After Several Weeks of Ownership…ThorensTD-160 Super Reproduction with rewired vintage SME 3009 Series II and Ortofon 2M Bronze…
I’ve had the Thorens TD-160 Reproduction for several weeks and have had a chance to drive a good deal of vinyl on it. My expectation was basic: I’d get an attractive and competent turntable that would allow me to play the hundred or so LPs that I’ve had boxed away for almost twenty years. I wasn’t prepared for just how good vinyl can sound when played on a complete system.
First up was Queen’s The Game—the first album I bought with my own money—and it sounded better than I remembered despite the fact that my twelve-year-old self wasn’t exactly kind to it. Then I was taken aback by my great-grandmother’s late-50s (mono era) Pictures and an Exhibition which pumped out a full and rich sound with tight kettle drums and plenty of horns to test the other end of the spectrum. Then I put on Boston’s debut album and it just lit up the room. I simply don’t remember it ever sounding that good. Paul Simon, Fritz Reiner, Yes, Otto Kemper, Dire Straits; it ALL sounds better than I remembered.
Then it dawned on me that back in high school and college the not-yet employed me couldn’t exactly afford a high-end hifi set-up. That was also about the time that I started ditching LPs in favor of CDs, and at the time it seemed that CDs sounded infinitely better. So naturally I revisited that assumption and made a direct comparison between the dozen or so LPs that I had repurchased on CD.
The obvious take-away is that a great performance matched with skilled mastering sounds good no matter the medium, but vinyl in general has an organic and open sound that breathes—and it feels more comfortable driving vinyl at a louder volume. Despite the fact that I have a large CD collection and a premium CD player, I’m spending most of my time listening to my LPs. And now that I’ve reacquainted myself with vinyl, some of my CDs have suddenly revealed themselves as the sonic equivalent of a digital image that has been over-sharpened. Initially enticing, but ultimately a bit brash and aggressive.
I think part of it is due to the fact that much of the music I enjoy was originally recorded and mastered for vinyl, but I’m simply amazed that forty-, fifty- and sixty-year-old LPs hold their own against the CDs and file-based digital media.
But the part that I am enjoying the most is spending more time sharing and listening to music with my daughter—she’d much rather drive the turntable than listen to her music over headphones. It’s great actually.
And a few more thoughts the next day…
Looking forward to seeing how the mono cartridge sounds. Thanks for the thoughts on the motor options; makes a lot of sense. Definitely interested in the Music Hall Cruise Control. When you have a moment shoot me an invoice and I’ll get payment out to you. No big rush on timing, but curious how it will compliment the turntable.
The turntable is simply fantastic: looks great, sounds great.
Vinyl’s hip again and my daughter wanted a turntable, and that’s what prompted my own renewed interest. So I picked up an AudioTechnica turntable with the notion that she wouldn’t be tempted to manhandle the Thorens once it arrived, but that didn’t work out as planned.
Initially she ignored ’that old turntable’ because she had her own new turntable (and in pink, naturally). So it was just a bit amusing last weekend when she came downstairs with her LPs and a novel argument that went something along the lines of: “Dad, records are expensive, and—if I’m going to spend my own money—I need to take care of them and I really shouldn’t be playing them on a cheap turntable with a cheap needle. And besides, it sounds so much better.”
She’s learned how to use the Thorens, and developed an appreciation for its elegant simplicity as well as an understanding of exactly howand why it sounds so much better. Chock one up for hand-built craftsmanship over the Crosely-Urban Outfitter hype machine. The only casualty is that my turntable is rapidly becoming our turntable.”
JS, Midlothian, VA