Wood and bouncy bits. Any Thorens wisdom to share?

chebby

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After another member mentioned Thorens this week, I have been spending a lot of time researching the lineage of AR, Thorens, Ariston, Linn, Fons, Systemdek, Manticore etc. (All - well, mostly all - wooden turntables with sprung chassis.)

Nice little trip down memory lane including one I owned for a few years in the 1980s, the Walker CJ55 (with an RB300 arm and a budget AT MC cartridge).

I remember my hifi dealer at the time (Rob Shingles of Chichester Hifi) commenting that the example I bought was the best finished one he'd seen (an untypically dark wood with high gloss finish) and was impressed with it's plumb vertical bounce when he set it up for me. (He probably said that to all of his customers :) )

At the time I couldn't afford a Linn Sondek or Ariston RD80 or even a Thorens TD 160 (the one I really wanted) so I bought the Walker CJ55 to give the whole suspended sub-chassis 'thing' a go with money I could afford. I remember it had a fabulous sound.

Well, as I said earlier, i've been researching and looking at old reviews and user manuals and company histories and ebay (current and completed listings) and brand specific blogs/fora etc.

More than once this week I have had to explain away big photos of turntables on my screen as 'research' for a WHF question.

Than the odd thing happened. My wife said... "Is that the one we had at the old flat? I liked that one." (She used to sit there, when pregnant, playing a lot of her old Bowie records on it when I was at work.)

It seems, reading between the lines, that the presence of a 'nice' record player would not be out of order (with her at least) but the problem is that I am the de-cluttering fiend and I wanted a minimal system and I like things how they are.

Soooo... given that it would please my wife to have a similar record player to the Walker CJ55 (and I always wanted a Thorens but never got around to it) I might start hunting down a good TD-160 or TD-166. We still have ninety-something LPs in superb condition. I must admit too that the Thorens TD160s do look the part and appeal to some part of me that is stuck in the 1970s. (Maybe i'll get a 1979s Ercol side-board and some flock wallpaper too!) At least I could look at it and enjoy it as an object.

Aristons, the Walker CJ55, Systemdeks or Manticores are not on the list due them being long defunct products from companies that don't exist, whereas zillions of Thorens TD 160/166s of all vintages (from the mid 1970s until now) are 'out there' and it is still possible to get spares and servicing.)

So please 'talk Thorens' to me. (I will not be getting into any modifications/rebuilds so will be looking at getting a 'stock' item in good/working condition from ebay or wherever).

Thanks.
 

CJSF

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chebby said:
After another member mentioned Thorens this week, I have been spending a lot of time researching the lineage of AR, Thorens, Ariston, Linn, Fons, Systemdek, Manticore etc. (All - well, mostly all - wooden turntables with sprung chassis.)

Nice little trip down memory lane including one I owned for a few years in the 1980s, the Walker CJ55 (with an RB300 arm and a budget AT MC cartridge).

I remember my hifi dealer at the time (Rob Shingles of Chichester Hifi) commenting that the example I bought was the best finished one he'd seen (an untypically dark wood with high gloss finish) and was impressed with it's plumb vertical bounce when he set it up for me. (He probably said that to all of his customers :) )

At the time I couldn't afford a Linn Sondek or Ariston RD80 or even a Thorens TD 160 (the one I really wanted) so I bought the Walker CJ55 to give the whole suspended sub-chassis 'thing' a go with money I could afford. I remember it had a fabulous sound.

Well, as I said earlier, i've been researching and looking at old reviews and user manuals and company histories and ebay (current and completed listings) and brand specific blogs/fora etc.

More than once this week I have had to explain away big photos of turntables on my screen as 'research' for a WHF question.

Than the odd thing happened. My wife said... "Is that the one we had at the old flat? I liked that one." (She used to sit there, when pregnant, playing a lot of her old Bowie records on it when I was at work.)

It seems, reading between the lines, that the presence of a 'nice' record player would not be out of order (with her at least) but the problem is that I am the de-cluttering fiend and I wanted a minimal system and I like things how they are.

Soooo... given that it would please my wife to have a similar record player to the Walker CJ55 (and I always wanted a Thorens but never got around to it) I might start hunting down a good TD-160 or TD-166. We still have ninety-something LPs in superb condition. I must admit too that the Thorens TD160s do look the part and appeal to some part of me that is stuck in the 1970s. (Maybe i'll get a 1979s Ercol side-board and some flock wallpaper too!) At least I could look at it and enjoy it as an object.

Aristons, the Walker CJ55, Systemdeks or Manticores are not on the list due them being long defunct products from companies that don't exist, whereas zillions of Thorens TD 160/166s of all vintages (from the mid 1970s until now) are 'out there' and it is still possible to get spares and servicing.)

So please 'talk Thorens' to me. (I will not be getting into any modifications/rebuilds so will be looking at getting a 'stock' item in good/working condition from ebay or wherever).

Thanks.

Warms the cockles of an old audiophiles heart, now 'ex' of course . . . Wish you every success in getting a good'un mate . . . :D

CJSF
 

altruistic.lemon

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The Thorens 150 is also a good one to look out for, as it has the same arm board as the Linn Sondek, plus, so it is alleged, many other similar parts so replacement springs etc are easy to find.

You need to watch the tonearm. There are many 150s and 160s that have the wrong headshell fitted to the tonearm. Basically, if it's a straight arm, you need the headshell with the kink in it, whereas if its the tonearm with the curve, you need the straight headshell. Details here http://www.theanalogdept.com/no_no_1.htm .

Another variant which might be worthwhile is the TD 145. This is a TD 160 with auto stop, and can sometimes be found more cheaply than the TD150/160s. More complex, but there's some specialist sites around that have the manuals.

Another thought is the AR turntable. They're pretty much bullet proof, have excellent support and spares are readily available. Many came with Linn arms, and here they're cheaper than in Oz or the US I gather - real sleepers, and, of course, it was AR together with Thorens who gave Ariston/Linn the idea;
 

MajorFubar

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Hunt down a well-maintained TD160...you won't regret it. Maybe my specs are a bit rose-tinted but I've never been tempted to change it. Just about the only thing I'd change is the arm (to a period SME 3009)
 

chebby

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A polished/varnished wood finish would be preferred. So I may need to restrict myself to which ever TD-160/166 versions had that as standard. (I don't want to get into the world of 'bespoke' or DIY plinths).

I am not fussed about the arm so long as (whatever it is) it's a) not an expensive one b) works properly and is not mis-used. I will be perfectly happy with the Thorens arms as I intend to use something like a Shure M97EX.

Thanks for the input so far.

TD-150s are 'out'. They don't have those cool teardrop/cam shaped controls :)
 

MajorFubar

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altruistic.lemon said:
What arm do you use?
The standard one, which I think is called TP16. It's not bad, but I have no doubt a really good aftermarket arm would improve things further.

I've always been surprised that in the 80s and 90s, TD160s and TD166s got 'so-so' reviews in WHF. I think the basic design is absolutely first class, being along the same lines as the fabled LP12, and they were always well made as far as I could tell.
 

matthewpiano

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Nice turntables. I had a TD150MkIIAB for quite a while and always regretted selling it. I used it with the standard/original Thorens arm and a Shure cartridge and it worked a treat. I sold it when I got carried away with the idea of a Michell TecnoDec, but never liked the Michell anywhere near as much. The TD160s are quite similar.

The dream, of course, would be to match one with an SME 3009, but the stock Thorens arms are actually better than some give them credit for. I had less issues with the stock arm on the TD150 than I had with the RB250 on the TecnoDec as a matter of fact.

I wouldn't hesitate to have a TD150 or TD160. Really nice, un-modified ones are where it is at for me and they do seem to come up occasionally. Of course, your conclusion in another thread that I have gone for a TD190-2 is absolutely correct, although this turntable is more Dual than traditional Thorens and I may well also seek out a 150 or 160 as a vintage deck for another room. Incidentally, I am also very interested in the Shure M97xE. Seems like a great option for tracking older and 2nd hand vinyl and I think, with its good compliance, it is a natural partner for less exotic arms like the older Thorens arms and the TP19-1 that will be on my new 'table.

Will be very interested to follow this Chebby and, in particular, how you feel about vinyl sound once it's all set up.
 

MajorFubar

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matthewpiano said:
Will be very interested to follow this Chebby and, in particular, how you feel about vinyl sound once it's all set up.
+1 on that.

I've always found the 'Thorens sound' to be very smooth and listenable, no matter what cart you use. 'Cuddly', if you will, but I don't mean it lacks detail or it's boring (though maybe it would be to some ears?). Then again, I've only ever heard my TD160 so that may not be the sonic trait of all the models.

One thing I can't stress enough though, suspended-subchassis turntables like the TD150/160/166 need a rock-solid support. If you've got concrete floors, you can probably get away with a well-made HiFi rack. If you've got beams and floorboards, you will probably need to wall-mount it to hear it at its best.
 

chebby

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It seems I have far more models/types to look out for on ebay than I anticipated...

TD-160 (S, Super, MkII, B, BC etc.), TD-165, TD166 (MkII and more up to MkVI I think), TD-145, TD-146, TD-147.

Apart from the TD-160, the TD-147 appeals to me (especially the wood finished ones) along with the TD166 MkII - MkVI.

Even within some versions/types there are choices of top-plate/control finishes. (Silver/black or black/silver).
 

MajorFubar

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Indeed there are many variations on the theme :)

I believe the TD-147 used a low-voltage DC motor which was fed from an outboard mains adaptor.

Forgot to mention, another thing to look out for on early TD160s is the hinges on the lid: very often they are cracked or smashed, which means the lid wll not stay upright. That's not the end of the world as most people seem to like to leave the lid off during play and put it back again afterwards.
 

altruistic.lemon

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The SP-25s were generally speaking truly terrible decks, unless you happened to be one of the few to get a good one, which even then meant just OK. A fiver is all you'd want to pay, at least that's what we'd offer in exchange in Oz.

The cheapest Duals were and are a lot better.
 
altruistic.lemon said:
The SP-25s were generally speaking truly terrible decks, unless you happened to be one of the few to get a good one, which even then meant just OK. A fiver is all you'd want to pay, at least that's what we'd offer in exchange in Oz.

The cheapest Duals were and are a lot better.

I had Garrards for over 20 years and they compare, SQ-wise, to any price compatible TTs of the day. Never had any problems with mine.

(Just a thought: Rename them Maggies and they'll be worth £10...:? )
 

MajorFubar

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If you're talking direct-drive/idler-drive then I feel the Goldring-Lenco GL75 needs a mention, even though the standard arm is not exactly world class, and by modern standards, it is a bit fiddly to set up. But I was of the impression that the o/p was mainly concerned with Thorens belt-drive :)
 
chebby said:
With respect (for Garrard's more illustrious transcriptor turntables) the SP25 MkVs were dogs. In the late 1970s (whilst studying A'Levels) I worked part-time and holidays in a hifi shop.

Almost as many SP25 MkVs were returned with faults as were bought! None of us wanted to sell them because of the inevitable work involved in processing the repairs. Older people with a mis-directed urge to 'Buy British' tended to buy Garrard for it's name.

If I wanted budget gear from that era I would choose a Sansui SR222 Mk2 or Dual CS505.

Going on my own experience - and friend's Garrards - that doesn't ring true. Certainly in my case the Garrards were consumate TT: Reliable, top-notch SQ, looks, the same with a couple of friends I influenced at the time.

If the TTs were returned in droves then perhaps the retailer may of been supplying dodgy batches. This happened with my Leema: Myself and a couple of others had earthing problems - these are the ones I know about.

The same can be said about cars: "Don't buy Alfas..." has been the cry before purchasing. In the four years of owning the 156 I've not had a single problem mechanically. Other dodgy cars I've owned and not had a sniff of a problem. Could I be lying? well, no... no reason to big up iffy brands. Conincidence? possible, but this has happened too often...

If you don't like Garrard that's fine, but if you can get hold of a good condition example for peanuts then test your own apathy...
smiley-smile.gif
 

altruistic.lemon

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PP, you're flying in the face of the evidence. Really, the SP25 was a budget deck that had average specifications but lots of reliability issues. It wasn't competitive with other budget decks at the time and quickly gained a poor reputation.
 

chebby

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plastic penguin said:
If you don't like Garrard that's fine, but if you can get hold of a good condition example for peanuts then test your own apathy...
smiley-smile.gif

Apathy suggests I don't care.

You must have meant 'antipathy' because I did have an aversion to the SP25 MkV.

I do/did actually care that such a great name in British audio history went into terminal decline during the 1960s and 1970s. (My paternal grandmother worked at the Garrard plant in Swindon during World War 2 so there was a family connection albeit for a few years.)
 
altruistic.lemon said:
PP, you're flying in the face of the evidence. Really, the SP25 was a budget deck that had average specifications but lots of reliability issues. It wasn't competitive with other budget decks at the time and quickly gained a poor reputation.

What (European) evidence do you have? As I've mentioned before having owned the TTs for over 20 years your claims are bound in chip wrappers. Have you ever owned one? doubtful.

One of the finest budget tuners, for example, the Denon TU-260L are now being sold in droves for giveaway money. That's just one of many examples of good quality products that're not worth a bean now.
 

jerry klinger

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My experiences for what it's worth.

The 150/II was the first serious deck I owned (unless you count a (now collectors') Garrard 4HF). Sounded great in the 70s but you'd need to do serious work to get a decent sound from one now. The 124 remains a flawed masterpiece, but not what you're after. The 125 I thought was dull and undynamic. The 160s are reliable and better and the 147 has been mentioned. I also had an Ariston RD11 Superieur which was lovely but fell apart internally!

If I were you - just buy a new Rega. State of the art sound, VFM, reliable, serviceable, great design, no setting up required.
 

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