The History Of Thorens
Thorens is the oldest name in entertainment electronics, founded in 1883 by Hermann Thorens in Sainte-Croix, Switzerland. An initial producer of musical boxes and clock movements, they started producing Edison-type phonographs in 1903.
In 1928, Thorens produced their first electric motor-drive record player, and went on to produce a range of audiophile record players in the 1950s and 1960s which are, even today, regarded as high-end audio equipment, and are much sought-after. Following the success of the TD-124, Thorens had to rationalize its production and lower its production costs, and this meant that it was impossible to continue to produce in a country with labour cost as high as Switzerland.After a brief and unproductive marriage with Paillard (maker of the Bolex cameras) lasting only from 1963 to 1966, Thorens moved to Germany and established its new HQ in Lahr, in the Schwarzwald, joining forces with EMT to create 'Thorens-Franz AG'.Thorens continues to produce well-regarded turntables to this day.
THORENS TD-124 MKI-MK II (1956 - 1968)
The Thorens TD-124 set standards for quality and reliability when it hit the market. The TD moniker comes from the french Tourne Disque – literally "recrd-spinner./" Its elaborately designed drive was based on an idler wheel, which was driven to reduce engine influences by a short belt. The two-piece platter was designed so that a record change without stopping the engine was possible. Initially equipped with the tone arm Thorens TP 14, later came versions with different arm bases and matching plinths. Legendary here was the equipment with long SME 3012 arms. According to the time records could be played at all four speeds. Today, the Thorens TD-124 is in high demand and a holy grail table for many collectors.
THORENS TD-125 MKI-MKII (1968 - 1975)
In 1968, Thorens TD-125, replacing the 124 with a larger, heavier drive. The TD-125 also used for the first time an electronic control for the 220V synchronous motor, achieving an excellent running smoothness and speed stability. The turntable was equipped with a Thorens TP 25 tonearm, but many collectors prefer the SME3009 with Shure V15 cartridge. (Mk II used the original TP 16). A variant with wider frame, called the TD-125 LB supports long tonearms up to 16".
THORENS TD-126 MKI-MKIV, TD-127, TD 226 (1976 - 1986)
In 1976 TD-126 replaced the 125 in the lineup. The new models offered comfort features such as electric lift, auto shut off and in the most successful model, the TD-126 Mk III, for the first time a tacho-controlled DC motor to compensate for momentary fluctuations in speed, such as while using a brush. Rather than bundling the proven Thorens TP 16 Mk III, the 126 offered tonearms from the top third-party names like SME, Koshin, and Dynavector. Variants include the 127, designed for long tonearms (up to 12“), and the 226, which could support two tonearms, one on each side of the platter. Both had a wider frame and a customized sub-chassis. The 127 and 226 are particularly popular with collectors.
THORENS TD-160 MKI - MKV (1972 - 1993)
The TD-160 is now considered a classic Thorens subchassis turntable. Introduced in 1972, it was heavier and more stable than the 125, and was the Thorens flagship until the early 1990s. In addition to the models (MKI - MKV) there were a number of variants of the TD-160, all using a synchronous motor (initially 220 V mains synchronous, later 16 V low voltage) without electronic control.
- TD-160 super: reinforced chassis
- TD-145/146/147: Auto shut off
- TD-165/166: lightweight inner platter and small platter bearing
- TP 11/16/50/90: TD-160 with different tonearm options
- TD-160 S Mk V: Auto shut of, Thorens TP 90 tonearm
- TD-160 BC: Bring Your Own Arm
THORENS REFERENCE AND PRESTIGE
In 1980, the goal was the ultimate turntable. The result was called Thorens Reference, weighed 90 kg, was designed for up to three tonearms with a tunable subchassis. A limited run of 100 pieces, customers could choose individual color combinations and specify tonearms. The price was an incredible 18,000DM. In 1983, the Thorens Prestige was released for the 100th anniversary of the company. Qualitatively equivalent to the Reference, with subchassis and electrical lifts for two tonearms. Production numbers are unclear, but it seems the Prestige was an response to the remaining demand for the Reference, without suppressing its value, so we believe many more of these were produced.