Thorens MM-008 Ana­log to Dig­i­tal Con­verter (ADC)

NOVO - - PRODUCT REVIEW - Mal­colm J. Gomes

For many of us who have got­ten used to the rel­a­tively su­pe­rior con­ve­nience of stor­ing, ac­cess­ing and play­ing dig­i­tal mu­sic files, it is quite a chore to play our mu­sic col­lec­tion on vinyl records. It is a pain to gin­gerly take vinyl records out of their sleeves, place them on the turntable, clean them and then care­fully place the sty­lus on the disc. It is also a pain to re­peat the whole process ev­ery 20 to 25 min­utes when the sty­lus reaches the end of each side of a vinyl record. I also find it an­noy­ing try­ing to place the sty­lus on ex­actly the right spot when I want to hear a par­tic­u­lar track on a vinyl record and it is not the first track on the disc.

In con­trast, with dig­i­tal mu­sic tracks, all you need is just one or two clicks of the mouse to in­stantly play any track in your col­lec­tion and, un­like vinyl, you can make your favourite playlists for ev­ery one of your moods and jump from any track to any other track, again, with just a click or two with­out even leav­ing your sweet spot.

To tran­scend the draw­backs of lis­ten­ing to vinyl we have the op­tion of con­vert­ing all our vinyl based mu­sic into dig­i­tal files and stor­ing them on our com­put­ers or ex­ter­nal hard drives so that we can en­joy them with the con­ve­nience that dig­i­tal play­back of­fers. How­ever, hith­erto, we had to opt for ei­ther the very af­ford­able USB turnta­bles that made the process very sim­ple but re­sulted in dig­i­tal files that are a poor fac­sim­ile of vinyl play­back in terms of sound qual­ity or al­ter­na­tively, we had to spend big bucks to ac­quire a high qual­ity ana­log to dig­i­tal con­verter to turn our vinyl based mu­sic into dig­i­tal files that had sound qual­ity that is ac­cept­ably close to vinyl play­back.

de­sign | fea­tures

It was there­fore with great de­light that, at TAVES 2013, I hap­pened upon an Ana­log to Dig­i­tal con­verter that had most of what I was look­ing for. It is com­pact, well built and at $450, rea­son­ably priced. It did not hurt that it is made by Thorens, a highly re­puted vinyl com­po­nent man­u­fac­turer from Switzer­land. The bonus is that this lit­tle unit dou­bles up as a mov­ing mag­net/mov­ing coil phono preamplifier as well. I im­me­di­ately asked Robb Nie­mann, the CEO of Ruther­ford Audio, distrib­u­tor for Thorens, when he could send me one for a re­view. He ex­plained that this com­po­nent was not of­fi­cially launched yet, but I could ex­pect to re­ceive a unit when it did make its de­but. The wait was long, but as they say, good things come to those that wait and in mid 2014, I fi­nally re­ceived a re­view unit of the Thorens MM-008 ADC. Ac­cord­ing to Robb, the Thorens ADC was ex­tremely well re­ceived and he is sell­ing them as fast as he can get his hands on them.

The unit ar­rived in a com­pact and very well packed car­ton that should shield the MM-008 from the va­garies of most of the rough han­dling that it could be sub­jected to dur­ing shipping. The unit it­self has a very el­e­gant, min­i­mal­ist de­sign that con­sists of a sil­ver or black brushed alu­minium façade with no con­trols and just one blue light at the cen­ter. The unit I re­ceived was the sil­ver ver­sion.

The rear of the unit is also very well laid out and con­sists of an MM/MC se­lec­tor switch and RCA sock­ets for MC load­ing, stereo MC and MM in­puts from the turntable, a power switch, a power socket, a pair of RCA stereo ana­log out­puts, a USB socket that out­puts to a com­puter and a bind­ing post for a tone-arm earth wire.

The box also con­tains three (stereo) pairs of RCA ter­mi­nated load­ing re­sis­tors. Th­ese have val­ues of 10 Ohms, 100 Ohms and 1,000 Ohms and will al­low you to fine tune the load on the MM-008 to more closely match the spec­i­fi­ca­tions of your phono car­tridge, if you use the mov­ing coil va­ri­ety. To de­ter­mine which load is the most ap­pro­pri­ate, you need to check the man­u­fac­turer’s spec­i­fi­ca­tion of the MC car­tridge that you use. When us­ing a mov­ing mag­net car­tridge, the MM-008 of­fers a fixed re­sis­tance load of 47 kOhms.

The MM-008 comes with an out­board power sup­ply which al­lows you to keep the power sup­ply unit well away from the ADC it­self where it can­not ad­versely pol­lute the cir­cuits with the noise that it emits. When you con­nect this power sup­ply to a power con­di­tioner, you should ide­ally plug it into a socket that is iso­lated from the other sock­ets so it does not ad­versely af­fect the com­po­nents that are plugged into the same power con­di­tioner. The MM-008 con­sumes just 3.5 W/ 15 mA and is de­signed to be left on all the time.

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