In the wonderful world of record players there are a number of iconic brands. One of those brands is Thorens. Thorens’ top models have a price tag of more than 10,000 euros. The question is whether the brand’s qualities trickle down when we ‘only’ have 500 euros to spend. The only way to find out is to listen to one of the entry-level models.
Thorens was founded in 1883 by Hermann Thorens, in the Swiss village of Sainte-Croix. Thorens’ first products are music boxes, mechanical instruments that play music. From 1903 Thorens produces record players. We will briefly go through a few highlights in the history of the brand: electronic direct drive (1927!), a subchassis in which the turntable and tone arm are mounted floating and separate from the turntable and engine (1965), dipole speakers (called Sound Wall, 70s). Legendary record player type numbers are the TD 124, the TD 150/TD 160, TD 524, TD 320.
There are similarities of the TD 150 with the Linn Sondek LP12 turntable; the sub chassis design of the TD 150 was the basis for the LP12. Thorens also acquired the turntable, tone arm and amplifier brand EMT.
The emergence of the CD was bad news for Thorens, which in 2000 led to bankruptcy and a legal battle about the entitlement of the brand name. As a result, Thorens has been based in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany as of 2018. The current generation of Thorens therefore reads “Made in Germany”.
Apart from a number of outings in the 70s, when Thorens also made speakers, cassette decks and amplifiers, in 2019 Thorens is a turntable-only brand; it also sells related products such as phono preamplifiers. The product lineup can easily be divided into two categories: with and without sub chassis. The latter is mainly catalogued as a 900-series and is also the most expensive; the TD 907 with tone arm and element costs around € 15,000. The TD 550 is already a bit more price-friendly. You have a TD 550 record player of approx. 20 kilos, priced approx. € 7.500 depending on tonearm and element. The TD 350 will be yours for about € 3,500.
The turntables without sub chassis are considerably more attractive in price. Depending on the design, materials used and the like, prices are between 400 and 1,500 euros. All Thorens turntables are belt drive.