Thorens, TD-125 MKII


A friend is buying this old turntable in good condition.  He wants to know how this table would compare to a $1000 turntable produced today.  Any weak spots?  What cartridge under $700 would be best?  Pro? Cons?
normantaylor
Inspect the circuit boards.. Make sure everything works.. I've had a couple.. The caps will fail and the stupid motor will start up backwards too.. Thorens use one of two different motors. There is a third but you don't see it very often.

Add a knock kit to the motor if it needs it.. Belt, change the oil, change the gummy puffers in the springs.. Add a dampening kit. Total about 100-150, with new caps for the startup, and a couple other things..

111, 134, 135, 184 (?), 224, 124. Different motor, quite a bit bigger..

When they are serviced, they are as good as any quality TT out there.. Tonearm is optional.. 9 or 10" or a separate perch per tonearm..

126 that really had some issues if you weren't careful.. PC boards and green slime..

Regards
I bought a TD-125 Mk.2 new in '73. It was defective out of the box: bad electronics. I had it in the warranty station I don't know how many times, and finally sold it. Tell your friend to look for a VPI HW-19 Mk.2, 3, or 4. Much better table imo.
I went with Soundsmith. Carmen II (medium compliance) MI cart..

Ortofon Black is a real keeper for a MM cart.

Both are right at 700-1,000.00

No SUT needed either..

I’m using an external Decware ZP3 for a phono/tape preamp from a 40 year old Ear and a few Macs with serious tweaked phono stages... I have a Puffin that is a real keeper for the money too.. Great for recording/playback and just so tweakable..

You need a decent phono stage, to go with your cart choice.. Both of these carts work well with either phono stage, ZP3 or the Puffin.

Regards
What tonearm does it have?

Mine has an SME 3009 II non-improved, but I have seen TD125's with two different versions of the Thorens TP16 tonearm.

One version has a fairly high effective mass (15+ grams) and the later version is much lower (7-8 grams).

This should be taken into consideration when selecting a cartridge.

DeKay

The TP16 tonearm was an upgrade from the MK1 to the MK2. I have a TP16 on my TD160 and it’s just OK, nothing to rave about but it’s functional. Mission tonearms as well as the SME tonearms were popular upgrades. The vintage Thorens tables are a project. If that’s your friends aim, to improve on an old Thorens, then have fun and in the end, it’ll be worth it. Otherwise, how about a Rega? Rega’s aren’t built like a VPI but they sound very good given there price point.

 

I have a Thorens TD 124 with SME III and Ortofon 30H I bought as a visual icon, a handsome combination. I was surprised that it sounds so good playing expensive vinyl, but it gets no more than yearly play when a vinyl-head cousin comes for Xmas. I used a Parasound JC 3 phono stage and now an Ayre P-5xe. It’s Roon for me.

dbphd, how did you tame the motor noise coming from the TD124?

The evolution of the Thorens was to eventually compete with the Linn Sondek hence the TD160 Super. Two reasons why I believe Thorens fell short;

1) Thorens made it more difficult to replace the tonearm since there TD124.

2) The TP16 tonearms didn't rise to the same standard as the Linn tonearms.

goofy foot, on the few occasions I’ve used the TD 124 I’ve been unaware of any motor noise. It’s quiet and the strobe stays fixed. I bought it from a fellow at a Santa Barbara audio shop who restores turntables as a hobby. The price, IIRC, was under $500, which I never understood -- and he set it up for me. Add the handsomely intricate SME III arm and the offer was irresistible. I’ve admired the TD 124 since I first saw one, but being a student, they were well beyond my financial reach. This was a period when I built my own speaker cabinets and amp kits, a decade before the Marantz 18, AR3a speakers, and AR turntable of my post-doc years.

dbphd, dealers and owners that I’ve talked to have made claims of noise and advised me to stay away from buying a TD124. The motors for the TD124 and for the Garrard 301 are similar in that they are big, in order to meet the work load. The frustration seemed to be that the motor noise was impossible to tame so I’d see extremely heavy slate plinths’, etc…But technology changes and it could be that the tech who restored your Thorens knew of a way to keep it quiet. My guess is that if you ever decide to sell it, that you’ll ask for more than $500.00.

 

goofyfoot, my TD 124 is quiet and sounds superb playing high quality vinyl, but when I bought it I didn’t care how it performed. It looked like a fine example of an icon I've wanted. I’m 85, so I’d guess within the next 20 years or so it’ll be auctioned off as part of my estate.

goofyfoot, not coasting, still trying to decide what I want to be when i grow up.

The evolution of the Thorens was to eventually compete with the Linn Sondek 

The Linn was a ripoff of the Ariston RD11, which in turn was a ripoff of the Thorens TD150, which predated the Linn by a considerable margin.

The Thorens TD-125 had been in production for several years before the Sondek hit the market. I bought a Mk.2 version in '73, don't know how it differed from the original ("Mk.1"), but it never worked right. I replaced it with a TD-150, basically a TD-125 without the electronics. There was later a TD-126, a real gaudy-looking table. The Sondek was (and is) a model of outward simplicity, inner attention to detail.