Thorens 125 ii or 320?

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wgmontgomery
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Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by wgmontgomery » 18 Nov 2019 18:01

Hi...quick question: I have the option of buying one of two Thorens t tables from a friend...

TD125 mk2
Or
TD320 mk?

Both have stock tonearms...which is the better turntable?

Also, I'm selling my current t table (Music Hall mmf5.1se) and also wonder if its tonearm would be an improvement on either Thorens?

Thanks in advance for any input

StephDale
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Re: Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by StephDale » 18 Nov 2019 19:52

Oooh, that's a pickle. Both?

First check would to be certain which tonearm they do have. The 125 Mk2 should have a TP16 Mk1, the 320 might have a TP16 Mk2/3 or Mk4, or even a TP90. The latter is probably the best tonearm that Thorens made and is very well regarded by some, including me. There have been a couple of TD320 and TP90 threads running in the last week or two that might be worth a look if the 320 you're looking at has that arm.

But, there are some widely different effective mass numbers in those models so, in some ways, your preferred flavour of cartridge may help make your decision.

I'm not sure the Pro-ject arm on your MMF would be a huge improvement than any of the Thorens arms, assuming they're all in good working order.

In terms of the chassis, I think I'd go for the 125 being the pick of the two, but I like the 320 as well.

It might be interesting to know what cartridge you're likely to fit and perhaps some details of the rest of your system?

Steph

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Re: Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by wgmontgomery » 18 Nov 2019 21:16

Thanks for the input!

I'll try to find out which tonearms each has; the only info that I have is that they're "stock."

As for cartridges, I have access to a few:

Goldring G2400
(Goldring changed this line from MI to MM, so I don't know if mine is MM or MI.FWIW-its output is much lower than the Shure, but that's probably not defenative)

Shure V15III

Stanton 681eee

Grado ? I'm not 100% sure which model, but it looks like the ones at/near Grado's BOTL.

I'm leaning towards the 125 but am not positive yet.

Thanks again.

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Re: Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by wgmontgomery » 22 Nov 2019 11:22

Tonearms are the usual suspects...125=TP16 & 320=TP-90.

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Re: Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by Beobloke » 22 Nov 2019 13:20

The TD-320 by a country mile.

The TP-90 is a lovely arm and I've owned two TD125s and been spectacularly underwhelmed by both (I only bought the second as I assumed the first was a duffer as it sounded so dreary!)

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Re: Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by wgmontgomery » 22 Nov 2019 16:49

Thank you for the input!

I was leaning towards the 125, but I think that because I've always wanted one. I've never heard one and certainly haven't "A B"ed the two.

Correct me if I am wrong, but the 320 has an updated suspension system-leaf springs vs springs. I've heard that the TP-90 is better than the TP-16 too.

I don't know if the tonearms are a big deal as I may but a SME on it...if/when I can afford one!

Could you clarify something for me, please? Is the 320 closer in design/build quality to a 125, 14x or 16x? I've read all three but doubt that all 3 are correct.

Lastly, it SEEMS logical that a 320 is superior to a 125 as it's a more modern design. However, experience (with other gear NOT these turntables) has taught me that OLDER designs often have higher build quality and are made for SQ vs. profit margins.

Thanks again for your input!!

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Re: Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by terry-a » 22 Nov 2019 19:02

wgmontgomery wrote:
22 Nov 2019 16:49
Thank you for the input!

I was leaning towards the 125, but I think that because I've always wanted one. I've never heard one and certainly haven't "A B"ed the two.

Correct me if I am wrong, but the 320 has an updated suspension system-leaf springs vs springs. I've heard that the TP-90 is better than the TP-16 too.

I don't know if the tonearms are a big deal as I may but a SME on it...if/when I can afford one!

Could you clarify something for me, please? Is the 320 closer in design/build quality to a 125, 14x or 16x? I've read all three but doubt that all 3 are correct.

Lastly, it SEEMS logical that a 320 is superior to a 125 as it's a more modern design. However, experience (with other gear NOT these turntables) has taught me that OLDER designs often have higher build quality and are made for SQ vs. profit margins.

Thanks again for your input!!
One major difference between the TD 125 and the 14x/16x models is electronic speed control. The TD 125 has it. The 14x/16x models do not. The TD 320 also has electronic speed control.

This may seem trivial, but which table would allow you to hide the stock cueing bar/lever easiest once you upgrade the tonearm?

I have a TD 125 that I converted to a long base. It's a beautiful table that plays well. I have never heard a TD 320.

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Re: Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by wgmontgomery » 22 Nov 2019 20:49

Thanks!!

One thing that I have noticed during my research of Thorens (& please don't take this as a complaint because it isn't; it's just an observation...& I greatly appreciate EVERYONE who has taken the time to add their opinion) turntables is that there is *ZERO consensus on which models are good, better or best.

I'm pretty sure that the 125 is in a nice plinth...I don't know how much difference that'll make with regard to SQ. It does stand to reason that it might help reduce resonance, but I don't know for sure.

I really wish that I could demo both of them (with the same cartridge) in my system, but one thing that I conclude from the responses & my research is that it's doubtful that I'll will be disappointed with either one.

Maybe I can buy a 125 AND 320 and take my time deciding? If I can sell my MMF5.1SE I may have the $$ to TRY both. IF I'm able to (TEMPORARILY) get a 125 & a 320 I'll report my impressions.

I greatly appreciate EVERYONE'S input and hope that the replies keep coming. Every opinion/bit of information helps a great deal and adds to my knowledge! Thank you!!

*This is a bit of hyperbole...there ARE certain models (TD-125, TD-124 etc.) that (almost) everyone rates highly.

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Re: Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by terry-a » 22 Nov 2019 23:12

We don't all have the same experience, obviously. I have never heard a TD 320, but I have both a TD 125 and a TD 124, and I had a TD 160 that now lives with my brother-in-law. Any of these tables, in good working condition, are worthy of living in your primary listening system. Sometimes knowing that one has the reputation of being better than another matters very little when you're enjoying the playback from the less desirable model.

If you can pull off getting both, I'd say do it. But know that letting go of either of them once you have them all polished up and playing beautifully might be a challenge. I know it has been for me.

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Re: Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by wgmontgomery » 23 Nov 2019 15:45

I may be able to get both, but it would have to be a temporary situation. I can't afford to keep both of them, but I understand that it might be difficult to part with one of them.

I wasn't trying to imply that everyone had the same experience with different Thorens. I thought that different people probably prefer different models for different reasons, and that most models are at least good.

Thanks!

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Re: Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by terry-a » 23 Nov 2019 16:00

wgmontgomery wrote:
23 Nov 2019 15:45
I may be able to get both, but it would have to be a temporary situation. I can't afford to keep both of them, but I understand that it might be difficult to part with one of them.

I wasn't trying to imply that everyone had the same experience with different Thorens. I thought that different people probably prefer different models for different reasons, and that most models are at least good.

Thanks!
I currently have 4 tables in good working order. I cycle them through my main listening system one at a time while the other three are all hooked up in my office. If I offered up a list of the tables I'd get opinions about which one sounds better, but when I move a new table in I don't find myself thinking that way. They are each satisfying. They all sound good. Perhaps the flavor is somewhat different but I don't feel like any one of them is letting me down.

So, while you may get plenty of opinions about which to keep based on which of them "should" sound better, I think there's more to it than that. These tables both have the potential to create very pleasing sound. If you find yourself leaning towards one of them and can only buy one, get the one you're leaning towards. I don't think you can make a mistake here. If you buy both and find yourself more pleased with one than the other, for whatever reasons, keep the one you want and sell the other. At some point you can forget what everyone else is saying about them and know that whichever one you pick you'll be happy because neither table should disappoint.

Edit:

I'm getting older and I understand that at some point I won't want to have 4 tables, so I've thought a lot about which one I'd keep if I could only keep one. I tend to conclude each time I consider this, that I'd keep one particular table not because it sounds the best, but because it sounds as good as the others and it's the simplest. It's the oldest, but because it's the simplest it's the least likely to have something go wrong. It's also the lightest, so I can move it around more easily. These may or may not seem like valid criteria to some, but if or when I get to that point, I think these are what will drive the decision.

wgmontgomery
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Re: Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by wgmontgomery » 23 Nov 2019 18:31

May I ask which turntables you own?

I won't be able to keep both, and I'll have to sell my 5.1SE before I can get the 2nd one. That shouldn't be too big of a deal as it'll allow time to audition the first turntable that I buy.

Thanks!!

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Re: Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by terry-a » 23 Nov 2019 18:53

I have a TD 125 converted to long base, a TD 124, an Empire 208, and I was recently given a Phase Linear 8000.

It's hard for me to pick a favorite. The TD 125 is the sexiest. The TD 124 has the reputation. The Empire is the simplest. The Phase Linear is the most fun to observe.

I suppose the Phase Linear will eventually be the first to go. I'm not totally sure yet which will be the last to stay when it comes to it, but I think it might be the Empire due to it's simplicity. I have a few years yet before I have to make that decision. I hope.

Here's the TD 125. You can see how I extended the base.
http://gorgephotos.com/images/vinylengi ... t15ss1.jpg

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Re: Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by wgmontgomery » 23 Nov 2019 20:48

Wow!

Both the 125 & 124 have their fans. Every 124 that I've seen for sale has been quite $$$; that's the main reason that it isn't on my list.

I don't think that I have ever even heard an idler turntable but am quite curious about what makes them so special. Is there a big difference in the SQ of the 124 compared to the 125?

I know nothing about Empire t-tables except that they have a stellar reputation. Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't Phase Linear Bob Carver's company?

Back to the 125: it looks great! What kind of wood did you use? I'd be interested in doing the same to my 125 when I get one.

Thanks

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Re: Thorens 125 ii or 320?

Post by terry-a » 23 Nov 2019 21:30

wgmontgomery wrote:
23 Nov 2019 20:48
Wow!

Both the 125 & 124 have their fans. Every 124 that I've seen for sale has been quite $$$; that's the main reason that it isn't on my list.

I don't think that I have ever even heard an idler turntable but am quite curious about what makes them so special. Is there a big difference in the SQ of the 124 compared to the 125?

I know nothing about Empire t-tables except that they have a stellar reputation. Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't Phase Linear Bob Carver's company?

Back to the 125: it looks great! What kind of wood did you use? I'd be interested in doing the same to my 125 when I get one.

Thanks
I have more into the TD 124 than any of the other tables. The TD 124 sounds amazing and the clutch and mechanical speed selection are really cool. But, it has a lot of moving parts that all need to be kept healthy in order to play at its best. It's hard to describe what's special about it. The music has a force or drive about it.

In my system with my hearing I can't say that the TD 124 stomps the TD 125 when it comes to SQ. And I don't listen in a way that would reveal those differences to me. They both sound really good. I suppose it's true that the drive of the TD 124 is a pretty amazing virtue, but it comes at a cost of being somewhat noisier, which is only revealed between cuts at high listening levels.

The Empire and the TD 125 are both very quiet. The Empire is dead simple. No suspension. No electronic speed control circuits. No mechanical speed switching mechanism. It has a big bearing and a 7 pound platter. To change speeds you manually move the belt on the pulley.

Bob Carver and Steve Johnston, who I've met, started Phase Linear. This table was made after Phase Linear was sold to Pioneer. It's really a Pioneer PL-L1000 in disguise.

Here's the Empire.
http://gorgephotos.com/images/vinylengi ... mplete.jpg

Here's the TD 124.
http://gorgephotos.com/images/vinylengi ... d124-3.jpg

The TD 125 is Cherry and Brazilian Cherry. The Brazilian Cherry was once a floor in a house I remodeled a dozen years ago. Dave at Vinyl Nirvana converts TD 125s to long base models and has a custom fascia plate made to accommodate the extra width. I didn't have that option so I did that funky asymmetrical thing with the wood and I think it worked out.

Do you have some experience working with wood?

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