Thorens TD-150AB turntable and tonearm Manufacturer's Comment

Manufacturer's Comment

While we have not yet had the opportunity to check the sample TD-I50AB sent to The Stereophile, there is little doubt but that the tonearm on this unit was seriously damaged in transit or has a serious manufacturing defect. The 5°tilt in the head shell and the ½-gram vertical friction are completely beyond the design and quality control limits established by Thorens.

The speed accuracy tolerances of this unit are ±1% of the nominal speed, which corresponds to 1/6 of a semitone. On early units the speed was at the upper limit of these tolerances, and slight modifications were introduced in June of 1966 to reduce the average speed by slightly less than 1/3rpm.

The spring suspension of the TD-I50AB has also been modified to provide much improved damping, and this appears to have eliminated the source of your objections concerning bouncy floors and the operation of the cueing lever. These new suspensions are available at no charge to any owner of early-model TD-l50AB's by writing directly to ELPA Marketing Industries.

The unique dual-drive motor, by the way, is of Thorens design and is manufactured by Thorens.

Thorens, Germany
US Distributor: American Audio & Video, A Division of JAM Industries USA, LLC
310 West Newberry Road
Bloomfield, CT 06002
(856) 596-2339

John Atkinson's picture
This Thorens was my first high-performance LP player, fitted with a Shure M75EJ phono cartridge.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Fast forward to 2020 high performance audio ....... Wireless speakers like B&W Formation Duo ($4,000/pair) and streaming music :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Memorias del pasado :-) ..........

jimtavegia's picture

There are still TT's that are more than these (even counting inflation) that still don't offer the performance of this Thorens or the AR, and I do wish I had kept my AR. What a foolish soul I was for selling it.

Ortofan's picture

... Thorens TD-160 and have never regretted doing so.
The tonearm on the AR was totally inferior to the one on the Thorens.

jimtavegia's picture

I bought mine for less than $100 and with the Shure Type III it sounded so good even with the phono stage in my Fisher 500TX and my Dynaco A-25's. My first entry in to audiophile land was a nice one.

Ortofan's picture

... inexpensive receiver. Also in that price range were the Marantz 2270, the Sansui Eight and maybe one or two from Sony.
How did you happen to opt for the Fisher?

jimtavegia's picture

that was used in another system with AR speakers and it had a Dual 1209 with a Pickering XV 750. The Fisher choice was based on good sound and it had 5 present push buttons for fav FM stations. WE listened to much FM back in the day. It also had my first cassette deck, a Teac 350 with it. I used an outdoor FM only Antenna from Wingard so enough signal was not an issue. The Dual's weak link to me was always the tonearms. I still have a Dual 502 with a high torque AC motor and I replace the Dual arm with a Rega RB 251 and it still sounds great years later. I may buy a new Technics 1200 this year, but will see as my recording hobby is more important to me now. I use all Tascam SD card recorders in 2496 or 24192.

Ortofan's picture

... the Dual tonearm was a weak link?
While the arm may have had a deceptively simple appearance, the performance was nevertheless quite impressive, as demonstrated in the following test report:

jimtavegia's picture

That Dual arm is no match for a Rega RB251. Anyone who owned auto or semi auto heard that arm tube clank into the arm rest with little if any damping. Of course if you like the Dual arm please own one. I also owned a Dual CS5000 and the damper fluid dried up and the arm dropped quickly into the arm rest when the auto return was engaged.

I know what I heard going from the Dual arm to the Rega.

Ortofan's picture

... that had an auto-return tonearm function?
The CS5000 I have only lifts the tonearm and stops the motor at the end of a record - it does not have any mechanism to return the tonearm to the rest. This is confirmed by the information in the owner's manual.

The resonant behavior of the Rega tonearm is inferior to that of the Dual. The resonances are higher in frequency and of higher Q, such that they are more likely to be audible, as compared to the Dual. Perhaps they are adding some colorations that are perceived as preferable?

Amclaussen's picture

While Dual tonearms suffer from a very short effective length, their design and construction is MUCH better than 99% of the popular and "sexy" curved tonearms used by every Japanese turntable manufacturer back in the 70's...
The Dual tonearm is straight, lowering mass and achieving rigidity, and has quality bearings. If you have one that shows play, it is because it was heavily mishandled! Plus, the tracking force was applied by a clock type wound spring, so that it avoided the bad effects of a not getting a perfectly level turntable. My Dual CS-604 still works as new after 40 years, but is obviously not a match for my Thorens TD-160 Super... and I only use it for background music and while I have a dinner at home with guests, because I wouldn't never risk my precious Grace arm and even more precious F9E!

Amclaussen's picture

I completely agree with you: I repaired or adjusted many AR turntables when we went from 50 Hz AC to the 60 Hz used worldwide back in the 70's... It required to cut the bigger motor pulleys in a lathe to compensate for the faster running at 60 Hz. In my own experience, the AR turntables were of very variable quality, I'd say that for every 10 AR turntables, one or two came form AR factory "passable"... and the rest were from barely acceptable to So-So... Perhaps the very old Thorens arms were not so good, but soon they raised their quality and probably from 1972 on, the Thorens were much better than the rare "good" AR tonearms.

I bought my Thorens TD-160 Super (the "audiophile" armless versión) in Houston in 1979, and a fine expert installed a Grace 747 arm with a Grace F9E cartridge using every protractor available, and then performed several listening sessions to really get the best performance above that of the protractor dictated settings, there I learned how critical the several angles were, specially the offset and the "VTA". After perhaps 5 or 6 years, I started to perform several modifications, some very succesful, some terrible!, and elevated the basic design to stratospheric levels. I fabricated a heavy and thick 4 layer acrylic cover laminated with the same resin used to laminate automobile windshields (hard to get!), designed and built a dedicated Power-Supply to feed the AC motor with an almost perfectly sinusoidal AC waveform, free from measurable distortion and noise, and heavily modified the original base to dampen all resonances with lead and felt pads glued with viscoelastic goo, and remade the flimsy bottom cover with a damped and thick MDF one. The two piece platter was damped too and that made a big improvement! The results rival "modern" turntables costing as much as 15 times the 1,000 US Dollars paid. It seems that I would NEVER replace it or Exchange it for any other one!. Been there, done that. Amclaussen.

jmsent's picture

It had a nice heavy platter and springy suspension. The speed issue was unfortunate, and I recall that virtually all the ones I set up ran fast as well. Given the synchronous motor, it should have been possible to get the speed near perfect, and AR certainly was able to do so on a much more cheaply made player.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

This article was first published in 1966 ........

Year 1966 in music :-) ......... .........

Frank Sinatra album 'Strangers in the Night' was released ....... made it to No.1 in Billboard chart ......
Beatles release singles 'Yellow Submarine' and 'Eleanor Rigby' .........
Rolling Stones release single 'Paint it Black' .............
The Beach Boys release single 'Good Vibrations' ...........

Trevor_Bartram's picture

A friend had a TD150 and nice Ortofon cartridge back in 70s, I recorded many of his LPs on it. I had a home built Connoisseur turntable with SME tone arm, that didn't work well due to the way I constructed the plinth. In the early 80s I bought a CS505 with Grado FTE cartridge, I liked the way the combination sounded, I still have it but put it in storage ten years ago.