Check on VPI turntables....no better value, customer service, etc. They can get you a cartridge for their tables and mount it as well. Call/E-mail ....worth your time.
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I had that exact turntable for several decades, and now use a VPI Classic III for 5 years. While I can't give you a one-to-one simultaneous comparison, I can make some observations between the two and a conclusion.
The Thorens was a fine design in its day. It is a suspension design, and the platter is relatively light. A recurring problem I had was with the needle bouncing when we walked on the floor, and this happened in several different houses. Finally I build a heavy oak and plywood wall platform, screwed into the wall studs that solved that problem. I did like the magnetic anti-skating adjustment, which was quite simple to set up and calibrate with an uncut test record. Also, the head-shell plugs into the arm, and the removability helps when setting up the cartridge. Adjusting the tracking force is very easy. It has no adjustment for VTA as I recall, and is a classic gimbal arm suspension. Sonically, it has a bit of rumble, but certainly less than inexpensive turntables of the day. I never noticed any wow or flutter, but one would replace the old belt with a new one to get the best results.
The VPI is far more massive and probably weighs 4x as much as the 160. I have it on a wooden table that sits on the floor, and I can jump up and down without the needle moving, so it is very stable. The tonearm is a uni-pivot design, which means that it will take a very long time to carefully adjust all the angles and is a real pain to change cartridges. On the other hand, if your budget allows, one can purchase a second arm for a second cartridge such that one can switch cartridges (with arms) in literally one minute. VTA is adjustable on the fly if you like that sort of thing. Sonically, this thing is eerily quiet, easily besting the 160. If one looks at stats I'd bet that wow and flutter are better as well. The motor is powerful enough to be able to use the heavy center weight it comes with, useful in flattening records and maximizing their coupling to the platter.
I haven't commented on other audible differences as I used very different cartridges and amplification- an Ortofon MM in the case of the 160 and a Lyra Delos MC with the VPI, so it would not be valid. But I can say that as set up, the VPI is vastly better. Hope this helps.
I had a td166 that I'm sorry I sold. I had that same thought some years ago and bought an $1800 entry table. My $40 used TD 166 was much better sound. I have since sold the new and rebuilt and older 125. Now My current project is garrard 401.
You can hear a bit here: http://brooklynaudiophile.blogspot.com
What I have found since, is that new entry level equipment is often inferior to stock or tweaked out old school. You may consider waiting until you can afford a real upgrade. ~ or perhaps in the mean time, an MP 500 cart or some mods for the 160.
Quite a few of these vintage vs. new threads around lately. Folks talking about amplifiers, speakers, cables, and now even vintage vs. new turntables.
If the rest of the threads are any consensus, there will be no consensus. Some favor vintage, while others favor new. Generally the common feel seems to be that vintage is different sounding than newer gear. Different may, or may not be perceived as "better" in the ear of the beholder.
If you are happy with the way your system sounds, maybe buy another Nagaoka as Schubert suggests, and spend the rest of the money on some new or vintage vinyl.
A stock 160 is ok compared to today's tables. However, if you are willing to modify it with a new plinth and tone arm you will bring it into a new class that competes nicely with tables costing much more. Add a Music Hall speed control and you just might me happy for some time. It would be a project but one that you just might enjoy and take pride in. Isn't that what this hobby is all about?
Phduncanson, good advice save for perhaps the MP-500.
I've tried every cart in the Nagoka line and the shibata stylus on the MP-500 is not easy to get right.
200-300- 500 are all the same cart, different stylus.
I use the 200 and often better than 500 because its easier to set up right.
The 150 or its stylus in 110 is not far behind, real value for money.
thanks for the input
i see that Audible illusions recommends specific cartridges for my 2d.
i get the project idea i like projects but i seem to have too many right now.
I really wanted to know if you can just spend $600 and get a good turntable instead of working on the Thorens. It seems like its up in the air and personal preference like the rest of the Audio world!
Fivefasts ... been there and done this. I used to own the same Thorens with stock arm, .... the TD or TP 16. I since moved on to a tricked out VPI Classic with an upgraded Classic 3 300 rpm motor and Classic 3 tone arm and wand.
I wish I could it was a close call ... but it wasn't. The VPI Classic is built like a tank The tone arm wand can handle pretty much any low to medium cartridge on the market.
If you're really in the market for a new TT, you won't go wrong with a VPI. I also suggest the Lyra Kleos or at least Delos for a cartridge.
Consider preowned to save bucks, even a basic Classic 1 or 2. The factory can work with you as with me to trick it out with Classic 3 add-ons.