Friday, July 13, 2012

Thorens TD-165 manual turntable

I peruse St. Louis area Craigslist daily, maybe obsesssively for someone who merely collects items of interest, without any significant needs in vintage audio. I consider myself lucky in that I have the majority of the items I need to accomplish my audio goals, at least within a certain budget. I get by pretty well, and have a number of bonafide scroes to show for my scavenging.

Imagine my surprise the day I located a genuine Thorens TD-165 for a measly $100 on CL. I was running to get to the phone and firm up the buy. I could care less about the condition, at least I could rebuild, worst comes to worst. I was shocked to see what the individual selling this thing was powering it with, in terms of a belt. It looked more like a rubber band, to be honest! It was nowhere near spec, speed-wise, and I now realized that I had to locate a dustcover (or facsimile) to make the package even remotely look complete. I sourced the belt online and patiently awaited its arrival.

How this guy could have made do with a useless rubber band was beyond me. The table was simply not being used in this useless condition, or it sounded like total dogshit. Either way, the fact that it was near-mint otherwise was more than encouraging. As long as the correct belt could propel the platter properly I was in business. Upon receiving it and slipping it on, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the clarity of pitch and the sonority of the period-correct (the actual original cart) Pickering P/AT cartridge, not to mention that the stylus had little to no wear to throw me another curve (another problem I ostensibly had to throw money at to make right). The P-O7 stylus was nearly perfect, and I was up and running. Big load off my shoulders for my meager investment so far. I could see the light at the end of the refurbing tunnel.

Dustcover next...I had hoped for a stock replacement when I realized that there was no cover at all, but quickly, upon perusing CL and epay, discovered that this item would NOT be cheap, if in fact I could source the original at all. I realized after a couple weeks of trying that an aftermarket copy cover had to suffice. It was not going to be cheap, because it had to have a pair of holes positioned for pins (which were misssing and available from the aftermarket guy, thankfully) and slots to allow the cover to slide into an upright position for holding it open while changing records, adjusting and so forth. It was going to be specially designed to do the same service as the original, and priced accordingly. I had just bought a Technics cover from Kevin @ KAB ($45, actually cheap considering it was brand new), and was using that as a reference. I was sadly mistaken to believe I would get off that cheap for my Thorens replacement cover. It was nearly $200 in total, but, like everything else, I had to have it to semi-complete the experience of owning a real, operating Thorens. The cover alone was twice the cost of the table itself.

I'm listening to it now, and admiring the cover after it all came together some time ago. The experience is exquisite to say the least, it qualifies as my #1 table in every category of measure, and plays records with precision and beauty. I couldn't be happier after a bit of diligence to nail down some important details, and it should serve me well into this century. Bee Gees Cucumber Castle is singing sweetly in glorious analog, tube, Klipsch audio excellence!

It's simplicity and no-frills design make it a definite winner, 5 out of 5 stars total, and an experience I'd recommend for anyone looking to get into analog after a bout with computer or portable audio (if you can call it audio, portable listening never took off with me). Get a proper belt, make sure the stylus isn't worn beyond usefulness, get a halfways-decent cover and you're off and running back to the analog future with a table that excelled in its day and is still considered excellent by today's standards. You'll have a table with name recognition from a company with pedigreed products that stand the test of time.

Tomorrow we rediscover another arty-fact from the past that makes today's BPC look and sound like just that, crap! Keep your tubes hot and your antenna up, and we'll see you then!

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