12" tonearm advice (Thorens TD 521)

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StephDale
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12" tonearm advice (Thorens TD 521)

Post by StephDale » 30 Nov 2015 21:48

Hi guys,

I recently got hold of a Thorens TD 521 and am now pondering tonearms. Looking at the practicalities and my previous experience with Thorens players I've got myself very confused. A little 'inspiration' from Phonosophie probably hasn't helped!

The long list, and rationale, is something like this:
Jelco 750L - affordable 12" tonearm but will need decent cabling, headshell and armbase. I'm also unsure how the cable configuration will work with the sub-chassis design.
Clearaudio 'Unify' - Phonosophie offer a version of this arm on their upgraded Thorens TD3001 (Phonosophie No3) and I've enjoyed unipivot arms on other Thorens 'tables.
SME M2-12 - SME arms seem to work well with Thorens 'tables, although I personally am unfamiliar with this arm. Unfortunately it appears the fluid damper kit isn't available (if it ever was?) and the MCS-150 internal wire seems to be a premium option.
SME 312s - I'm a long-time user of an SME IV, which I've much enjoyed on a Thorens 'table; it's currently on a Michell Gyrodec. This arm would be a bit of a stretch financially and would require some saving but if it's as good as many seem to think...?

I know the prices of the four arms are not really comparable (except perhaps the Unify and M2-12), but any experience of their relative merits would be welcome.

Nearly forgot, cartridges! I've got Ortofon Rohmann, Ortofon SPU Royal N, Tubaphon TU-2 (needs a rebuild), Audio Technica OC9ML/ii, Audio Technica OC30, Audio Technica AT33SA and am looking to trade in a knackered AT OC9 for an ART9...

Many thanks,

Steph

mrtechnologist2u
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Re: 12" tonearm advice (Thorens TD 521)

Post by mrtechnologist2u » 01 Dec 2015 15:26

I cant help you but just want to congratulate you on your find! My goal is to find A Thorens TD520/521 It is a beatifull TT. Enjoy!

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Re: 12" tonearm advice (Thorens TD 521)

Post by OneyedK » 02 Dec 2015 09:54

Aestetically, I'd scratch the Clearaudio and the 2M-12 from the list...

A black 750L or SME312 seem the only options from your list.
I think both have the same cabling "problem", wich I don't think is a real problem.
And yes, if you pick the Jelco, "Hugo's collar" is a must...

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Re: 12" tonearm advice (Thorens TD 521)

Post by promtbr88 » 03 Dec 2015 08:03

Congrats on the Thorens! Never having heard of them, I did a quick google search of them and that is one interesting looking Thorens! BTW, of all the images I perused, most Tonearms seen were not black.

The SME 12s (both newer iteration and old) are often used as a match on Thorens. I am using an SME M2 12 on a Thorens 124 and love it. Greg at STS, who did the restoration and has put countless SMEs 12s and 9s on Thorens told me he never used their fluid damper option and did not think it was needed. I was unfamiliar with SMEs before I got mine, but I can tell you I am pretty impressed with their engineering and ease of cart set up. So far, loving ,mine. I can't help with you with cart matches. It will of course depend alot on the arm you end up selecting, as well as your pre-phono stage. If SME, I know many love the Ortofon SPU route. The SME m2 12 has an affective tonearm mass of 18 grams, so one would have to choose a cart accordingly.

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Re: 12" tonearm advice (Thorens TD 521)

Post by Beobloke » 03 Dec 2015 12:57

OneyedK wrote:Aestetically, I'd scratch the Clearaudio and the 2M-12 from the list...
Surely if we're talking aesthetics, then the SME M2-12R is the only answer!

StephDale
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Re: 12" tonearm advice (Thorens TD 521)

Post by StephDale » 03 Dec 2015 21:25

Thanks for your thoughts guys; you seem to have picked up on some of the concerns I have (but didn't put down). You're right about the looks of the '521, mine is the wood veneer version so it's almost domestically-acceptable. It is rather large (and heavy) though!

@OneeyedK, I don't think the Unify looks that bad although I understand they're tricky to set up. That and not being sure how I'd be able to route the cable through the Thorens armboard and sub-chassis are a couple of further considerations. Then again, so is the reputation for good sound quality.

@promtbr88, Your comment on the fluid damping is welcome and I acknowledge that the correct combination of arm and cartridge (i.e. getting the resonant frequency about right) can make it superfluous. Some of my chosen cartridges have low(ish) compliance so should match a mid-high mass arm okay.

Cheers,

Steph

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Re: 12" tonearm advice (Thorens TD 521)

Post by StephDale » 15 Sep 2019 12:19

I was about searching for some info through a well-known search engine and came across this thread I'd kicked off the best part of four years ago, thought I'd better update it.

Well, I went for a Jelco 750lsi - the silver-wired version sold by Isokinetik here in the UK. I had to get an armboard made (actually I had to get three made, but that's another story!), which allowed me the freedom to design it to allow for positioning the arm at two distances so I could try different cartridge alignments. I ended up settling on the Uni-DIN alignment, although it does mean the cartridge is not square in the headshell. The headshell ended up being an Orsonic. It was briefly an Arche, but I got wrapped round the axle trying to get all the adjustments made and decided to simplify my life...

I also had the Tu-2 rebuilt by EMT and it works really well in the arm. But there were still niggles if I'm honest. I had decided to go for a Timestep on the strength of the reviews and it looks enough like an EMT or Thorens tonearm that it would have looked terrific on the 521. I was just about to spring for the arm when a secondhand SME 312s presented itself for the same price. I've always been fickle, so the 312s is on the way. I'm expecting great things based upon my prior experience with the Tu-2 in my SME IV.

Steph

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Re: 12" tonearm advice (Thorens TD 521)

Post by rkay5 » 25 Jan 2020 10:17

StephDale
How about some photos love to your TD 521

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Re: 12" tonearm advice (Thorens TD 521)

Post by tlscapital » 25 Jan 2020 13:11

StephDale wrote:
03 Dec 2015 21:25
...@promtbr88, Your comment on the fluid damping is welcome and I acknowledge that the correct combination of arm and cartridge (i.e. getting the resonant frequency about right) can make it superfluous. Some of my chosen cartridges have low(ish) compliance so should match a mid-high mass arm okay.

Cheers,

Steph
Although I do understand some of the fluid dampener work outs but still not all (mixture of business man snake oil theories and lab specs measurements...) and acknowledge how some find them to be a real upgrade on the Techies SL-1200 for example (which is never a tonearm one contemplates really), the SME fluid dampener aimed at their 'Improved' series in a period where at SME they convert also for resin knife edge bearing as a sonic improvement...

My SME3009 'Improved' (previously tweaked not by me) came with a steel knife edge bearing. Through the lengthy effective mass conversion into heavy mass to meet the not given compliance of my low-low kind cartridge, I got to hear how that truly benefited the SME steel knife edge bearing sonic signature. That which a fluid dampener doesn't do.

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Re: 12" tonearm advice (Thorens TD 521)

Post by OneyedK » 25 Jan 2020 19:40

tlscapital wrote:
25 Jan 2020 13:11
Through the lengthy effective mass conversion into heavy mass to meet the not given compliance of my low-low kind cartridge
Sorry if this is a bit off-topic, but did you document the conversion? I also have an original SME "improved", bought when I still used high(er) compliance catridges. And would be very interested in doing the conversion myself.
I already opted for a bronze knife edge bearing, but never got to installing it.

And yes, damping can and will improve resonances, but nothing beats correct compliance/mass matching and a decent tonearm bearing.

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Re: 12" tonearm advice (Thorens TD 521)

Post by tlscapital » 25 Jan 2020 20:54

OneyedK wrote:
25 Jan 2020 19:40
tlscapital wrote:
25 Jan 2020 13:11
Through the lengthy effective mass conversion into heavy mass to meet the not given compliance of my low-low kind cartridge
Sorry if this is a bit off-topic, but did you document the conversion? I also have an original SME "improved", bought when I still used high(er) compliance catridges. And would be very interested in doing the conversion myself.
I already opted for a bronze knife edge bearing, but never got to installing it.

And yes, damping can and will improve resonances, but nothing beats correct compliance/mass matching and a decent tonearm bearing.
Here and there some testimonies I gave. The inner wand/tube dampening is the first step I did together with the change from fixed to detachable headshell (originally it was the 'Improved' SII and not S2) so I can hardly attribute this first 'improvement' heard due to the dampening alone or the 8 grams slight effective mass enhancement these additions brought.

For the rest I got rid of some of the original dampening materials like the bedplate grommets or even got to unwind some other dampening tweak tests that muffled my sound. Discovering that the cartridge signal benefits some of the tonearm/turntable material/build resonances. I learned there are the resonances I like and others not. Damp the same.

As for the knife edge bearing match, the SME SII & S2 tube/wand are made of alloy. The SI and 3009'R' are steel. One interesting trial testing the bronze, steel and resin knife edge bearings on different SME's conclude that steel knife on alloy arms are a match and bronze knife are a match on steel arms. Not so well vice versa. Resin being "dull" all day.

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