Thorens TD160 Super Heirloom Restoration
Jan 17, 2010 at 8:20 PM Post #31 of 48

Redcarmoose

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 11, 2008
Posts
22,577
Likes
20,138
Location
.
Yes, Thorens Dept. Have fun, take note there about the motor drive spindal not having a wobble. Get your table level and set up right. Make sure your ground wire is good. I never did this with mine, but after all I know now, I wish I would have oiled the platter bearings. If I still had a 160 I would have looked at a re-cable too. Wait till you get it half way dialed-in! They are so cool. I loved mine and maybe sold it sooner than I should have.
 
Jan 18, 2010 at 12:57 AM Post #32 of 48

betweentheears

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 15, 2009
Posts
264
Likes
13
I still have mine. In the box . 35 yrs later.
 
Jan 18, 2010 at 1:21 PM Post #34 of 48

memepool

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 24, 2004
Posts
2,689
Likes
13
Quote:

Originally Posted by Redcarmoose /img/forum/go_quote.gif
@ ssportclay.............The price of $1,050.00 for Origin Live Silver tonearm makes your rig pretty nice! So your stock 1200 sounded better than the Thorens before the new arm? Wow. Both of these turntables have very distinctive sounds. There must be a group of people who love the 1200 sound. I can say I never tweaked any of my 1200s and have never had the chance to hear one. I did always like the tank build they had. They are trying to de-rumble the direct drive with all that mass. My only other issue here is wondering after you put all that money into a $500.00 table, upgrade arm $1050.00 and power supply $250.00 we are now at the price of a VPI Scout. Have you heard a VPI Scout for $1800.00?


It is really too bad the Thorens are not as good as they used to be, I would own a new one.



It's a little misleading to think of these issues completely in terms of price as the turntable market has changed completely in the interim for starters. You need a little historical perspective.

The Technics SL1200 is practically the same price today that it was in the 1970s when it came out which is amazing when you consider that back then it was around the same price as a Linn Sondek and between two to three times the price of a Thorens TD160.

At this time it was a scaled down domestically acceptable version of the Technics professional decks like the SP10 which were about four times the price of a Linn but were still cheap enough to be snapped up by the dozen by every broadcaster in the world, being themselves about a quater of the price of an EMT professional turntable.

You can read more about this here TECHNICS SP-10 mk2/MkIII Direct Drive DD Professional Studio Turntables and there are also pages on Thorens seminal TD124 and links to the pages of Thorens / EMT collector Stefano Pasini.

Thorens, actually invented direct drive back in the 1920s but couldn't make it work at the time and dropped it in favour of idler drive and later also pioneered belt drive. Thorens or ( else AR) also invented the supended subchassis, a design later copied by Ariston and Linn amongst others.

Thorens went bankrupt in the 1990s after unsuccessfully entering the CD market too late.

Linn survived by a clever combination of aggressive marketing of their record player and waiting until CD technology was "good enough" (or perhaps a cynic might say cheap enough to implement) for a small specialist Scottish Hi-Fi company. They almost bankrupted themselves making their own transport mechanism and have now declared CD redundant technology.

But Linn have also quietly continued to make their record player and added ever more expensive "updates" over the years until it now costs around 10x what it did back in the late '70s for the basic model without a tonearm.

VPI is a relatively young company without any of this engineering heritage so in this sense even comparing them to the likes of Technics or Thorens is a joke.

However not to denigrate VPI in any way they were amongst a select group who had the foresight to see that LPs wouldn't die and that there would always be a niche market of well-healed audiophiles who could support a specialist turntable market at the kind of price premiums necessary for small scale manufacture of almost bespoke items. They have been very successful and spawned a legion of bandwaggoners.

Companies like these have helped keep the market for vinyl alive at the periphery selling a few thousand units anually if they are lucky and shrewd enough, but in actual fact it was the DJ market for 12" records and Technics SL1200s which sold in the millions of units alowing prices to remain more affordable which saved vinyl.

Thorens are now under new ownership and trading on their reputation by putting their name to cheaper OEM tables by Dual, Pro-Ject and Clearaudio as well as happily once again selling the TD-160 now in 'HD' guise. But it's almost the cost of a Linn LP12 these days.

I've also had both 1200s and several Thorens including the TD160BC with an SME3009S2 arm. I also currently have Vestax direct drives upgraded with a Rega RB250 arm and a Thorens TD125MkII with an upgraded Origin Live 1 arm.

In my experience the main weakness of any turntable made prior to the mid '80s is generally the tonearm fitted, as this was the great watershed in tonearm design begun by Rega and SME. To my ear the earlier SME 3009 / Series 2 and Series 3 are just not in the same league as the Series IV and V, neither of which I can afford currently but the Rega derived designs are the next best thing.

There is some good info on upgrading the Thorens here

HI-FI WORLD - OLDE WORLDE - THORENS TD150/160 TURNTABLE

and the Technics here

Technics SL1200 SL1210 -* SL-1210 SL1200* SP-25 SP25 modifications

but suffice to say although the TD160 restoration in this thread is lovely to look at, it's not going to hold a candle sonically to the kind of Technics upgrades Ssportclay has done in my experience and is therefore a bit of a waste of money.

Speaking of tonearms, and having about 8 vintage ones currently including examples by Linn and Ortofon; rewiring old fashioned tonearms will yield results for sure but is really only worth doing if you can do it yourself as the cost of a new Rega RB250/1 or Jelco 250ST (if you don't like the look of the Rega for whatever reason) is generally the same or lower than getting it done professionally and the results are better.
 
Jan 19, 2010 at 3:28 AM Post #35 of 48

Redcarmoose

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 11, 2008
Posts
22,577
Likes
20,138
Location
.
I am no turntable history expert but come from a record collector point of view and have an ear for music. My record collection has been growing from 1976 till the present day. I have stated here that in thought it would be cool to have a turntable showdown between these two turntables. Both are everywhere, both are mid entry level. I have been hearing a profound improvement in the sound of a of turntable at the front end of a friends rig the last two months. We all know a well set-up turntable is the difference between night and day as far as sound goes. The tweeks are more important to optimal sound and a very nice back-end is needed to understand the tweeks. Maybe with a higher end system the changes are more noticeable. My opinions here are mine alone and stem from an upgrade path normal for a middle-class audiophile. When I purchased my 1200 it was a lot of money for me and I did hear a sound improvement. When I was able to get the Thorens up and running it was another improvement. You are right as there may have been a way to make the Technics even sound better than the Thorens. My experience was all I had to go by. I may have an ear for the big dark muddy color the Thorens adds to records. We all know that it is not real and just an artifact of how that turntable does its job. Funny though you do not see anyone trying to reduce the color and go for a more real sound. At least I have not read about people doing that at Thorens Dept. It may be a fact that there are a group of folks that like the TD 160 signature sound and another that are into the 1200 sound.

All of us in our own little way are going threw a trial and error period which at times travels over years of time and is dependent upon the synergy of the whole rest of the system. I do not have the best system in the world and have been able to scrape what I have after all the bills are paid first. Very few of us have the income to try everything.

Memepool you have all the equipment for the very same reason as a tool to get as close to the music as you can. No one would have that many arms unless they were on a mission to get the most out of their turntable investment.

So maybe doing a comparison of the 1200 moded to the Thorens with the lipstick to the VPI is a joke. There may be better values out there every day that make purchases that people made many years ago a different value. I have seen cables that sold for 2K then sell for $500.00, that is our world. We take chances and sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. The best parts happen when we make success out of a chance. The best part is when we read about things that worked for others then try them ourselves and they fit right into our system and create a major improvement in sound quality.

My biggest improvements in my system have been by taking direction. Even after being involved in music for all these years I am smart enough to know there are people out there who have been in my shoes and have the solution I need for the sound I am trying to get. All I was saying here is I would put $1800.00 into a VPI or better yet $1000.00 into a used one before I would spend $2000.00 for a 1200 with a new arm and power regulator for the motor. My years I have spent tweeking my rig have let me arrive at this development. I may be totally wrong. We do need to have side by side tests. I have an open mind, so let the best turntable win! We would also have good luck finding a system that would be fair to all turntables. I just post this writing to help people who are about to go and do what I did. Maybe my history of purchases can streamline a new Head-fis quest into vinyl.
 
Jan 19, 2010 at 6:18 PM Post #36 of 48

memepool

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 24, 2004
Posts
2,689
Likes
13
Quote:

Originally Posted by Redcarmoose /img/forum/go_quote.gif
For my own personal reasons upgrading a 1200 seems like gold finishing a turd!


Sorry but I took exception to this statement, as it's completely unfounded and misleading, although reading the rest of the thread you do seem to have moderated the view somewhat.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Redcarmoose /img/forum/go_quote.gif
All of us in our own little way are going threw a trial and error period which at times travels over years of time and is dependent upon the synergy of the whole rest of the system. I do not have the best system in the world and have been able to scrape what I have after all the bills are paid first. Very few of us have the income to try everything.

...All I was saying here is I would put $1800.00 into a VPI or better yet $1000.00 into a used one before I would spend $2000.00 for a 1200 with a new arm and power regulator for the motor.




Yes quite, therefore I couldn't understand this attack on the Technics as it's one of the great bargains of Hi-Fi, as I say above for the fact that due to it's massive sales it's completely beat off inflation. It's a left over from the halcyon days of vinyl and obviously there have been advances since so it can be upgraded, the main weakness being the arm as it is on the vast majority of pre '80s decks.

If you can't be bothered to upgrade an old deck and have the money to go straight for VPI then that's all well and good but it doesn't follow to say that the VPI is so much better than the stock Technics just because it costs 3 or 4 times more, as the main difference is the tonearm and this needn't cost more than a few hundred bucks to upgrade.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Redcarmoose /img/forum/go_quote.gif
. It may be a fact that there are a group of folks that like the TD 160 signature sound and another that are into the 1200 sound.



The TD160 is pretty flexible, will sound different with different arms and plinth arrangements and was made for such a long time and in so many varients that some will obviously be better than others.

The TD160 Super for eg. was around the last of the line and came with an OEM Rega tonearm so it's going to sound completely different to a mk 1 which is what the one in the beginning of the thread looks like to me. The stock Thorens tonearms weren't all that great and the classic match among Thorens afficionados is generally an SME 3009.

I had a TD160BC which I tried with SME3009S2 and a Series III, and Linn LVV and LVX. I also got a Linn Valhalla board to upgrade the power supply but the thing I didn't like was I think, down to the suspension being too bouncy and stock plinth being too light which gave it a very excitable sound where everything has a sort of loose live feel. This was ok on classical recordings and jazz particularly on live drumming where it added a toe tapping rhythmical drive, but it tended to try and make electronic programmed drums sound too loose and this just didn't sound right at all.

I can see how such a colouration would be very appealing if you only listened to certain types of music recorded prior to the '80s but I wanted something more neutral so I upgraded to a TD125 which is much more solid with a 1/4" steel top plate and also has a far less springy suspension, so can better accomodate a modern arm like the OL.

Comparing a direct drive (Vestax) to a reasonably high end belt drive like the TD125, where both are fitted with almost the same Rega tonearm and cartridge is enlightening. The direct drive has a lot more control and speed stability which gives a very realistic decay on piano for example whereas the belt drive sounds a little vague but not unpleasantly so.

To get a belt drive to have this kind of solidity you really need to have a massively heavy structure which then won't work so well on a suspended subchassis so isn't going to be suitable in many domestic environments.

This is the other main problem with the TD-160 in stock form, the fact that it's plinth is a cheap plywood box in most cases with a flimsy baseboard. This imparts an insubstantial sound not much better than a Dual CS-505. The Thorens main bearing is capable of much better quality than this and given a decently massier plinth like the one in the picture at the top will elevate it into the same class as the VPI Scout which is just better made.

Putting a more modern tonearm on it, even a JMW-9T like on the VPI which would work very well, would make it a lot harder to tell it apart from a Scout.
Putting the JMW-9T on a Technics would yield similar results although neither Thorens or VPI would be able to compete with the speed stability of the SL1200. But as I said you don't need to pay this much for a tonearm to radically improve on a '60s or '70s design, when a Rega one is a few hundred bucks.
 
Jan 19, 2010 at 10:22 PM Post #38 of 48

ssportclay

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 27, 2003
Posts
1,335
Likes
11
Quote:

Originally Posted by n3rdling /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Gorgeous table!


I have to agree that the workmanship looks excellent but the original TP16 tonearm is a bit of a looser. The Technics 1200 MK2 will have more of a high quality CD player sound to it while the original Thorens TD-160 will have more of a boomy juke box sound mainly due to the old tonearm. I own both tables and even though the Thorens features excellent platter bearings, the Technics wins the sound quality shootout hands down and I don't think the pretty Thorens on the first post can beat a stock Technics without an expensive tonearm upgrade.
 
Jan 20, 2010 at 12:11 AM Post #39 of 48

Redcarmoose

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 11, 2008
Posts
22,577
Likes
20,138
Location
.
Wow, what a wealth of information here. That is what this place is about. The 1200s are around and can be purchased many times from a place like Craigs list. It is nice to know if we ever need a turntable they are around for purchase and possible upgrade to the levels we expect around here.
 
Jan 20, 2010 at 12:57 AM Post #40 of 48

ssportclay

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 27, 2003
Posts
1,335
Likes
11
Quote:

Originally Posted by Redcarmoose /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Wow, what a wealth of information here. That is what this place is about. The 1200s are around and can be purchased many times from a place like Craigs list. It is nice to know if we ever need a turntable they are around for purchase and possible upgrade to the levels we expect around here.


I am not suggesting that the Technics 1200MK2 is perfect but it is a very solid foundation to start and is very heavily supported. Check out audiomods.com for the upgraded Rega 250/251 tonearm and mounting plate for the Technics. I have not heard this tonearm but I would give this unit a very serious look. This may be the most extensive upgrade available for a very reasonable price given the extreme work involved. World class bearings are also just now becoming available.
 
Feb 5, 2010 at 5:41 AM Post #41 of 48

tubes

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
Posts
590
Likes
16
If I've learned anything after being involved in this hobby for as long as I have is that opinions can vary widely especially when comparing analog equipment. I have a 1200 MKII which is stock except for an upgraded headshell and just found a good deal on a clean Thorens TD-160. I have a Denon Dl-160 in the 1200 and Dl-110 in the thorens, gave thorens a good clean up, adjusted the loose arm bearings and relubed the platter bearing. The sound I'm getting from the 160 is really good and not at all like a "boomy jukebox". I compared it to the 1200 and initially the 1200 sounds better but it becomes very clear that 1200 lacks depth of stage and layering like the 160 does.

This comparison is not exactly scientific but it has motivated me to take the 160 further along with some upgrades. I find myself listening to whole album sides with the 160 and getting pulled into the music, something I can't for other tables I've owned.
 
Feb 5, 2010 at 12:58 PM Post #42 of 48

memepool

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 24, 2004
Posts
2,689
Likes
13
Quote:

Originally Posted by tubes /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I have a 1200 MKII which is stock except for an upgraded headshell and just found a good deal on a clean Thorens TD-160. I have a Denon Dl-160 in the 1200 and Dl-110 in the thorens, gave thorens a good clean up


Bottom line is that either of these decks are pretty capable which is why they are classics, but won't compete with a more modern design like a VPI in stock form.

Both can be extensively upgraded however so they will meet or exceed performance of the "audiophile" decks of today and the first thing to be addressed on either is the vintage tonearm, as this is the area where most development has occured since the 1970s.

The budget arm upgrade of choice is a Rega RB250 or varient, born out by the fact this is what was fitted to the '80s Thorens TD160 Super, and it's what's fitted to the THORENS® - TD 160 HD which you buy again today from the resurrected Thorens marque ...
 
Feb 5, 2010 at 3:32 PM Post #43 of 48

tubes

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
Posts
590
Likes
16
Quote:

Originally Posted by memepool /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The budget arm upgrade of choice is a Rega RB250 or varient, born out by the fact this is what was fitted to the '80s Thorens TD160 Super, and it's what's fitted to the THORENS® - TD 160 HD which you buy again today from the resurrected Thorens marque ...


The concensus by people with far more experience than I have with the Thorens TD-160 is that the Rega never worked on this table or the Linn LP-12 which is also a suspended table. Arms that do supposedly work very well with the 160 are the Linn Basik, Akito etc..
 
Feb 5, 2010 at 6:37 PM Post #44 of 48

memepool

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 24, 2004
Posts
2,689
Likes
13
Quote:

Originally Posted by tubes /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The concensus by people with far more experience than I have with the Thorens TD-160 is that the Rega never worked on this table or the Linn LP-12 which is also a suspended table. Arms that do supposedly work very well with the 160 are the Linn Basik, Akito etc..


Simple answer there is it depends on which Thorens TD160 / Linn Sondek you are talking about as there have been many iterations since the 1970s.

As mentioned above Thorens themselves have fitted their own OEM Rega RB250 called I think the TP250, on most versions of the TD160 since the Super back in the mid '80s.

I assume to facilitate this they have updated the suspension, as Linn did with the Trampolin, to support heavier arms like the Ittok and later Ekos, and have done again recently with the Keel upgrade.

There were also many LP12 users in the early '80s who maintained the Ittok was too physically heavy for the then Sondek suspension and opted for arms like the Syrinx instead presumably prompting Linn to do this.

Having tried the Linn Basik LVV and LVX arms on my own TD160BC, I agree that these are a great match along with perhaps the Logic Datum / Syrinx Leone but these are much rarer. I preferred these to the SME 3009S2 (normally considered THE classic match ) and SME Series III. The problem is that these arms arne't easily available outside the UK so are a lot more expensive and are also pretty old, so will often need bearings realigned which isn't such an easy job.

The best modern equivalents would be the Jelco 250ST or else perhaps the Pro-Ject Evolution 9 which Linn these days fit in as their basic option as the Akito is now not at a "basik" price level...
tongue.gif


It is perfectly possible to fit a Rega RB250 to the older TD-160s with the appropriate armboard and balance it out, although it will compress the right hand spring a lot more than the others obviously and this will change the sound. The simple answer is to get stiffer springs but of course this will change the Q of the suspension as well. At the end of the day as with the early '80s LP12 the question is rather is the bigger stiffer arm on balance more of a sonic benefit than the compression and loss of bounciness in the suspension.

Personally I gave up experimenting with the TD160 in favour of a TD125 which has a much stronger suspension and is happy with heavier tonearms including the Origin Live 1 (another RB250 clone) which is what I currently have fitted.
 
Feb 5, 2010 at 9:49 PM Post #45 of 48

ssportclay

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 27, 2003
Posts
1,335
Likes
11
Quote:

Originally Posted by tubes /img/forum/go_quote.gif
If I've learned anything after being involved in this hobby for as long as I have is that opinions can vary widely especially when comparing analog equipment. I have a 1200 MKII which is stock except for an upgraded headshell and just found a good deal on a clean Thorens TD-160. I have a Denon Dl-160 in the 1200 and Dl-110 in the thorens, gave thorens a good clean up, adjusted the loose arm bearings and relubed the platter bearing. The sound I'm getting from the 160 is really good and not at all like a "boomy jukebox". I compared it to the 1200 and initially the 1200 sounds better but it becomes very clear that 1200 lacks depth of stage and layering like the 160 does.

This comparison is not exactly scientific but it has motivated me to take the 160 further along with some upgrades. I find myself listening to whole album sides with the 160 and getting pulled into the music, something I can't for other tables I've owned.



The boomy jukebox like sound I was referring to was experienced with the original TP16 tonearm. I would not be surprised if the later tonearms offered by Thorens were quite a bit better and some of this experience may be due to the Shure M97xE. In any case, my upgraded Technics 1200 MK2 outclasses my stock original Thorens TD-160 to such a degree that no controversy exists as to which is the better turntable at least in my own mind. It is not at all a close call.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top