Any one old enough to remember?

30 or so years ago when I was a grad student I bought a Thorens TD125MK-II turntable and mounted a "Formula 4" arm and a Sonus Blue cartridge on it. After storing it a number of years, I've set it up again and rediscovered my record collection - some horrors and some delights. Since I've recently upgraded my... well, I admit it, everything else... I'm now faced with a decision. Do I replace my elderly cartridge? the cartridge and arm? the whole thing?

Anyone been around long enough to remember anything about this arm and cartridge to know wheher it is worth keeping the arm and replacing the cartridge, or to advise me on how well my old Thorens (which still maintains its speed after a belt transplant) is likely to stack up against newer stuff? I've read a number of the other analog threads, but not seen this particular issue addressed.

Your collective wisdom would be most appreciated. Let's say for the sake of conversation that my budget for a completely new setup could be $1500-2000.

If it sounds good I would keep what you have. A new cartridge might be the first thing that would improve the sound if you are not happy . You could lose interest after going through your collection a couple of times. The Thorens 125 was a pretty good unit from my memory of it . The new VPI Scout is a great table for 1499 with arm - it gives my Aries a good run in sound quality if you are set in total upgrade. My friend bought one .
Those were the days! Used a Dual 1229 and a Sonus Silver P. It sounded great. Everything sounded great, or was it just the era. Era? Ear ah, could be my hearing was a little better then. The hours on the stylus may help your decision. Would have to believe technology advanced enough to make a noticeable difference, unless your hearing aged also, and may not make a difference. Still, if you put cleaner info out of the speakers, you would hear a difference. You could always take your table to a reputable dealer for a check up. Possibly they would do an A/B with another table/cartridge you are considering.

Just The Facts
Sonus Blue was one of my favorite carts in the world, I remember this set up as id it was yesterday, and if my memory serves me well, the arm and the cart were a good match. Would be some concern on my behalf about the coils in the cartridge deteriorating over the years, along with the stylus as mentioned above, but you should have an idea of how many hours are on it. Bearing lubrication and tightness would be a concern , but I would imagine you have checked that. If you were to spend, IMO, $600 plus you could do better on the used market, but outside of replacing the cartridge, which the more I write on this the more I would think about doing, I don't think you would find anything under $1000 that would significantly sound better. Plus I would wait and use this setup a while to make sure I did not lose interest in LP's again. Plus, are you insinuating some of us are old?
Old? Of course not - just around long enough to realize that popular choices come and go.

In reply to your questions and suggestions - using the records is unlikely to be a passing interest. When I (re)married a few years back, my bride arrived with a LARGE collection of vinyl that complemented my own. And, like many of the rest of you, I've discovered that records can sound as good or better than most CDs on a good system. After buying solid state equipment over the years, I recently treated myself to a set of new Maggies (3.6) and quickly came to the conclusion that I (and they) like living with tubes. So lots of things are changing and the turntable may have to be one of them.

Has my/our hearing changed since I/we were teenagers - you bet if you are over 50. After that we all start to develop presby-something - presbyopia, presbyosmia and/or presbyaudia. Hopefully the trade-offs are worth it - and the pockets are deeper.

Go to - Vinyl Asylum, type in Thorens in the search box. A great many threads that may help you. There is quite a following for Thorens turntables. Hope this helps:~)
Keep the Forumla4 and Thorens (I like them!) and buy a new cartridge, the cartridge's damping should not in an optimum state.
I had the Sonus Blue as well and it was nice and sweet just a little light in the bass. I agree the dampening has hardened by now.
The Mayware Formula 4 and Sonus Blue made a great combo, I still have mine boxed away as well. Like a number of other contributers I would have to believe that the cartridge is a bit suspect now, but let your ears be the judge.

This arm restricts you to low mass, high compliant cartridges, perhaps something in the Goldring line. Grado may be an option, but some say that they hum with metal platters, which the Thorens has if memory serves.
I understand you on the LPs, I don't have a bride but I did just get offered 1000+ lps that have been played exactly once to record on to reel tape, all I have to do is go pick them up a few miles away. I have also been offered the tapes as well, but the LP part of it has got a huge grip on me. About 50% of it not my kind of music,, but a once played 40 year collection of LP's is quite a collection, so I am weighing my tt options as well.
I think though in your case oe this case, if it were me I would just try a couple of different cartridges. 125 MK II was
just a good table, and that wasn't a bad arm. I'd be looking at a couple of the Grado's and going from there
Skip - You say we all become Presbyterians after we hit 50?
But seriously, the Sonus Blue was my favorite cartridge until I discovered moving coils in the late '7os. Also owned a TD125 for many years. Great table. Had a Grace 707 on mine. Don
My thanks to all of you for the suggestions. With so many threads comparing the latest and greatest tables and arms, it is nice to know that some of the older combos are still (if nothing else) remembered with affection. Thorens has apparently gone out of the business of making turntables. If I can find information about lubricating and maintaining mine, I'll probably do that - ditto if I can figure out how to mount and adjust an appropriate cartridge on the Formula 4 arm. If not, I'll probably take the path of least resistance (time-wise) and indulge myself by starting from scratch. Listening last evening I realized that some of what I'm hearing during loud passages is mistracking.

Skip: Not familar with the arm (though think that it may have VTA adjustment "on the fly"). If so, I would try it with a new cartridge. I just picked up a TD125 MkII/SME 3009II combo that sounds very nice and if I ever upgrade I will seek out an arm that has such an adjustable VTA feature (play a wide variety of LP's which vary in thickness). Don't know why it would mistrack unless the stylus, setup or bearings are off. Maybe what it is resting on as well (I use a good platform - Neuance shelf supported by adjustable upturned spikes, but have plaster floors which are pretty solid)? If I do keep the 3009II arm I will rewire it with something better.
Hey Skip,
I know someone mentioned the dampening possibly being bad. I would say no question, it's bad. I am an audiophile as well as a record collector, and stiff boots will KILL vinyl!The pressure at the tip of that diamond combined with the vibration being fed back into it is ruining your albums. Don't even think about it, get a new cartridge. I do stress new. trich727

Cartridge suggestions that should work with this arm?

Hi Skip,
I'm really testing the brain cells on this one, but is this a chrome plated low mass tone arm with an anti-skate that hangs over a glide rail on mono-filament? or was that the Grace? Over the years the Grace, Black Widow and this one have morphed into one in my head. I would think a Sumiko Blue Point would be a good match, and fairly nice sound for a reasonably priced cartridge. Tom