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Thorens 160 Mk 1

Having stood the test of time, the Thorens TD 160 is yet another Thorens success story.  Even today this deck is a popular choice, being Click image to enlargea much discussed and 'tweaked' turntable.  In fact the web site; 'Analog Dept' seems pretty well dedicated to it (See links for information).

You could be forgiven for concluding that TD160 is in fact another version of the TD 150, as it works in the very same way, so much so, I thought it would be interesting to make the comparison between them.  Though there are differences between them, these differences are more to do with the type of components used (that do the same job) and the way it's put together, rather than the way it works.  Gone is the heavy gauge steel top section and the 't' section sub chassis of the 150,  to be replaced by light gauge, pressed steel panels, making it a Click image to enlargelightweight version of the 150.    


Where the chassis of the 150 is secured to the plinth with small screws that were countersunk into the metal top plate and neatly concealed by the aluminium cover trim, the 160 chassis is just screwed down at the four corners, directly through the top plaClick image to enlargete (including cover trim) into the four wooden corner blocks that brace the corners of the plinth.  Because these fixing screws are fed through holes in the top plate, the screw heads are clearly visible and need to be disguised with aid of plastic caps which fit over the heads. The corner blocks are recessed below the top plate to a distance equal the size of plastic spacers that sit between them. 

As with the 150, the chassis of the 160 has the two tier arrangement where the top section is fixed in position into the plinth.  All the controls, motor and speed change mechanisms are fixed to this section, while the bearing, platter and tone arm are fixed onto the suspended section below (the floating chassis).  The weight of the floating chassis rests on three coil springs, these are held in position by three threaded fixed pins that hang from the underside of the top section, so that when the platter and arm Click image to enlargeare in place, the two sections are automatically separated by the weight.  Each spring is isolated top and bottom by rubber washers which ensure that there is no metal to metal contact between the two plates were vibrations could otherwise be transmitted.

Rather than using a conventional arm board, the lower sprung pressed steel section extends to the right hand side of the turntable to where the arm is located.  In relation to this, the top section is Click image to enlargecut out so that the cables and arm base can be fed through. Above this cut-out is the elevated plastic section (with a matching cut-out) on which the arm is fixed. Thought this elevated section stands directly above the top plate, it's not actually fixed or in any way in contact with it.  It is connected to the suspended floating chassis below via connecting pins, ensuring that the arm and platter are isolated from the workings of the deck such as speed controls, and motor.

The belt drive system is driven by a 40mm 16 pole ac motor, which has the plastic carrier that is stepped to accommodate the two speed 33 and 45 positions which is fitted onto the motor spindle. The belt is lifted or lowered to these positions by the 'claw' that the belt travels through and is operated by the speed control knob. 


Click image to enlargeThe platter is the now well know Thorens two sections arrangement, where the smaller inner section that carries the drive belt, has on its top outer edge, a small stepped recess machined into it; this allows the larger outer section (with its corresponding recess to its inner underside) to fit on to it.  The weight of the outer steel platter is sufficient to prevent it from slipping while the inner section is driven, which demonstrates the tight tolerances in the machining process.  On it's undersideClick image to enlarge the inner section is the spindle that fits into the sleeve bearing, the tip of which has a honed tip. As for the spindle on the 150, the tip has a captive bearing on which it rests and rotates.

The Perspex cover is hinged by means of reinforced plastic lugs, which are cut out to fit onto steel pins located on either side of the plinth. The shape of the cut-out is such that, the cover can be (with a little bit of maneuvering) easily removed and refitted but once in place, the cover can be safely raised and lowered. The front edge of the cover rests on an aluminium strip recessed in the front panel of the plinth.

Though I did not initially like this deck, I have to admit that I have now taken to it, though not as heavily Click image to enlargebuilt as the 150, it still has everything going for it.  It has a good motor, belt drive system and a well machined and balanced heavy platter.  Because it uses all the tried and tested attributes of its predecessor, it had a good head start.  Thinking about it, in the days when turntables were all the go, it must have been a very competitive market, where Thorens felt that rather than lead, they had to follow the crowd, using lighter materials and adopting more 'assembly line' methods to survive.  However, I feel that this was the beginning of the end for them, for as the record shows, this trend continued with models further along the line which I feel played a big part in their demise.  Perhaps had they stuck to their guns and maintained their standards, they could well have survived to this day, in the Click image to enlargespecialist field, as indeed they are beginning to do now.












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