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