The Thorens TD 125 and Thorens TD 126

By Nick Seiflow

Continued from Part 1…

Thorens TD 126 Turntable

Thorens TD 126 Turntable

The TD126 that followed offered even more electronic sophistication, including (again with original Thorens arm) semi-automated arm and start-stop functions. Ultimately, in the Mark III iteration, even the venerable synchronous motor made way for a DC unit, with even more electronic complexity. Perhaps more to go wrong, but servicing and parts isn’t yet a problem, and probably will never be. Some of us won’t let that happen….

The buyer with plumper wallet would have likely opted, in either case, for the SME 3009 arm, and this is how most of us remember these turntables. A survivor from the early 1960s and lasting until much later in successive versions, the 3009 might well be described as the most beautiful tonearm ever designed; it is certainly one of the best. At the height of its popularity the SME was built with the super-trackers like the Shure V15 series, but for those with stiffer pointy bits (the moving coil cartridges that came later) the simple addition of the damping trough enabled the 3009 to cope with all manner of induced resonances. As a listening device the SME 3009 is still a superb arm – and still a beautiful object in its own right. Both arm and table equally iconic, the combination still has the ability to produce thunderous bass, marvelous and stable imaging, and a sweet and lucid midrange.

To listen the the TD125 or its later sibling is wondrous thing. With the addition of the SME and a V15 III, IV, or V, the tracking is utterly secure and composed, and the sounds that issue wouldn’t embarrass the most expensive company. To go one further (as I do…) and to team the 125/126 with a pair of Quad 57s, and a 33/303*, is to experience a level of fidelity that is extremely expensive to significantly improve, even insignificantly. Not bad for 40+ year old technology says I.

*As a sidebar adding all these numbers together produces 575.5… I wonder if this means something (apart from the obvious fact that I don’t get out nearly as much as I should)

Used prices vary from the mid hundreds for a fixer-upper, to three times the amount for a pristine example. When faced with what $1000-plus buys in the new marketplace these tables seem like a ridiculous bargain. Put a brand-new lid on one of these beauties and tell your non-audiophile friends that you paid $5000. They’ll believe it.

Thorens TD 126 Turntable Detail

Thorens TD 126 Turntable Detail

Thorens TD 126 Turntable Detail

Thorens TD 126 Turntable Detail

Thorens TD 126 Turntable Detail

Thorens TD 126 Turntable Detail

8 thoughts on “The Thorens TD 125 and Thorens TD 126

  1. Looking for TD147 Jubilee arm wand and power speed cam shaft plastic piece the knob fits on fits on and part of the switch mech can send pics if you need thanks for your time.

    • Hi Wayne,

      Unfortunately I have none of these parts after doing some searching; Innovative Audio in Surrey BC may – perhaps you might get in touch with Gordon there?
      Best of luck with the search!

      Nick

  2. Hi Nick,
    i am restoring a TD126 and need an Electronic board for the MK I or II. The smaller one which powers the motor and TP-16 arm. They both plug into this board which then plugs into the main board.

    It was missing when i brought the unit in a non-working condition (no wonder)

    Any idea where i can find one of these rare items

    Cheers

    Peter

    • Hi Peter,

      Have you contacted Schopper in Switzerland? They have been selling Thorens for many decades and although their parts are not cheap they might just have exactly what you need. Failing this, then Ebay, and n of course, failing that the only recourse will be to search for a donor turntable to harvest for spare parts.
      Much luck with this fine table!

      Best regards,
      Nick

  3. My only experience with high end audio was a Nakamichi tape deck in the 1980s. I am building an lp vinyl collection now and want a decent turntable. Do you have any recommendations? Could the unit be shipped safely? Would the cartridge need to be calibrated after shipping? Thanks for your comments and assistance. CM

    • Hi Carl,

      After a few horrendous shipping experiences my strong feeling is to buy locally if at all possible. Recommendation-wise I’d suggest
      staying with well-known brands, and budgeting a minimum of around $400; this should give you a table with good to great sound in the used market.

      Best regards,
      Nick

  4. First off let me start by saying I am so glad I found your site. I am a transplanted Vancouverite who lives in Victoria now, and have had to rely on eBay, and online shops for the most part to feed my always hungry gear acquisition syndrome. Having a somewhat local bunch of guys who seem to have similar tastes in gear (presently have a Technics SL-10, SL-5, SL-1800 II, as well as a couple of Sony FL-77 tray loading tables, rebuilding a Garrard idler, and recently sold a Thorens 166 II, as well as a entry level Pro’ject) is awesome. I get over to the Mainland often enough to see friends and family that it is almost as good as living in Vancouver, only with a safety factor since I cant spnd all my money in your shop.

    After the nice opening, I have to be a bit of a correction Nazi and point out that Thorens is and always has been a Swiss (not German) company. They started making timepieces and music boxes I believe, before building turntables. And while the Gemans are well known for their engineering prowess, the Swiss are certainly no slouches either when it come to designing precision mechanical devices. And other than that error (which is in both parts I think), you are completely correct in the assessment of the 125 and 126. I have been in love with the 125 since I first layed eyes on one owned by one of my fathers friends back in the 70s. They are simple and do the one thing that they are supposed to incredibly well. I look forward to reading more of the posts and will be stopping by the shop next time I take a ferry to the big city.

  5. I have owned many Thorens turntables over my nearly 75 years of life. It seems to me that every one of them have had problems with their motors. Currently, I have a very near mint Thorens TD-125 and the motor in it is so weak that I can’t even put a record cleaner brush on it without stopping the platter from moving. The motor/platter will get to speed (33 RPM is what I use almost exclusively) in short order but you can’t touch the platter, even extremely lightly, without stopping the platter/motor. What can be done about this? Is there a different motor available or possibly a fix for the existing motor? I’m to the point that I am about to change my turntable to a nice Garrard 301 or possibly even a 401 because I have never had this type of problem with the Garrard turntables. Please let me know your thoughts.

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