Thorens TD 165C Turntable Cartridge Needs a New Stylus

Audio Technica TK7SU
 Back in April of 2013 I wrote about digging out my old turntable from the basement and resurrecting my vinyl records from years back. I have no regrets and have enjoyed hours of good music since then and have rediscovered the joys of vinyl and of course some of the pains of that media.

In the process I was reminded that I have a lot of old vinyl classics but I also discovered that I have crap as well. Some of the music is timeless and some is obviously not. Music from the 70s or 80s for example is hit (note the pun) or miss, mostly a miss.

Thorens TD 165C
The sixties is where the real treasures are. Unfortunately not a lot of care was taken to press vinyl at that time and as a result I have classic rock albums with plenty of skips and pops and some are a real chore to listen to, except perhaps the Deutsche Grammophon recordings of the day or the reissued half speed masters of popular rock recordings in the later 80s. Well perhaps some are worn after many plays in the day.

However it is time to replace the needle or stylus on the cartridge. For all practical purposes the stylus and the needle are the same thing. Those of us familiar with higher end audio refer to it as the stylus.

There are essentially 3 types of styli (plural? or styluses?), the conical or spherical which is on the cheaper players, the elliptical, which is better quality and the Shibata which represents the top end and may have different names such as Fine Line or Hyperbolic. The Shibata stylus is able to extract more information from the vinyl and is therefore significantly more expensive. A stylus is either diamond tipped or a whole (nude) diamond.  A less expensive stylus like the conical stylus is tipped. Elliptical and Shibata styluses are usually nude diamonds and made for longevity and durability but cost significantly more.

Now to my situation. Although the Audio Technica TK7SU, pictured above and mounted to the Thorens tonearm is designed for a Shibata stylus the stylus is very hard to find and very expensive. Just the other day I found a TK7SU cartridge / stylus on Ebay for US699. I love my music but I would never pay that kind of money. Obviously NOS or New Old Stock meaning that it was never used. New in the box so to speak.

Luckily my 30 year old cartridge can be mated to a NOS elliptical stylus, the TKN22 by Signet. It is US110 and more in line with what I can afford. I have ordered the stylus from a company in the US and expect to have it within the week. I actually put my name on a list close to a year ago and was notified just this week that stock had come in. Where they get it I do not know. I also ordered a new drive belt at the same time. The Thorens TD165C is a belt driven fully manual turntable, in other words the stylus has to be placed gently on the lead-in groove of the record and gently removed on the lead-out groove unless you have a mechanical stylus lifter, which I used to have but have now misplaced.

I really do not think that I will hear much of a difference and that's a good thing; age affects the hearing but I do think it will do the job nicely. The Shibata stylus? I will have it inspected and put it away as a backup.

Anyway, back to music enjoyment. I think  will put on  Tea for the Tillerman by Cat Stevens, half speed mastered of course.

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