by Nick Seiflow
Here at Turntable Shop World we continue to be mightily impressed by some of the record decks of yesteryear – so much so in fact that I feel compelled to put finger to keyboard and blurt.
Here’s the first one (two) that comes to mind….and, be warned, there will be more…..
Beautifully styled flagships from the 1970s, both the 125, and the 126 stand as Germany’s finest domestic turntables from the Golden Age. The TD designation, incidentally, comes from the French ‘Tourne Disque’, literally record spinner, or turntable. Having got that factoid out of the way, the history of these tables is fascinating.
In the turntable world the War was On. Turntables were becoming Very Big Business.
The AR, at a ridiculously low price, had helped foment a revolution (pardoning the expression), and the hegemony of the Idler Drives (the TD124, Garrard 301 etc) was being threatened by a new way of making the oversized CDs spin – the simple belt drive with spring suspension.
It was the advent of Linn, and all that this Scottish table spawned; the massively motored idlers were being looked on as yesterday’s tech, and the race was on for position in the world of neoprene belts and relatively tiny AC motors. America had offered up Ed Villchur and Mitch Cotter’s wonderful AR, the Scots had the Linn, Ariston, etc, and now eyes were on Germany.
Thorens had already brought out the TD150 – a very German version of the AR table – but they needed something special, a statement piece. Enter the TD125. Massive, heavy, spring isolated, with interchangeable arm boards, and an effective speed control via the Wien Bridge system, the TD125 was an instant hit. Simply styled and utterly recognizable, the 125 can still take a place in the most modern of environments. Those rather lovely sliding aluminum switches for power, speed, and arm control (if the user specified the original Thorens arm), still work with a Teutonic authority and precision, and doubtless will continue so to do for many a year. A small window for the strobe, and a thumbwheel for changing speed, and that’s it for decoration. Such economy of styling tends to have staying power, and the TD125 has just that: looking dated is certainly not what this table is about. Not only cosmetically, but sonically, these tables don’t give up much to later competition; in support of this observation, their owners hang on to these decks seemingly for ever, defending them against all comers.