Turntable advice-thorens questions

Hello! I'm looking at some of the restored Thorens units here for sale in the $1500.00 range. My question is-am I going to get the most bang for my buck by doing this or should I be looking at a new unit? Right now I have a fairly nice 2 channel system I have around $12k invested, so something that will do justice to my $$ spent.
Thanks for your advice.
if you are fan of Thorens tables and collector, then you should buy the old ones....if you want "modern" sound and use "modern" cartridges, you should look for new tables......
What restored Thorens tables are you considering 125/126 series, 121, 124, or what? It's as if I told you that I wanted a Mopar and would that be good wheels for me.

Ground zero for all things Thorens is The Analog Department site, but Thorens made tens of different models and they have very different drive systems and very different sounds.
Agree with Prcinka and Viridian. You must decide if you want to collect old TTs or a modern TT that will handle modern cartridges and so forth.

I started in vinyl with a rehabed old Thorens. It was nice, but I ultimately wound up with a VPI Classic.

As I've mentioned before in other threads, I had some problems finding a cartridge that worked well with the VPI JMW unstabilized uni-pivot arm. But after some false starts, I settled on the VPI Zephyr. In any case, VPI isn't the only good modern TT. The question you need to answer for yourself is do you want a collectors piece or a modern TT that can handle modern hi-end cartridges.

Good luck.
Best vintage thorens belt drive is the TD125 and for idler td124. Make sure the plinth is high quality, not just one of those silly re-painted stock particle board ones you see here all the time like in those cheapo "bold restoration" thorens ads.

For real rad restoration and modded vintage decks you generally get what you pay for, so cheap is not really the way to go. Also resale value is greatly affected, if you buy one that is done half way right ala "bold" then you will lose your tail on resale value. Find one with a real solid maple plinth or similar with the properly serviced and restored internals and you are set. Dc motors are nice with the td125's, heard one before and it was impressive.
Linn LP-12 is the best Thorens I know; better bearing and platter. A good second hand should be within your price range.

You can get a very nice Linn LP12 for that money or a VPI
I upgraded from Thorens to Linn and never looked back. The Linn sounds fuller, richer and more life like. quieter too.

The gentleman who sold me my LP12 upgraded to a VPI at multiples of the Linns price and felt, that while the VPI was better, he was not sure it was worth the much higher cost.
Vintage Linn Lp12 is overrated imo and are tweaky as heck, especially earlier versions. They can sound nice but suspension are a pain to setup and need alot of attention to be anything worth while. Look inside a vintage Lp12 and look inside a vintage Thorens TD150 and they are almost identical. Imo I'd get a restored and replinthed td125 with fixed suspension and call it a day.
With over 53 years in this hobby and having been down every route imaginable. My best advise is to buy a VPI or Sota. Both are American made tables, should service be an issue these companies remain in business and are financially stable. Both VPI and Sota have clear upgrade paths so that your purchase does not become obsolete. Plus one can call them and get advice. Another table I recommend is the Rega P2 or P3 as well as the Nottingham. With these tables that are UK built you will have to rely on your dealer for service, should that become an issue but both Rega and Nottingham are well built precision tables.
Jeremy 72, You abviously recognised the origin of LP-12.
I stated 'the best Thorens' that I know. There is no question about that the bearing, the platter and the suspension of Lp 12 is better than by any Thorens. BtW the
steel plate by LP 12 is the part of suspension. The Linn
may be 'overrated' in comparison with some other turntables
but not in comparison to Thorens. This however is what we are talking about. I owned LP-12 for 10 years and moved on to Kuzma Stabi Reference. I want mention the price difference. But to my knowledge geting a good second hand LP-12 for $1500 is still a bargain.

Nandric, if one carefully shops, they can pick up a used VPI Classic for just a little more than $1500. Any preference or views about the "old" LP-12 versus the "new" VPI Classic??
I just want to make a few comments about support in response to Ferraris post. First, VPI has orphaned both the Jr. and MK1 though MK3 turntables that are so common on the used market. They are no longer supported by the company.

SOTA is now owned by the Bodinets and the marque is very well supported, however IMHO the prices that they are charging for support are quite venturesome. Take that with a grain of salt as I find much high end pricing venturesome.

There is an entire industry that has grown up around support for the Thorens TD124 and that support is excellent. Both parts and refurbishing are available from a number of sources. Perhaps because of the competition, parts prices seem quite reasonable, though complete rebuilds start at "expensive" and go up from there, again IMHO. I should also point out that the 124 is a much more complicated turntable than the VPIs, SOTAs and Linns of the world, with the possible exception of the SOTA vacuum platter models, but don't get me started on that one.
I beg to differ on the support in regards to the VPI HW 19 MK 1 through MK IV turntables. As a owner of a MK IV, I have always received great support on this table when the need has come about. My last support for this table was about 3 months ago and Harry was most helpful. If things have changed in the interim 90 days then thats news to me. If indeed support is no longer there does not raise a problem as this is one of the most rugged and durable turntables that were produced and is dirt simple in its design. While its true that not all parts of the past are available on the MKIV, Harry has kept supplying upgrades from time to time. I no longer have a MKI, MKII or MKIII VPI so I cannot comment on that. However my interest is now peaked and phone call to Harry on Tuesday is indeed forthcoming. Gad I've know him for well over 25 years now.

However a word of caution on the new Thorens products, They aren't your Daddy's Thorens. Now owned by Project which makes tirntables uner their own name as well as Music Hall, Thorens and probably some others. The current Thorens product is very sad commentary on what was once a very proud name in analog playback. I would avoid any new Thorens product as nothing more or less than rebadged Project turntables.
Agreed F, the new Thorens company is just trading on the name, sad indeed.

And give Sheila my best if you speak with her. VPI customer support is truly fantastic. And I did not comment on the HW19 MKIV as I have no experience with it, but the MKI through have not been supported for many years. Interestingly, there used to be a statement to that effect in their FAQ but it is no longer there.
Agreed the new Thorens are just marketing and fluff - new company riding an old name, nothing worth buying. But I would take any well done vintage Td125 or Td124 (or LP12) over the blah VPI HW19. VPI's in my experience are showy commercial main stream hi-end over hyped and not one bit musical in the least - waaaayy over rated shoddy built (mostly) tables. Its one of those always well reviewed comm. mfg. seen all over the mags but you know its just for people who dont know any better so they buy mainly based on mag reviews, rec. component lists and press. They kinda remind me of like Def. Tech speakers or the like, always great reviews and shiny mag. ads but in reality don't sound good and much better available out there. ymmv.
Jeremy, regrettably, I can't share your take on VPIs. I own the Classic (w/ Classic 3 arm), The da*n thing is built like a tank. Put treads, a 125mm cannon on it and voila, it's an Abrams main battle tank.

The main platter weighs 18 lbs and the motor is firmly attached to the plinth. No vibrations that I can detect. Customer support is 120%.

My problem is with the design of the unstabilized uni-pivot arm. It's a bitch to set up (mostly azimuth) and a bitch to get some cartridges to work. See my threads on this issue. HOWEVER, once set up is done and once you get a cartridge that works, the da*n thing sings. And, since I've screwed around with the set up so much now, I can do it in my sleep.

One day, I may try slapping on a used Graham arm to see what happens. But that's tomorrow's project. IMHO FWIW!
The Classic might be the best sounding VPI ever made and might even be the best honestly built they've made too, especially for the money. But, we were not talking about the Classic which has only been around a short while anyway. Long history of that commercial hifi company making not so well built and very mediocre sounding tables. More power to them for selling so many of these things, after all people are in business to sell and make a profit but again imo and ime VPI are fair to mediocre at best all the way around. For musicality I'd take a restored and plinthed TD125 or restored LP12 over 98% of the tables VPi has ever made, regardless of how heavy the darn platters are. ymmv
Does it really take 25 years to figure out that a metal platter sounds better than a plastic platter?
Thank you all for your "spirited" advice! I think I will continue to research my avenues before I make an investment. The VPI's seem to have an excellent recommendation. I just know some of the newer tables, as with most things in life, are made in China and are substandard to old time craftmenship that I appreciate. Again, thanks for the advice!
Even in the 60's and 70's Thorens were using quality metal platters. The TD125's had balanced metal platters and subplatters which were made from cast zinc alloy + aluminum and the actual top chassis plates were made from super heavy thick cast aluminum. The TD124 idler platters (depending on the era) were made from Zinc alloy, aluminum or cast iron.



At some point during the 70's Thorens started to get el cheapo with their tables and internal parts starting with the TD160 MkII, MkIII, TD165, 166, TD126's,MkI, ect..... which lead to their ultimate demise. imo

Very very few (if any) VPI's will ever stand the test of time like the famous Thorens TD125, TD124 and LP12. imho

Looks wise, imo a super modded td125 looks way more boss in comparison to a vpi classic. That artisen Maple frame plinth or whatever you call it is waaayyyy nicer than the super cheapo medium desity fiberboard plinth on the Classic. C'mon a cheapo mdf plinth & lame finish on a table that costs that much? Really man?? And those wobbly arms, geesh.

Boss td125


VPI Classic


VPI makes some cool looking tables, ill give em that, they were one of the first commercial made high end tables that every caught my eye when I first started looking at high end audio gear. Show, sure. But Go, not really... imho
Viridian go to the VPI website and click on Accesories and there you will find a whole host of HW 19 parts and supplies. Anyway time to call Sheila and get my quarterly dose of New York/New Jersey accent. Gotta love it reminds me of my CBS days in the city.

Prowling around my storage bin and trying to clear out some needless crap I have kept. Came across a Thorens TD 115 turntable. Its been there awhile thats for sure. I can't remember where it came from now or how I acquired. Not a very impressive Thorens. Anyway dragged it home to clean it. Belt is dried out, so it needs that. Looks like a mid seventies offering. Maybe a trade in when I had a store. But really don't think I would have taken this Thorens as a trade though. Can't be worth much though. Has a Shure V15 IV cart on tone arm.

I don't have solid information about this, but was told by someone years ago, that when Thorens was acquired, the new owners disposed of all the existing parts for previous tables and dumped them in a landfill. However just do not have concrete relaible source to document what actaully happen when Thorens was acquired.
I have owned several VPI decks as well as many Thorens units, including a TD-124 rebuild I just completed. I would say that, in a nutshell, the VPI Classic (for example) and the Thorens TD-124 (also for example) are very different in both design concept and in sound reproduction.

VPI sells a turntable system: a deck, platter and arm as a matched set. It works very well, for the most part. I would have to say that the best single turntable I ever owned was my (gone and lamented) Aries 1. But I grew tired of the limitations regarding the unipivot JMW tonearm, although the newer and the 12" models are substantially better than my original 10" unit.

The TD-124 is a turntable project. Acquiring a TD-124 will almost certainly mean a substantial investment in time and money if you want to wring out all that the unit is capable of. First, you must match an arm and cartridge (and possibly an arm mounting system). Then there's the plinth. Motor rebuild? Almost assuredly. And then there's the strobe system, which is probably the easiest and least expensive modification. The result? A turntable that simply excels in reproduction of well recorded analog music.

Is it worth the trouble? For me, yes. I compared the TD-124 (Schick tonearm, Ortofon SPU G II) last night to a friend's fully loaded VPI TNT V (Ortofon Kontrapunkt B). While listening to a mix of music that included everything from jazz and blues to opera; the Thorens deck provided a much more palpable timbre to instruments and voices. And the Thorens didn't have or require any of the fiddly bits (rim drive, platter ring) that were deemed necessary for best performance on the VPI deck. It wasn't until we switched to jazz fusion and rock that I preferred the VPI, although in reality I believe that what I preferred was the Kontrapunkt B cartridge for these pieces.

If I had a large collection of mostly rock/pop recordings, I would probably just take the easy route and buy a Classic. But id I had a substantial investment in older recordings, classical or jazz music I believe that the old idler wheel magic has something to offer. There is a good reason why there is a robust market for used 124s and Garrard 301/401 decks.
Ferrari, you are absolutely correct, there are lots of HW-19 parts available. Appologies to you and to VPI for the disinformation.

Agree with Br3098, very good point about the VPIs being systems and some Thorens being projects. Did anyone see the Thorens 521 and SME3012 arm here on the 'gon yesterday? I was salivating over that one.
I saw that TD521, it was nice but still uses a factory cheapo pressed board with veneer for the frame. Would rather have this TD125 Long Base with new DC motor and thick real maple plinth.


Only thing is maybe a dust cover for it, maybe someone knows of an acrylic mfg that woul d make a custom cover of some kind. Guess it would be fine without one though, and might rather see it out in the open anyway.

I understand the 521 was dirt cheap though and would rather have it than a Rega / music hall or whatever. Bet the 521 would still sound really good though, if the electronics inside were ok.
520/521 were not that "cheap"....the build is not the 60ties(aka 124) but there was something of the Thorens "magic" in the sound.....the best "Thorens" was the EMT cross EMT 928......
Agreed. The EMT 928 which was essentially a highly optimized TD125 with better electronics, a fixed suspension and better motor with slightly different top plate was a legend in turntables.

With mucho modifications a stock TD125 can be converted to elite performance status similar to EMT. If you look at that website in the above post, they seem to recognize this and is exactly what they are up to.