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James O'Donnell's Thorens TD150 mkII

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"This little Thorens TD 150 Mk II (serial #125,623) has been teaching me things for about five years, ever since I first brought it home from a stack of trash in the summer of 2005. Through an initial quick cleanup and surprising audition with an inexpensive/trial AT 3600CF cartridge, a slew of (reversible) tweaks and parade of cartridge upgrades, a more comprehensive cleanup/refinish of the case, modest modifications throughout, learning to recreate the factory-spec 15-second bounce, armboard experiments, and a fortuitous counterweight modification to the surprising TP13A arm, this simple record player has increasingly pleased through its rhythmic qualities, tonal balance, and involving musicality. My wife and kids like using it, too.

More recently I became intrigued by the innovative replacement of the TD 150 springs that was created and twice chronicled on this site, and with the webmaster’s guidance I did a similar replacement on my own TD 150. After a number of weeks in use with the new suspension, I believe that the turntable remains well isolated from its surroundings yet is more stable, producing noticeable gains in pacing and timing. The musical performance gains are noticeably beyond my earlier modifications and tweaks, and when still using the (modified) stock arm I’d have to characterize the performance as being in a different class than the tweaked record player I began with, which in turn performed noticeably better than the stock record player that I stumbled upon five years ago.

A significant side benefit of the new suspension is that it allows installation of arms that would not be compatible with the stock spring suspension on the TD 150. While not a heavy arm in terms of effective mass, the shown Micro Seiki MA-505XS includes a fairly massive brass "stabilizer" that mounts from underneath the arm board. I’m finding the current combination to be a pleasure to use and I have found that resolution and musical performance have again noticeably increased. And now in September 2010 I wonder what the next lesson will be.

The other components in this system are a George Wright WPP100C phono stage, a 38 wpc Melody SP8 integrated tube amp, tubed MHZS 66F CD player, highly modified Dynaco A25 ‘frankenspeakers,’ and Mirage MS12 subwoofer powered by a BASH amp at speaker level. The system is powered via a silver plated Acme wall outlet and VH Audio Hot Box. PCs are diy from an Alan Maher design, speaker cables are diy from a Jon Risch design, and interconnects are diy from silver wire given to me by a friend. The phono signal from cartridge pins to amp is carried with silver wire also and the current favorite cartridge is a vintage MM, an Empire 1000ZE/X. Trading places with the Thorens record player is a belt-idler hybrid Russco Mk V deluxe broadcast model."