After 40 years in business, Needle Doctor shuts down to stop providing services.
The Needle Doctor was a business that specialist Jerry Raskin formed in 1979, although in 2010, he moved the company to St. Louis Park, Minnesota.
He worked on turntables and had a global reputation for offering numerous components and parts, including needles for record players.
In late 2019, Raskin confirmed that he was no longer fulfilling orders placed on his website or keeping his physical storefront operational.
At the age of 62, the Needle Doctor decided it was time to focus on creating art.
Alternatives Now That Needle Doctor Is Out of Business
Jerry Raskin, also known as the “Needle Doctor,” retired from his Minnesota business in 2019 after a bout with tongue cancer. He said that the chemotherapy and radiation treatments were brutal and that his heart wasn’t in the work anymore.
People all over the world know Jerry Raskin’s name. If you love listening to vinyl records with an authentic tone, you’d want to get a stylus from the Needle Doctor.
His store was so successful that about 90% of its profits came from online transactions.
Raskin’s reputation was so strong in the stylus industry that he didn’t need to do any search engine optimization (SEO) work for his website.
You could input the needle you needed in a Google or Bing search, sort the results, and see the Needle Doctor there at almost any time.
That kind of online visibility is difficult to achieve. Raskin says he’s had several people talk to him about buying the business or taking over the name, but he’s not ready to part with it yet.
Raskin was only 21 years old when he started selling audio equipment. The job was supposed to be a stand-in until he got the stereo he wanted at home.
It turns out that he was really good at his job, and now the world missed the expertise he brought to audiophiles and vinyl listeners from all walks of life.
How Raskin Got Started as the Needle Doctor
Raskin says that the days before Best Buy were the best of his career.
He could stand behind a counter at his store, originally located in Dinkytown, and convince his customers that the styluses he had would change their music listening lives.
When mass-market retailers came along, it almost ruined Raskin’s company. He said that those more prominent retailers were selling the same equipment for the prices he was paying for his inventory.
Instead of having a full audio store, Raskin was forced to specialize. He shrunk his business footprint to the point where he had a single counter in the back of a store.
There wasn’t even any parking in those days. Raskin says he used to tell people to park at the Burger King and buy him a shake and fries if they felt guilty for not being a customer.
As he continued the adjustment process, Raskin realized that Best Buy and other retailers weren’t focusing on high-end equipment.
Recognizing that there was a market gap there to exploit, the Needle Doctor shifted from selling to college students to advertising in audiophile magazines to create a mail-order business with a toll-free number.
It was a decision that would pay off quickly. In 1996, Raskin cleared $1 million gross. He went from paying people to do his marketing to doing all of the work himself.
He even began producing ads for his vendors, stipulating that his logo and toll-free number appear at the bottom of each display ad.
The Needle Doctor is the epitome of what someone can do when maximizing the value of the knowledge they bring to an industry.
Finding a replacement for a man like Jerry Raskin can feel like an impossible task.
Where to Get Audio Equipment without Needle Doctor
You can find plenty of places that sell shells and cartridges for your turntables. Numerous stores provide access to modern stereo equipment and headphones for beginners to audiophiles.
The truth is that there isn’t another Needle Doctor-style business you can find online right now.
Raskin would sell the cartridges and shells and mount them, enabling listeners to have a plug-and-play option for their turntable.
If you need supplies for your record player, here are the closest companies to the Needle Doctor right now.
1. Audio Advisor
This company was founded in 1981 to provide the world with access to the best high-end audio brands and top-quality products.
You’ll find integrated amps, stereo amplifiers, turntables, and replacement parts or equipment available in its inventory.
The online shopping experience with Audio Advisor is similar to what you’d find on the old Needle Doctor website.
You can find everything from a replacement stylus to audio racks with built-in storage for your favorite LPs.
The list of represented brands is too numerous to name individually, but you’ll find products from AC Infinity to Woo Audio.
It’s also one of the best places online to find the latest Pro-Ject turntables.
If you search for a turntable stylus on Amazon, you’ll find several items available across numerous brands.
Although there is more of an emphasis on Audio-Technica products, you’ll find some generic brands, DJ cartridges, and direct replacements for a reasonable price.
One of the best examples of what you can find on Amazon today is the dual moving magnet turntable cartridge from Audio-Technica.
You can select the cartridge only, have it come with an elliptical replacement, or grab it with a headshell.
It uses specially wound coils that increase the output voltage to ensure you receive the best sound possible.
You don’t even need nuts to mount the headshell to the cartridge. It delivers positive results using only two screws.
You can also get the high-end equipment you need for your setup, such as the Blue Point Special EVO III from Sumiko.
If you know the exact make and model of the equipment you need for your turntable or stereo system, there’s an excellent chance that you’ll find what you need at this Needle Doctor alternative.
3. Music Direct
When you visit this Needle Doctor alternative, you’re shopping at one of the world’s largest online retailers for audiophile music and equipment.
The company specializes in turntables and vinyl records, but you can find several different categories to expand your experience.
You can find everything from integrated amps to high-end audio speakers on the website.
The site’s collection of phono cartridges is quite impressive, with most items coming with mounting kits or installation bundles.
Most of the products sold at Music Direct fall under the Ortofon brand, although you can find Lyra, Dynavector, and Sumiko cartridges available for high output needs.
The prices aren’t anywhere near where you could grab items from Needle Doctor, but it still provides access to the high-quality listening equipment you need.
4. LP Tunes
This online store is an authorized dealer for JICO needles, styluses, and other phono equipment.
You’ll also find a wide range of hi-fi cartridges to take your listening experience to the next level or restore your current setup.
Although the store doesn’t provide the most extensive collection of needles or stylus, you can get the diamond replacements for Shure and National turntables without much difficulty.
LP Tunes is relatively new to the audiophile scene, opening their business doors in 2000 to provide access to speakers, headphones, turntables, and more.
It’s one of the few shops that goes out of its way to let you know that they have belts available for several models.
All of your maintenance needs are available here as well, ranging from record cleaners to strobe discs.
You also have the option to search through their inventory by taking advantage of their presence on Amazon.
That might be the safest option if you tried this store’s services in the past and found the experience to be below-average.
As they’ve grown and expanded their inventory, their customer service quality has seen a similar evolution.
5. Elusive Disc
If you’re looking for hard-to-find items to support your audiophile hardware, this website is the place to search.
You’ll find SACD formatted items, vinyl records, and thousands of albums from some of your favorite artists throughout history.
You’ll need to search for the audio equipment and parts you need since music is the primary emphasis.
There is an entire category of turntable cartridges you can find for browsing, although you’ll need to pay attention to the listing to ensure you’re not purchasing the stylus guard only.
This company began doing business with the audiophile community in 1989 from their shop in Anderson, Indiana.
Their first product emphasis was to sell elusive vinyl, out-of-print items, and rare collectibles. As they moved online, they found it was worthwhile to expand their offerings into other product categories.
The benefit of choosing this store for your hi-fi needs is that you get a family-like experience with the transaction.
Instead of starting with the audio equipment like Needle Doctor, they began with the music.
That means they know what it takes to deliver the results you need with your home setup.
When you shop at this hi-fi outlet, you’ll find the emphasis is more on the car stereo than it is on your home turntable.
If you use the site’s search box to find what you want, you’ll get a list of whatever products are available that closely relate to your terms.
That makes it relatively easy to find specific items when using their filtering mechanism after completing a search.
It uses an Amazon-style mechanism along the left side to sort by category, brand, price, and more.
The issue you’ll sometimes find when shopping at this Needle Doctor alternative is that the products you want are out of stock for several months.
Even though the items might not be available, it isn’t very clear because you can still add them to your cart to create a backorder.
On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find that Crutchfield’s technical support is some of the best you can discover in the business today.
What Does It Mean to Be an Audiophile?
Although the term “audiophile” is sometimes treated as an elitist moniker, the Oxford Dictionary defines this person as “a hi-fi enthusiast.”
You might be an audiophile if you listen to music without doing anything else. If you sit back, close your eyes, and play your favorite vinyl records, someone will probably label you with this term.
Even though some people treat the word “audiophile” with disdain, there’s nothing wrong with having a passion for music.
You’d want the best gear for any other activity, so why not have it at home for your listening needs?
If you’re not sure about your status as an audiophile, here are some options that might let you know there’s a tell or two in your life.
- You might be considered an audiophile if you paid more for the stereo system in your car than the price for the vehicle.
- You could be an audiophile if your garden hose is thinner than the cables coming from your turntable.
- If you learned how to solder before riding a bike or playing soccer, you might be an audiophile.
- When you get annoyed by the clicking and popping sounds produced by your turntable, it might mean that you’re an audiophile.
In all seriousness, there’s nothing wrong with any of those outcomes. You deserve to relax and have fun in whatever way you prefer.
If that means you spend hundreds of dollars for a cartridge, go for it. Some people spend that much cash on gaming computers, PlayStation 5 consoles, or musical instruments.
The only reason why you might get negative feedback at times is that others don’t understand why hi-fi is an essential part of life.
How Are You Listening to Music This Year?
Vinyl records are making another comeback this year because digital files cannot replicate the vintage goodness you get from a turntable.
Although you won’t receive the broader frequency range that an HD recording offers, sometimes you don’t need anything more than a stylus and your favorite LP.
If you have a turntable that requires support, you’ll find the products available at these stores can help you restore your unit’s functionality.
When you listen to your favorite LPs on your turntable, you’ll want the best audiophile headphones to maximize the experience from your cartridge and stylus.
I highly recommend the Sennheiser Consumer Audio HD 660S headphones.
They’re wired 3.5mm to plug into almost any system, offer a reference class open back, and have better transducers to give you the lowest frequencies out there.
Sennheiser uses hand-selected transducers to avoid decibel discrepancies so that your listening experience has one of the best accuracy ratings in the industry today.
You’ll also get a 6.35mm stereo plug and the new Pentaconn 4.4mm in the box with the Sennheiser HD 660S headphones for added flexibility.
The last time there was a significant gap in this industry, it took almost two decades to fill it. With Raskin still holding onto the Needle Doctor title, who else will step up to earn their audiophile Ph.D.?
In the meantime, you can access these alternative stores to get the supplies you want for your listening pleasure.