I have a Thorens TD 160. Should I upgrade?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Guy Gadbois, Oct 2, 2016.

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  1. Guy Gadbois

    Guy Gadbois Chief Inspector Thread Starter

    Like the title says, I have a stock TD 160. It's got a new belt and is in like-new condition. Really a gorgeous piece. It has a Nagoka MP 110 cartridge, and I use a VPI 299D amp with Golden Ear Triton 3+ speakers.

    The question is...would a newer table yield better results? Specifically the Music Hall 7.3 or the new Rega Planar 3.

    I know the 160 is a well regarded table, but it's also 40+ years old.

  2. StuJM84

    StuJM84 Forum Resident

    Kent, UK
    Would you not consider upgrading the deck itself? A new tonearm and cartridge maybe?
  3. sfrost

    sfrost Forum Resident

    Yes and no, you could upgrade the arm and cartridge on the Thorens. No, not with the tables mentioned, they would only be side steps.
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  4. Tim Irvine

    Tim Irvine Forum Resident

    Austin, Texas
    If it is worth anything to aid in triangulating on the answer, I had a 150 I bought new in 1971 with a Shure M91ed. In the mid eighties I shifted to a used 125 with a V15, not sure which one, and an SME 3009 arm. Very similar soundwise, amazingly enough. Now I have a Vinyl Nirvana 150 with a longer beautiful plinth, more damping inside, a different material for the armboard, a Cardas wired Rega 202, and an Ortofon bronze. The sound is recognizably similar but across the board better. You have a wonderful table, but I'll bet it could be tweaked. I have heard some of the newer tables, but I have a hard time comparing them with mine given how different the cartridges and rest of the systems were from mine. I will say they made me glad of my choice.
  5. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    In all my years a Thorens TD150/160/160super will not really be beaten.
    i wonder if like me when one first buys a Thorens the following days are a bit of an anti climax.
    thats how it was for me.
    now i play records.
    i did recently change my phonostage
    its output resistance is 100k
    the pot on my passive is also 100k
    really took my audio to new levels.
    Guy Gadbois likes this.
  6. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Eagle, Idaho
    Keep what you have. Otherwise it's just churn.
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  7. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    San Jose, CA
    I tend to agree that the 'tables mentioned are side-steps. When I owned my TD160 (Unipivot arm, Garrott P77 cartridge) I had two friends with Regas and our front-ends were competitive. I upgraded to a used Linn Sondek and that was a significant improvement over the TD160.
  8. Guy Gadbois

    Guy Gadbois Chief Inspector Thread Starter

    I have thought of that, but the cost involved is almost the price of a new table isn't it?
  9. Guy Gadbois

    Guy Gadbois Chief Inspector Thread Starter

    Which LS model did you get?
  10. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Vallejo, CA
    I might send it to Vinyl Nirvana for their treatment and maybe a tonearm upgrade, but I'd never ever get rid of it.
  11. Guy Gadbois

    Guy Gadbois Chief Inspector Thread Starter

    I might do that. I emailed Dave a few weeks ago but I can't remember what he recommended
  12. Tim Irvine

    Tim Irvine Forum Resident

    Austin, Texas
    The price of those mods may approximate the cost of some tables but the table you will end up with will IMO rival a Sondek.
    Guy Gadbois likes this.
  13. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    San Jose, CA
    This was 30 years ago. There were not really different "models" at that time, but mine did have the Valhalla board.
  14. Daddy Dom

    Daddy Dom Lodger

    New Zealand
    This counts for a lot!

    Yeah but nah, as said, you would have to spend quite a bit to beat the Thorens and chances are, you can get even more out of your present system without spending much. There are many things to address in terms of how/where things are sitting, isolation, interconnects etc.

    You could easily upgrade your cart, rewire your arm, deaden the plinth, have a new one built ... get back to what Vinyl Nirvana said, even?
    Guy Gadbois likes this.
  15. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ
    I dont know which model you have but the stock tp16 (mk1?) and headshell is the main weakness imo. The bearings don't seem to age well and I had some tracking issues that I never could figure out. Getting a different arm will cost you a bit but should reward handsomely. After that, maybe the springs should be replaced for good measure.

    I also don't have any experience with vinyl nirvana but it seems a costly upgrade, but then again new tables cost a lot too.

    I sure do miss my td160, if for what ever reason you give up on the thorens, please keep me in mind!
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2016
  16. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    San Jose, CA
    I bought an armless Thorens and fitted my own arm. I never fancied the Thorens arm.
  17. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ
    Right now I have a 320 mk1 with the tp16mk3. It's better than the original but I'm very limited on the cart choice as a result of the light weight.
  18. Guy Gadbois

    Guy Gadbois Chief Inspector Thread Starter

    I believe my 160 is an original. And I will keep you in mind!
  19. Guy Gadbois

    Guy Gadbois Chief Inspector Thread Starter

  20. Sid Hartha

    Sid Hartha Well-Known Member

    The Midwest
    My 160 was the last turntable I purchased. That was in 1977.
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  21. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    By all means keep your turntable and restore it at your leisure, it is a true classic. However I am confident something like a VPI Scout would sound much better.
    I would recommend you try a new table on a trial basis- you could be pleasantly surprised. I was absolutely stunned at the upgrade in sound (with same cartridge) of my classic Technics table vs a modern VPI. I would never have believed it was the same cartridge.
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  22. seacliffe301

    seacliffe301 Forum Resident

    Sure, to a 145. It's semi automatic.
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  23. Gretsch6136

    Gretsch6136 Forum Resident

    I have a TD160 Super and I would never sell it. It has a Rega RB300 arm on it with a Denon DL304 MC cartridge. I have used this setup for 15+ years and I honestly haven't heard better vinyl reproduction anywhere else.

    I also own a Rega RP3/24 with the RB300 arm and Denon DL160 MC cartridge. Its a great setup, but not in the same league as the Thorens setup.

    If I were you I'd keep the 160 and mod it. THats how the 160 Super came into being. Thorens integrated the mods owners of the 160 were making.


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  24. Seeing as you are asking for opinions, I'll give you mine, only because I've been there and my opinion is not theoretical. No offense but a stock Rega RP3 would just kill it in it's current state. I asked myself the very same question a few years back. I have a Thorens TD 147 Jubilee-essentially the same set up and had the Thorens since new. I did some tweaks but still found myself wanting more. I eventually ordered a new Rega P5 and put them side by side, swapping out the same cartridge and there really was no comparison. I still love that Thorens and can't really ever see myself selling it but you would need to throw some big dollars at it to freshen it up and get it to current audiophile standards.

    If you really want to keep it, think about doing at least the following:

    New phono cables are a must.
    Clean and re-lube the bearing assembly, checking for wear/damage as well.
    Cabinet/plinth upgrades and damping
    The arm should go. The stock arm is just ok but has serious limitations in terms of sonics, performance and cartridge choice.

    I think the Vinyl Nirvana dude does all that and more if that kind of work is not in your wheelhouse. Good luck and let us know what you decide.
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  25. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    East TN
    If you upgrade, don't upgrade the turntable, think about a 9" tonearm upgrade and an armboard to mount it. Your existing table is a very well built, well engineered platform. Your cartridge is very excellent also. Service your existing Thorens. Vinyl Nirvana can do all the above. If you buy a new table, consider a GEM Polytable instead for that price point, a much better musical turntable.
    Guy Gadbois likes this.
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