Milty intends it to be part of your vinyl care routine, Paul Rigby reviews its Zerostat 3 and tests its effectiveness as an anti-static tool
I will always be grateful to my parents. I must have been 14 when I received my first hi-fi. We were pretty poor so any new hi-fi was a major deal. It was a Technics SL-B2 turntable and Grado cartridge, Denyo AU3000M integrated amp (anyone remember that one?), JVC KC33 cassette deck, Wharfedale Shelton speakers (whose tweeters would regularly blow because I pushed them too hard), QED stands and 79-strand cable. Vinyl care was handled by a Milty Pixall Roller (the larger barrelled Mk.1 then the relatively svelte Mk.II) and…a Zerostat. The roller to pick up the hardcore grime and the Zerostat to remove static.
I was a convert back when I was 14, I am now.
Many were not and are still not.
Hi-fi, like any hobby or interest, is full of different people with differing views and beliefs. Many of whom disagree with each on various points, often with a passion. Take the subject of cables, as one prime example and point of diverse opinion.
Often, the problem is a lack of action on the part of the product. When a piece of hi-fi kit is bereft of buttons, flashing lights and aural feedback, suspicion is laid upon it. Is it actually doing anything at all?
The Zerostat has often fallen into the same sort of category. OK, it has that John Wayne-esque shape which appeals to the boy in all of us – even some of you ladies, I hear – and there is a moving part, that trigger but, well, nothing emerges from the barrel. No laser-like stream hits the vinyl. Your vinyl record doesn’t shudder with the forceful impact of ions. There’s no fireworks. There’s no pizazz.
So, what exactly is it? The Zerostat 3 is a gun-shaped device set in moulded hard plastic that produces a combination of positive and then negative ions at the ‘target’. The idea is too neutralise the area of static charge, the thing that attracts dust to the area. The intended prime target being your vinyl records.
In action, you point the gun at your vinyl, point it at the spindle hole to give the ions an even spread. Hold the gun about 12 inches from the centre of the record and gently – and I mean gently – squeeze the trigger. Just like Dirty Harry taught you too, all those years ago. Then, when you can’t go any further, maintain the gun’s position and slowly release the trigger. If you’re too impatient, the Zerostat will emanate a cracking sound which reduces efficiency. If you’re doing that, then stop and start again. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.
Some people talk about pulling the gun away from the record during the trigger release stage but I find no advantage in this practice. In fact, if you want to neutralise a single area, I would have thought keeping the tool at the steady distance would encourage an even application, one that will receive both positive and neutral ions in equal quantity.
That’s it, there’s no batteries, no power supply. The Zerostat is a stand-alone device. Milty says that the Zerostrat should last for around 50,000 trigger operations. Hence, this tool will remain useful for many years, if not decades.
FOR MY NEXT TRICK…!
If you’re suspicious that the Zerostat is doing nothing and Milty is merely serving you a con wrapped in formed hard plastic, then you can perform your own experiment even before you get anywhere near a record to prove that this thing is actually for real. Milty does supply a nozzle which, when attached, lights up when the Zerostat is in use – well, it tends to light up when the device makes that cracking sound, actually. There is a better experiment to try, though.
When you open the box for the Zerostat, don’t throw away the shrink wrap. Keep it to hand. Literally. Take the wrap in the palm of your hand and place it against your clothing or a passing dog or cat. Rub vigorously for a few seconds or long enough so that, when you lift your hand from your clothes, the wrap sticks to your hand through static electricity.
Position your hand horizontally, so that the wrap is sticking underneath your palm, your hand uppermost.
Take the Zerostat 3 in the other hand (make sure that nozzle I mentioned is off the Zerostat). Position the gun it underneath, several inches from your hand, so that it is pointing at the shrink wrap. Slowly press the trigger so that it doesn’t make a cracking noise. Then slowly release it, again not too fast or it will sound a crack and lose efficiency.
Then, behold! See the shrink wrap disconnect from the palm of your hand, as the static is removed, and fall to the ground.
It could even be an act, folks. Call yourself Technology Magic Man! Weddings, bar mitzvahs and hi-fi clubs… You could even <ahem> charge for it.
You see? It does actually work. This little beauty actually removes static. The implications are enormous. That is, with regular use, dust will not follow your LPs like an airborne stalker, infiltrating its grooves and creating noisy playback.
Now, there’s a caveat to all of this. While everyone will benefit from a Zerostat, some people will see greater value for money if they live in a house with drying air or if their listening room is in a bedroom environment where dust is prevalent. Everyone will see some benefits, though.
Specifically? Have you ever taken a record out of a sleeve and heard multiple cracks from static as the LP emerged? This means that your LP is covered in static electricity and is currently attracting dust to its grooves, inside the sleeve, when it hits open air, when you put it on the turntable and while it’s playing. The result is more noise during play and, because dust abrades, that dust will increase wear and tear on the vinyl itself. In a tiny way, sure, but it will happen and, over time, will hasten your record’s demise.
A Zerostat will kill that issue stone dead. Use the gun on the vinyl before you clean your vinyl (or after, depending on what cleaning tools you use) and again before you place the record back in the sleeve to avoid this issue. I used the Zerostat 3 on both occasions and noticed a reduction in crackles during play but also no static when the record was placed in the sleeve, no ‘inner-sleeve-clinging-for-dear-life-to-the-surface-of-the-record-type’ action.
Also, you can use a Zerostat if you wish to clean your hi-fi and surrounding shelving. Of course, some dust and dirt will stick to the surface of your system via a sticky gunge-like substance but some of it will stick to the surface via static. While the motion of some cleaning cloths with encourage more static during use. Hence, the Zerostat will prevent immediate dust build up after cleaning, keeping the hi-fi area free of dust and preventing the migration of dust to the playing area.
The Zerostat 3 is not too badly priced for an accessory (ignore the official price tag below, I’ve seen it for sale for around £46, online via Amazon) which should figure in the daily life of your vinyl play experience. Also, if you average out the cost by its decades-length life span, then the price disappears into low, low fractions of a penny per use. Used in conjunction with a record cleaner, the Zerostat 3 will not only provide a more pleasant vinyl listening experience, it will extend the life of your precious records. A good thing, by anyone’s standards.
MILTY ZEROSTAT 3
Tel: 01279 501111
GOOD: easy to use, simple design, long life, [real world] price, performance