This bit was interesting, always found myself that claims of 2000 hours of stylus life were nonsense, I could always hear some degradation after a couple of hundred.
Wear, Tear and Life So we know that the more extreme line contacts reduce wear.... but what is the difference?
Apparently according to Jico (manufacturer of the highly regarded SAS stylus), the amount of playing time where a stylus will maintain its specified level of distortion at 15kHz is as follows:
Spherical / Conical - 150hrs Elliptical - 250hrs Shibata/Line contact - 400hrs SAS/MicroRidge - 500hrs This is not to say that at 500 hrs a SAS stylus is "worn out" - but at that stage the wear has reached the point where distortion at 15kHz surpasses the level specified by Jico for a new stylus. (Which I believe is 3%).
Some manufacturers have traditionally defined a stylus as being "worn out" when it starts to damage the record... in these terms the figures provided by Jico can at least be doubled, and in some cases quadrupled.