The problem is, you got your 'table too cheap: everything from here on in you buy will seem expensive. The Rega RB250 is the obvious choice, but costs a few hundred, unless you get it used, and even then... You could try to find an older arm, such as the Grace tonearms, or a Mayware, but chances are they'll be attached to other used 'tables, and you'll have to buy the whole package. The cheapest option would be to buy a decent interconnect, and solder it directly to the tags the Thorens arm is soldered to, thus substituting the crappy RCA wire with a good one. Then buy a good mat for your platter, or use contact cement (removeable when you want to undo it) to glue the rubber mat it came with (one of my favourite methods) to the outer platter (being careful it is centred: put the glue on the outer platter only, and neatly - no slop - put the outer platter on the sub-platter and put the mat back on the platter, pressing firmly) which always results in an audible improvement with rubber/metal interfaces (some cheap plastic mats, however, react badly). Then buy a Shure M97xE, something like $90, which is relatively insensitive to the quality of tonearms, and sounds very dynamic and clear - a budget champion on less-than-stellar turntables. The end result should surprise you.
Thanks very much, johnnantais,
Your response is just what I was hoping for and I appreciate your taking the time to share your knowledge. I didn't know if Rega arms would fit the Thorens. Would you recommend an Incognito wired RB250 or an RB300? My system is Cary SLP90 preamp, CJ Premier 11 amp and Magnepan MG2.5's. I'm using an old Dynaco Pas3 for the phono pre. Would I be able to hear the difference in the above tonearms and/or wiring kit with this rig?
With that setup you'd definitely hear great differences, and could upgrade your phono stage later, though the Dynaco stage is probably quite good (you could make a project of this as well). Probably, with all the tubes in your system, a Clearaudio phono stage, which is slightly analytical but very accurate, would mesh in well. As to the various Regas available: first dismantle your Thorens to make sure the Rega will fit, both in depth, it's something like 1 1/2" deep, and in width, I think .75". If it's too deep, you can probably just remove the bottom and raise it up on Tiptoes or something for the required clearance. Then go to a plastics shop to have the cheap plastic armboard I assume is there imitated in acrylic with the requisite armhole drilled out. If you're handy with tools, then buy some Birchply-wood and make an armboard from that, which will probably sound better. Just imitate the armboard that's there, mount the Rega, and presto.
The Rega RB250 is cheaper and lighter (more plastic), the 300 heavier and so perhaps more problematic. If you've got the dough for the Incognito kit, then go for that, or perhaps better, the Origin Live kit, which includes a new machined stub and counterweight as well as the wiring. But a stock Rega will still sound quite good, which could be modified later. If it's good enough for Roksan... I build record-players from disparate parts all the time: afterwards, you get the satisfaction of knowing you're listening to your own product, and had fun for a relatively low price. Let me know what you decide!
And you're very welcome.
John is giving you great advice. The rest of your system is world's beyond a beat up thrift TT, obviously, so you will indeed hear the benefits of a decent arm like a Rega.
Of course there's real danger that you'll soon hear the limits of TT and/or cartridge and want to upgrade them to better suit your system. Fortunately, Regas travel well. They are a great match for many other tables and mate well with a wide range of cartridges. This is not true of some arms.
FWIW, Origin Live believes the RB250 with their mods ends up being a better arm than an RB300 with the same mods. The 300 has a VTF spring that resonates and causes problems. The 250's simpler design is actually a better base for modding into a good arm for relatively low $.
Welcome to vinyl madness and enjoy the journey!
Dougdeacon read my mind: as I was writing you the last info, I was thinking that you could later transfer the arm to your next 'table. Thorens has always made excellent bearings, though, and so you should get some enjoyment out of that rig for a while, anyway. He's right about the RB250, too. The issue is a little more complicated, however, as the RB300's springs actually work in reverse, applying "upforce" and not "downforce", thereby allowing the counterweight to sit closer to the bearing, which lowers the effective mass of the arm and so improves the sound. I always question what seems to be developing into Dogma. It would be interesting to organize some kind of shootout. Sorry, I'm needlessly complicating things. The RB250 is cheaper, and so is in this sense a better match for your 'table, and it may, after all, be better...Welcome to the madness.
I don't know if you're re-checking this thread any more, but just in case, I thought I'd offer you some encouragement with respect to your Thorens: read the "Why can't I hear 20 years of progress?" thread, 8-11-03, in which a man with an old Thorens - tweaked - and cheap MM cartridge can't hear the difference between his old Thorens with original arm and a Rega Planar 25 mounted with a Grado Reference. Before you write this off, he has, like you, quite a decent system. I've believed for a while now that the superiority of modern systems is an assumption which must be questioned. I have a collection of "high-end" record players as well as some humbler ones, and one of the best is an old AR-XA mounted with a Mayware tonearm, which I bought for about $30. Before you replace the tonearm, you should hear it with the aforementioned Shure and tweaks, or simply leap onto the Shure V15, which is highly-regarded by the TAS staff and is quite insensitive to tonearms, one of the best in this regard. Of course, if you already have the Rega, this will allow you to eventually go MC. Have fun.
Hello, I have a TD150mkII I put a Rega RB250 on it and made a armboard out of .375" mdf, you can buy a new RB250 for $200.00 right on Audiogon and it's very easy mount, dill one 23mm hole,Good Luck rkay5
The Thorens TD150mkII is a great table to tweak, on my td150 all underside has cork for better damping ,remove speed selector and changed the motor to one from a TD146 that is a 16V~motor and use a Pro-ject Speed Box that drop's 60Hz to 50Hz to make the motor run more quiet and gave me push button speed control,Rega RB250 arm Rega Super Bias cartridge,Ringmat 330XLR.For a poor worker like me I now have a very Highend turntable that sound great with my Creek 4330R and Creek A43Biamped.Robert