Can "Refurbished" Thorens turntables sound better, and worth taking a chance on??


I had seen on Audiogon, and  e-bay a few Thorens turntables of of 60's thru the 80's that have been nicely restored and on sale.  For, example, a few of the models are the TD-160, TD-166, and TD-124. There could be others from that series. Nevertheless, the sellers claim  they have been thoroughly checked out( motor, bearing, belt and platter assemble, and tone arm alignment.)  Also  ne or two bases have been repainted and even lacquered.

My question:   Is it really worth it to invest in a refurbished  table that could be 40 years old??   Thorens were classics in the 60's through early 90's and possibly the best table on the market next to the Linn Sondek LP-12 which was more expensive. Is there a lot of risk in opting for refurbished vintage table over a new one?? .

Anyone have any knowledge or experience with these older tables that have been refurbished and even retolled, and whether they can compete with some of the current tables on the market?? .

BTW, it seems like since the so-called vinyl and analog revolution touted by Michael Fremer and others  of Stereophile, that a good table starts at about  $1500- $2000 without cartridge, and then prices can skyrocket to $3000 to $7000 and beyond. 

Need some feedback because my Project DC Carbon with an Ortofon 2M Red  is just not cutting it for me any longer I thought it would sound better than it does     Thanks!!. 

sunnyjim
When I got back into vinyl I purchased a TD-166 as time went on I purchased a VPI Classic 1.  The VPI was a significant upgrade to the Thorens but also more money. I bought the Thorens for about $350 the VPI cost me $2000. Given the cost differential the VPI was still a bargain and worth the extra cost IMO.  Tighter Bass more detail and a much more stable platform.

Chuck
The old Thorens were one of the best in their day and I still think fondly of them but I would be very cautious about buying an old table these days for big bucks.  There is a lot of beefed up old gear marketed on this site to get top dollar as alternatives to the newest and pricier products out there.     Not saying it is or is not worth it, I would just be very careful paying big bucks unless I really trusted the seller. 


http://pbnaudio.com/audio-components/audio-turntables/groovemaster/groovemaster-vintage-direct

Most definitely, if properly restored they will be on par with most anything available today.

From their maker

Peter

 
Thank you to those who replied so quickly. The table I was referring to is under the "turntable" category:  the Thorens TD-166, with an AT-120E cartridge, Obviously, I don't know the seller from Adam, but he has lots  of positive feedback, There is a very good explanation of what has been upgraded and checked out on the table.  If you should take the time to read it, let me know your thoughts about the item
IMO, It really depends on your equipment (how resolving) because if your gear is GOOD I think the classic tables make a lot of sense. (I have a TD 160 with grado wood prestige $600) A table like the Thorens TD160 with original tonearm TP16 and wiring will sound really wonderful too. But, If you have a higher end system that is VERY resolving, you probably are selling the system short with an older table like a Original Thorens. Unless your a super tweaker ie...tonearm, cartridge replacement and rewiring and plinth reconstruction, all of these skills might be required to deal with a classic table. Do your self a favor and get a Pro-Ject Xtension with a Dynavector or Sumiko ......seriously. A Ortofon 2m red is NOT anywhere near the performance of a Grado, Dynavector, Sumiko...NOT even close! A better cartridge would provide a HUGE upgrade. IMO. Good Luck.


Matt M

Matt, Sounds like good advice, but you should read the ad in the "Turntable" Category  about the retooled and refurbished TD-166. The member's name is 'Highspinner" who seems to have done a worth job on the Thorens   I was impressed that he replaced the tonearm and phono cable with Vampire wire. I think the arm is the original Thorens  TP-16.  (I am not sure) If anything the ad context   offers an interesting explanation of the work done. 

BTW, I had owned a Grado Gold  in the 1990 on a VPI JR TT, then a Sumiko Blue Point Special, and....much later a Dynavector 10X5 with a Rega P3-24. which was a  great combo.  Actually the finest cartridge I have ever owned was Sumiko's original "Talisman" MC or MM( not sure) mounted on Sonographe turntable (vintage 1987).

After I sold the Rega, I got out of analog, and one year later justified buying the Project  DC Carbon.table for limited LP use.  I am not a big fan of the higher level Project tables

FYI,, my current system is a pair of Golden Ear Technology 7's,...' a Rogue Sphinx  integrated amp,.... and a Ayre CX-7e mp.   Cables are Harmonic Technolgy Pro11+  and a HT Truthlink IC   Not super high end, but  in the race.    Thanks for your comment.  

I once own the Talisman on a Sonograph TT also. Really liked that cartridge. Still have the Sonograph.

If I may, I'd like to change the subject:

I believe an idler drive is superior to a belt drive.

I have a few belt drives in house: Heybrook TT2, Linn LP12, Michell Gyrodec. All with every upgrade available.

My 'new' Jean Nantais Lenco 75 idler drive blows them out of the water. The speed stability, therefore PRAT, of the idler drive is addictive.

Regarding newer tables. While it is possible to build a good motor today, the metals used in the motors of old are difficult, and expensive to get. An equivalent motor today would approach $700.

If you are a 'tweaker', get the Thorens. If you can hold off, wait for an idler drive, and then tweak. Remember, being an audiophile is a journey, not a destination.

Instead of telling you a long story, let me get to the point. And yes I'm going to shout: The tonearm BEARING is the most important part of the analogue playback system. Beg, borrow, steal whatever money you can, and buy the best tonearm you can afford.

Here's an analogy: consider the size of the diamond on the end of it's cantilever. Think of the miniscule movements in the record groove. Now think of the length of the tonearm tube. If we 'grow' the diamond to 1 inch is size, the relationship to the bearing will put the bearing hundreds of yards away. Any movement in the bearing will smear the movement of the diamond.

Sorry for shouting.

FWIW - I have had the same TD-166 MkII since I bought it new in 1984 (when I feared that turntables would no longer be available - hah!).  I have had it modded somewhat - some damping of the platter, a new mat, new RCA cables and new feet to better level the 'table.  Also added a KAB record clamp, which is a bargain and perfect for suspended 'tables that can't use heavy clamps.


All I can say is that I have brought some needle-drops made on this table (with either an Ortofon OM-30 or Denon DL-160 cartridge) to some pretty high resolution systems, and have received a lot of completments on the sound quality.


As for the age, these older, West German made Thorens' are built like tanks.  All I ever did to it, maintenance-wise, is a new belt.


I once was at a Stereophile show, and at an "ask the editors" session on analog audio, asked the panel how much I'd have to spend to improve on the TD-166MkII on a modern 'table.  Art Dudley, of course, suggested I stick with my Thorens.  Others suggested something in the $2000 range, which considering inflation, is not much more than the Thorens cost me in 1984.


I guess my advise would be:  If you can get a good deal on a well-maintained and perfectly operating vintage 'table, go for it.  But to spend a lot on a fancy plinth or upgraded 'arm, I am not so sure.  Perhaps once you get into the $2,500 range, you might look at something like a VPI Scout.  Just my $0.02.

I still use Linn Axis table I bought back in mid 80s and have had similar experiences to brother Bondmanp.  Still runs great and zero problems over 30 years or so.   The old Thorens are a similar breed I would say.
The 160 is better than the 166. I would pass and get a 160. Or a 124.

Thanks to all who have responded so far. Unfortunately, the issue is moot because the  restored Thorens  is sold;  in addition, I was not getting the info needed to make an informed decision.


To noromance, Why do you think the 160 is" better than the 166"??

What about the TD-124?? There are very few of those around

Google Thorens 160 vs 166.
The 160 is better made.
The 124 is better than either. Have you thought about a 401 with a Jelco 12" arm in a CLD plinth. Better than all of those.
AFAIK, the TD-160 and the TD-166 MkII are identical except for the 'arm, although I could be mistaken.  And the tonearm for the 166 MkII is a carbon-fiber design with detachable wand which was cutting edge tonearm technology in its' day. 
Well, I've had a VPI, two Projects, 2 Music Halls, and 4 Regas all the way up to the RP8. My Thorens are both fitted with Jelco 750D arms. and I rotate about 13 cartridges easily due to the Jelco's detachable headshell. Cartridges include two Denons, a Benz Micro Gold, an Ortofon Cadenza Red, and misc. MM cartridges. I sold all the other TTs and kept the restored TD 150 and TD 160 Super. All this took about 6 years of experimentation and  $ exchange..

tubes 444


I bought a TD 125 New back then there days. It was pretty much near the top at that time. I still have it BUT!!   with many tweets.

1.Replaced to whole platter with solid pc Alum. Turned down on a lathe.

2.New Wt 23#.. then 20 bored 1/2" Dia holes bottom up each filed with silicone every so many degrees. The  then had it spin balance. Within .002 0z.

3. Replaced the shaft with  4140 Steel (Harden) Inserted ceramic

    machined & polished cup to 45 micron finish for the bearing to seat.

5. Order a complete ball bearing housing.

  Aero space grade tolerance.   Robbed one bearing.

6. I tube of SUPER MOLY lube used on very high speed friction control.

7. Had the drive  Mtr  rewind with. 99% OCF copper. Replaced its shaft bearings with high quality ones. had the motor armature balanced.

8. Replaced the speed controller with digital. Will now hold 33.3 RPM

+/- within 800ths of exact RPM. Same as 33.333336.

9.Added 10# of modeling clay to the inside of the wood base.

10. Added gel filled table feet to the wood frame.

11.  4 Oil filed suspension supporting 125 table. Shocks @ ea  corner

                    TEST TIME.

With scope and sound generator radiator DIRECT connected to wood.

Then 15Hz> 20Hz> 50Hhz> 100 Hz random sweeps .

Range now -45 to- 65DB.

Results rumble inaudible. PERIOD!!

Why all the effort & expense. Dead silent on soft passages, Airy strings

cymbals float out the speakers for the 1st time. Female vocals very throaty.

Again WHY??  Why let some engineer have all the FUN at my expense.

Like guys who finally are able to buy cars they couldn't when younger, I bought a TD 124 with SME III arm and Ortofon 30H cartridge.  The setup sounds great, but more important to me, it's beautiful to look at.

To boofer and tubes 444:,  you have proven without a doubt that the audio vocation, sometimes called a hobby:....... "Is No Country for  grouchy and impatient old men" 

I salute you both for your patience, dedication, and hard work.  SJ 

Don't forget Dave aka A'goN member ddarch44.  He buys, restores and resells all manner of vintage Thorens tables.  I sold him my treasured TD125 several years ago and now I wished I had kept it and let him do the restoration instead.  He does very high quality work.

http://vinylnirvana.com/
I have to concur with hifijones about the turntables offered by ddarch44 (Vinyl Nirvana).  I bought a TD160 Super Reproduction from Vinyl Nirvana and it is spectacular visually and, most important, sonically. 
Do you have a link for Vinyl Nirvana; I would like to check out his current stock of TD-160's or  TD-166   Does he offer any  warranty for his upgrade work??