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.
Drive system Thorens precision belt drive
Motor AC synchronous motor
Playback speeds 33 rpm
Speed select electronic
Turntable platter 12.0 " (304 mm) / 5.0 lbs (2.3 kg)
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 SystemSimilar products
Rega P2,P3,Music Hall,Dual,etc