Red Hot Swiss Turntable Brand Turns It On

SmartHouse - - FIRST LOOK - Writ­ten by David Richards

Talk to any spe­cial­ist sound dealer and they will tell you that turnta­bles are in “big de­mand” and if you talk to JB Hi-Fi you will dis­cover that de­mand for good old fash­ioned records is “go­ing through the roof”.

In Aus­tralia, there are sev­eral brands de­liv­er­ing turnta­bles, but one com­pany stands out: Thorens, a Swiss com­pany that like their clock and watch mak­ers takes great pride in their crafts­man­ship.

Thorens is no or­di­nary sound com­pany that has sud­denly cre­ated a turntable be­cause de­mand is there. This is a com­pany that has been in busi­ness for 100 years.

Founded in 1883 as a man­u­fac­turer of mu­si­cal boxes and clocks, Thorens started build­ing Edis­on­type cylin­der phono­graphs in 1903 and has been mak­ing turnta­bles ever since. Although the com­pany branched out into au­dio elec­tron­ics in the ’90s, it re­mains a stead­fast bearer of fine turnta­bles. Its lat­est spec­i­men is the ul­tra-mod­ern TD 209, which bor­rows de­sign cues from its higher-end sib­ling, the TD 309.

This belt-driven beauty comes with a pre-in­stalled TP 90 rolled-alu­minium ton­earm, fea­tur­ing pre­ci­sion Ja­panese bear­ings and a mov­ing­mag­net car­tridge, mak­ing it ready for ac­tion within min­utes of be­ing un­boxed. The tri­an­gu­lar plinth is cut from a sin­gle piece of acous­ti­cally in­ert MDF and sup­ported by three ad­justable feet (which lack the spring-loaded sus­pen­sion found on the pricier TD 309). The plat­ter com­bines lay­ers of alu­minium and acrylic with a thin layer of treated pa­per­board in be­tween for de­cou­pling. The TD 209 uses the same servo-con­trolled DC mo­tor and drive unit as the TD 309, and belt ten­sion can be ad­justed to fine-tune plat­ter speed.

What sep­a­rates the TD 209 from other ta­bles in its class? CEO Heinz Rohrer says, “a lot of in­di­vid­ual and small unique ideas”—start­ing with the ton­earm, which closely matches the per­for­mance of the TP 92 arm used in the TD 309. The de­sign was borne out of re­search on sim­ple but ef­fec­tive meth­ods for elim­i­nat­ing ton­earm/tube vi­bra­tions and dis­tor­tion. “Another im­por­tant fea­ture is the pro­duc­tion method we use to keep fric­tion in the gim­bal bear­ing sys­tem to an ex­treme min­i­mum,” Rohrer adds, not­ing that a high-qual­ity mo­tor steer­ing unit helps keep dreaded wow and flut­ter to a min­i­mum.

If you pre­fer a more tra­di­tional (bor­ing) form fac­tor, Thorens of­fers the TD 206, which is op­er­a­tionally the same as the TD 209 but with a rec­tan­gu­lar base and in­cluded dust cover.

A clear acrylic dust cover is avail­able as an op­tion for the TD 209. Both mod­els are avail­able in red, white, or black.

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