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Munich High-End 2019: Thorens goes direct-drive & reel-to-reel

  • Bergisch Gladbach. Not a lesser-known internal organ but the German home of Thorens since being acquired a year ago by ex-ELAC/Denon MD Gunter Kürten. To this year’s Munich High-End event in May, Kürten’s revitalised Thorens will bring four new products.

    The TD 1600 (€TBC) and TD 1601 (€TBC) turntables are built around the same platform – belt driving motor unit, power supply, wooden plinth, height-adjustable TP 92 tonearm and a sub-chassis suspended via conical springs, any horizontal movement locked out by a steel pin – but the TD 1601 offers a few niceties over the TD 1600: an electrical arm lift, auto shut-off and true balanced (XLR) outputs.

    The TD 402 DD (€799) will be Thorens’ first direct-drive turntable in almost thirty years and ships ready to rock out of the box. An Audio Technica 95BVME cartridge is factory-fitted to a removable headshell that terminates Thoren’s TP72 carbon tube tonearm to play directly out of the TD 402 DD’s (defeatable) internal MM phono stage. A (defeatable) auto start function is also included: move the arm toward the record to start the motor turning.

    The TD 402 DD comes with a massive MDF plinth – available in piano black or high gloss walnut veneer – and is mounted on black rubber feet with silver rings for damping. The top board is brushed aluminium, kept dust free by the supplied cover. A direct-drive turntable that isn’t a Technics/Hanpin DJ derivative is breath of fresh air.

    Rounding out Thorens’ quartet of Munich 2019 product debuts is an even bigger surprise. The TM 1600 is a reel-to-reel tape machine developed in collaboration with Düsseldorf’s Ballfinger. Use it horizontally or mount it on a wall.

    The TM 1600 plays half-track quarter inch tape. From the press release: “[The TM 1600] handles reels up to 10.5” with 19 and 38 cm/s. CCIR equalization for most European recordings. NAB for Americas and Asia can also be selected.”

    Three direct-drive motors and their tension controls handle tape movement across the heads. Back to the press release: “The reel motors are electronically commuted disc motors that use rotor angle detection by hall sensor feedback. The capstan motor is an ironless bell-shaped rotor motor from a German manufacturer.”

    “Although very compact, these motors supply an enormous torque with very small torque variation They run silently. The power supply is external which reduces noise level even more and so extensive measures for magnetic shielding of the heads could be avoided.”

    A real-time counter “with hours/minutes/seconds/hundredth seconds” and “an edit function with pre-listening for single hand operation” round out the feature set.

    The TM 1600 will be limited to 100 pieces and will sell for €12,000 with choice of walnut or a black chassis (per the TD 1600/1601 turntables). Don’t get up yet though: this tape machine won’t begin shipping until Summer 2020.

    Further information: Thorens

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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