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Tip of the Week, January 7th, 2013

A small but very important part of my restoration process for a stock Thorens unit such as the TD-160, TD-165, or TD-145 is replacement of the headshell leads.  On the TP-16 headshell, this is a very do-it-yourself operation that yields great sonic results.  Sometimes it is truly like lifting a veil from the music.  All it really takes is a pair of tweezers (or fine needlenose pliers), a new set of leads, some Deoxit, and some patience.   If your leads have never been changed out, you will be amazed at what 40 years of tarnish looks like.  The metal portion will be black. Take note of the order of the old leads, remove them, and then clean all of the contact surfaces with the Deoxit.  Let those dry, and then install the new leads in the same fashion.  Occasionally, you’ll find a lead connector needs to be crimped or expanded.  For crimping, I use the needlenose pliers and a very light touch.  For expanding, you can use a small brad, again with a light touch.  Don’t forget to also clean the headshell to tonearm connectors, though they are typically not as tarnished, it’s a good idea to remove what is there.  Then, sit back and enjoy.  I think it’s because this is the first signal path from the cartridge, but it really makes a remarkable difference.  You can find headshell leads costing from a few dollars to over $100.  I would just make sure that they are gold-plated (to reduce later tarnish) and highly flexible.  Final cost is up to you.