Review: Thorens TD 295 MK 4 Turntable

Category: Analog

When is a Thorens not a Thorens? It is when a Thorens is a Project turntable with a Thorens name. The tone arm is Project,the turntable platter is Project as is the inner platter for the belt and the dust cover is as well a Project item. And I dare say if I get into the inner workings the rest of the table is Project as well.

First of all this not a $1,000.00 turntable by any stretch of the imagination. For all I can see it is a rebadged Project with a very nice mahogany upper plinth in a piano finish. Although the finish on this one leaves a bit to be desired,too much orange peel on the finish.As we shall see the beauty of the Thorens 295 MK 4 is only skin deep by any standard for a $1,000.00 product.

It is very apparent that the compromises in this table were set from the start, to maximise profits and use the Thorens time honored name for exploitation to the audiophile community.This is the worse kind of misreprensentation I have seen of late.When one buys into the Thorens name,one is to expect all that is Thorens based upon the 100 year plus history of Thorens, not a rebadged clone.

The platter has two holes in it,as in other Project turntables, for being able to shift the belt from one pulley groove to the other to select either 45 or 33.3 rpm. Other than pure cost cutting there is no reason for this type of platter on this table as it has a switch on the plinth for selecting 45 or 33.3 rpm. Why this was done because it was cheap to do so.

The tone arm of this table is a Project arm from a few years ago and first time I saw it, it was on the Project RM4 table. It is referred to as TP41 or TP 42. Hmmmm Thorens Pipe? or Thorens Project? Both nomenclatures fit. No way is this arm worthy of a Thorens product. The counter weight is a joke. There is no way it can be threaded on the tonearm stub so as to be centered on the stub properly(see pic). I have tried countless times to get the counter weight to set centered and due to the decoupling rubber insert inside the counter weight this is impossible. For a $1,000.00 turntable this is an outrage to say the very least. As far as the cueing goes, forget about it. The amount of tone arm drift is absurd and thats being nice. Once tonearm is lifted,it will not come down anywhere near where it left the record grooves.To further compound matters there is no tone arm lock,just a U shapped cup to hold the tone arm!! Very hard to achieve zero balance so that the tone arm just floats,before adding tracking force and to further compound this problem there is no line on the stub to the counterweight to accurately apply proper tracking force.Once I had attained zero balance,which by the way was approximate, used a Shure stylus force gauge to set proper tracking force. OH by the way this is a $1,000.00 turntable.Hmmmm!

On this model 4 as opposed to the Model III, they added RCA plugs to the back,so you can use interconnects of you choice.However(see pic) they are located under the rear apron of the plinth and recessed enough to make it quite difficult to attach ground wire. The supplied interconnects on this table were quite lame and the connectors had to be crimped somewhat in order to get a ground. Remember this is a $1000.00 turntable -- ok?

Also on the Model 4 as opposed to the Model III they went with 3 feet as opposed to four on the Model III, but self leveling they are not on both models. Remember this is a $1,000.00 turntable.

The shipping carton is a single wall box,with the same lame interior packing that you get with Project turntables. This example got bounced around enough to dislodge the power button and sleeve. However just pop it back in and it works. Nice for a $1,000.00 turntable, real quality there.

And don't expect a MK 4 owners manual, you get the MKIII owners manual. Hmmmm,must be the MK 4 owners manual is a rare and collectible manual and at extra cost for the MK 4 owner! And by the way a few miniscule cents were saved by going to arabic numbers instead of Roman Numerials. The Thorens TD 295 MK III as opposed to Thorens 295 MK 4. Plus the fact that the tonearm and counterweight shown in the manual is not the same as on the MKIII or MK 4. Another plus for this $1,000.00 turntable.

The supplied phono cartridge on the Thorens MK III is an Ortofon OM10 and on the MK 4 it is an Audio Technica AT 95E. In this area I do not have a problem. Supplied phono cartridges are generally to be considered a minor plus,and should be replaced with something of higher quality. I used a Denon DL 110 high output moving coil on this table to enhance the sonics. The Denon DL 110 works okay with this arm,although I have heard it play much better with a Rega RB 300 arm.

In fact the Rega P3 with RB 300 arm is a by far better turntable at less cost than the Thorens/Project TD295 MK 4.

So what we have here is an overpriced Project Turntable sporting the Thorens name in the search of higher profits,price gouging and performance that does not meet the criteria of the Thorens name. This is a perfectly acceptable $400.00 to $600.00 turntable, nothing more and nothing less. It is by no means a Thorens turntable with all that name implies.

There were two reviews written on the Thorens 295 MK III. One by Charles Hansen in Audioxpress, Vol. 35, Issue 1, January,2004 and the other by Sallie Reynolds of AV Guide Monthly. No where in either of these reviews will you find menetion that this Thorens TD 295 MKIII is a hybrid product. Take these reviews with a large grain of salt. Apparently neither of these reviewers have much analog experience behind them.

From time to time I set up systems for fellow audiophiles and this is where the Thorens TD 295 MK4 enters the picture. Purchased this table based upon my 47 years in this hobby and based as well upon the time honored name of Thorens and at $1000.00 was expecting all that the Thorens name implies. I was not at all expecting a Thorens/Project turntable. I could not in all good conscience deliver this table to my fellow audiophile as a $1,000.00 turntable as it is not a $1,000.00 table. Instead delivered to him a Rega P3 at less cost and vastly improved sonics over the Thorens TD 295 MK4.

I was once a retailer of fine audio gear and Thorens was once in the product line carried and based upon all my years experience and former knowledge of Thorens prompted this purchase. For those of you new to analog or just getting back in, this is not your Daddy's Thorens, not even close. And I perish the thought of a MK5 version to say the very least.

Specs Below from Manufacturer.

technical data:

Drive system Thorens precision belt drive
Motor AC synchronous motor

Playback speeds 33 rpm
45 rpm

Speed select electronic

Turntable platter 12.0 " (304 mm) / 5.0 lbs (2.3 kg)
non magnetic

Tone arm Thorens TP 41

AT95E pick-up cartridge

Anti-skating thread and weight

Operation semi automatic

Switch off/lift mechanical

Signal lead capacitance 160 pF

Power supply AC-adapter
available for every voltage

Dimensions (W x H x D) 17.0 x 5.7 x 14.5 " (430 x 145 x 365 mm)

Weight 18.5 lbs (8.5 kg)

Finish black-, mahogany- and anise wood piano finish

As taken from the Thorens website on the Thorens TD 295 MK 4.

One can do much better in a $1,000.00 turntable than the Thorens TD 295 MK 4. Aside from the cosmetic beauty of this table there is little Thorens quality. As a Project table it represents good value, but not wearing the Thorens name. When it wears the Thorens name,that should say it all, sadly in this case it does not.

Maybe one day we will see the Thorens name restored to its former glory, and never again see a Thorens/Project product.

I have nothing but praise for the Project turntables,they offer outstamding value and in my opinion offer the best price/performance ratio in turntables today. And they are priced accordingly. The Thorens/Project 295 MK4 is a sad commentary for both companies. Although they may be owned by the same entity. I just don't know or care who owns what,except for the product that is in the market place. That I do care about and the product should represent value for the money spent. The Thorens TD 295 MK4 falls far short of value or quality as well as demeaning the Thorens name to audiophiles that once held the Thorens name in high esteem.

OH! and by the way if anyone and I do mean anyone thinks this is a $1,000.00 turntable,contact me at once. I have some very nice property in South Florida I am just itching to move on.

In conclusion this is my last Thorens product of any kind, until I am sure the name and product has been fully restored.

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

Similar products
Rega P2,P3,Music Hall,Dual,etc
It's sad that the lower end of the otherwise wonderful new Thorens line still contains products that harken back to the ugly dark days of Thorens during its post-CD collapse.

I had a similar experience with the TD185, or was it the 158? I posted a review here anyway. These junkheaps sell for between $300-$400 and are worth, maybe, half that, at best. I returned it immediately. The retailer actually offered me cash back to keep it! Thanks but no thanks.

The U.S. distributor of Thorens better either adjust their prices or get some better Thorens-branded products at the sub-$1000 level or they may have some very unhappy customers. Most disturbing is that many of these people will be new to vinyl and may be soured forever.

For $400 or less, you can easily get into a new Goldring GR-1 and maybe even a Rega P2 or NAD 533 if you shop around. Now those are worth every penny and then some. In fact, provided the parts supply holds up, they could even be lifetime investments -- and each one had a killer upgrade path. (Mats, counterweights, outboard motor controllers, VTA sleeves, etc.)

For $450 new, maybe $550, I'd be very happy with a TD295. At that price, it's competitive with the Music Hall and Pro-Ject models it shares so many parts with. But for $900 or $1000...they've got to be kidding.
I wish to be advised about the Pro-ject classic turntable (wood type finish) and the Pro-ject 2 Xperience. I really would like to have a description as to how they sound. I want to know exactly which of the two has a really sweet and warm sound. And in what way is Thorens TD 295 MK 4 comparable? Any reliability issues?
Many thanks
Have had the Project 1 Xperience and the 295 Mk IV. Both are exceedingly over priced turntables, that in my opinion offer only pedestrian performance.

For the same money or less the Rega P3 turntable with the supplied RB 300 tone arm, far exceeds the performance and value of the Project tables you have interest in.

Plus the Regas have a clear upgrade path later on for additional performance the Projects will never obtain.

Much can be said as well of The Music Hall turntables which come out of the same factory. To me after 48 years in this hobby/business the current crop of Project turntables and their brethern offer nothing in the price/performance arena.

The Rega P3 in stock form easily surpasses any Project turntable I have heard. If one wants a little more performance at the addition of a few more funds then check out the range of VPI turntables, that are unmatched in overall performance vs money spent.

Having had two of the various Project tables, I find zero that is enduring not only to a beginning audiophile, but to anyone that wants to get into vinyl playback.

Its your money choose wisely.
there is only one new model worthy of their legacy...the td350.....the rest are just badged wannabe's
Harsh review, but I'm still wondering what it sounds like. There is no mention of having listened to the turntable, only complaints about the price and similarities to Pro-Ject TTs. Can someone who has listened to it give us an update?
Yes I listen to it extensively for several weeks and came to the conclusion that a old Dual 1219 has better sonics and build quality than this so called Thorens unit. I know I put a Dual 1219(circa 1970) I had recently received on trade and evaluated both side by side. The old Dual, with its caveats was vastly sonicaly superior to the Thorens and tracked considerably better. When evaluated against a Rega P3 with RB 300 arm, it was a no contest. The Rega totally smoked the Thorens and at far less costs.

Save your money and get a Rega P3 as opposed to the Thorens TD295 MKIV. It barely rates as a $450.00 turntable,although there is better to be had at that price point as well. There is little quality on the Thorens and the tone arm is junk and has very poor tracking, when the old Dual can totally out track this Thorens. The counter weight on the Thorens cannot be properly centered on the tonearm stub and with that the tonearm wavers trying to stay in the groove.

The music when using this Thorens,is smeared, not well defined no sound stage. For purposes of side by side comparison phono cartridges were the same Ortofons OM 20 so to level playing field.

My opinion just avoid this Thorens 295 MKIV, it has zero place in any quality system and is totally over priced.
Thanks for clarifying.

Due to your comments, and those of other reviewers, I've chosen to go for the Goldring GR2 instead. Cheaper than the Thorens, and hopefully not dissimilar to the Regas in quality of build and sound.

The Goldring GR2 is a Rega P 2 clone. It is a very fine table and is upgradedable to further performance as time and budget dictates. In my opinion a far better choice than the Thorens TD 295 MK 4.
According to the Thorens web site, even the TD-158 is made in Germany
The above reviews although being, for the most part,spot on, are too ready to bash to TD 295. The table has its shortcomings, but not because its not a Rega. But because Thorens is not understanding that it is an Audiophile that will spend $1100.00 on a turntable, not the common consumer that wants something that is little better than what you can get at the big box electronics store. It certainly is better than what is found there, but it fails at being a true over achiever that a similarly priced Rega is. I do not think it was ever designed to be in the same league. To expect it be something it is not, I do not think is entirely fair to the merits the table does have. Although I never warmed up to the table, it is not junk. It is niche product that would serve someone who wants something that sounds nice without all the vigilance a manual table requires.

My experience with this table came by chance. My neighbor had purchased it just before being hospitalized. Knowing that I am an Audio Geek, he asked that I set it up for him. Me being the curious type, hooked the unit up to secondary system and ran it until his return. Over this six week period, I found it to perform well in some areas, but overall it did nothing spectacular enough to give me goose bumps.

Setting it up:
We removed the AT95e cartridge and replaced it with a Dynavector 10X5.
We also ditched the cheap-@$$ cables with some decent Kimber Kable 1m TAK cu RCA to RCA phono cables.

Since it absolutely has no damping the last piece that we got rid of was the stock slip mat and replaced it with an KG-104 anti-static mat.

Equipment used:
The phono stage: Bel Canto Phono One
Amplification: Magnum Dynalab 208 Receiver
Speaker: Polk LS 90 (A discontinued design, for 2 channel music, not to be compared the home theater centric product the company currently offers)
Phono Interconnects: Kable TAK cu RCA to RCA
Interconnects: Kimber Kable HERO
MIT speaker cables.

Fit and finish:
This model with its Mahogany finish, is sexy looking and has a great spousal acceptance factor. The plinth, the platter are substantial and are on par with the price point that the table is at. However I would like to have seen heavy acrylic platter instead of the metal one. They could at least put some silicone damping material on it. Do not get me wrong the TD-295’s platter is OK, but not really worthy of a $1,100.00 turntable. The supplied slip mat and interconnects are also substandard and were promptly replaced,. The power supply, motor and belt assembly are made by Project so this table is not a true Thorens. However they are good enough. I liked the use of an external power supply, it is lightweight, bordering on cheap, but overall it’s sufficient. The supplied cartridge was decent but a $1,100.00 table should have something a little more high end. So we mounted the Dynavector 10x5. This where we ran into the table’s major short coming.

The TP 41 tonearm is an ill conceived design that has no business being on a table at this price point. It is a tinny, ultra light thing, that gave us hell of time when mounting a heavier cartridge like the Dynavector. Everything about this arm is shoddy, from the thin wire used for the tone arm cradle, to the lamp cord like interconnects, to the dingle-berry of a anti skating weight. In order to get the tracking force right we had to go to an heavier aftermarket counterweight. Now I see why these ship with a factory cartridge. The head shell leads are these thin pieces of thread, that I also found difficult to work with, If your somebody like me whose handy man skills are lacking, I recommend you bring it to someone with the tools and resources to professionally set it up. Your life will be much easier. The output jacks are fine and are on par with the TT’s price point.

Equipment compared to:
Rega Planar 25 with the same cartridge.
Project RM 4 with Grado Prestige Gold.

In this system I have a Rega planar 25 with the same cartridge. Since I own this table I am biased towards Rega. I also have an Project RM-4 that I do not like, but hooked it up for another comparison. So the other bias I have is I am no fan of Project tables. This being a re-badged Project has put it in position of having an uphill battle with me. However, the sound of the table was pretty good. Properly set up the arm tracks well, and held the stylus solid in the grooves. The sound is more veiled than the Rega but I found it engaging and satisfying. The motor is isolated well and the noise floor is nice and quiet, just as quiet as the Rega. Definitely quieter and cleaner sounding than the Project RM-4 it made me forget that it was made by the same company. Overall its sonic signature is drier, more analytical. Having a very different sound than my Rega 25. So if you are used to the effervescent character of a Rega this table may not be a good choice for you. Even so, I did enjoy its sonic flavor. Do I think it’s on par with my Rega? No, because the Rega’s arm is a much better design it will grab a lot more music out of the grooves putting more flesh on your recordings than the Thorens ever will.

Ease of use:
This is the area where it outshines my Rega. The belts and pulley system on this table are IMHO better designed. One of my beefs with the Rega is they use a low torque motor, so unless you give the platter a little nudge with your finger while stating it up the belt starts to slip, putting additional wear on it. Not a big deal overall, but forget to do this, the P-25 starts to make some really alarming noises. With the TD 295-MK-IV the thing just starts up, and after a few seconds is up to speed, no muss or fuss.

The other thing I liked is the speed control. To switch from 33 1/3 to 45 is merely a flip of a switch. While the Rega you have to pull the platter off and place the belt onto the larger pulley, then put the platter back onto the table. I absolutely hate this. Not only am I stretching the hell out of it, the oils from my fingers are not doing the P-25’s belt much good.

The third feature was unexpected. This table has an optical auto shut off. So when the tonearm reaches the end of a record, there is small pop and the table shuts off. It is not like the semi automatic tables of 70’s and 80’s so it does not return the tonearm to its cradle. But if you are not too ambulatory, or have a habit of falling asleep in your listening chair this feature it will save a lot wear and tear on your stylus. Because my neighbor is not in the best of health, this I am sure is the reason he purchased it. It just too bad it not built like the old Thorens table he was familiar with when he was young man. I found the Auto shut off feature quirky, If you use it on a mass market release by a major label it works fine, but put a MOFI or some Audiophile re-release in the thing it will just keep going and not turn off. I suspect with these re-issues the diameter of the dead groove is larger, so the tone arm does not come close enough to engage the optical sensor that's suppose to turn it off.

Overall value:

My friend, did you really pay $1100.00 for this table? Fortunately for him he did not, this was a closeout that he obtained for $699.00. I still think that $499.99 should have been its price point, but this amount is certainly closer to the mark than $1,100.00. This table is definitely not worth the original list price. The tone arm is just too chintzy. The Auto Shutoff is a nice but its fidgety. The biggest issue with this table has an identity crisis. It does know if its Mid-Fi product like a Denon or Hi End like a Rega. So it’s designed to be something in between. Its plinth, bearing and motor are on par with a higher end tables, but it is more of a Mid-Fi offering. If you like its looks and features and are strongly considering purchasing it... Even at the $699.00 price, I strongly suggest you look at an Rega P-3 24. Which can be had for not that much more money. If you plan to spend the full $1100.00 on this thing? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Save your money awhile longer and go with an tripped out Rega, P3-24, stock P-5 or ClearAudio Emotion. There you will get something that is truly designed to be precision source component and not some hybrid want a be. At the time of writing this review, my friend has been released from the hospital. Since then I have a put it in his old 70’s era Pioneer Receiver with Advent Speakers. It is working out for him just fine and he seems to be happy with it. However, In the near future I have a sneaking suspicion that my friend will be asking me to setup something else.

I could have been a contender:
What is sad about this table is with a better platter and tonearm like an Rega RB-251, this would have had the potential to be a darling of the industry. But since it has none of those things, it has become something of a pariah. I am not sure if that is fair, but neither is expecting someone to pay $1,100.00 for it.
Being the OP on this some 6 years ago, I am totally dismayed that this product is still in production and being purchased by unsuspecting consumers. It still remains as sad commentary on the once proud Thorens name, that is no longer.
I know this is an old thread but what a review. I too have been into hifi since my early teens and I am now 55. Wanting a turntable with an auto shut off without buying cheap chinese I chose the Thorens which I am listening to as I type. Realizing mine is newer I would take issue with many aspects of your review. I would agree paying 1100 is a bit much and I bought mine from AA for 699. Yes the needle doc and lp gear still want full price. But I would also add I really cannot see the justification for the cost of many turntables. They are relatively basic. The quality of construction is excellent. Yes it is a hybrid but I have zero issues with my tonearm. It sets down were it was lifted from even though it really is not something I really need. But perfect. I am not sure what the issue with the weight was but mine screwed on easily, balanced easily and I was set. Yes there is no reference line but it is not the first and the degree of aacuracy lost is minimal and insignificant. As far as the counterweight being accurate there are some that say you should always use a gauge. Interconnects. They are of good quality. I am a non-believer and follow the Audio Critic and as long and the quality is good then I am satisfied. Ground wire needed no crimping. The platter with 2 holes. I cannot count the times I have seen DD turntables with holes admittedly somtimes for sensors. As for sound, given the constraints of the AT cartridge it sounds wonderful. Other gear include Vandersteen 2Ce sig and a pair of 2qw subs, Anthem P2 amp, Adcom 750 preamp and Vincent phono preamp. As far as the review by Charles Hansen, if memory serves me he runs Arye and he should know a little about analog audio gear.