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Listening #65 By [url=""]Art Dudley [/url] • Posted: May 31, 2008
Read more at[i]The Oakland fluker said, "You mean we should lug our Connie Companion layout all that way? It's too heavy and something might happen to it." "No, just to discuss rules and stakes," Norman said.

[/i][i] Dubiously, the Oakland fluker said, "Well, I guess we could do that. But you better understand—we take our Connie Companion doll pretty damn seriously."[/i]—Philip K. Dick, "The Days of Perky Pat" (1963)

For days I've found myself walking back and forth past my [url=""]vintage Thorens TD 124 turntable[/url], the platter of which is temporarily unbolted from its main bearing. Thus, the thing I've been looking at is not so much the classic Swiss turntable as the [i]guts[/i] of the classic Swiss turntable.


The experience has made me sick—not sick of the Thorens, by any means, but sick at the thought that I once considered so many other turntables to be well engineered. They might have [i]sounded[/i] good in some or another way, but [i]well engineered[/i]? I was, in the truest sense of the expression, fooling myself.

Whenever I walk past that platterless Thorens and look at its inner workings, I see a machine in which almost every single part has been engineered to function [i]within that machine[/i]—and nothing else. Can that boast be made for any contemporary turntable? Only a handful of conspicuously unaffordable choices come to mind, a list topped by the impressive [url=""]Continuum Audio Labs Caliburn[/url]—although I'm appalled to think that a record player that costs more than a single-engine aircraft can't achieve the upper limits of its performance unless it's supported by a [i]stand[/i] that retails for more than the price of a Subaru Forester. Let's all just take a moment and clear the sleep-boogers of delusion from our eyes and say: That's ridiculous.

The Thorens—with its cast-alloy chassis, its high-torque motor, its combination belt and idler drive, its heavy iron main platter and light aluminum upper platter, its "hidden" strobe and speed-adjustment control, its clutch mechanism for stopping the upper platter without stressing the motor, its vibration-isolation system, and its quick-change tonearm board—contains only a handful of off-the-shelf parts that might otherwise have found their way into an alarm clock or a water pump or an air-conditioner: eight screws, three fiber washers, three C-clips, and a short length of twin-lead wire. Every other part was designed, drafted, engineered, and made for the Thorens TD 124. And I don't mean "made" as in "band-sawn from a slab of MDF or acrylic."

It isn't odd that I should feel so sickened, but rather that it took me so long to start retching: This whole idea has been cooking away in my little rat brain since 1985, the year I bought myself a Syrinx tonearm—which sounded gorgeous, no question about it, and incorporated some very novel ideas (including an especially clever wire-abrasion system). That was also the year I found myself taking a leak in a urinal in some nameless public restroom and, looking straight ahead, saw a Syrinx tonearm mount: It was, apparently, an off-the-shelf plumbing fixture, to which a grub screw—sorry: a [i]VTA adjuster[/i]—had been added.

I'm 53 years old, I don't make a ton of money, I have two sets of car payments and a daughter who'll go to college some day, and I do believe I've finally had enough of all this bullshit. I've had enough of hearing people say that such and such a thing is well engineered when, in fact, it's cobbled together by an amateur.

Then I look at that Thorens and say: "[i]That[/i] is what good engineering looks like."

There are other examples. When I look at a [url=""]Quad ESL-63[/url] loudspeaker, I know I'm looking at a well-engineered product. When I look at a Marantz 8b amplifier, I know it. When I look at a Grace or Fidelity Research tonearm, I know it. I can even look at some contemporary components—the DNM 3-D preamp, the Nagra CDC CD player—and know it.

Yet when I return my gaze to an expensive turntable with a crudely bandsawn plinth, or a six-figure loudspeaker that uses an unmodified two-figure tweeter, or a megabuck amp in which a bazillion parts are stuffed every which way into the same chassis that the manufacturer uses for 20 other models, like Carvel's Fudgie the Whale cake mold, I know I'm looking at an underengineered mess, no matter how good it sounds (footnote 1).

And I've reached saturation with this, friends. I've reached critical mass.

I've decided that, from now on, if I'm going to spend my rare, hard-earned, increasingly worthless American bucks on [i]anything[/i], it will be a thing of quality: something that not only performs the task for which it was designed, but is also a joy to own. And if that little blood vessel behind my left eye goes [i]BANG![/i] tomorrow, like a balloon that's been contorted into one too many dachshunds, I want to make sure that all of the audio components my daughter inherits will be things she'll want to keep and use. Forever.

That shouldn't be terribly hard to do: I'll start by avoiding products that can't seem to last on the market for more than two years without expensive revisions. (If you're going to pay top dollar to an engineer who swears he's given you his best effort one year, then "discovers" some new mystery material or circuit layout the next, you might as well do so on your hands and knees.) I'll finish by using real classics, such as my Thorens TD 124, as the basis for all of my listening.

[b]No unpleasant bending[/b]
"This is my grandfather's knife: My father replaced its handle and I replaced the blade, but it's still the knife my grandfather owned." That's how Wes Phillips illustrated the manner in which some Linn LP12 owners sacrifice the [i]originality[/i] of their turntables in exchange for continually improved performance as they tramp the upgrade trail (footnote 2).

One might think that Wes's illustration would apply even more to owners of vintage Thorens turntables: Surely the ravages of time and technology have taken their toll, and many of the critical bits in any 50-year-old turntable will have been replaced by now, the originals rotting away in some scrapyard. The truth is quite different: Not only did the Thorens engineers get most of their flagship right the first time, but its various parts are remarkably hardy. Some TD 124 turntables can be restored to as-new condition for a pittance; and in those instances, where a half-century of progress really [i]has[/i] allowed for some improvements over the originals, parts are now available whose level of engineering can keep pace with that of the originals.

First, some encouraging words for the budget-minded hobbyist or the DIY audiophile of [i]any[/i] means: The Thorens TD 124 Mk.II that I purchased last year for about $700 (including a TP-14 tonearm that isn't quite usable) required only $120 in parts to achieve mere functionality—all manufactured in Switzerland by [url=""]Schopper A.G.[/url] and sold in the US by [url=""]Audioarts[/url]. And of the improvements I've put in place since that time, the most effective by far was the cheapest. The things my turntable [i]required[/i] to get up and running were a new drive belt ($35), new rubber "mushrooms" for isolating the player from its plinth ($60/set of four), and a fresh bottle of Thorens oil ($25) for the main bearing, idler wheel bearing, intermediate pulley bearing, and other sundries. I was then and still am utterly astounded that the idler wheel itself did not need to be replaced—but literally every Thorens expert with whom I've spoken says that the need for such a thing is exceedingly rare, occasioned only by contamination with oil or grease, or the sort of flat spot that results from having left the drive mechanism engaged for more than, say, a decade.


But the single most effective [i]improvement[/i] in my turntable's performance—the one that every single Thorens TD 124 owner should put in place [i]right now[/i]—came about when I replaced the rubber grommets that isolate the motor from its surroundings ($50/set of six, the number required for any Mk.II TD 124, or to easily bring an original TD 124 up to Mk.II performance levels). I dolefully admit that I had a fresh set of those [i]gummimuffens[/i] sitting here for months, but installed them only recently because I didn't think they'd make that big a difference.

That was because the gummimuffens on my 124 Mk.II looked fine: They weren't in the least dried out or cracked—which is more than I can say for my player's original suspension mushrooms, which were useless (or, as John Wilkes Booth might have said, "useless, useless"). Yet when I replaced those original gummimuffens, my player had a [i]much[/i] lower noise floor, with cleaner, deeper bass notes, and less grain and artificial texture (things I hadn't really known were there to begin with), and there was a clearly audible improvement in the 124's sense of melody, flow, and overall musical naturalness.

The job itself was easy: Working from above, I simply removed three C-clips and their fiber washers from the motor retaining shafts, pried away the old grommets, and slipped the new ones into place, using a denuded Q-Tip to properly seat their molded-in grooves on the edges of the holes made for them. Other, more expensive upgrades have further improved my Thorens, but none has been of the same degree as those six little grommets. [i]None[/i].

Before all that, of course, I had to remove the TD 124's platter—which is more or less where we came in. That procedure is tricky because the conscientious TD 124 owner should never, ever lift the iron platter [i]and[/i] main bearing shaft away from the stationary bearing well: The well lacks the sort of air vents common on other such bearings, and to casually reinsert the platter and spindle would risk damaging the seal between the Thorens's very precisely machined bearing well and its removable thrust plate. (The only safe way to reassemble a 124's bearing is to loosen the three small bolts that hold the bottom plate in place, allowing air to escape, and to gently replace the spindle—after which the bottom-plate bolts can be retightened.) Before replacing gummimuffens, belts, or virtually anything else, one must remove the three bolts that hold the platter to the bearing-spindle flange and lift it carefully away—slightly more difficult than it sounds, as the platter is quite heavy, and must be lifted with sufficiently even force that the platter comes straight up and away from the spindle. (Allowing a tiny amount of WD-40 to seep between the platter and the record spindle—which is, in fact, the very top part of the bearing spindle—will help, as will polishing that top spindle the next time your turntable requires disassembly.)

The second biggest improvement to my 124's performance came courtesy of Schopper's platter-bearing rebuild kit ($90), complete with new gasket, thrust plate, and bolts. That kit [i]also[/i] came with a new thrust plate for the intermediate pulley bearing, which is accessible from underneath the turntable chassis. That, too, got my attention: Many Q-Tips were soiled in its cleaning, and its oil is now fresh as a daisy. And while I had the chassis upside down, I cleaned the speed-adjustment mechanism's thin metal band with a rag dipped in WD-40, and cleaned and lubricated the pivot points for the lightly sprung brass hinge that allows the idler wheel to go in and out of contact with the platter rim. Doing that, then adding a drop of Thorens oil to that mechanism's main pivot (from above), made an enormous difference in my TD 124's ability to accelerate from a standing start.


Acceleration—and speed stability—were also improved when I tackled the seemingly daunting task of cleaning and re-lubricating the motor itself. But it wasn't really so hard at all, and I'll bet you're up to it, too. Do it with the motor casing still fastened to the turntable: The drive pulley, which is held to the motor's armature shaft with two setscrews, must be removed from above, and the motor cover must be removed from below. Thanks to Joachim Bung's excellent book [i]Swiss Precision[/i], which I [url=""]reviewed in April[/url], I knew that that bottom cover contained the lower bearing and thrust ball, so I was careful not to lose the latter. From there it was a simple matter of removing the armature, cleaning its shaft and the upper and lower bearings with several more swabs, soaking the porous bronze bearings with oil, waiting, adding more oil, and carefully realigning the lower bearing during reassembly. The motor, an obviously durable and well-made thing, responded happily, and appeared anxious for its next 46 years of vinyl-driving.

[b]No overheating . . . [/b]
Reconditioning that motor left me with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment—yet as well as I did, and as solidly as my player now performs, there are Thorens experts who can take the TD 124 even further.

Chief among them, of course, is the estimable Juerg Schopper. Since 1923, Juerg's family has operated a musical-instrument store in northern Switzerland, which long ago added records, record players, and tape recorders to their line of merchandise. Today the family business exists as Schopper A.G., a high-street shop in Winterthur with an emphasis on new and used LPs and very-high-quality playback gear. Of the latter, Schopper's specialty is the classic Thorens turntable, and their operation has expanded to include the engineering and manufacture of TD 124 replacement parts and upgrades.

Thanks to his friendship with key veterans of the company's plant in St. Croix—most notably the youthful Jacques Basset—Juerg Schopper has been able to pick up where the Thorens engineers left off. Schopper has even begun to produce a decades-old design for an upgraded version of the main platter bearing ($750), something that Thorens S.A. decided long ago would be too expensive for a mass-produced turntable such as theirs. Another advance came when Schopper began his quest to produce new samples of the 124's aluminum upper platter ($590), and discovered a distinctly harder alloy that, he says, makes for a better sound.

Schopper's crowning achievement as a manufacturer may be his replacement for the original magnetically reactive platter. For reasons that probably go beyond its advantage in centrifugal energy, that massive iron platter is considered one of the keys to the 124's excellent musical performance—second only to its combination of a relatively powerful motor and idler-wheel drive—and most Thorens enthusiasts appear to agree that the company's briefly offered and significantly less heavy aluminum-alloy platter doesn't sound nearly as good. But the flaws of the original are well known to owners of Deccas and other phono cartridges with similarly greedy magnets, and Juerg Schopper has offered them the first really viable alternative. For his replacement platter ($1490) he turned to gray (or "gray-cast") iron, a fairly ancient alloy in which most or all of the carbon content exists as flakes of graphite. The resulting metal is almost completely nonmagnetic—and in the hands of the machinists whom Schopper A.G. has commissioned, the resulting platter is a thing of beauty, [i]at least[/i] as free from run-out error as the original (itself no slouch).

Yet the greatest achievement of all is one of a more general sort: Drawing on his own experiences, as well as those of his employee Gino Bertolo—who has developed a motor-rebuilding regimen slightly more intense than that with which brain scans are administered—Juerg Schopper has begun to offer full TD 124 rebuilds, the fruits of which are available either as ready-to-ship products, or as a battery of services for current Thorens owners. To help me appreciate this series of accomplishments, Schopper recently sent me a completely refurbished TD 124 to compare with my tidied-up original. The Schopper sample featured Juerg's upgraded bearing, main platter, and upper platter, along with a new beechwood plinth, isolation grommets, armboard, drive belt, platter mat, and, of course, gummimuffens. Its motor had been rebuilt and tested by the good Mr. Bertolo (a service that in and of itself can be had for $590 plus shipping), and its chassis had been refinished in Mercedes silver, with an especially wet-looking clearcoat on top.

Its appearance was ravishing, its sound even more so. The full brace of Schopper refinements created a record player that could compete with virtually anything I've heard in terms of treble openness and clarity, midrange detail, and—especially—bass extension, yet which preserved and enhanced the 124's well-established strengths: its relentless sense of musical flow and momentum, the size and solidity of the images it creates, and its ability to startle and engage the listener with its dramatic and decidedly nonwimpy sound. It simply [i]must be heard[/i] by anyone who wants the ultimate in domestic music playback.

You could look at it another way and say that the all-out Schopper treatment makes a musically successful product a bit more . . . well, [i]hi-fi[/i]. In a way, that's true—but not in a pejorative sense. The Schoppered 124 sounded every bit as tuneful, colorful, and substantial as the original, yet it simply had more bass and treble extension, and clarity throughout.

I've tried, as much as possible, to swap the Schopper upgrades one at a time to my own TD 124 Mk.II; as of this writing, I've done so with all but the newly manufactured upgraded bearing and Gino Bertolo's remade motor. Taken in isolation, the only one that failed to impress me was the new upper platter, which [i]did[/i] seem a bit "hi-fi" to me. That finding surprised me so much that I came back to it time and again—and, yes, although the Schopper platter [i]sounded[/i] better, I preferred the musical presentation of the old one on my player. Apart from that, each Schopper component raised the sound [i]and[/i] musicality of my Thorens to a higher level. And the Schopper main platter was especially wonderful, endowing the old 124 with a greater dose of drama during the loud bits, and greater poise and calm during the quiet ones—although before I heard the improvement, I had to remember to compensate for the new platter's nonmagnetic properties by resetting the tonearm's downforce. (The old platter increased the effective tracking force at the level of the record by a significant margin, simply by pulling down on the cartridge's magnet.)

[b]. . . like the tropical fishes[/b]
There are a great many ways to skin every hi-fi cat, and a great many followers of every different way. So it goes in the world of turntables—where, I confess, the [url=""]Linn LP12[/url], with its belt-drive platter and low-power motor, seemed so right for so long that other ways seemed wrong by comparison. What an idiot I was.

I can't help seeing yet a different parallel—this one to the world of the very-low-powered single-ended triode amplifier. To those who've made peace with (high) power, the average SET must seem awfully wrong. And if there were no high-sensitivity, high-efficiency loudspeakers in the world, that impression would be reasonable. Yet there [i]are[/i] . . .

Now I wonder about low-torque motors driving record grooves under high-compliance cartridges (think Shure V-15), and high-torque motors driving records under low-compliance cartridges (think Ortofon SPU). Over the years, I've worried so much about matching turntables to tonearms and tonearms to cartridges that I may have missed an even more crucial point: matching the turntable with the cartridge. Now that the Thorens has captured my heart—no other way of putting it—I'm turning my attention to those things I've missed along the way.

Digital dissident though I am, I've never been comfortable in analog's amen corner, simply because the commonly stated reasons for loving vinyl—smoother highs, greater spatial depth, more timbral warmth, [i]et al[/i]—aren't [i]my[/i] reasons. My reasons have almost nothing to do with sound and everything to do with music: Except for the best DSD applications I've heard, music that's recorded and played back digitally doesn't have the momentum that I hear in even the grungiest, lamest analog settings. Digitized music doesn't [i]flow[/i] from note to note the way real music does—and that's something that analog does routinely well, apparently without trying.

That's what I hear when I listen to my Thorens TD 124 Mk.II—only more so: Not just sounds being pushed at me, but lines of notes being pulled along in front of me. Lately, that has made all the difference.

Footnote 1: I can't help seeing a parallel between our dilemma and that of the automobile industry. In the middle of the 20th century, when many of the world's automakers—and all of the American ones—were engaged in a mindless battle to see who could boast the highest horsepower, the heaviest coachwork, and the tallest tailfins, a few other companies gave their engineering departments the freedom to make products that were safer, more efficient, and simply [i]better[/i]. Because American consumers in particular came to regard the automobile as a necessity, even the most foolish companies were spared the Darwinian fate they deserved, and they survive today, putting on cattle drives at car shows and competing to see whose onboard DVD player has the widest screen. Compare all that to the audio industry's enduring watt wars—or their battles to see who can make the amp with the biggest heatsinks, the turntable with the heaviest platter, the loudspeaker with the greatest number of woofers†.†.†. Footnote 2: And what [i]of[/i] the Linn LP12? As a good-sounding turntable, it's a perennially recommendable gem, but as an engineering exercise it's only fair. Some core elements, such as the main bearing and two-piece platter, were beautifully done if somewhat derivative, but the pubs had apparently opened by the time the steel top plate was "designed"—and to suggest that the fiddly dressing of the tonearm cable was engineered into the design as opposed to being an after-the-fact kludge, howsoever necessary, is mildly outrageous.

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Listening #61
By [url=""]Art Dudley [/url] • Posted: Jan 26, 2008

Whenever my family and I travel together, I catch a glimpse of how the human mind works. Immediately after checking into our hotel, my wife goes to work distributing the contents of our suitcases among the room's various cabinets, closets, and drawers. Then, the next morning, I discover the location of my underpants [i]heuristically[/i]: seeking without knowing, in the hope that some newly learned pattern will be imprinted on my brain. Thus do I earn the luxury of complacence: Every morning thereafter, my things are right where I know they should be.
That procedure is useful not only in the location of underpants but in any number of other tasks: making coffee, mowing the lawn, driving a car, writing checks, knotting a tie, long division. I can do all of those things and more [i]because I know how[/i]. Looked at from another direction: If I had to rediscover from scratch the location of my clothes every morning, it would take me half the day to get dressed.

Fair enough—but what's good for the underpants is not so good for the hi-fi. If you've ever heard an old, obsolete audio component perform as well as or better than a brand-new, state-of-the-art product, then you've heard proof that some of the things this industry has learned about music reproduction in the past half century are hopelessly wrong and no longer worth knowing. We have to find some way to unknow them.

A case in point is the Altec 755-C loudspeaker driver, a near-perfect example of which I just scored on eBay. The 755-C is a direct descendent of the Western Electric 755-A, which, when it debuted in 1948 (footnote 1), represented the state of the art of single-diaphragm full-range drivers: smooth impedance curve, high sensitivity, and flat frequency response all the way from 70Hz to 13kHz.

But it wasn't long until the industry turned in a direction that would make the 755-A and its descendents nearly obsolete. In 1955, [url=""]Edgar Villchur[/url] and [url=""]Henry Kloss[/url] introduced the first AR-1 loudspeaker—a low-efficiency, multiway design in which the woofer cone's restorative force was supplied by the volume of air inside the sealed enclosure. The tightly suspended 755-A looked quaint alongside that first air-spring woofer—itself nothing more than a crudely modified WE driver—and the comparison was made all the more glaring by the fact that Villchur and Kloss chose the full-range 755-A as the tweeter for the AR-1!

The 755-C came along in 1959, by which time many of the pro and domestic audio designs that began life under the Western Electric banner were being made and sold by the recently formed Altec (for All Technical Services) Lansing Corporation. The alnico magnet of the original WE driver now gave way to a modern ceramic one—a not-uncommon change in the loudspeaker industry of the 1950s and '60s—making for both a slimmer profile and the change in suffix. Aside from that, the new 755 was much the same as the old one. Its stiff pulp cone was exactly 6" in diameter, formed with an integral high-frequency dome that measured 2" across. The driver's pole piece and voice-coil gap were vented from behind, by means of a circular opening blocked with a fine mesh fabric to prevent the ingress of foreign matter. (Compare that with the standard Lowther driver, which was sealed from behind and vented at the front—and which was and is notoriously susceptible to dust.) The 755-C's tight, triple-roll surround was made of goo-coated fabric, the pliancy of which seems virtually immune to the ravages of time.

It's also worth mentioning that the Altec 755-C is an exceptionally well-[i]made[/i] driver—the sort of product one almost hates to hide away in a wooden box. Whether its lustrous metallic-green finish inspired amp maker [url=""]Ken Shindo[/url] to adopt a similar finish for his products is an interesting question; less debatable is the fact that most other manufacturers' speaker drivers look shoddy and cheap by comparison.


As with other high-quality American products from the late 1940s through the early 1960s, the Altec 755-C and its antecedents are prized by audio hobbyists in Japan, where pristine samples of the original Western Electric design sell for thousands of dollars apiece. There and elsewhere, the 755-C sells for less, but it's increasingly hard to come by: Weeks, even months can go by without a single one coming up for sale in the usual channels.

If the ceramic-magnet version is less revered by anachrophiles, to use the apt expression John Atkinson coined in the 1980s to describe Ken Kessler's writings, it is nonetheless well loved. Consider violinist and recording artist Joseph Esmilla, whose [url=""]audio website[/url] is a hive of good information on all things 755. "I have a special fondness for the 755-C because it was the first high-efficiency driver I acquired," says Esmilla, who wound up using that and other 755 variants in a pair of enclosures based on an original OB (for open baffle) project in [i]Stereo Sound[/i] magazine, itself the most compelling reason for any English-speaking audio hobbyist to learn Japanese. From there, Esmilla began to experiment with his own single-ended triode amplifiers, which continue to serve his domestic audio needs.

The apparent simplicity of the [i]Stereo Sound[/i] enclosure was enough to sharpen my own interest, so when that mint 755-C went up on eBay a few months ago, I pounced—and got lucky. A few days after its arrival unscathed, my daughter and I visited the nearest Lowe's home improvement store for some very good plywood and a length of 6" pine: enough to construct the baffle plus the shallow side pieces that hold it upright. (Unable to tear myself completely away from contemporary audio ephemera, I opted for a slightly smaller enclosure than [i]Stereo Sound[/i]'s, only because I wanted its dimensions to ape the ever-popular Golden Ratio. Sad, ain't I?) Total monophonic enclosure cost: $20, plus an hour or two of my time.


The OB enclosure was designed more as a driver-testing platform than a domestically acceptable [i]cabinet[/i]; its treble dispersion is adequate only to the extent that the angle of its baffle happens to suit the listener's seated ear height, and it's thoroughly lacking in any sort of bass-extension scheme, such as a horn or a quarter-wave pipe. Only the baffle's sheer width serves any such purpose—in this case, to help prevent dipole cancellation of low frequencies. (The 38" width corresponds with the half-wavelength of 180Hz, below which low-frequency performance can be considered a progressively losing proposition.) Still, my measured results were surprisingly good: My 44-year-old Altec 755-C (see sidebar, "Dating Decrepit Drivers"; my 755-C is stamped 391307, which indicates an Altec driver manufactured in the seventh week of 1963) was 6dB down at 63Hz and 3dB down at 12.5kHz, and encouragingly flat in between.
The sound was richly, realistically detailed, without the slightest suggestion of added brightness. The latter quality may seem obvious to the point of being silly, given the 755-C's treble limitations, yet neither did it sound as dull as I might have expected. So far, the Altec has been responsible for at least two reviewing clichés, howsoever pleasant and true: first, that of discovering some worthwhile musical detail that had previously escaped my attention, in this instance the arpeggio that guitarist Tony Rice plays behind the fiddle in the opening bars of his song "Manzanita"; and second, my mono Altec sounded very much like a mono [url=""]Quad ESL[/url], albeit with less bass extension and a greater sense of touch, impact, and drama. It seems to me that those latter strengths are where most modern gear, by comparison, falls down altogether: During the last 25 years in particular, the specialty audio industry has made gear that sounds less colored and less spatially compromised—but a lot less interesting and exciting, especially when playing real music as opposed to sound effects.

More evidence of that admittedly broad-brush observation can be had by sampling the best record players of the 1950s and '60s—the best and most notorious examples being the Garrard 301 and Thorens TD 124 transcription turntables...

[b]Restoring the Thorens TD124[/b]

Whenever my family travels without me, I get a glimpse of how the human mind really works: I become a danger to myself by screwing around on eBay. Just a few weeks after I bought my Altec 755-C, I found a slightly-better-than-average deal on a Thorens TD 124 Mk.II turntable, [i]ca[/i] 1967.


I've written extensively about the original '50s-era TD 124, but my new/old Thorens is that rare [i]Bride of Frankenstein[/i]–like sequel that improves on the original, with a nicer-looking platter mat and twice the number of motor-isolation grommets, the delightful German word for which is [i]gummimuffen[/i]. Apart from that and a few minor cosmetic details—I prefer the original's cream-colored enamel finish to the light gray of its replacement—the Mk.II is exactly the same. Some hobbyists have suggested that, for the Mk.II, Thorens replaced the iron platter of the original with a nonmagnetic aluminum one, but the latter seems to have existed only as an extra-cost option during the late 1960s. Predictably or not, most hair-shirt anachrophiles opine that the magnetically permeable iron platter sounds much better, notwithstanding its nasty habit of destroying phono cartridges in more or less the way the planet Mars is thought to destroy exploratory spacecraft. In any event, [i]my[/i] Mk.II has the iron platter.

Here's what happened: For over a year, I'd been on the lookout for an affordable sample of the Garrard or the Thorens, comfortable with the notion that whichever I found first would be the one I liked best. Failure followed failure until recently, when a friend alerted me to an eBay auction with a misspelled heading: [i]Thorsens[/i]. I'd missed it for that reason, and now I hoped that everyone else had, too, thus keeping prices low. (Significantly, the seller was a camera dealer, not an audio specialist.) My dream of finding an early-1960s turntable for an early-1960s price didn't quite pan out, but I did all right. My bonus for subscribing: The Thorsens came complete with its sometimes-companion TP 14 tonearm, missing only the headshell and bearing-housing trim plate.

Happily, the seller was honest and prompt, and underbilled me for the shipping. Unhappily, he exposed his non-audio roots by packing the record player somewhat poorly. The tonearm survived—remarkably—but not so the four threaded rods that secure the chassis atop its plinth. All were bent and two were sheared off, one so close to the chassis that its removal became a tragedy in three acts: drilling a deep hole in the center of its stub and tapping it with a left-hand thread. Act III—or, as they say in Sea Cliff, [i]Act the Third[/i]—was the judicious application of gin and vermouth.

As with the Quad ESL, a healthy support network has grown up around the Thorens TD 124 series of turntables. Of those who offer parts and service commercially, none that I know is more reliable than Lawrence Blair of [url=""]Brinkmann Audio USA[/url], who supplied the Norma-Hylee Tech Thorens rebuild that I wrote about in April and May 2006. Blair is also the North American agent for the full line of Thorens upgrades from Jürg Schopper of Winterthur, Switzerland, an analog expert whose line has expanded far beyond the nonmagnetic platter upgrade I tried some months ago. Today Herr Schopper also makes upgraded bearings (as well as bearing rebuild kits for those who don't require a full replacement), plinths, armboards, outer platters, motor rebuild kits, and, of course, [i]gummimuffens[/i].

To date, the work I've performed on my TD 124 has centered around cleaning it and evaluating various parts for possible replacement. I've been lucky so far: The motor brings the platter up to speed within just a few turns, there's very little play in its main bearing, and most of what I took to be dings in the enamel have turned out to be dirt, which came off easily enough with alcohol and patience. Even my [i]gummimuffens[/i] are perfectly pliant—although the four isolation mushrooms that go between the chassis and plinth are squashed flat and rife with cracks. The belt is hopeless.

Belt? Indeed: Unlike its friend the Garrard 301, the Thorens TD 124 has a belt and an intermediate pulley between its motor and the rubber idler wheel that drives its platter. Lawrence Blair says that anyone who buys a used Thorens should play it safe and replace the belt as a matter of course, given its tendency to stretch. The good news is that you needn't worry about the idler wheel. "Unless it has a flat spot from the turntable having been stored with the idler wheel left engaged," he says, "you can safely assume that it's fine." Even more good news: The Thorens also differs from the Garrard in its use of a double motor pulley. If you buy a second-hand TD 124 that's set up for use with 50Hz AC, you don't have to buy a new pulley: Just loosen two set screws and invert the one that's already there.

Blair recommends replacing the motor's [i]gummimuffens[/i] as a matter of course. "That should be at the top of your list: It makes an enormous difference." He also says that the Mk.II motor suspension is vastly superior to the original, and offers a Schopper update kit ($190) to bring earlier models up to spec. Finally, Blair cautions against removing the platter bearing spindle from the bearing well unless absolutely necessary: The bearing sleeves lack the vents found on more modern designs, such as those of the Linn LP12, and unless the bearing is reassembled with the utmost care, the user might blow a seal (footnote 2). The alternative: "Before trying to remove the platter, remove [from above] the three bolts that fasten it to the bearing spindle's flange."

A note to cranky elderly people who fancy themselves Thorens experts: Your point of view may differ from the above, and you may even be right. No one cares. I offer these quotes more in the spirit of helpful advice than of spotty dogma, and while you're free to do as you wish, please keep in mind that angry letters [i]describing[/i] those differences will wind up sharing file space with essays on the proper microphone technique for recording train whistles in stereo, or missives on whether a Romulan cloaking device will function properly on a Klingon Bird of Prey.

[b]The TP 14 Tonearm[/b]

The Thorens TP 14 tonearm, with which I was unfamiliar prior to writing this piece, turned out to be a mixed surprise. My original intention, on seeing its picture on eBay, was to discard the one that had come with my new-old turntable and replace it with a Rega RB300 arm. I changed my mind when I saw various clever aspects of its design: the calibrated downforce spring, the [url=""]Naim Aro[/url]–like falling-weight bias mechanism, the offset bearings for maintaining proper headshell azimuth. I changed my mind back again when I discovered the poor conditions of those bearings, and the fact that the weird downward angle of the counterweight support on my sample was not, in fact, an intentional part of the design. (A rubber isolation grommet had dried up and crumbled away, hence the sag.) So before leaving the topic, I'll simply note that the TP 14 is, in fact, a rebadged EMT 929, which was the shorter (229mm) version of EMT's S-shaped transcription arm. Maybe I'll get it working some day.

I do own a spare RB300, so I removed the TP 14 and its many supporting devices from the nicely aged tonearm board and drilled in the board an extra hole, 23mm in diameter, some 222mm away from the center of the platter. The Rega requires no spacers for extra height, and in fact could stand being just a bit lower. Later, when I replace the now well-ventilated original board, I'll use a 32mm wood bore to countersink the arm hole from above, to lower it some. For now, I have the Thorens up and running with the non–VTA-fussy Denon DL-103 cartridge in its headshell.

Even with a crappy belt—and without any isolation grommets between chassis and plinth—my Thorens sounded promising. The kettle drum that announces the woodwind chorale in the first movement of Mahler's Symphony 6, with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic (Columbia 77215), sounded punchier and weightier on the cobbled-together TD 124 than on my [url=""]Linn LP12[/url]. Then again, Neil Young's "When You Dance I Can Really Love," from [i]After the Gold Rush[/i] (Reprise 6383), had more momentum on the Linn. (Forgive me if, in light of the revelations surrounding Larry "Family Values" Craig, I refrain from using the phrase "toe-tapping." For the rest of my life.)

I'll keep working on it. I've ordered a bearing rebuild kit, along with a new armboard and various other bits—in addition to which, I may have a chance to perform a before-and-after review on the motor-rebuilding service offered by the estimable Jürg Schopper. (Danke!) The thing is, I'm having a hell of a lot of fun—you know how I feel about that—and I'm enjoying listening to recorded music more than ever. And I'm hoping that those who learn their history might just be lucky enough to repeat it.

[b]Sidebar: Dating Decrepit Drivers[/b] Decades ago, the Electronic Industries Alliance established a source code for manufacturers to use on various finished components: potentiometers, transformers, large capacitors, and the like. I learned about it during the years when I was still buying and collecting electric guitars and amplifiers, and more than once, the code kept me from being burned. (Nothing screams [i]unoriginal[/i] quite as loudly as a 1956 Fender tweed Harvard amp with volume and tone controls from the years of the Nixon administration.)

The EIA code is also a boon to anyone just getting into vintage hi-fi, and it's especially easy to use in the dating of older loudspeaker drivers. Through most of the 1960s, a six-digit code was stamped somewhere on the back side of every driver frame. The first three digits were always the manufacturer's code: Altec was 391, Jensen 220, Utah 328, General Electric 188, Electro-Voice 649...and so it went.

The fourth digit usually corresponded with the last number of the year of manufacture—you have to guess as to the decade—and the last two digits are the week of manufacture.

By the end of the 1960s, the code got longer, making room for the last two digits of the year, among other things: manufacturing plant location, work-shift number, and the like. Needless to say, there are and have been a great many more three-digit codes from a great many more manufacturers; they and other pertinent data can be easily found by doing an Internet search on the words [i]EIA date code[/i].—[b]Art Dudley[/b]

Footnote 1: The year Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs left Bill Monroe's band to strike off on their own, remarkably enough.
Footnote 2: In my current favorite joke, more or less the same observation is spoken by a penguin.

Artículo originalmente publicado en Stereophile: [url=""]http://www.stereophi...sten/index.html[/url]

Editado por Alberto
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[quote name='Patagonia' date='24 July 2015 - 08:50 AM' timestamp='1437742216' post='306479']
buenos aportes Alberto con "las fichas" de cada torna...
Gracias Patagonia, tu sabes, las tornamesas que han resistido la prueba del tiempo, son la guinda de la torta.

Editado por Alberto
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[font="Arial, Arial, Helvetica"][u][size="4"]Notes on the TD124 [/size][/u]

artículo publicado en The Analog Dept.

Some general observations:

The TD124's ability to reproduce music as it was designed to do is directly related to its drive-train health. These are not new-in-box units. Fifty years later, the TD124 motor unit is going to need some maintenance.

[u]One good indicator of drive-train health[/u] that makes itself known is by how well the turntable reproduces musical detail. Sharp, articulate delivery indicates good overall health. Soft blurry reproduction of musical detail indicates a turntable in need of maintenance.

[i]Definition - Rumble: [size="3"]A low frequency noise, generated by the various moving parts of the turntable drive-train system, and making itself evident through the speakers of your audio system.[/size][/i] With the mk1 motor mounting configuration, there can be a slight audible evidence of rumble heard through the speakers. Typically this can be heard in the un-modulated grooves of the record. The lead in groove. The dead wax. In a healthy TD124 you'll need to listen carefully for it. However, the worse its mechanical condition, the more evident the rumble. That said, and if you have a mk1 motor unit, see comments lower down on the mkII motor mount conversion kit. Installation of it can potentially remove audible evidence of rumble completely.

Often times deteriorating drive train-health doesn't become known until the owner hears another turntable and makes a comparison between his Td124 and the other table. Another useful comparison is made between two different TD124 motor units. One, presumably healthier than the other. That can be revealing.

Install new main platter bearing bushings. Replace the brg thrust pad. Replace the idler wheel/tire, or at least determine that it is free of flat spots, that the rubber is still soft and its bushings have proper operating clearance over the bearing shaft. Don't forget that little thrust washer at the bottom of the idler wheel. It is too easily ignored. Noisy idler? make sure its there. Replace the belt. Lube all bushings and shafts. These items will restore that sense of flow and timing. Very important.

The stepped pulley can be a source of noise depending on which version you have and whether it is, or is not, in good condition. The earliest version (the one in my three turntables) tends to operate quietest. Just make sure it has lube in its bushings and at the top where its ball bearing thrust is. All pulley surfaces need to be clean of any rubber residue from the drive belt and also from the driven idler tire. An accumulation of rubber residue on these surfaces not only affect speed, speed consistency (wow) but also noise levels. Use alcohol with Q-tip to maintain cleanliness of these surfaces.

[u]About Lubrication:[/u] The TD124 service manual suggests using a straight 20 wt turbine oil in the main bearing, the motor bushings, the stepped pulley and idler wheel bushings. The exact formula recommended is no longer available, but a replacement with the same essential characteristics is. Texaco R&O 46. It is not available at auto parts stores. Instead, you can get it by the 5 gallon drum at your local oil distributor. Sigh.... But do not despair.....There is a practical replacement. Straight 20 wt Electric Motor lube from the 3-in-One company. Don't mistake it for 3-in-One oil. You want Electric Motor lube in 20 wt. Your local hardware store should carry it. It is ok to use this in place of "Thorens Oil".

[u]When it comes to the motor[/u], a whole new level of improved sound awaits your maintenance effort. Disassemble, clean, replace motor rotor bushings with new ones*, replace motor brg thrust pad, replace the wicker felts, (or at least rinse out the old ones) give it some lube(20 wt), install a [b] Mk II motor mount grommet kit, [/b] assemble, adjust bushing-to-shaft alignments for quietest operation, let it run in for a week, then disassemble, clean all bearing surfaces, re-lube, reassemble, readjust bushing-shaft alignments once more. Now you can listen critically.

* it may not be necessary to replace the rotor bushings in the E50. Depending on the condition they are found to be in. Evidence of wear or the lack thereof, etc. The old lube can be baked out of the old porous bronze bushings. Rinsed in lacquer thinner. The cleaned bushings can be soaked in hot 20wt oil and then put back to use.

Do all of the above and the TD124 becomes much more capable of producing the total sonic goods. It can astound you.

The E50 and its aging coils. One TD124 that came to me (SN 13943) arrived with a dead motor coil. That motor refused to run. When I chose to use 13943 as my next restoration project I needed to do something to get a working motor. My immediate solution was to use the iron core with windings from another TD124 I have in inventory, sn 7888. This worked fine but caused me to search for another solution.

My solution turned out to be Simone Lucchetti. He lives in Rome, Italy. Simone operates a machine shop there and, incidentally, is an avid TD124 owner as well as a turntable designer/builder in his own right. Simone is well known among TD124 enthusiasts as a source for upgraded E50 motor coils. In his surveys he discovered that there was an undocumented revision done by Thorens to the E50 motor coils at around TD124 sn 40000. Long story made short; he found that Thorens increased the wire gage within the coils to reduce heat and increase power. All MKII motors have this revision. He duplicates this revision in his new replacement coil sets on offer. Here's a link to Simone's website: Simone Lucchetti [url=""][/url]

In addition to the benefit of having a replacement available for dead motor coils, Simone's replacement coils do offer enhanced motor performance. Having tried a pair of these myself I'm happy to write that these replacement coils are more than just a reproduction replacement. They are indeed a worthy upgrade to the first generation TD124. Most prominent among the enhanced performance attributes of the deck will be quicker start-ups from cold. Next, I notice a more robust sense of pace. Greater musical energy. More pop. Greater "jump factor". This I notice in comparison to both of my working TD124 players as well as any other TD124 I've had over here.

[b][u]Plinth choices[/u]:[/b] The motor unit needs a plinth (cabinet) to fit within before you can begin playing records. There are some choices to be made. Heavy high mass plinths. Constrained layer builds. Light, hollow open box plywood type plinths. Ortofon ST-104 type open box in solid beechwood. Massive chunks of slate etc.

I do have a massive slate plinth. And I have used a couple of different open box plywood types. My take; The better the operating condition of your drive train, the less audible difference it makes. That said, the quietest operation I've heard was in slate.

When choosing a plinth one is also confronted with the question of whether to use the Thorens mushroom isolators or not. These mushroom shaped rubber 'bulbs' mount into the four height adjuster screws on the chassis and fit between chassis and plinth. To choose between using mushrooms or not is a matter left up to the individual. Going with mushrooms isolates the motor unit from its physical connections to the supporting structure. Opting to go without mushrooms means you allow vibrations emanating from the operating drive train, (and there are some) to flow into the cabinetry. Depending on how well the adjacent surface dampens vibrations, or doesn't, you might be able to make a clear choice between the two methods.

Personally I've tried it both ways, with/without mushrooms and on different plinth designs. Solid slate. Open plywood box types. I think the slate works better without mushrooms as the deck sounds quieter on slate that way. On the open plywood box types it is another matter. Really, the condition of the drive train plays into this. The healthier the TD124 operates, the less drive train noise there is. And so it follows that there is lesser need for isolation and dampening. That said I can think of one setup I had with #2729 in an open box plinth using mushrooms that did have a very energetic delivery. I might set up like that again.

[u]What about that flimsy upper aluminum platter shell...?[/u] Mine came to me bent out of shape and rubbing against the chassis. It is possible to remove the warps and bends. This much I have been able to do. However there are limits to how true these parts can be made to spin after warp repairs. Typically, I can straighten the upper shell to indicate between 1/64 - 1/32 of warp. This being on the upper surface where we are concerned about flatness, and at the perimeter (rim) where we are concerned about concentricity to the platter bearing, and then at the lower surface of the rim where the clutch arm lifts to engage and disengage the shell. The end result needs to be an upper shell that will operate without rubbing against anything during operation. I've only ever seen one older upper shell that was not bent and in need of straightening by some amount.

It is often suggested around the web that to alleviate any shell warp issues simply remove it from the player and replace it with a flat disk of some kind or another. Perhaps a thick 78 record with a thick platter mat on top. I've seen one firm that physically screws a machined flat disk of solid Delrin directly onto the iron flywheel of the TD124. That's right he drills and taps the iron platter to secure the Delrin plate. Other hobbiests have made similar suggestions. I am not offering any support to such methods. In fact I want to discourage this. For one thing, the TD124 was never intended to be operated in a start/stop manner. By design the motor is left running throught the listening session while using the clutch to engage/disengage the upper shell from the flywheel when changing records.

To deal with a warped upper shell the best solution nowadays, is to have the upper shell straightened by someone with the necessary skills to do so. Alternately there are a couple of sources for new replacement shells. These are not cheap to reproduce. One such replacement shell is offered by Mirko at [url=""][/url]. Another is offered by [url=""]Schopper[/url] in Switzerland. These shells are machined from aluminum stock. The original shells were formed at the factory by two different methods. One was by spinning (an older method of shaping sheet metal into circular forms, the other was by die-stamping sheet aluminum.

Me...I straighten my own.

[u]Notes on the magnetic attraction between the iron platter of the TD124 and certain moving coil cartridges.[/u]

I've found that there is a measurable magnetic pull* between the iron flywheel below and the cartridge above it. The only thing that can reduce this magnetic attraction is distance. And there isn't enough distance when using certain cartridges. This magnetic attraction between cartridge and flywheel can potentially mislead us when setting vertical tracking force of the arm/cartridge.

Below I offer a means to measure the strength of magnetic pull while using a DL-103R moving coil phono cartridge.

* The iron flywheel below does indeed attract cartridges fitted with stronger magnets. Typically moving coil cartridges will have a magnet within that is strong enough to attract itself toward the iron flywheel of the TD124.

[url=""][img][/img][/url] [url=""][img][/img][/url] [url=""][img][/img][/url] Scale: Micro-Tech VTF gage.

Above photos illustrate one method of determining just how much magnetic pull there is with any given cartridge. [u]Left photo; [/u] a digital scale with a means of measuring vertical force[i] at record level.[/i] This scale is designed to be used while sitting directly on the platter mat.* [u]Middle photo; [/u]taking a reading with the cartridge away from the iron platter below. [u]Right photo;[/u] taking a reading with the cartridge in the area that is over the iron platter beneath. Difference between [i]over iron [/i]and [i]away from iron[/i]; 1/2 gram!

*[i](But not while sitting on a record. That would increase the vertical distance by the thickness of the record. If you did that your measurement wouldn't be as accurate as it is with the scale sitting directly on the mat.) [/i]

The solution to the magnetic pull problem was to set VTF using this particular scale directly over the platter mat and above the iron flywheel beneath. The magnetic pull is still there, but i[u]t will remain constant to your setting [/u] while the record plays. And now we know we are not putting too much force on the suspension of the DL-103R. Btw, too much tracking force can result in a hard to diagnose distortion.

[u]Arms and Cartridges:[/u] On the TD124 we are restricted to two general effective lengths of tonearm. Nine inch and 12 inch. A 10 inch arm won't work because to set correct mounting distance its underneath parts will need to park into the outer framework of the TD124 chassis. And we are not going to cut into the cast aluminum chassis of the TD124 to fit a 10 inch tonearm! Nine inch or 12 inch. Nothing in between. Otherwise, the field is wide open. Below I'll just make note of some combinations I've tried.

For myself I want an arm and cartridge that will allow the turntable to deliver all of the musical energy within that record groove into the room. Not all arms and carts get this right. If it is on the record you want sudden dynamics. If it is on the record you want drum hits to leap out into the room suddenly...... With Pop! If it is on the record there should be tone, textures, fine details, inner details, air and space between it all. Clarity.

In my own experience, I'm still tweaking. I haven't yet satisfied myself that I have discovered the ultimate, optimal, holy grail of arm/cart setups for the TD124. That can get expensive. I'll just make note of the arms and cartridges I've tried so far and those I might want to try.

Arms I've tried and notes about them.

Rega RB250 ** (Expressimo mods) with Uwe bodied DL103R. I've done some mass tuning with this setup and liked it best when I could get the arm/cart to resonate at around 9 - 10 hz using the hfnrr test record.
Observations: good overall musicality. Good musical energy output. Percussive sounds have good "pop" and tend to leap forward into space.

I've heard this arm using two different armboards. A 'painted black' chipboard style of armboard and with a solid ebony board. The chipboard armboard produced a faster, more energetic presentation. The ebony board seemed to enhance tones and textures but seemed somewhat 'slower'. All very subjective observations.

Graham 2.2 (round base) with Ortofon MC Jubilee. --Laid back city.-- The Ortofon (this particular Ortofon) is far too relaxed for my taste. It seems to subtract from the output of musical energy of the deck. For a time I was tempted to blame this lack of energy, at least in part, on the Graham. However I've tried the Graham on this TD124 while using other cartridges and have found it to be a very good conduit for the cartridge to play its signal through. In some large part, it is the cartridge that determines the character of the reproduction. What the arm needs to do is get out of the way.

Graham 2.2 (round base) with Shelter 501-II: This makes a good partnership. The Graham and the Shelter pair up well together. The Graham is able to handle the resonant energy generated by the Shelter without being perturbed by it. I get a very energetic and "quick" sounding reproduction with this pair-up. Beautiful details, tones and texture. The Graham can dig up more detail than any other arm I've tried so far. It it is a revelation to hear. It gets the sense of musical flow right as well. Organic. Detailed and articulate. A nice combo.


Zeta tonearm with either a Uwe bodied/ SS retipped DL-103R and/or a Shelter 501-II on a solid ebony armboard. This gets closer to the grail. Fast, sudden dynamics, good energy output, combined with the ability to reproduce fine details. At first I tried the Zeta on an armboard cut from Baltic Birch plywood. There was a pronounced harshness to its tone. Replaced the armboard with Ebony. Tone now seemed natural and free of any harshness. I haven't tried chipboard, but plan to. Also, I'll try chipboard covered in formica.

The Zeta tonearm can get a bit edgy. It may indicate a problem with the arm in terms of maintenance (pivot bearings in need of clean/adjust) or it may point toward some well known issues that lie with the over-complicated counterweight of this arm. Many have said that by removing the outer decorative coverings of the counterweight, a new world of sound quality can be discovered with this arm. I'll experiment. Perhaps I'll make a different counterweight entirely, machined from Copper/bronze.

Fidelity Research FR54: I did a TD124 restoration for a customer that included one of these Fidelity Research arms. It is a high mass arm (16G effective mass) that is well suited for use with moving coil cartridges and their typically stiff suspensions. I thought the sound quality was quite good while using a DL-103R in a Uwe Panzerholz body and with a SS ruby / Fine-Line diamond re-tip. The standard FR headshell was used. Perhaps another headshell might have improved the output of this arm even further.

Maybe it was not quite as resolving as the same cartridge is when mounted to the Zeta tonearm. But it is still very good and affordable. At the time of this writing 2nd-hand FR54 arms can still be acquired over the internet at prices comparable to or less than a new Jelco. Beware that sometimes the cue mechanisms of the FR arm have been known to fail.


Arms I haven't tried but might want to:
Jelco SA750D. I can't believe that I had Henry's SA370H over here and didn't cut an armboard for the TD124 to try it there. I suspect it would be very good. It sure sounded lively in the TD150.

SME 3009 S2 (non imp) I have one of these waiting for me to refurbish. I'll get around to this sometime. Its replaceable headshell allows more versatility and the ability to adjust for azimuth. It can fit the G-type SPU headshell if one is tempted to try one of the SPU cartridges on a TD124.

SME 3012 S2: Pricing on good examples of this arm have gone through the roof. Most who have tried it have suggested that it is more preferable to the shorter but otherwise similar 3009S2.

Fidelity Research FR64s/FR66s:
Prices for these vintage arms are getting out of hand. If I had one I'd certainly try it. However, unless I happen to discover one in the wild, the costs will be too high for me.

Ikeda: dream on.

Vintage Ortofon arms: Some of these to be considered. I've yet to determine which ones are worth the effort and which ones are to be avoided.

The Thomas Schick tonearm: on my list of arms to try.

EMT: A few very good and rather expensive arms to consider.

[/font][font="Arial, Arial, Helvetica"]Cartridges on my list: * [/font]

[img][/img][font="Arial, Arial, Helvetica"]EMT TSD 15[/font] [img][/img][font="Arial, Arial, Helvetica"]Ortofon SPU in G-style headshell still in production, various levels of price/quality. Requires compatible tonearm. I'd likely pair it to a Schick tonearm.[/font] [img][/img][font="Arial, Arial, Helvetica"]Dynavector XX-2[/font] [font="Arial, Arial, Helvetica"] [/font][font="Arial, Arial, Helvetica"]*note how all of my choices are moving coils and that to some degree or another they will all exhibit a magnetic pull toward the iron flywheel of the TD124. This I can accommodate simply by setting vertical tracking force while using a scale directly above the iron flywheel beneath it. See above notes on this subject above.


** Expressimo RB250. NLA. Was produced by Express Machining Inc. by replacing the standard Rega wires with Cardas. Replaced the plastic cw stub with stainless steel stub. Replaced the cw with an off-set -low rider- style solid stainless steel cw.

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Manual de Usuario:
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[quote name='MartinV56' date='24 July 2015 - 09:52 AM' timestamp='1437745977' post='306496']
Gracias Alberto, excelentes aportes.
la parte sobre los Altec del artículo 61, la dejé para ti, a propósito, para tu acervo.

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Hermosa, y además bastante "tuneable" :)


Alberto, aprovecho a hacerte una pregunta, ya que sos un vinilero experto, que referencia tienes de las NEAT Japonesas??
Tuve la suerte de conseguir una Rara NP-7810H pero no hay casi nada de info en la Web...

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No lo ví mencionado, pero en este Post que ya va por 160 páginas hay muchisima info de la TD124

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[quote name='hectori' date='24 July 2015 - 12:43 PM' timestamp='1437756225' post='306538']
Alberto, aprovecho a hacerte una pregunta, ya que sos un vinilero experto, que referencia tienes de las NEAT Japonesas??
Tuve la suerte de conseguir una Rara NP-7810H pero no hay casi nada de info en la Web...
Hola Hector, aparte de la información de vinyl engine, audio assylum y dos o tres foros, no tengo nada de referencias más allá de lo que tu de seguro ya manejas, como que hicieron algunas tornamesas de broadcasting y cápsulas entre los 50's y 60's. Usando el sistema de transporte " idle wheel", pero probablemente no comparables con el de la TD124 o las EMT, porque eventualmente se sabría. Tu sabes, los japos probablemente las hubieran hecho populares entre los DIY's y coleccionistas. El problema que veo es que al haber tan poco información, de seguro es muy difícil conseguir piezas del macanismo originales o nuevas/mejoradas. Como sea, si tu mecanismo está en buen estado y sin ruidos, de seguro es una excelente máquina.

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[quote name='hectori' date='24 July 2015 - 12:47 PM' timestamp='1437756440' post='306540']
No lo ví mencionado, pero en este Post que ya va por 160 páginas hay muchisima info de la TD124 [url=""]http://www.diyaudio....d-124-mkii.html[/url]
Había visto ese foro y otros más, pero en primera instancia no quise incluír este tipo de vínculos. Tu sabes, en los foros hay todo tipo de información y hay que separar el trigo de la paja. De todos modos, la idea que tuve fue que estas publicaciones de gente que ha estudiado y/o reseñado estas tornamesas que han dejado una huella con su excelente ingeniería, sean solo una invitación a hacer cada uno sus propias averiguaciones.

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[font="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="4"][color="#990000"]THE CULT[/color][/size][/font][indent] [font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"][color="#FFFFFF"][color="#000000"]There are quite a few proud owners of the legendary TD 124 turntable. The reasons why they own this turntable, designed and manufactured with the legendary Swiss precision, are manyfold.
Some have acquired this model because they have become analog addicts and choose for a reproduction of the legendary records and want to use one of the best machines available in the era of Decca SXLs, Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft SLPEMs Red Stereos, RCAs LSC shaded dogs, Philips HiFi-Stereos, SAXs, HMV ASDs and American Columbia 6 eye labels. The aim of these music lovers is achieving a sound reproduction in style. [/color][color="#000000"]
Then there are the collectors of vintage audio equipment and no collection is complete without a TD-124. [/color][/color][/size][/font]

[/indent][center][font="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="4"][color="#990000"] IDLER WHEEL AND BELT[/color][/size][/font][/center]
[indent] [font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"][color="#FFFFFF"][color="#000000"]Firm believers in the principle of the idler wheel also want to own a TD-124, although it is not an idler wheel drive in the strict sense and differs from a Garrard 301 and 401 in transmission, operation and sound.
Others buy the 124 because they love to restore and optimize an old machine and make it work to perfection. Even removing its original paint and have it sprayed anew professionally can be an option like several Lencolovers do with their L78s, etc. turntables.
Another reason for buying a TD-124 (or whatever quality legend turntable) can be that it was too expensive at the time, as in my case. Today prices shown in the eBay listings at about $500 (without tonearm) are still affordable prices if compared to the modern cosmetically designed heavy platter belt drive type turntables. And you should not pay too much in order to be able to buy spare parts and pay for maintenance.[/color][/color][/size][/font]

[/indent][center][font="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="4"][color="#990000"]JOACHIM BUNG'S APPROACH[/color][/size][/font][/center]
[indent] [font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"][color="#000000"]The true historian approaches his subject with care and he will make observations from different angles. He wants to give a detailed picture, starting from the origin, following the development, and then finally placing it in a larger context to better understand the value of it. That is excatly what journalist Joachim Bung from Germany has done. I did not see and read his first book "Schweizer Prezision" which was only accessable for those who know German at least at school level. That 111 page book received much praise from those whose knowledge did not restrict them to just image viewing.[/color][/size][/font]


Editado por Alberto
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[center][font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="3"][color="#CC0000"]TD-124 and TD-124Mk2[/color][/size][/font][/center]
[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]Do you own a Thorens TD 124 or TD 124 Mk2? And do you have the original manual? And maybe you do know a lot about your TD124?
So much the better. Maybe this page is not for you. It cannot harm however to look at the images and read some important facts.
Many visitors of my website and many Thorens lovers have asked me about the TD124 and TD124Mk2.TD stands for "tourne-disque" which means literally "record turner" in French.
The Thorens TD124 has an iron cast platter weighing 4.3 kg, sometimes a bit more. It is driven by a relatively strong 10 Watt motor. (The Garrard 301 has a 16 Watt motor.) The rotation is transmitted via a belt to a stepped pulley. The 4 steps are for the 4 speeds: 16 2/3, 33 1/3, 45 and 78 rpm. The turning of this stepped pulley is transmitted to the inside of the rim of the platter via a rubber wheel.[/size][/font]

[img][/img] [center][font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="3"][color="#CC0000"]ORTOFON[/color][/size][/font][/center]
[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]On the left you see the first TD-124 with the long SME 3012 arm and the Ortofon SPU-GT cartridge in an early [b][font="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"][color="#990000"][img][/img][/color][/size][/font][/b] [url=""][b]Ortofon[/b][/url] headshell with its particular shape. The shell pictured on the left is a later version which is generally known.[/size][/font]

[center][img][/img][/center] [center][font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="3"][color="#CC0000"]TD-124 MK2[/color][/size][/font][/center]
[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]It is a combination of a belt drive and an idler wheel drive. The TD124 has 4 speeds: 16 2/3, 33 1/3, 45 and 78 RPM. These speeds can be adjusted which is great for people with absolute pitch, for those musicians who want to play along with a recording without having to tune their instruments, and for the playing of shellac records which are not always engraved at 78 RPM but have different speeds up to eighty or even higher RPM.
The platter of every TD124 is topped by a light aluminum sub platter. The adopter for 45 RPM discs is integrated. It has a spring and when you push it lightly and turn it to the right it moves up. When you push it lightly down again and turn it to the left, it will lock and stay put. The pattern of the rubber turntable mat consists of closed rings. [/size][/font]


[indent] [font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"][color="#999999"][b]Thorens TD124 Mk2
and new TP 14 arm[/b][/color][/size][/font]

[/indent] [center][font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="3"][color="#CC0000"]TP-14 ARM[/color][/size][/font][/center]
[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]The TD-124Mk2 has a more modern styled frame and the turntable mat has fewer rings which are interrupted and a new arm, the TP.14, which replaces the earlier BTD-125 arm. But the most important aspect is that the app.[b] 4.395 kg[/b] weighing iron platter could be replaced on request by a [b]3.63 kg[/b]. platter of aluminum which of course is non magnetic and thus does not attract a heavy moving coil cartridge with a strong magnet.[/size][/font]

[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]The TD124mk2 was described by [b]R.L. West[/b] in his review for [b]HiFi News of July 1966:[/b][/size][/font]

[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"][color="#006666"][b]"The TD.124 has long been recognized as the Rolls-Royce of transcription motors. It is as solidly made as our Garrard 301 and 401, but has one or two special features of merit. The Garrard takes its drive from a stepped pulley on the motor via a rubber-tyred idler to the turntable. The Thorens interposes a light flat rubber belt between the motor and a separate stepped pulley which drives the idler. This stepped pulley is solid with the main frame, and so prevents any motor vibration , whatever its direction, from reaching the turntable via the drive. (...)
Altogether, a very sound machine, still being made just as carefully. (...)
The TP.14 arm measurements are most impressive and show Messrs. Thorens are fully awake to the modern need of arms that will behave perfectly down to stylus pressures of below 1 gm if so desired."[/b][/color][/size][/font]

[img][/img] [center][font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="3"][color="#CC0000"]BEOGRAM 3000[/color][/size][/font][/center]
[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]The TD-124Mk2 was soon recognized as one of the most sophisticated transcription turntables available on the market. Both [b]Bang & Olufsen[/b] (B&O) from Denmark and [b]Tandberg's Radiofabrik[/b] from Norway choose the TD-124 MkII to be incorporated in the top of their product line and the turntable was adorned with their respective logos. At left the Beogram 3000 with B&O tone arm and cartridge. (Edited picture taken from an advertisement in a Dutch record magazine from 1969.)[/size][/font]

[center][img][/img][/center] [center][font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="3"][color="#CC0000"]4 SPEEDS[/color][/size][/font][/center]
[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]This is a picture taken from the instruction manual of an early TD 124. The armboard did not have a black coating yet. When the 16 2/3 speed was proposed in the mid nineteen fifties many manufacturers incorporated the speed into their gramophones and turntables. Right from the beginning the TD 124 also had 16 2/3 rpm which was meant for recordings containing speech and was really not suitable for high fidelity.[/size][/font]

[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"][b]Note: The aluminum platter which later could be ordered has only 2 stroboscope rings for 16 2/3 and 33 1/3 respectively.[/b][/size][/font]

[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"][color="#006666"][b]It goes without saying that if you have to adjust the downforce of a cartridge when using an iron platter, you have to place the scale not on a record but directly on the rubber mat to get a more exact reading. If you just turn the counterweight to the desired marking when the arm is away from the platter's periphery, or placed on the rest of the lift, you will get a faulty result[/b][/color][/size][/font][font="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="+0"][color="#006666"][b]![/b][/color][/size][/font]

[center][img][/img][/center] [center][font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="3"][color="#CC0000"]BELT DRIVE AND IDLER WHEEL[/color][/size][/font][/center]
[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]The TD-124Mk2 had a more modern look but the combination of a belt driven pulley and a rubber idler wheel of the original TD-124 was of course retained and the heavy platter is turned with the same minimum of wow and practically immeasurable flutter. Rumble values are also exemplary. That is if the bearing functions perfectly well, if the rubber belt is not damaged and not too loose, and if the motor is well de-coupled from the main chassis by three sets of two rubber rings/grommets. The player should be decoupled in some way from its surrounding by means of rubber insulators (originally the mushroom-shaped insulators), or if placed directly on a stand, the stand should have spikes or cones (spikes are preferred). Also the table should be level at all times to function well. See also [b][font="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"][color="#990000"][img][/img][/color][/size][/font][/b] [url=""][b]Turntable Adjustment.[/b][/url][/size][/font]

[center][img][/img][/center] [center][font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="3"][color="#CC0000"]VERSATILE MACHINE[/color][/size][/font][/center]
[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]The design, the sturdy build, the specific features no other turntable had, and the precision with which each and every TD-124 was manufactured, made this turntable about the best a man could get. Serious music lovers and audiophiles alike were very fond of this transcription turntable and combined it with tone arms from Ortofon and SME, and with cartridges from Shure and Ortofon.[/size][/font]

[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]At left an advertisement from [b]1961[/b]. It was published in the April issue of High Fidelity magazine in the US. By that time Thorens products were imported by Elpa Marketing Industries Inc. They also imported Revox tape recorders. An advertisement from 1960 did not mention Elpa Marketing yet. The cost of $99.95 for the TD-124 is amazing, at least measured by non-American standards in that era. The dollar was a strong currency with a high exchange rate. $99.95 for a unit to be built in a cabinet or to be mounted on a plinth are peanuts today.
The copywriter's text:[/size][/font]

[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"][color="#006666"][b]"Thorens compensates for variations in house current and recording systems; gives the truest reproduction with all your records, old or new. Adjustment is so fine that records can be used to accompany [i]live[/i] vocal and instrumental performances. Swiss precision engineering ensures longer record life, performance to match the finest components you will ever own."[/b][/color][/size][/font]

[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]The Thorens TD-124 was in the nineteen fifties and sixties what the [b][font="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"][color="#990000"][img][/img][/color][/size][/font][/b] [url=""][b]Technics SP-10Mk3[/b][/url] was for the early nineteen eighties, and to a lesser extent the SP-10 Mk2 for the nineteen seventies - if you consider the variable pitch a necessary feature.
It is amazing that many a TD-124 transcription unit is still in use some 50 years after the introduction.[/size][/font]

[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]It takes some attention and knowledge to keep a TD-124 up and running satisfactorily. The die hards know how to service the mechanism and treat the machine with care, and they eventually substitute one part or another, if necessary: a new idler wheel, a belt, a better spindle and bearing, and maybe a platter. [/size][/font]

[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]Others just own a TD-124 because they consider it as an antique object and do not bother much about the proper functioning. In any case the paragraphs that follow can give you more insight and ideas in order to fully enjoy the working of this turntable.[/size][/font]

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