Zero Distortion: More on restored Thorens 124

bonzo75

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#1
I had liked the Schopper Thorens 124 when I first heard it at Clive’s here, with the FR 64s and Zyx Uni II (I will soon be hearing it again with FR 64s and the AN IO Gold, and the Zyx Uni II with the Brinkmann 10 inch), and was also compared with a top Audiograil restore of the Garrard 301. Clive found this Garrard close to his Shindo 301 so sold off the Shindo. He also preferred it to his Brinkmann Lagrange and SME 30/2. Please read this before proceeding.

As a follow up, I visited Schopper in Zurich, Swissonor in Geneva, and Hanze Hifi in Zwolle, near Amsterdam. Swissonor made the parts for Schopper, Hanze hifi uses their parts and well-known engineer Jaap Pees does his own restores with these parts. Jaap who restores and owns many vintage TTs including EMT 950, Denons etc. The TD 124 is his favorite, and he also preferes it to the EMT 927.

1. At Hanze Hifi, I compared 124 to their own restored Garrard 401, using EMT 997 banana arm and TSD 15 cart
2. At Schopper, there is a compare with a Lenco. Note the traded in Micro Seiki 5000 and the Brinkmann
3. At Swissonor, I compared the Swissonor TA 10 to the SME 3009 on SPU a90. This arm was also recommended to me by well-known Italian dealer Dmitri as he had found it to be better than the Ikeda 407. Gian now owns one. Schopper does a similar arm himself.

http://zero-distortion.org/more-on-restored-thorens-124/
 

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May 30, 2010
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#2
(...) The TD 124 is his favorite, and he also prefers it to the EMT 927. (...)
I must say I can not see any technical reason behind this preference. I know that this is an hobby of preferences, but I try to understand them.

Did you listen to the Thorens TD124 using the ribbed mat with the aluminum sub-plater supported on the six round hard rubber circles?
 

es347

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#3
C4B6C210-15E6-4464-8ECD-E9BEA38BD991.jpg
 

awsmone

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Apr 7, 2014
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#4
I must say I can not see any technical reason behind this preference. I know that this is an hobby of preferences, but I try to understand them.

Did you listen to the Thorens TD124 using the ribbed mat with the aluminum sub-plater supported on the six round hard rubber circles?
I must agree with Micro on this Ked

As an owner of a thorens 124 which I modified with swissinor parts, and panzerholz arm board

Yes it was very good for the money, and had a certain something
But unless has the grey cast platter and external motor supply

I am not certain what would be so special over a 927

As rim drives go the thorens is in the lower torque bracket

And needs a lot of things optimised to work well, something I found a bit tedious as an owner

Of course, we all have our preferences and you are entitled to yours, but as a previous owner, I didn’t see / hear it myself
 

bonzo75

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#5
Hi I don't know the reason for his preferences. All these tables have people who like them and don't. I know another restorer who has the same preference. Schroeder will largely tend to lean to Commonwealth turntables, and so on. He did mention to me at Munich that the sound of the 927 would depend on the restore (obviously).

To micro's question, schopper and swissonor have a different platter made of some alloy. Like I mentioned, one TT with the original platter and wood plinth sounded less good than the Garrard. The other soundes better.

Awsmone yes, torque of 124 is less than lenco. As mentioned, lenco has more drive and slam, 124 more detail, and though it has less drive and slam than lenco, it is sufficiently high.

My personal preference based on limited listening over this would be good direct drives and uber belts, latter too expensive.

The Blackstone does most things better than his 124, but I will write on that separately
 

ddk

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May 19, 2013
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#6
The only reason for this mysterious preference is that they don’t have any 927s to sell while the 124s are abundant and low cost. A little paint a few simple parts and viola, a sexy looking 124! Don’t get me wrong I like the 124 for what it does but it’s nothing compared to the EMT 927, IMO even a Garrard 401 is a better table specially in these rinky-dink bases I see in your images.

david
 
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bonzo75

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#7
The only reason for this mysterious preference is that they don’t have any 927s to sell while the 124s are abundant and low cost. A little paint a few simple parts and viola, a sexy looking 124! Don’t get me wrong I like the 124 for what it does but it’s nothing compared to the EMT 927, IMO even a Garrard 401 is a better table specially in these rinky-dink bases I see in you images.

david
I have heard a 301 and a 401 next to one now. In both cases I (and one owner of both 301 and the schopper) preferred the 124, though I preferred the 401 to another 124.

I think plinths do change a lot. The Garrard is good on flow but much lower on resolution, slam, and drive.

The 124 can be put in many plinths but they all agree that the simple, open from bottom plinth is the best.
 

bonzo75

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#8
An Italian reviewer, Marco, who owns the EMT 927 and like 50 carts, apparently rated the Blackstone as the next best.

That makes the Blackstone designer proud, but he personally does not like the 927

Imo, highest variance in opinion in hifi, quite correctly, should be in analog. It's a wonderful category
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#9
Ked, I’ve heard a handful of idler rebuilds/replinths in the last decade, 301s, 401s, L75s and Rek-O-Cuts (no 124s, mind), and none are as revealing and neutral as my Trans Fi Salvation direct rim drive.
Indeed Vic the designer spent many years taking apart 301s and L75s to try and better the sound, and I think he succeded.
But I’m fully aware of the shortcomings of the idler/rim approach which is a naturally higher level of noise/rumble.
But I also know I can’t easily replicate that idler/rim verveyness and groundedness with belt below a certain price.
 

bonzo75

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#10
Please see the quote of an user in my write-up who said he preferred his Garrard to his 124, and after restoration by Loricraft and schopper respectively, preferred the 124 to the Garrard
 

spiritofmusic

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Ked, I find it fascinating you perceive no shortfall on these upgraded idlers in the areas of noise, rumble, microdynamics.
Idlers are so persuasive on heft, timing, verve, propulsion, But imho all (no comment on 124, haven’t heard one) fail on “inner glow” compared to the best belt drives, ie reverb, shimmer, trails, decay, low level ambience.
I truly believe anyone choosing a modded 124 or 301 over a TW or SME has been smitten by these idlers as conveying the message and intent of the musicians in regard of the body of the note and musical density/centre of gravity, but at the expense of fine intonation and air.
For this reason, I’m more and more convinced if I do go for an uber tt upgrade, it’ll be back to belt drive, and something truly exceptional like the SME 30/2 that Bill has, or maybe even a 30/12 a la PeterA.
The Audiosilente Blackstone may be the only idler worth spending serious money on, I for one can’t see the point of going PTP Solid 12, Hanze 124 or Torqueo over my current rim drive that a fair number of 301 owners have traded up to.
The Blackstone really offers something new in the world of idlers.
I’ll let you chat more about it.
 

bonzo75

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#12
When I get the schopper, and ship over to Bill, I will tell you how it compares to SME 30/2.

Afaik, TW, SME 30/2, brinkmann Lagrange, micro Seiki 5000 and Shindo Garrard got replaced by it.

So far belts other than techdas or maybe kronos are not my thing. I would love to put this next to a well restored technics or a kodo. Or a goldmund studio
 

bonzo75

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#13
Oh and Dmitry from Italy, whom Gian rates as the best set up guy in Italy, loves the schopper and said one of his client's replaced the big clear audio with it
 

853guy

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Ked, I find it fascinating you perceive no shortfall on these upgraded idlers in the areas of noise, rumble, microdynamics.
Idlers are so persuasive on heft, timing, verve, propulsion, But imho all (no comment on 124, haven’t heard one) fail on “inner glow” compared to the best belt drives, ie reverb, shimmer, trails, decay, low level ambience.
I truly believe anyone choosing a modded 124 or 301 over a TW or SME has been smitten by these idlers as conveying the message and intent of the musicians in regard of the body of the note and musical density/centre of gravity, but at the expense of fine intonation and air.
For this reason, I’m more and more convinced if I do go for an uber tt upgrade, it’ll be back to belt drive, and something truly exceptional like the SME 30/2 that Bill has, or maybe even a 30/12 a la PeterA.
The Audiosilente Blackstone may be the only idler worth spending serious money on, I for one can’t see the point of going PTP Solid 12, Hanze 124 or Torqueo over my current rim drive that a fair number of 301 owners have traded up to.
The Blackstone really offers something new in the world of idlers.
I’ll let you chat more about it.
bonzo75 said:
When I get the schopper, and ship over to Bill, I will tell you how it compares to SME 30/2.

Afaik, TW, SME 30/2, brinkmann Lagrange, micro Seiki 5000 and Shindo Garrard got replaced by it.

So far belts other than techdas or maybe kronos are not my thing. I would love to put this next to a well restored technics or a kodo. Or a goldmund studio
bonzo75 said:
Oh and Dmitry from Italy, whom Gian rates as the best set up guy in Italy, loves the schopper and said one of his client's replaced the big clear audio with it
Any restoration will only as good as the designer who restores it, and ultimately, his/her biases.

The thing with data points is that it’s easy to accumulate ones that continue to double down on that bias, simply because it’s more likely for us to seek out experiences that reinforce already existing biases, rather than challenge them.

If I decide I always prefer vanilla milkshakes to chocolate ones because I once had a lesser chocolate one, and then continue to order variations of vanilla always preferring them to the lesser chocolate one, that doesn’t mean by extension all vanilla milkshakes are definitively better than all chocolate ones - most likely, it means I’ve limited my exposure to great chocolate ones in order to reinforce my bias toward great vanilla ones.

I still prefer the 301/401 over every L75/124 I’ve ever heard. All that means is that I’ve probably sought out better iterations of the 301/401 than I have the better versions of the L75/124 despite the possibility there are likely to be just an many good L75/124s in existence as good 301/401s.

The fact that we have multiple data points suggesting X moved from A to B, doesn’t therefore negate the fact that Y moved from B to A, or indeed, that X will possibly move back to A from B in the future. Mostly, that we mention X in the first place probably just indicates that X reinforces our own bias.

Still, at the end of the day, one can only drink so many milkshakes.

Best!

853guy

P.S. Additional data point: Art Dudley went to CAF and heard Emia's 301 in custom Emia plinth, with Emia transcription-lenght tonearm and experimental externally DC-powered field-coil cart and pre-production custom motor controller by Bryan Edewaard. He liked it.

P.P.S. Bonzo, the fact that you do these jaunts hither and yon is very much appreciated. Again, it's all data points, and it's all good. That they're experiential rather than theoretical makes them extra gooder.
 
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bonzo75

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#15
Hi 853. You have decided you will always prefer vanilla milkshakes. I have not. I don't own a milkshake, am only on a tasting journey, and don't need to make my mind up till I do.

I liked belts till I heard the Schopper, and the 124 till I heard the Blackstone (there goes your bias theory) and love the sp10 which I heard. The schopper has an used market and much cheaper than Blackstone.

Your objective might be to drink a milkshake. Mine is to taste milkshakes. There is no need for me to have similar biases as I am not drinking it.

Also, if you go on a pub crawl drinking beer, your taste will change as you move along. Most don't do the pub crawl but always visit their local pub to drink whatever drink.

Also, please note that I did not like apogee for two years and cancelled my first visit to Christoph after a scintilla I heard here. The love affair started after that (with apogees, not Christoph)

Many won't believe it, but I did do some of my Lampi trips to try and stress it to dislike it.

A couple of speakers I really loved, like tune audio Anima, I stressed enough till I did not like them, and then moved on.

Ps: I wanted to say pintxo tour instead of pub crawl, but some might not get the reference
 
#17
Also, please note that I did not like apogee for two years and cancelled my first visit to Christoph after a scintilla I heard here. The love affair started after that (with apogees, not Christoph)
You are sooo cruel
And I always thought we have something special together :rolleyes: :eek:
 

byrdparis

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#18

853guy

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#19
Hi 853. You have decided you will always prefer vanilla milkshakes. I have not. I don't own a milkshake, am only on a tasting journey, and don't need to make my mind up till I do.

I liked belts till I heard the Schopper, and the 124 till I heard the Blackstone (there goes your bias theory) and love the sp10 which I heard. The schopper has an used market and much cheaper than Blackstone.

Your objective might be to drink a milkshake. Mine is to taste milkshakes. There is no need for me to have similar biases as I am not drinking it.

Also, if you go on a pub crawl drinking beer, your taste will change as you move along. Most don't do the pub crawl but always visit their local pub to drink whatever drink.

Also, please note that I did not like apogee for two years and cancelled my first visit to Christoph after a scintilla I heard here. The love affair started after that (with apogees, not Christoph)

Many won't believe it, but I did do some of my Lampi trips to try and stress it to dislike it.

A couple of speakers I really loved, like tune audio Anima, I stressed enough till I did not like them, and then moved on.

Ps: I wanted to say pintxo tour instead of pub crawl, but some might not get the reference
Hi Bonzo,

Part of my objective is to work out whether my bias for 301/401s is justified because all other turntables are inferior to it at the things that matter most to me, or unjustified because I’ve purposely limited myself to experiences with other turntables that are not iterations of the 301/401. The ultimate objective, however, is to build a system that best represents those biases having performed a degree of due diligence in first challenging them.

So in fully acknowledging I have a bias for the 301/401, the best I can try and do is better understand why I have the bias I have, and hold it lightly - hence my interest in your continued experiences with the 124.

At the same time, despite having lived without a system for eight years in order to better understand what I’m looking for and avoid overcapitalising on a system that represents a bunch of hasty generalisations of which I’ve been guilty of in the past, I can’t go on taste-testing forever. It’s fun, but time consuming, and as much as I enjoy cave-tasting champagnes and reds in dark cellars, the ultimate purpose is to figure out which ones I’ll then buy to drink in the comfort of my own living room - that, for me, is the context in which I derive the most pleasure. Pontification comes easily to me (can you tell?). At some stage I’m going to need to put my money where my mouth is and assemble a system, accepting its strengths/weaknesses within the limitations of my budget/room. That may indeed include a very heavily modified 301/401. It may not. Time will tell.

My point (perhaps poorly articulated with milkshake flavours) was this: Data can be made to represent anything, and - speaking for myself - most often my own biases. Like I gladly admit to above, the question I need to ask myself is: are my data points sufficiently diversified and contextualised within a pool of outliers? Do I really prefer the 301/401 because of an inherent strength they and they alone possess, or have I simply sought out better iterations of their ilk at the expense of others?

As I say in my P.P.S., the utility value of hearing multiple iterations of the 124 is much appreciated. Schopper, Hanze and Swissonor are all variations on a theme, and in all likiehood, the best of the breed. Had this thread been entitled “More on restored Garrards” (or indeed Lencos, Micro Seikis, Commonwealths - this is, after all, an endless topic), in which the Schopper, Hanze and Swissonor were listened next to the best Garrards, perhaps the current conclusions would have shifted. That the Blackstone has introduced another data point as an outlier is something that for me personally adds more value to your existing ones, if only because it better contextualises them.

This is not meant as a criticism, though if my wife read this she would probably say that it is. It’s acknowledging the first point I made above: restores are a reflection of the biases of the restorer and therefore impossible to generalise on. The blue Hanze being “an easy choice over the 401” is possibly best understood that in that particular context, the Hanze was an easy choice over that particular restored 401.

In writing “these restored 124s are (your) choice of the vintage idlers” I’m not sure it tells me they're definitively superior in ways that matter most to you, or simply whether there are iterations of 301/401s, Lencos, EMTs and Commonwealths that haven’t been been heard (yet). That the "SME 30/2, TW Raven AC3, Brinkmann Lagrange, and Micro Seiki 5000 have been replaced by these (Thorens)" doesn't mean there aren't others replacing belt-drives with Garrards, Lencos, EMTs or Commonwealths (or other belt drives), and it certainly doesn't mean those idlers are being replaced by 124s.

Again, thanks for the leg work.

853guy

P.S. Yeah, I didn’t get the pintxtos ref. It must be a DINKs things.

P.S.S. Nice line with the Christoph crush. I laughed.
 

morricab

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Apr 25, 2014
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#20
Ked, I find it fascinating you perceive no shortfall on these upgraded idlers in the areas of noise, rumble, microdynamics.
Idlers are so persuasive on heft, timing, verve, propulsion, But imho all (no comment on 124, haven’t heard one) fail on “inner glow” compared to the best belt drives, ie reverb, shimmer, trails, decay, low level ambience.
I truly believe anyone choosing a modded 124 or 301 over a TW or SME has been smitten by these idlers as conveying the message and intent of the musicians in regard of the body of the note and musical density/centre of gravity, but at the expense of fine intonation and air.
For this reason, I’m more and more convinced if I do go for an uber tt upgrade, it’ll be back to belt drive, and something truly exceptional like the SME 30/2 that Bill has, or maybe even a 30/12 a la PeterA.
The Audiosilente Blackstone may be the only idler worth spending serious money on, I for one can’t see the point of going PTP Solid 12, Hanze 124 or Torqueo over my current rim drive that a fair number of 301 owners have traded up to.
The Blackstone really offers something new in the world of idlers.
I’ll let you chat more about it.
We have done direct comparisons to a fully restored Lenco L75, a mint condition Luxman PD444 DD and a big three motor, magentically decoupled Transrotor (exact model I cannot remember). The Lenco was raucous and fun but lacks most of the subtlety of the other two. The Luxman, surprisingly for a DD, has not that great drive compared to the other two and the big Transrotor was overall the best of the three. The Luxman, I think, would not fare that well against my Yamaha GT-2000 but we have not done the direct compare.

I have heard a TD-124 in good condition that to my ears sounded noisy and somewhat "dirty". I had a similar issue with my three motor Voyd but it was less of both noise and dirt. The Transrotor is good in that the three motors are completely decoupled from the platter and bearing and only through magnetic coupling drive the platter.