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A survey of the company's history, developments and product line

 

1883    Trade registration of the family-business of Hermann Thorens, established in St.-Croix / Switzerland, with the purpose of manufacturing musical boxes and movements.

1903    Manufacturing of Thorens' first Edison-type phonograph.

1906    Change-over to the manufacturing of horn-gramophones for shellac records.

1913-1964    Manufacturing of cigarette lighters

1914-1952    Manufacturing of harmonicas (except for the time from 1921-1938)

1927   Conversion of the family business to a joint-stock company (AG)

1928    Development of the first electric motor (direct drive) for gramophones.

1929    Development of the first electric phono pick-up (employing a magnet principle).

1933    Manufacturing of wireless appliances, partly in cooperation with the Strassfurt-Imperial Company of Germany.

1940-1950    Production of professional disc-cutting lathes and phono pick-up cartridges.

1943    Production of the first record changer.

1954-1960    Production of the mechanical razor "Thorens Riviera".

1957    Introduction of the TD124 Hi-Fi record player.  It came without tonearm but with arm board during this first year. Destined to become a classic, the success of this player had an enormous effect at Thorens, shaping the future direction for the company into that of a worldwide manufacturer of high quality  stereo record players.

1958-1961    Introduction of the models TD184, TD134 with BL104 tonearm, the TD135  and the  BTD-12S tonearm.  These turntable models were simpler and less expensive offerings designed to fill out price points within the product line.  The BTD-12S tonearm was well received at its introduction and was the company's top tonearm offering until it was superceded by the TP14 in 1966.

1962    Introduction of the unique TDW224 HI-Fi record changer.  Based on the TD135.  but with Additional gears, pulleys and levers, arms etc.  This 'record changer' stored it's stack of 8 records away from the player so that only one LP rested on the platter at any one time.  An arm would pluck the record off the platter, then transport it to the side position, pick a new record from the top stack and place this record on the platter.   This is quite unlike the traditional record changer that stacks one LP disc upon the next until you have a stack of 5 or six and spins the whole lot.  As that stack of records on the platter rises, so changes the vertical tracking angle and correct arm cartridge alignment is lost. This complexity of changer operation, while extreme, ensured that the all important vertical tracking angle on this Thorens remained unchanged in play.  For an online tour of the TD224 and TD124 link here.  http:/www.soundfountain.com/amb/td124page.html

for a look and video of the TDW224 in action see this page: TDW224

The introduction of the TD121.  It was marketed as a 'slightly' less expensive but high quality table.

Single speed operation (33 -1/3rd rpm). 
it uses the lighter bearing of the TD 135 (10mm).
It has a single piece non magnetic platter of the TD135 (zinc)
No strobe,
No spirit level,
No decoupling - clutch action - of the upper platter .
Otherwise it shares the same chassis and drive system of the TD124

The introduction of the TD111.

1963    The Thorens company merges with Paillard SA, St.-Croix / Switzerland.  Paillard SA manufactured Bolex cameras and Hermes typewriters at the time.  This merger would last three years.  Legal requirements and differing goals between upper management of the Paillard Group and Thorens resulted in a loss of cooperation between the two groups.

1965    Introduction of the TD150 with TP13 tonearm.  This player featured a new 3 point suspended subchassis that carries both platter, bearing and arm.  Fixed to the main chassis is a 16 pole, 2-phase synchronous AC motor.  A two- piece 7 pound balanced platter system exists with the inner platter being driven by way of an elastic belt.  Platter material is die cast zinc alloy.  Platter bearing is a hardened stainless steel shaft of 10mm diameter with a captive ball bearing tip and running in sintered bronze bushings. The ball tip carries the vertical load from the platter.  This new suspended layout presents a significant step forward in efforts to reduce rumble noise.

1966    Effective July 1st, 1966, the Swiss Thorens-Franz AG took over the entire business concerning Thorens record players and together with EMT Wilhelm Franz of Germany, they established a new business for research, development and manufacturing in Lahr / Germany, located in the foothills of the Black Forest.

Revision of the TD124 into TD124 II with TP-14 tonearm.  Changes from the TD124 include change in paint color from cream white to medium-grey.   Minor changes in the controls.  Also revised was the TD135, now TD135 II.

1968    Introduction of the TD125 electronically-controlled (Wien Bridge Oscillator) turntable equipped with the TP25  tonearm.  This table replaces the TD124 II as the flagship of the product line.  The TD125, like the TD150, is belt driven and suspended via a 3 point suspension and like it's little brother, the TD150,  it also is a "purists" model with all manual controls.

Early production units  also share the same platters and bearing shaft with the TD150. Early models will be found with the captive ball on the spindle shaft tip.  Later production models replaced this with a solid steel conical shaped tip to carry the vertical thrust load.  The bearing housing on the early models differed from later production models.  Early model platter bearings were housed in a large cast aluminum housing featuring a 3 bolt hole pattern for attachment to the subchassis plate.  Later production bearings were of the press-in variety with a much slimmer machined steel housing.

Unlike the TD150, this model features a much more substantial and solid construction throughout.  The motor function offered 3 speeds: 16, 33-1/3 and 45.  This table was also offered in an optional "LB" edition.  The "TD125 LB" featured a longer cabinet and armboard to accommodate longer 12 inch tonearms.  For more info on the various options offered with the original TD125 see this link.

1969    Introduction of the TD150 Mk II with new tonearm TP13A. Upgrades to the tonearm include fine-adjustment of tracking force and 'weight on string' compensation of anti-skating force. The previous TP13 tonearm had no compensation for anti-skating force.

1972    The introduction of the TD125 MkII.  The most apparent change to this revised model is the new TP16 tonearm which is now packaged as the standard equipment offering. The new tonearm features gimbal 4-point pivot bearings, magnetic anti-skate control and a new detachable magnesium headshell, the TP60.  Effective mass of the new arm is rated at 16.5 grams.  Refinements to the oscillator motor control circuitry are made.  Platter bearings are all of the press-in design with solid tip shafts by this time.

The TD160 replaces the TD150 as the affordable but still Hi-Fi player featuring a similar 3 point suspension  floating sub-chassis but with the new TP16 tonearm .  Operation is pure manual but with an integrated cable operated tonearm cue.  Like the TD150, the TD160 used a synchronous 16 pole 2-phase AC motor that derived it's pitch precision by locking on to the mains frequency the same as an electric clock motor from that era.   Both TD125 MkII and TD160 share the same 7 pound die cast zinc platters and the same 10mm platter bearing.  

At the same time a less expensive TD165 was offered with the TP11 tonearm.  This new tonearm used the same gimbal pivot bearing, arm tube and head shell as the TP16 but substituted a weight-on-string style of anti-skate control and also featured a different counterweight.   The TD165 used a 7mm diameter platter bearing fixed to a resin inner platter. The motor and pulley were also different from the TD160.

1974    Presentation of the TD126 "electronic" with tonearm TP16.  The TD126 replaces the highly regarded TD125 Mk II.  Similar in dimensions and weight, the TD126 adds semi-automatic function to the tonearm operation in addition to a preset for mode of operation. (When equipped with standard Thorens tonearm) The TD126 featured lighted push buttons compared to the slider controls of it's predecessor.  The TD126 shared the same basic layout and size of the TD125, continuing to use the heavy cast aluminum sub-chassis suspended by 3 conical springs and the same platters and bearing.  Available speeds are now 33-1/3, 45 and 78rpm.  The Mk 1 and Mk2 TD126 models continued to use the 16-pole AC synchronous motor from the TD125 MkII.   

1975    The TD145 is offered.  In essence a TD160 with automated arm lift and motor stop at end of play

1976    Introduction of the "Isotrack"-tonearm with a  low effective mass. This is an updated version of the TP16 tonearm featuring remove-able 'arm wands' fixed by a collar lock very close to the pivot bearing.  Moving the coupling joint closer to the pivot reduced effective mass substantially.  The replaceable arm-wand of this tonearm is called the TP62. A later version of the isotrack tonearm, called the TP16-III used another style of arm-wand designated the TP63.  Both of these tonearms rated their effective mass at 7.5 grams.  These tonearms were suitable for use with phono cartridges having high compliance suspensions.  

Optional with the Isotrack tonearms were arm-wands featuring integrated phono cartridges.  The TPO63 and TPO70 were two such arm-wands.  In cooperation with EMT, Thorens produced special cartridges of the moving-coil variety. Integrated arm-wand-cartridges TMC63/TMC70, phono cartridges MCHI and MCHII as well as the PPA990 and STA960 (pre-preamplifier and step-up transformer)

Introduction of the TD126 Mk II with TP16 Mk II (Isotrack).

Introduction of the TD160 Mk II with TP16 Mk II (Isotrack)

Introduction of the TD166 with TP16 Mk II (Isotrack)

Introduction of the TD145 Mk II with TP16 Mk II (Isotrack)

Thorens commence with building the AT410 stereo receiver.

1978    Thorens adds to its product line the TD104, TD105, TD110, TD115.     

The TD126 MkIII is introduced.  Some of its features include:

DC 72-pole tacho-generator drive motor.
New load-depending control of rotation (APC: automatic pitch control) 
Low mass "Isotrack" TP16 MkIII tonearm
Electronic frictionless shut-off facility
Additional motor for tonearm lift control
speeds: 33, 45 and 78

The Receiver AT403, Cassette Deck PC 650, Sound Wall loudspeakers  were introduced.  

The Thorens "Rumpelme▀koppler", a device for closely evaluating rumble noises of record players.  

           

Above left, design sketch.  Above right, actual tool.

Developed by Thorens engineer Ludwig Klapproth, the Rumpelmesskoppler (rumble measuring coupler) consists of two parts.  One part is the spindle that is fixed with its lower end to the top of the turntable axle protruding from the platter.  The other end of the spindle is shaped to a very fine point which is plated with copper and nickel.  The other part of this device is sort of an outrigger which is hung up at the top of the spindle and supported along the spindle's shaft.  The supports are made of high-polymer plastic and they glide virtually frictionless around the polished spindle.  Fixed at the opposite lower side of this carrier is a tiny piece of vinyl record with grooves, onto which the cartrige and its stylus is put during the measurements.  This rather stiff arrangement allows all rumble noises from 0 to around 500 Hz caused by the turntable or it's bearing to be detected and transduced by cartridge employed.

 

1979    Development of the state-of-the-art turntable "Reference" for measuring purposes. In spite of the stated purpose as a measurement tool, a series of 100 Thorens References were sold to customers.  Unofficially, more were made but it is unknown exactly how many and what serial numbers those extra tables carried.

Introduction of the TP16 MkIII tonearm

1979-1981    The TD126 Mk III, is being offered with numerous different tonearms from the various tonearm manufacturers including SME, Koshin, Dynavector and EMT.  Semi-auto function is retained when these arms are factory installed.

1981-1983      Introduction of the TD226, featuring a vacuum pump platter and space for two tonearms.  The introduction of the TD127,  essentially a TD126 with extended cabinet and arm board to accommodate a 12 inch tonearm. One example of a TD127 known to us came equipped with the earlier 16-pole synchronous motor, 10mm platter bearing and cast zinc inner platter.

1982    Introduction of the upgraded TD166 Mk II 

Introduction of the TD147

Introduction of the TD 160 Super

The TD160 Super was in essence a standard TD160 mkII but with the following features:

a larger more solid cabinet
damping material applied to the underside of the motor plate and sub-chassis pan
heavier bottom plate
typically delivered in AB form (no tonearm) But sometimes supplied with TP16 MkIII (Isotrack) 
Dustcover has more substantial steel hinges

Presentation of the TD524, marketed as a turntable for discotheques featuring:

Direct drive 
DC motor with a 256 pole tachogenerotor
quartz motor speed control
pitch control +- 6% 
speeds: 33,45 and 78
speed accuracy rated at zero error
platter: aluminum alloy with a high damping rubber mat
Rumble figure: -52db DIN45539
Rumble figure: according to Rumplemesskoppler unweighted: -62db
Tonearm: TP16L (long) (Spezial)
effective length: 245mm
offset angle: 22 degrees
skating compensation: magnetic
Remote control for: arm lift, start/stop, commutation between quartz lock and pitch control, start from mixing console
accessories: mounting frame, dust cover with spring hinges
Dimensions: 500 x 445 x 180mm (over closed cover)

 

1983    The Thorens Prestige is introduced.  

Having much in common with the Thorens Reference, the Prestige was a no compromise, no nonsense turntable.  The Prestige had the following features:

Belt drive
servo controlled 2-phase synchronous motor
speeds: 33-1/3, 45, 78
motor speed control: quartz controlled electronic 2 phase generator
pitch control: +- 6%
platter: 8.1 kg complete with mat and gold weight
platter dia. : 34 cm
large 14mm platter bearing with iron granule damping
Wow and flutter: Din 45507,  < 0.02%
Rumble unweighted: Din45539 > 54dB
Rumble weighted: Din45539 > 70 dB
Rumble mesured with Thorens Rumpelmesskoppler, Din unweighted: > 70 dB
weighted: > 80 dB
dimensions 612 x 510 x 280
weight: 55 kg

More info on the Prestige

The company's structure is reorganized and divided into three independent companies: 

Thorens-Cabasse Vertriebs GmbH, (sales distribution in Germany)
Thorens Produktions GmbH and ,(R&D and manufacturing in Lahr)
EMT-Franz GmbH (R&D of professional studio equipment)

Introduction of the TD146, an semi-auto variant to the TD166 

Introduction of the TD147 Jubilee (a centennial anniversary edition)

TD126 MkIII Centennial edition

a series of 100 tables with special trim (black and gold anodized metal parts)
could be ordered with SME 3010-R tonearm while retaining auto-lift functions
could be ordered in different wood trims (Rosewood for example)
standard tonearm: TP16 MkIII

1984    Design, development and introduction of the new standard: TD320 

This deck differs from previous Thorens models in the following ways:

MDF is the construction material
3 point suspended subchassis as with others but subchassis is now open
conical springs are replaced with leafs
16 pole AC synchronous motor is controlled by a 2-phase generator.

Many variants were produced based upon this layout including the following:

TD316
TD318
TD321
phantasie
TD520
TD521

Thorens would spring their suspended chassis' with leaf springs from this point forward. For more information on the TD320 link here.

1985    Introduction of the TD520 professional, successor to the TD126.  The 520 uses the same layout as the TD320 but is larger, heavier and supports the use of 12 inch tonearms.

1988    

Presentation of the new tonearm design TP90.  
Presentation of the much acclaimed design work Thorens "Concrete".

1989    Development and production of the TD2001

1990    TD3001, an improved variant of the TD2001

Same plinth as TD2001
much improved (quieter) 24 pole, 2-phase motor
Platter and subplatter are turned from solid aluminum stock, then precision balanced
detachable tonearm board
The TP90 is upgraded to TP90S to be used as standard on the TD3001

1990-1991    Relocation of Thorens production and Thorens sale/distribution to new premises.

1991    Presentation of the new tonearm TP50 and the TD180 semi-automatic record player.

1992    Introduction of the TD290 "Budget High-End" turntable.

1993    The production of the low-priced Thorens record players starts up in Lodz / Poland.

1994    Development and introduction of new Thorens proprietary electronic audio components.  Considered absolutely High-End and provided with the family name "Thorens Consequence", the first devices to hit the market are a highly musical preamplifier and power amplifier.  Presentation of the Thorens "Classic" line, a pre and power amplifier employing tubes.

1995    Foundation of the Thorens Laboratory in Berlin with the purpose of developing and manufacturing High End audio components.  Introduction of the CD player, D/A converter and RDS-tuner.

1996    The "Thorens Consequence" family welcomes a pair of powerful mono block amplifiers and a unique power line conditioner.

1999    Thorens TD325 is shown at CES '99.

Dec/2000    Thorens was refused to claim Chapter 11 bankruptcy by the German government.  Thorens is looking to move their operations back to Switzerland and are searching for new investors. (source: Enjoy the Music)

May/2002    Restructuring of ownership and shareholder organization.  New management appointed to re-launch the brand "Thorens".  Thorens Export Corporation Ltd. Kaiseraugst / Switzerland, has been appointed to manage the OEM - production sector.  (source: Enjoy The Music)

 

 

The 'main' source for this information is a Thorens company pamphlet detailing the company's product history courtesy of Rolf Kelch Electronics. The actual document reads somewhat like a "chamber of commerce pamphlet",  Other documents including an article by Dr. Stefano Pasini titled "The Legacy of Thorens TD Series Turntable Classics" and a most useful website on the TD124 and TD224 at http://www.soundfountain.com/amb/td124page.html, were compared against this Thorens historical document.  In cases where the Thorens author used superlatives to describe ordinary components or appliances, I stripped those away meaning to leave only useful facts.