Thorens TD160HD Turntable

2Channel Distribution Thorens TD 160 HD
Thorens TD160HD Turntable

Playing better recordings simply plays to the deck’s strengths. The Carmen Fantasie on Decca? Space, air, focus, a calm assurance and mid-band transparency combine with the delicate precision of Ricci’s playing to captivate the listener. Dynamic contrasts may fall short of the TNT 6 carrying the Titan i, but only by dint of extreme familiarity or direct comparison, while the subtle shifts in tempo and beautiful phrasing of soloist and strings are given full rein. The confident swagger in Ricci’s bowing never runs away, transforming itself into hauteur or vivid drama at the demand of conductor and score. This ability to embrace the emotional compass of a performance is exactly why you should invest in analogue in the first place. The Thorens delivers a more immediate return on your investment than any other deck I’ve tried near the price.

Nor does it favour one genre at the expense of others. Listening to the likes of KT Tunstall or The Cure you could be forgiven for concluding that its pace and drive make it a rock or pop orientated product. But nothing could be further from the truth. The restrained tempo of Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen, the elongation of the phrases, is never hurried or clipped. Music, all music is allowed to breathe; yet that that should be breathless is breathless indeed. It’s a little like watching a great middle-distance runner going through his paces. A perfect blend of balance, grace and honed, athletic power, there’s a sense of contained energy waiting to respond or explode as required. Think of the poise and effortless acceleration of Seb Coe in his prime, all that potential performance contained in such a slight frame, yet combined with the vivacious life and graceful bounce of a ballet dancer. That’s the surefooted musical response you get from the Thorens; and some of Coe’s World Records still stand today!

Just how good is the TD160HD’s motor unit? I’ve yet to discover, but I’ve also yet to push it beyond its limits. Even a combination of Connoisseur phono and line stages driving the VAS amps and Wilson’s Duette/WATCH Dog combination failed to disturb its balanced enthusiasm or calm restraint, simply extracting more and more performance from the player. Likewise, the way it responds to external upgrades, be they a cartridge, a power supply or a support, further suggests the mechanical integrity of the essentially simple but beautifully executed design. And all at a price that is distinctly Real World. I’m pondering where to go in terms of a matching arm: the Naim ARO is an obvious contender, as is the Kuzma Stogi Reference, whilst VPI’s JMW 9.0 also appeals. Then there’s the Brinkmann 10” if that would fit. Choices, choices…

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