Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

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harrion
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Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

Post by harrion » 13 Jan 2020 18:33

Hi folks, I have a couple of the TKE series carts and was interested in opinions and differences between them and the TKEa series. Any opinions appreciated. Also comments on spec differences and/or sound welcomed. I know the Ea series is newer, and it appears that it accepts a different and wider variety of Audio Technica styli. Although, it seems that a few styli are compatible with both, from what I've read.

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Re: Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

Post by patient_ot » 13 Jan 2020 18:35

The Ea series bodies will accept current production AT styli. That is a huge bonus IMHO. I have an old TK3Ea actually. Not sure about the "E" series but IIRC current production AT styli will not fit those bodies.

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Re: Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

Post by harrion » 13 Jan 2020 18:56

patient_ot wrote:
13 Jan 2020 18:35
The Ea series bodies will accept current production AT styli. That is a huge bonus IMHO. I have an old TK3Ea actually. Not sure about the "E" series but IIRC current production AT styli will not fit those bodies.
I agree about the stylus variety. It is a bonus. How about the sound differences. I love the sound of the Tk7E and TK5E I have with original TKN2 and TKN1 styli.

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Re: Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

Post by PaulKehayas » 13 Jan 2020 21:31

patient_ot wrote:
13 Jan 2020 18:35
The Ea series bodies will accept current production AT styli. That is a huge bonus IMHO. I have an old TK3Ea actually. Not sure about the "E" series but IIRC current production AT styli will not fit those bodies.
This is good to hear...I have a TK5Ea body with no stylus but am uncertain how the new stylus meant for the 540/740 would sound in it.
Has anybody tried it yet?
What were the results?

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Re: Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

Post by jdjohn » 13 Jan 2020 22:02

harrion wrote:
13 Jan 2020 18:56
patient_ot wrote:
13 Jan 2020 18:35
The Ea series bodies will accept current production AT styli. That is a huge bonus IMHO. I have an old TK3Ea actually. Not sure about the "E" series but IIRC current production AT styli will not fit those bodies.
I agree about the stylus variety. It is a bonus. How about the sound differences. I love the sound of the Tk7E and TK5E I have with original TKN2 and TKN1 styli.
Patient_OT is correct. The AT styluses that fit the "E" bodies are from the old ATS10/11/12 "Group A" series. The Group D ATS13/14 will not fit, nor the ATN styluses. Frankly though, putting one of the old ATS on a TKE just doesn't look right. They will work, but it should considered a backup or for beater records.

I have both TKE and TKEa, and there is really no difference between the cartridge sounds that I can tell. They both have the AT house sound, and it's really the stylus mounted to them that makes the difference in either case.

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Re: Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

Post by harrion » 13 Jan 2020 23:34

jdjohn wrote:
13 Jan 2020 22:02
harrion wrote:
13 Jan 2020 18:56
patient_ot wrote:
13 Jan 2020 18:35
The Ea series bodies will accept current production AT styli. That is a huge bonus IMHO. I have an old TK3Ea actually. Not sure about the "E" series but IIRC current production AT styli will not fit those bodies.
I agree about the stylus variety. It is a bonus. How about the sound differences. I love the sound of the Tk7E and TK5E I have with original TKN2 and TKN1 styli.
Patient_OT is correct. The AT styluses that fit the "E" bodies are from the old ATS10/11/12 "Group A" series. The Group D ATS13/14 will not fit, nor the ATN styluses. Frankly though, putting one of the old ATS on a TKE just doesn't look right. They will work, but it should considered a backup or for beater records.

I have both TKE and TKEa, and there is really no difference between the cartridge sounds that I can tell. They both have the AT house sound, and it's really the stylus mounted to them that makes the difference in either case.
Thanks for the response. I hear what you are saying about the styli. So, do you mind an opinion on what your favorite styli are with these carts, and how would you describe what you like about the sound. And how would you describe the AT 'house sound.' What I like about the TK7E especially, with the TKN2 stylus, is the warmth, coupled with good detail and imaging, a combo sometimes hard to find, in a cart that doesn't cost huge bucks. Does that also describe the 'house sound'? One thing I wanted to add. I listen mostly to vinyl, and have some late 60s stuff that can sound harsh on the high end. I feel it has as much to do with the production quality, as with the system it's being played on. I admittedly don't have much in the way of expensive carts, but I do have a nice collection of older Shures, including a v15 Type III and a few nice Stantons, as well. The TK7E really takes the harshness out of these discs, and makes them an easy pleasure to listen to. I just was listening to the Doors' 'Morrison Hotel', and it is a different album played with the TK7E and the TKN2.

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Re: Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

Post by jdjohn » 14 Jan 2020 05:15

I've got the TK5E w/TKN1 stylus, and the TK7SU w/TKN3 stylus. Looking at the chart below, I believe the carts for your TK7E and my TK7SU are the same, with only the stylus profiles being different.
SignetTK5&7.jpg
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Output, and coil inductance, are the same, with really only the diamond profiles being different. So, I suspect your TK7E w/TKN2 stylus sounds very similar to the TKN3 Shibata version. The Shibata is able to track CD-4/Quadraphonic records, but with normal stereo records, the difference is probably minimal. The contact points on both these styluses are smaller than typical ellipticals, and this allows them to retrieve more detail from the grooves, and also make more highly-modulated passages sound better. They both only have 2.7mV of output (rather low for MM), but with good, clean amplification, the detailed (yet delicate) signal retrieved by these nude diamonds on "micro-mass tapered" cantilevers sounds really good.

The AT house sound is usually described as brighter, or cooler. The frequency response curve is nice and flat, with a more gradual roll-off in the high frequencies. This allows more detail in the highs to come through, which I happen to enjoy. Not everyone likes it, often saying there is a lack of bass with AT carts, saying they are TOO bright, but I think it depends on the rest of the system AND personal preference. I actually think they sound fairly neutral when set up well.

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Re: Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

Post by Sunwire » 14 Jan 2020 06:16

I have a TK3E with the stylus from a TK5E. The TK3 and TK5 bodies are the same, so this is now a TK5E.
I sold stereos back when these were current models and Signet cartridges were some of my favorites. The TK7E was especially good, but I didn't buy anything that expensive at the time.
When I got back into LPs more seriously a few years back, I looked for a new stylus for my TK3E body and found they were rare and expensive. The TKxEa styli were much more plentiful and were still pretty inexpensive. So, I got a couple of the Signet and Audio Technica bodies that could accept the newer needles. Then I started collecting needles as they became more rare and expensive.
I now have enough to last the rest of my life, so I'm not really in need of any more.
I have everything from generic conicals to a few of the ATN155LC needles with beryllium cantilevers and line contact diamonds (close to, if not identical to a Shibata).
The generic conicals are not too great, but I enjoy all the actual Audio Technica styli, even the bottom of the line conical.
They have a very similar sound and even the ATN103 or ATN102P (p-mount version) conical is very good.
As you go up the line, the sound gets more detailed, but also smoother and more natural at each step.
I find the most important factor is whether the stylus is nude mounted or bonded. Nude mounted is significantly better.

The ATN155LC sounds as good as I require a cartridge to sound. I'm sure there are things that sound better, but I'm satisfied with it. I have found that when trying to evaluate its sound, I often just get distracted by the music and forget I'm supposed to be looking for flaws.

The fact that the TKxEa and the similar Audio Technica bodies will accept the latest needles for the VM series makes these the best investment in cartridge bodies on the market today.

I have not done a side-by-side comparison between the TK*E body and the TK*Ea, but my memory of the sound of both makes me think the differences are small or non-existent. Unfortunately, the TK*E bodies are pretty much obsolete now, because needles are so hard to find. You could get one re-tipped, I guess. But TK*Ea bodies are plentiful and not expensive, so I think it makes more sense to just get a different body that accepts the newer needles.

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Re: Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

Post by Sunwire » 14 Jan 2020 06:26

You could also do a stylus/cantilever transplant from a newer AT stylus assembly into the stylus carrier for your TK7.
The TK7 was the more advanced body and might be worth this trouble. There are a few threads on the VE forum about this procedure. I haven't tried it myself and have no plans to try.

If you decide to get a newer body, look carefully at the spec sheets. Although the needles can be interchanged between all of the TK*Ea and AT-120E families, as well as the newer VM500-700 bodies, there are some differences in the inductance of the bodies and the shielding between channels. Also, some bodies have more exotic copper wire used in the coils.

The VM500-700 needles are all lower compliance than the older TK*Ea and AT-120E families and they use higher tracking forces.

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Re: Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

Post by Dan_Seweri » 14 Jan 2020 09:40

Many people think that modern AT bodies sound too bright. For these people the TK*Ea family is a great choice: Modern ATN styluses fit these bodies and produce a full and warm sound which the TK*E (and AT13, AT14, AT15, AT 20) bodies were famous for. I believe that the TK*Ea come with the housing of the later bodies and the internals of the earlier series. IMHO this is a combination made in heaven.

I also did a stylus transplant for my old TK3E (as suggested by Sunwire) and can highly recommend it.

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Re: Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

Post by harrion » 14 Jan 2020 16:20

Dan_Seweri wrote:
14 Jan 2020 09:40
Many people think that modern AT bodies sound too bright. For these people the TK*Ea family is a great choice: Modern ATN styluses fit these bodies and produce a full and warm sound which the TK*E (and AT13, AT14, AT15, AT 20) bodies were famous for. I believe that the TK*Ea come with the housing of the later bodies and the internals of the earlier series. IMHO this is a combination made in heaven.

I also did a stylus transplant for my old TK3E (as suggested by Sunwire) and can highly recommend it.
Very interesting observations. And they make sense. I love the combination of warmth and detail of the TK7E. It's actually too warm for my Thorens TD160 table, which is a bass monster, in itself, so I have a TK5E on it with TKN1 stylus, which is brighter than the TK7E, and is just right. I have the TK7E on a Micro Seiki BL-51, a table, which is brighter than the Thorens, and it sounds terrific. I think what you've just explained accounts for the fact that the Ea series, with original styli, seem to be fetching more than twice the bucks of their counterpart E series, on ebay. Do you have any of the Ea series with modern ATN styli. Is this combo bright, or does it retain the warmth OK? Can you send me a link of the stylus transplant procedure?

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Re: Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

Post by dagfinn » 15 Jan 2020 01:51

jdjohn wrote:
14 Jan 2020 05:15
The Shibata is able to track CD-4/Quadraphonic records, but with normal stereo records, the difference is probably minimal. The contact points on both these styluses are smaller than typical ellipticals, and this allows them to retrieve more detail from the grooves, and also make more highly-modulated passages sound better.
I agree with much of what you say in your post, but this is not quite right. The .2x.7 has a very small contact surface, but the shibata/LC has a "long line" contact surface, and is a quite different from of the .2x.7. The shibata was partially developed to reduce both vinyl wear and stylus wear, in addition to picking up the HF CD4 signal. So it has at least twice the lifetime of a .2 elliptical, according to AT/Signet. itmakes less damage to vinyl, and is has a different sound signature, even if the .2x.7 is a very good sounding tip.

Signet made an exotic stylus selection like no other for the TK5E and TK7E, and some can be found NOS for prices up to £4-500 [-X . It's such a rip-off I won't link it.
signet_stylii.JPG
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Re: Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

Post by jdjohn » 15 Jan 2020 02:21

Okay, let me clarify my comment to say that the "width" of the Shibata's contact area is small and narrow.
stylus profiles.jpg
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The contact area of the Shibata/LC is indeed elongated as you inferred, which reduces specific-point pressure and wear, lengthening the useful life of the diamond.

Shibata and .2x.7 are both very nice, although the .2x.7 requires a little more exactness in setup IME. Micro-line is even more demanding...I haven't tried an SAS yet.


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Re: Signet TKE series vs. TKEa series differences, opinions?

Post by harrion » 15 Jan 2020 10:55

Thanks so much for the pictures Dan. Can you tell me how you removed the stylus without damaging it and when you replaced it did you use some kind of glue.

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