Acoustic Sounds
ONZOW Zerodust
By: Michael Fremer

May 1st, 2023



The Onzow Zerodust Controversy Concludes Here (Updated August 29, 2023 With New Instruction)

the new instructions explain it well

Since that report, WAM Engineering's J.R. Boisclair has been working with the Onzow Zerodust team to discover why a residue was being deposited onto styli and what exactly was it. After careful analysis and with great cooperation between the parties, Onzow has updated its instructions to reflect what had been discovered.

In case you missed this important story, here's an example of what Boisclair was finding on styli of cartridges sent to him for analysis as part of his cartridge inspection service. The commonality was use of the Zerodust.

Removing the residue was difficult and time consuming. Not everyone using the Zerodust reported finding this residue, so what exactly was causing it for some and not for others? Rather than going into the long explanation of how and what was discovered and why, here are the new Zerodust instructions that both explain what happened and how to prevent it from ever again happening.

In other words, everyone is satisfied that if you follow these instructions, the Zerodust will be safe to use without any change to the product, and no residue will attach to the stylus:

"The material of ZERODUST was developed for medical use and is harmless to the human body. Also, It does not contain any alcohol components.

ZERODUST not only cleans the stylus, but also prevents the dampers and coils from deterioration and maintains its original performance characteristics.

The lid doubles as a magnifying glass.

To wash ZERODUST, carefully remove the cleaning element from its protective box and gently wash it with cold, not hot, water only.


To ensure ZERODUST will not melt or stick to the stylus:

・Do not expose ZERODUST to high temperatures or direct sunlight.

(There is a possibility of deterioration.)

・Keep ZERODUST in a safe place and close the lid when not in use.

ZERODUST does not stick to the stylus unless it may deteriorate.

・Replace your ZERODUST after 3 years from the date from your purchase date."

Onzow's Akira Ishibashi emailed on 8/22/2023 that only the final instruction "Replace your ZERODUST after 3 years from the date from your purchase date" was new and that the rest was already in the instructions. He added that "After careful examination, ONZOW decided to extend the shelf life of ZERODUST to 7 years with careful use. Although (he added) I recommend changing it more frequently for heavy users."

Readers should be able to figure out from the new instructions what was the problem and how it is now solved without any change to the Zerodust itself.

A happy ending...... (and no massage jokes, please)


  • 2023-05-01 05:29:07 PM

    Jim Reiter wrote:

    This is a relief. Would this likely apply as well to other gels like the DS Audio ST-50? Understanding of course that they're different ingredients. Thanks

    • 2023-05-02 02:33:53 AM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      Boisclair has yet to examine the DS material but I’d say if you gently rub it on a mirror and it leave’s something, don’t use it.

  • 2023-05-01 10:09:33 PM

    Eric Lubow wrote:

    What? So what was actually on the stylus? Zerodust or something else? Are you implying that if it was Zerodust, it was either exposed to high temperatures or past its expiration date?

    A more complete analysis would have helped here considering the original uproar about this product. With due respect, I still believe Mr. Fremer should not have published that information without informing Zerodust first and without extensive testing. I can’t believe he didn’t do significant damage to Zerodust’s reputation. Apparently, he felt he had to get this news out immediately or there would have been countless instances of irreparable damage to precious styli. And how long did it take to get this information out?

    Yes, Fremer has a responsibility to his readers but to claim, as he has seemed to, that he has no responsibility to the manufacturer, that’s it’s OK to spread unresearched and misleading information is clearly wrong and terribly unfair.

    And what is the end result? Nothing’s wrong with the product itself! Just avoid exposing it to heat and replace after expired. Much ado about nothing!

    • 2023-05-01 10:53:12 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      I beg to differ with your analysis and scenario. First of all, it was a serious issue in need of exposure. What Boisclair discovered was real: the Zerodust was depositing the difficult to remove material on most of the inspected styli. Whatever it was and whatever caused it was next but for now (then) letting users know was important and I’m glad I did. End users could make up their own minds. Behind the scene Boisclair worked with the Onzow people and his team to figure out the cause of this residue what it was. The new instructions say it kind of obliquely so I will clarify: over time, the material breaks down and when it does using it can leave that difficult to remove residue. The solution is to keep the material from breaking down by avoiding sunlight and keeping the lid on it. Over time it will break down and deposit that residue so it’s best to replace it every three years. Everyone who thought just keeping it clean was sufficient now knows otherwise and so can avoid the baked on crud. How can you possibly have a problem with that? I think most Onzow users will be grateful for Boisclair’s research and with the resolution of this.

      • 2023-05-02 01:28:56 AM

        Eric Lubow wrote:

        You really didn’t address my main point. Yes, there was nothing wrong with letting readers know about the purported issues with Onzow but what was the rush to inform when Boisclair didn’t even know whether it was even the Zerodust that was causing it or the reasons for it? Wouldn’t it have been better to do some research first to try to ascertain what was really happening before essentially telling readers that they may want to throw away their Onzow. Your headline “Time to put away your Onzow?” was somewhat provocative and certainly would not give readers confidence in the company. In the two year time it took for Bosclair to finally come up with results, how many buyers do you think Onzow lost? I would guess many. And the final result: nothing wrong with the product itself if used correctly. With all due respect, I think you’re wrong here Michael and handled it badly from the beginning. That’s my take.

        • 2023-05-02 02:32:34 AM

          Michael Fremer wrote:

          I stopped using it during that period and glad I did. And I’m fine with alerting readers to a problem caused by the product. Going into this we knew the Zerodust caused the problem. We just didn’t know why it didn’t happen to all users. Erring on the side of caution still seems to me to be a better solution given the difficulties removing it. I still don’t understand why you think I handled it badly. You’d have prefered two more years of residue tainted styli, mostly unnnoticed by owners of costly cartridges noting sonic degredation but not understanding why?

        • 2023-05-02 02:39:23 AM

          Michael Fremer wrote:

          He knew it was caused by Zerodust use! Every cartridge with residue was ZeroDust cleaned. However not every ZeroDust cleaned stylus had the residue.

        • 2023-05-02 03:24:12 AM

          Richard Metzger wrote:

          So what you're saying is, he should have let everyone continue to use product that was proven to be harmful to our very expensive audio gear because of the chance that after several months/years of research we may have found out that there was a way to mitigate that harm? This is a very strange criticism.

          • 2023-05-02 03:25:56 PM

            Eric Lubow wrote:

            No. Zerodust was not proved to be harmful if used and maintained correctly. There was nothing inherently defective about the product itself if not exposed to excessive heat and kept until the expiration date. The vast majority of users were extremely happy with the product before Fremer’s post. Many stopped using it, some threw it out, although I would wager in the vast major of cases this was unnecessary.

            And what about the 18 months time it took to disclose the results? Ridiculous! They built the Empire State Building faster! And how do you weigh the real damage done to a company against the scattered and hardly overwhelming claims of damage Zerodust did to their styli? How many complaints have you read from those who actually claimed damage? They were all waiting for the results of this study.

            No one seems to give a crap about the company at all. “Fuck em’ as long as MY stylus is OK. They can go bankrupt as far as I care!” Again, there was nothing wrong with informing readers about possible problems with Onzow. But this was done without any substantial testing, any real analysis of the causes of these problems. And it took WAY TOO LONG to reach a conclusion, at great cost to Onzow.

            • 2023-05-03 08:45:44 PM

              Jeff 'Glotz' Glotzer wrote:

              Nonsense. You clearly are trying to feel something for the company to be contrarian, and to admonish Fremer to sound important. Period. You did it before and you're doing it now. I find that more disgusting than your 'concern' for a company. Great cost to Onzow? Oh, really, you know how much they lost? You assume. You also come off totally disingenuous. Why not care for all of the consumers that have wrecked their stylus', that can't afford to pay Bosclair to remove the baked-on gunk? Yes, MF did everyone a service by forcing the company to admit, yes- cleaning it right after playing, aka excessive heat, will result in melting the product onto your stylus. Period. That was added and that was the public service that only Fremer brought to the fore and the minds of audiophiles that were blindly trusting a company that they themselves didn't know about their product. NOW they do. No, your ethical concerns are as f'ed up as theirs were.

              • 2023-05-03 11:42:20 PM

                Eric Lubow wrote:

                You’re an angry guy, Glotz! Get some treatment! Sorry to see you back.

    • 2023-05-02 02:37:37 AM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      BTW: until this research there was no expiration date!

  • 2023-05-01 11:13:44 PM

    Tim Ware wrote:

    Finally! Washing to Zerodust with cold water and no cleansing agents was already out there as an instruction, although I can't recall where I saw it when I researched how to clean it a few years ago. But good to know it's resolved and I assume those who had issues of stylus residue were either not keeping the cleaning element clean or not following the cleaning instructions. Thanks for the update!

    • 2023-05-02 02:36:23 AM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      The issue goes beyond cleaning! Over time it will break down and leave a residue so yes, keep it clean and covered and out of sun and heat but replace every three years or when it clouds over.

      • 2023-05-02 07:55:05 AM

        Robert Nakata wrote:

        Instructions for another stylus-cleaning product recommends cleaning right after a record has been played. Supposedly the intense heat build-up on the tip can cause crud to stick to the tip. If true, how would Onzow work if the tip is dipped in cold?

  • 2023-05-01 11:35:51 PM

    Michael Trei wrote:

    Happy to see that JR worked with Onzow to figure out what was happening. I have been noticing for a long time that after a few years the Zerodust's dome will change from clear to a more opaque appearance, and that the material becomes stickier to the touch. I have been telling clients to replace it when that happens. What I didn't realize until now was that it is also heat related. Now we know.

  • 2023-05-02 03:14:57 AM

    Richard Metzger wrote:

    Really wishing I had kept mine and not tossed it after we all found out about the residue.

  • 2023-05-02 01:16:06 PM

    johnnymidnight wrote:

    Very helpful - will Onzow put manufacturing dates on these so we know how long they've been on the shelf if they deteriorate over time? There's probably a bunch out there on shelves that are near the "use by" date if I had to guess.

    • 2023-05-03 11:54:21 AM

      Kim Petersen wrote:

      My thoughts exactly... Simply stating to "Replace your ZERODUST after 3 years from the date from your purchase date" is not enough, there are most likely many sitting on a shelf or in a drawer for months and years.

  • 2023-05-02 05:59:02 PM

    Silk Dome Mid wrote:

    Michael did every Zerodust user a favor when he alerted them to this problem, and I find it hard to believe that anyone would be ripping him for it now that the manufacturer has admitted that their product breaks down into a potentially harmful substance when exposed to light or heat, and that it can reach such a point in just three years. I guess some people don't recognize a good deed when they see it.

    • 2023-05-03 08:51:55 PM

      Jeff 'Glotz' Glotzer wrote:

      Precisely. Concern for consumers is far more important than the company that didn't do their homework in the first place.

  • 2023-05-02 06:49:26 PM

    bwb wrote:

    I think this is a bit short sighted "replace every three years or when it clouds over." .... It is $40 full retail..,,$40 is less than I spent for a few drinks yesterday... why wait until it might be bad and might damage a mega-buck cartridge? If I decide to use it I'll put a calendar reminder on my computer and get a new one each year. . . . . . reminder... it is only $40

    • 2023-05-02 08:03:28 PM

      Jeffrey C. Robbins wrote:

      My Zerodust is many years old, so I will buy a new one, based on your advice here, Michael. Two followup questions, however:

      1. Short of a microscope, how would I know whether my stylus already has gook on it? I should say that I hear nothing wrong and maybe that’s the answer. I’m just not clear what the symptoms of the residue on the stylus actually are.

      2. Is Zerodust still the preferred stylus cleaning method? I have the Humminguru S-Duo ultrasonic cleaner but have yet to break it out of the box.

      Thank you, Michael, in advance for your thoughts. JCR

      • 2023-08-29 05:25:40 PM

        Michael Fremer wrote:

        sorry for the very late reply. I have no experience with the Humminguru and am not planning on investing in one. If someone wants to lend me one I'd be happy to check it out....Short of a microscope I'm not sure how you'd know if the residue was on your stylus. These types of slow moving issues sort of creep up and you are never aware of a problem until someone does the cleaning and then you hear what you've been missing....

  • 2023-05-03 08:49:57 PM

    Jeff 'Glotz' Glotzer wrote:

    Equally important than expired Zerodust is using it right after a play. The heat on the stylus, much like the brakes on one's vehicle being used hard, will contaminate the stylus as fast as any expired product through the transfer of heat.

  • 2023-05-04 02:26:45 PM

    doak wrote:

    Thank You, Michael