New european "chinese built" turntables

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raphaelmabo
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New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by raphaelmabo » 01 Feb 2019 14:46

More and more brands release turntables, and some are clearly variations of the same turntable... Just look at these...

Reloop Turn 3
https://www.reloop-hifi.com/turn3.html

Elac Miracord 50
https://www.elac.com/product/miracord-50-turntable/

Thorens TD201
https://thorens.com/en/thorens®-td-201.html

They have the same motor and belt-drive, same platter, basically the same tonearm (with minor design differences in headshell and lever, and the Elac is slightly shorter than the others) and - presumably - the same built-in phono pre-amp. And they are all made in the same factory in China. Also some Japanese brands uses the same turntable components (I believe Teac uses the same for what I can see). I've seen images of the "precision bearings", belt-drive and motor de-coupling - it looks the same on all of them. Also the belt drive attaches under the aluminium plattern, not a sub-plattern but on an inner ring on the aluminium plattern.

The exterior differs, they have different plinths, and they come with different cartridges. The Reloop is semi-automatic (auto-stop) while the others are manual.

It feels a bit sad that Elac and Thorens goes this route, but both these brands has more originally designed and German made turntables higher up the price range.

I have no doubt about that these turntables are perfectly Ok, the Reloop 3 has got good reviews. It's just that they are, well, too much of the same. So it really doesn't matter which one to buy... And this glossy black finish, no I don't like it. I want matte finish, or another colour...

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by lenjack » 01 Feb 2019 15:38

Probably an error, but the specs on the Elac, show w&f at 1%.

raphaelmabo
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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by raphaelmabo » 01 Feb 2019 16:15

W&F at 1%, surely that must be an error.
Now, there's also a Dual here... The DT500. Similar to the others mentioned. It has w&f specified at 0.2%. Looks like the Thorens TD202 (thicker plinth). https://www.dual.de/produkte/plattenspieler/dt-500/

The confusion thing with Dual is that it is two brands. There's Dual, and they make turntables, compact hi-fi units and so on. Products made in China. And then there's Ferenbacher Dual, with turntables made in Germany. Very confusing. They are also called Dual...
https://www.alfredfehrenbacher.de/index.php?id=49

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by vanakaru » 01 Feb 2019 16:46

It seems to be deliberate trend to reuse well regarded model names. New inexperienced buyer has probably read somewhere that this TT is good and voila there is one available brand new. Pretty ruthless form of capitalism - but they have learned it from the masters.

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by Spinner45 » 01 Feb 2019 17:35

All these "generic styling" turntables here are crap in a pretty suit, designed to "impress" the uneducated younger crowd.
All are a flat thin board, a small cheap DC motor, a platter, with an arm attached. - how cookie-cutter boring.
It seems to be "the style" these days like cars, they all look the same.
Pitiful wow/flutter ratings on all, too.
The reviews shown, praising these slop machines are just there to sell the customer.
Back in the days when in the golden era, when records were important, any self-respecting reviewer wouldn't give praise to any turntable with wow/flutter ratings over 0.1 percent.
Even my lowly 1986 linear tracker has a wow/flutter rating of 0.025%!

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by lenjack » 01 Feb 2019 18:07

My 1980 Technics sl-d3, had w&f at 0.03%, and rumble at -75dB. These new units, and many of today's other new cardboard and plastic schlock can't even come close. I doubt they will will last, and many will not make it far past their warrantys, without needing service. The new ones are made to look glitzy and pretty, and use the old, remembered names to impress.

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by Roberto C2H3 » 01 Feb 2019 18:34

lenjack wrote:
01 Feb 2019 18:07
My 1980 Technics sl-d3, had w&f at 0.03%, and rumble at -75dB. These new units, and many of today's other new cardboard and plastic schlock can't even come close. I doubt they will will last, and many will not make it far past their warrantys, without needing service. The new ones are made to look glitzy and pretty, and use the old, remembered names to impress.
I'm presently enjoying a Technics SL-D3 and it gives me the impression that it can keep on nicely spinning records well into this century 8)

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by Spinner45 » 01 Feb 2019 19:54

The "under 35" crowd was naturally born in the CD era, and records to them are "new stuff" to play with.
And like all "phases" that young people go through, they'll of course dive in out of curiosity and being "trendy".
The manufacturers see this, know this, and will cater to them with these lackluster offerings, knowing it'll gain them money, of course.
Because specifications and build quality isn't as important to that younger crowd, hell, they've been accustomed to MP3 music and "earbuds" all their lives, and records, ahem, "vinyls" are "cool".
Superficiality is the way of the monster, glossy good looks and pretty adornments.

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by ravelax » 01 Feb 2019 20:18

Name any big hi-fi brand getting back into the business of selling turntables, and you'll see their offerings are yet another variation of this same formula, which I think is sourced from Hanpin. The Denon DP-300f is the one of these that has been around the longest I think (10+ years), and it seems to have a reputation as a decent entry level turntable. This seems to indicate that they are probably sufficiently good turntables for the needs of most people (in any case far better than the cheapest ones with built-in ceramic cartridges), but I do agree it's terribly boring how some of these companies cheapen their legacy by selling these turntables as their own inventions.

Take the Elac above for example, it has the same platter mat as so many of these variants do, and it's so easy to see it's a direct copy of a 70's Technics mat. It just screams lazy marketing to me. The least they could've done would be to choose a differently patterned mat... It looks so dumb to anyone with any familiarity with older turntables, regardless of the quality of the turntable itself. It really turns me off, and I wouldn't advise anyone looking to buy a new decent entry level turntable to buy one of these that so blatantly flaunts the ignorance of the company trying to sell it as their own design.

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by raphaelmabo » 01 Feb 2019 20:28

They are cheap and cheerful, that's why they are popular. They work, they do the job, they offer easy plug'n play connection to an amplifier. I'm not convinced that they are crap or poor. They are entry level turntables for entry level customers. If you can afford to pay more, then all those brands offers better turntables - but with fewer features. Like the Thorens TD203 that I have, it's clearly a better turntable than the TD201/202, and it's Thorens own construction (designed and developed by Finck Audio Consulting) with an original unipivot tonearm. But it cost more. No built-in pre-amp, no built-in D/A converter. 700 euro instead of 400-500 euro as these Chinese made turntables costs.

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by tep392 » 01 Feb 2019 20:57

Norseman wrote:
01 Feb 2019 20:45

I call them "vinyl hipsters". They are to blame for the "audiophile" fancy-colored re-issues with horrible sound which are flooding the market. And the influx of overpriced, low quality turntables, for sure.
Some of them will learn though, they will mature and hopefully carry the torch when old farts like me are gone. One particular vinyl hipster stands to inherit my entire record collection. I only hope to teach him how to handle records properly first.
I watch the vinyl sub-reddit and it still shocks me when I see someone post about having collected "vinyls" for some time and now being ready to buy a turntable and asking for advice on which one to get. It seems that listening to their records is an after thought.

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by ravelax » 01 Feb 2019 20:57

As for me, in case I didn't make it clear in my previous post I don't criticize these turntables on the basis of quality. It's really not even the turntables I criticize but rather the companies selling them, their unimaginative approach to design and lazy marketing. Companies like Thorens and Elac that play on their legacy for selling products that have absolutely nothing to do with that legacy, featuring design and construction elements conspicuosly lifted directly from the legacy of their former competitors while trying to pass these off as their own designs... To me, it just screams that the companies owning the rights to these brand names today, don't know a thing about turntables and don't care. And as for me, I wouldn't buy a turntable from a company sending me those signals, regardless of quality.

So far the only company re-entering the turntable market in a respectable way is Panasonic with Technics, reviving and improving their own designs, staying true to their legacy.

Maybe I should add that I don't hold as much of a grudge against a brand like Reloop, since it's a new brand that doesn't pretend to be picking up where they once left off, the way companies like Thorens, Elac, Denon and many others do. The Reloop models also exhibit some sensible design choices out of the Hanpin box of parts, for example, how they've kept the strobe light on the Turn 8, their "living room styled" version of their Technics-copy DJ tables. Compare this to the similar AT-LP5 (or the new Technics SL-1500c, for that matter!) without strobe.
Last edited by ravelax on 01 Feb 2019 21:13, edited 1 time in total.

raphaelmabo
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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by raphaelmabo » 01 Feb 2019 21:12

ravelax wrote:
01 Feb 2019 20:57
Companies like Thorens and Elac that play on their legacy for selling products that have absolutely nothing to do with that legacy and featuring design and construction elements conspicuosly lifted directly from the legacy of their former competitors... To me, it just screams that the companies owning the rights to these brand names today, don't know a thing about turntables and don't care. And as for me, I wouldn't buy a turntable from a company sending me those signals, regardless of quality.
I disagree with you there. First, I don't see that a company should make products that looks like their old products. One must go forward with time! Second, Thorens makes turntables with different designs. If you want a classic design, look at the TD350 or the TD550 or the new TD90x-serie or the new TD148 A)utomatic. They are all suspended designs that are updates of the old, for the purists out there. But they also make turntables with a modern, contemporary design with unique solutions.

Sure the TD203 that I have can be said to look like a Rega, but with differences: One, the tonearm is an unipivot. That's quite unique for the market segment. Second, the motor is de-coupled by rubber bands. And third, the motor has electronic speed control - like all Thorens. So it is a contemporary Thorens.

And I love the TD309 styling, if I had the money I would buy one. But the TD203 was half the price and I couldn't pay more. The TD309 is a suspended design. Those new turntables are developed and designed by Finck Audio Consulting in co-operation with Thorens team. Karl-Heinz Finck is a leading hifi-designer and developer. I loved the ALR Jordan speakers that he designed and developed (I have ALR Jordan Entry 2M myself) and he started from scratch, from a blank paper when he made the new Thorens turntables. He started with resonance research. To minimize resonances. His tonearms features a resonance damper, and he has brought new ideas to suspension design (inspired by his loudspeaker designs).

So, I think he and his team has made a very good job with the new Thorens. And they sound fab and are built in Germany.

But the new TD201/202 are not, they are Chinese turntables. Brought to the market because Thorens can't built turntables that cheap with built-in pre-amps. Labour cost and material cost in Germany are more expensive. So that's why they co-worked with the Chineses for those two models. I prefer the real Thorens turntables, like the one that I have. :)

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by ravelax » 01 Feb 2019 21:30

I don't mean to say their new turntables should look just like their old designs, but I do expect a serious manufacturer, even when employing subcontractors, to strive for original design. Thorens have that in the case of some of their models, but not all of them. For instance, they have a series of re-badged Fehrenbacher Duals that look just like their Dual counterparts. If I wanted one of those I'd be more inclined to buy the same model with the Dual brand, giving credit to the company that actually constructed it. Thorens also have a model built by Pro-Ject. Generally with the Thorens of today, they have so many different lines with different styling I have a hard time making sense of it all, which in itself also destroys the allure of the brand for me personally. To me they appear as a company that just slaps their name on any half-decent product they happen to come across. That doesn't give me the impression of any real know-how or passion for the products they sell.

Last but not least, if I buy an Elac Miracord I don't want the platter mat to look like the platter mat on a late 70's Technics... And it really wouldn't cost Elac much to come up with a different design.

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Re: New european "chinese built" turntables

Post by raphaelmabo » 01 Feb 2019 23:07

Well, the Thorens TD295 is made in a Pro-Ject factory but it is a classic Thorens design with a heritage that dates back to the 280-series in the 80’s. In the 90’s Thorens put a Pro-Ject tonearm on their 280 plus changed the feet to bigger ones and the 290 was born. Then they made the new dual-plinth construction and the 295 was born. It’s still a Thorens player with Thorens belt-drive system. It’s not a Pro-Ject player. It’s still a TD280 at heart, if a heavily modified one. It’s called development.

All new Thorens models, except for the chinese TD201/202, are designed and developed by Karl-Heinz Finck and his team. The 90x-serie, the 309, 206/209, 203 and so on. Also the new TP82, 90 and 92 tonearms were designed and developed by Finck & Co. They share many similar ideas even if they have different designs. They are all original and unique designs made for Thorens and made in Germany. They are not designs that are shared with others.

The 309 was the first of the new serie and there’s a design resemblance between it and the 206/209 and 203. You can tell they belongs to the same family.

The TD350, 550 and the acrylic series was developed by Thorens in co-operation with the German high-end maker Acoustic Signature. They are not ”half-decent” players! And they are not a rebranding of Acoustic Signature. AS-players has aluminim plinths or thick wooden plinths. No subchassi with suspension as the TD550 and 350. Also, AS does not have an acrylic player in their line, like the Thorens TD2035. Acoustic Signature believes in heavy mass, heavy platters, heavy plinths. No suspension. So different philosophy than Thorens. Still, they were able to help Thorens achieving it’s design and sonical goals even if they differ in philosophy for their own players.

And you say they don’t care. Well, I disagree. They do care and they know they have different customers. For those wanting a turntable that looks like a moderm version of the old, they have the TD90x-serie, the TD350 and the new TD148 A. For those wanting a more contemporary, modern abd fresh design, they have the 309, 206/209 and 203, plus the acrylic serie. And they still have the classic 295 from the late 90’s because it’s still popular among buyers. They all reflect different eras for different customers.

And I applaud that! I like that. They have turntables both for those wanting a Thorens with classic design elements, and newcomers to the brand that wants a more modern and fresh design.

And I’m an oldie that has had Thorens since 1988, but I prefer the newer designs! Thorens never did a ”re-entry” to the market, because they never left. They are still up and running, just like their turntables. All of Thorens turntables strives for Thorens sonical signature, even if they have different designs to achive this goal. A sonical signature that is about musicality, neutrality and a lightness. More detail than Rega, but not as forward or upfront. More easy-listening or classic or soul/rn’b than heavy metal.

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