New Thorens TD124DD

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user510
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Re: New Thorens TD124DD

Post by user510 » 09 Dec 2019 20:02

One thing is clear. The Thorens of today bears only slight resemblance to the Thorens we knew from the 1980's thru 1950's. One glaring difference is that Thorens has no manufacturing facility of their own. They hire designers, then hire a factory, perhaps the old Dual factory in Germany, or the Project facility in the Czech Republic, or perhaps unknown to us factories in China. I suspect that for its upper end products Acoustic Signature in Germany does get involved.

This is one of the reasons I put my focus on the Thorens of the past and await for today's Thorens to impress me with something of equal value to their 20th century legacy products. Only a few models so far get my attention on that level. (TD550 for example)

-Steve

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Re: New Thorens TD124DD

Post by raphaelmabo » 09 Dec 2019 20:30

user510 wrote:
09 Dec 2019 20:02
One thing is clear. The Thorens of today bears only slight resemblance to the Thorens we knew from the 1980's thru 1950's. One glaring difference is that Thorens has no manufacturing facility of their own.
I don't see the problem with that.
They hire designers, then hire a factory, perhaps the old Dual factory in Germany, or the Project facility in the Czech Republic, or perhaps unknown to us factories in China. I suspect that for its upper end products Acoustic Signature in Germany does get involved.
Their core R&D team is industrial designer Helmut Thiele and engineer Walther Fuchs, they have been with Thorens for many years.
You can find information about Helmut Thiele here: http://www.dwx-thiele.de
And here we have Walter Fuchs: https://www.volpe.at

They don't hire any factory in China, none of their products are made in China. The TD201, 202 and 402 are made in Taiwan to Thorens specifications. Not China. (I know this because I've asked Thorens).

The Fehrenbacher factory in Black Forest, Germany makes products for Dual, Perpetuum-Ebner and Thorens. The Thorens products are designed and engineered by Thorens, like the TD309 for example. It's a Thorens original design using custom made parts for Thorens. The Fehrenbacher factory is the main production plant for Thorens turntables.

The Pro-Ject factory made the TD295, and the 295 was Thorens own design. It started out as the TD280 in the late 1980's, then it developed into the TD290 which was a TD280 with bigger feets and with a tonearm made by Pro-ject (a custom version for Thorens of the Pro-Ject 9 tonearm, the Thorens version had a higher mass). The TD290 got a two-plinth construction and was renamed the TD295, it also got a new platter. The motor and belt drive was still same as before and uses Thorens original belt with the same dimensions as the TD160 and 166. The TD295 is discontinued, it's replaced by the new TD402. The Pro-Ject factory does not make any products for Thorens today.

Acoustic Signature makes parts for the acrylic series (the TD2015-2035) and the TD550. Motor, speed control, belt drive and platter comes from AS. The plinth and the rest is Thorens design and Thorens own tonearms. They used to do also the TD350 but this has been discontinued because it has been replaced by the new TD1600/TD1601.

The Thorens tonearms TP92, 90 and 82 used to be handmade by a small workshop in Switzerland, but production has moved to Germany.

Thorens has *seven* high end turntables (over 2 000 euro turntables) in their current lineup. That's quite special.
Last edited by raphaelmabo on 09 Dec 2019 21:03, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: New Thorens TD124DD

Post by user510 » 09 Dec 2019 20:51

Two more things:
1) there is no recognizable connection, design-wise or in terms of manufacturing practice, between the old Thorens company and the new one.
2) There is no one by the name of Thorens that works at Thorens anymore.

It's a different company with a different sense of design and aesthetic to the old one. What they produce now has yet to exemplify the same sense of lasting endurance and reliability that the legacy products have already proven.

Of course I exhibit a strong bias in favor of the old and against the new...but not without reason. From the outset with their acrylic models, the "new" Thorens has demonstrated a strong difference between itself and the company that existed in the previous century. I wanted to be supportive at the beginning, but now more than a decade later, I still wonder who they are.

As a design firm, what you produce defines who you are. With this new Thorens it remains hard to figure who they are. Perhaps they don't know who they are.

m2c, fwiw, etc.

-Steve

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Re: New Thorens TD124DD

Post by raphaelmabo » 09 Dec 2019 21:22

user510 wrote:
09 Dec 2019 20:51
1) there is no recognizable connection, design-wise or in terms of manufacturing practice, between the old Thorens company and the new one.
The old Thorens company made turntables with different designs, just compare the TD150 with the TD316, they certainly looks quite different from each other. And your TD124 looks quite different from my TD280 från 1988. I don't see the point in making the same designs over and over again. Thorens has never been like Linn that produced the same turntable. Thorens came out with many new turntables in the 70's and 80's and they are still doing it.
2) There is no one by the name of Thorens that works at Thorens anymore.
So? Why would this be a problem?
It's a different company with a different sense of design and aesthetic to the old one.
Today's Thorens started as Thorens Export - the export and distribution part of the old Thorens company, it was the remaining part of the company when it went bankrupt in the late 90's. Heinz Rohrer was the CEO of Thorens Export, and he continued the Thorens products and he also designed new ones.

Design moves forward, I don't see why Thorens must make products with the same design for decades. That would just be boring.
From the outset with their acrylic models, the "new" Thorens has demonstrated a strong difference between itself and the company that existed in the previous century. I wanted to be supportive at the beginning, but now more than a decade later, I still wonder who they are.
I have no problem seeing who they are - a producer of great turntables from entry level to high-end models.
There are some things that all Thorens products have: Electronic speed control, for example. All Thorens has this.
As a design firm, what you produce defines who you are. With this new Thorens it remains hard to figure who they are. Perhaps they don't know who they are.
I disagree with that view, because I have no problem seeing what Thorens are. A producer of fine turntables with a special Thorens quality to the sound. All their turntables are "tuned" to Thorens sound. A sound that's more laidback than Rega with better 3D and imaging.

The lower end models does not have suspension, because it's too expensive. This is not new to Thorens. My TD280 from 1988 does not have suspension.

Thorens has some retro-looking products in their lineup, such as the TD907 and the new 1600/1601 but also the 402.
The acrylic series are design and lifestyle products, I like them very much. And they have gorgeous sound.

The 309, 206/209 and 203 was designed out from a blank paper. The design was determined by studies to lower vibration and resonances. The design and construction principles was choosen from the idea to create the best low distorsion and vibration free sound for the money. The suspension in the 309 is a new idea.

Thorens has changed designs before. Just look at when the TD160/166 was replaced by the 3xx series in the 1980's. This was a split-plinth design with a totally different suspension system. Thorens moves on.

Gunter Kürten has made the 402 and 1600/1601 because users asked for a more traditional Thorens design. It's retro-looking models for those that likes to be nostalgic.

But I prefer the TD309 and it's younger siblings, I'm not into retro looking models. I prefer new and fresh designs. Thorens has a big lineup so they have a turntable for everyone. I have no problem with a Thorens that makes turntables with different designs. They are still Thorens turntables.

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Re: New Thorens TD124DD

Post by user510 » 09 Dec 2019 22:27

You make good solid points in favor of this "new" Thorens company. However in regard to comparisons between the TD150 and its successors (TD16x) against the 1980's designs like the TD3xx models there was still some sense of what makes a Thorens within these new models. And the TD2001/3001/Ambiance were as a continuation of that design concept reaching to further this essential design. All of those featured leaf spring suspensions. The TD2001, I believe in its 2nd iteration utilized a 24 pole motor compared to the previous 16 pole designs. In 1989 the TP90 tonearm was introduced. And this was recognized as the first really good tonearm produced by Thorens...ever.

So, yes, the "old" Thorens did continue to develop and reach to improve its product at its various price points. I do believe that the TD180, the TD280 and TD295 models were not produced by Thorens at all. Rather, they came out of that old Dual factory in Germany and were offered as less expensive models to broaden the companies offerings in terms of price. I have a company brochure from 1995 showing these models.

Other notes: the TD126 continued in production well into the 1990's as a mk IV. So did the TD160 as a Td160S mkIV. (with auto arm/lift at end of record function)

Another factor in determining the essential character of a company is not only what they produce, but how well the product sells. Here in this new version of itself we see a company searching for a product that will sell as well as did those legacy products. Of course, that older company fell upon hard times in the 1990's and perhaps lost site of who they were. The market had largely gone digital. But has this new Thorens actually restored the firm to its former glory...? I doubt that such a goal is even possible in today's market. But if there was some uniform sense of product excellence at all price points wouldn't that be being discussed in forums like this?

I also wonder if using the TD124 chassis shape to house a direct drive transport is a good idea at all. At first the idea seems novel and interesting, but ..... Perhaps a direct drive TT really needs a different chassis, like what they are already doing. If to use the Td124 chassis shape again, should it not be another idler drive?... I think so. But that is just me. m2c, fwiw, etc....

-Steve

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Re: New Thorens TD124DD

Post by raphaelmabo » 10 Dec 2019 15:12

user510 wrote:
09 Dec 2019 22:27
However in regard to comparisons between the TD150 and its successors (TD16x) against the 1980's designs like the TD3xx models there was still some sense of what makes a Thorens within these new models. And the TD2001/3001/Ambiance were as a continuation of that design concept reaching to further this essential design. All of those featured leaf spring suspensions. The TD2001, I believe in its 2nd iteration utilized a 24 pole motor compared to the previous 16 pole designs. In 1989 the TP90 tonearm was introduced. And this was recognized as the first really good tonearm produced by Thorens...ever.
If we compare today's high-end models from Thorens with the older ones, we doo see that they shares many similarities. Today's TD550, 350 (just recently discontinued), 1600/1601 (new) and the 907 - all has a big square plinth with a suspended sub-chassi inside, and a thick aluminium platter, and a electronic speed control on the left side of the platter. There are some minor differences, like the 550/350 has an outer belt around the platter and the others has a sub platter under the main platter. But they are all variations on the same theme of a square plinth turntable with a suspended sub chassi and speed control.

The new 1600/1601 looks very interesting if one likes retro-looking models. It's a new take on the TD160 but with a bigger plinth and modern suspension etc etc.

Sure, the Acrylic series are different - they are not part of the "classic line", they're high-end lifestyle products. But why not? :)

Thorens once made the Thorens concrete concept, a very different looking turntable, very different to anything that Thorens had produced. It seems not to have entered production, I have only seen images of the prototype. A concrete player. High mass plinth. Very odd.
I do believe that the TD180, the TD280 and TD295 models were not produced by Thorens at all. Rather, they came out of that old Dual factory in Germany and were offered as less expensive models to broaden the companies offerings in terms of price. I have a company brochure from 1995 showing these models.
My TD280 MkII was made in 1988 in the Thorens factory in Germany, not by Fehrenbacher ("old Dual factory"). Fehrenbacher bought the Dual factory in Germany 1993. The production of the low-priced Thorens record players actually starts up in Lodz, Poland in 1993. Yes, a Thorens factory in Poland. Not Fehrenbacher. Fehrenbacher was not involved with the 280, 180 and 290. The later versions of the 295 was made by Pro-Ject in the Czech republic, to Thorens specifications. The TD190 was the first Thorens model made by Fehrenbacher.

When Thorens went bankcrupt in the late 1990's, all their own factories were shut down, including the Polish one. When Heinz Rohrer CEO of Thorens Export in Switzerland, started to producing turntables again for Thorens, he turned to Fehrenbacher for most of the models, starting with Thorens versions of Duals automatic players. Continuing and expanding the success of the TD190.

There is still a connection to Poland now, since Acoustic Signature has manufacturing in Poland and they are involved with the 550 and the acrylic series for Thorens.
Another factor in determining the essential character of a company is not only what they produce, but how well the product sells. Here in this new version of itself we see a company searching for a product that will sell as well as did those legacy products.
Thorens once was a company producing and selling 100 000 of turntables each year. That market does not exist anymore. Today, both Pro-Ject and Rega are bigger producers and sells more turntables than Thorens. Thorens makes products that are different to Rega and Pro-Ject. While Rega and Pro-Ject has full manual turntables with speed change by manually moving the belt, all Thorens - even the entry models - has electronic speed control and a switch for selecting speed. Thorens also offers automatics and semi-automatics, like in the old days.
But if there was some uniform sense of product excellence at all price points wouldn't that be being discussed in forums like this?
I see many older Thorens users that don't believe in Thorens new products and think that the vintage players are better. Especially in this forum. ;) It's common here that when someone asks for advice on a new turntable, there's some here that enters the discussion with "You should go vintage, a 70's player is better". This is typical for this forum.

There is one major problem to get wide acceptance here: It's not possible to make a modern version of TD150/160 thing under 2 000 euro. Prices for materials like the plinth, has gone up since the 1970's, and production numbers are much lover today. So Thorens high-end retro looking models are out of reach for many.

The TD309 was conceived as a mid-market player, a player in the 1 000 - 2 000 euro market. To meet that price point, you had to think different, you had to come up with a new design. And they did. The TD309 was released in 2010 and has become a classic. It has got great reviews in magazines, but there are those that don't like the design, that it looks too much Art Deco or modern. It is a departure from the square thick wooden boxes of the 70's with aluminum platters. But everything in the TD309 has sonic reasons, and the TD309 has spinned off in the 206/209 and 203 that are all sharing elements from this new design approach, so they are their own series.
I also wonder if using the TD124 chassis shape to house a direct drive transport is a good idea at all. At first the idea seems novel and interesting, but ..... Perhaps a direct drive TT really needs a different chassis, like what they are already doing. If to use the Td124 chassis shape again, should it not be another idler drive?... I think so. But that is just me. m2c, fwiw, etc....
To expensive to develop and produce idler drive.

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Re: New Thorens TD124DD

Post by raphaelmabo » 11 Dec 2019 08:14

Speaking about the Thorens Concrete, here's an image of it. gallery/image/21757
As we can see, it has a styling that is not even close to anything else that Thorens made in the 70's or 80's. It has a round plinth made of, well, concrete. And a tonearm mounted on a little platform by itself. The belt drive is inside the plinth and it has a glass platter.

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Re: New Thorens TD124DD

Post by raphaelmabo » 14 Dec 2019 15:11

This may not be well known, but years ago - and when Thorens had their own factories. Their archives was lost in a fire. So their designs and blue prints were lost. This means that Thorens of today doesn’t have access to Thorens past R&D.

So when Thorens deciced to make a new 124, they got a 124 and opened it up and looked who it was done. They reversed engineered the design. It’s too expensive to re-engineer the idle drive, so they bought an existing DD engine instead.

Thorens also cannot produce the 150/160 because of this. They’ve had to re-engineer the subchassi principle and designs. This is why new Thorens has changes compared to vintage Thorens in the 70’s, they had to make new developments, new R&D, new designs.

It was not possible to keep on going with new generations of same old 150/160 but updated, like Linn has done with the LP12.

Thorens are inspired by their own past, but the re-invents the old in a new way.