it in tap water, then allow to dry at room temperature for around 30 minutes.