Thorens TD 124 DD Turntable

hfnoutstandingAn homage to the legendary TD 124 that reigned supreme from 1957-67, this latter-day derivative looks the part but trades an idler-drive for a custom direct-drive motor

As occasionally backward-looking as hi-fi is – if no worse than cars, fashion or watches – one needs to raise the dead with care. McIntosh, for example, has dazzled enthusiasts with its continuing evolution of the revered MC275 power amp [HFN Nov '93 & Feb '13], updating it through six generations without losing the spirit of the original. JBL, Klipsch, Tannoy – all revisited past successes with panache. Thorens, then, had a raised bar to address because, among historic turntables, Technics recently revived the SP10 as the SL-1000R [HFN Jun '18] to universal acclaim. This begged a question: how should Thorens update the adored TD 124?

Thorens looked at the original, which combined belt-drive with the then-dominant idler drive, thus disarming any pro/anti camps of the day. In reincarnated form, at a sobering £7999, the TD 124 bears the suffix 'DD', to denote abandoning idler/belt drive for direct-drive. This move is either bold if you're open-minded, or shameless if you are an unreconstructed belt-drive warrior.

Perfectly Seasoned
Here I must declare, with a mix of joy and relief, that sensible people are past caring about the ludicrous belt-drive vs. direct-drive battle of 50 years ago. And when you hear the TD 124 DD, you'll wonder what all the fuss was about back in the 1970s.


Power supplies for the main motor and electronic speed lift are connected via a 4-pin DIN [far right] alongside both balanced (XLR) and single-ended (RCA) phono outputs. Dials for rear height adjustment of the top chassis are also visible here

Wisely, Thorens has retained just about everything else from the original. Seasoned TD 124 fans will admire the knobs for levelling the deck on the underside edges of the chassis, the original's look but with a fresh colour scheme, the rotary speed control with null points between settings (though now without 16rpm or 78rpm), the style of the original mat but modernised with flatter ridges for greater support of the LP, the illuminated strobe with rotary pitch adjustment, and the braking system beloved of DJs. The new plinth is minimalist and, well, perfect, with a teensy footprint of 425x350mm (wxd).

Fitted to the TD 124 DD is a new tonearm reminiscent of the early BTD12S, TP14 and TP25, with similar looks and adjustments. Because the arm is integrated and not interchangeable, Thorens was able to devise a cool, electronic cueing system, which is accompanied by an hydraulic hiss in use. Amusingly, thanks to the integrated tonearm and overall footprint, and the absence of a removable armboard, the TD 124 DD reminds me as much of the TD 135 as it does the TD 124.Tonearm adjustability is comprehensive but straightforward, including the facility for moving the arm tube if azimuth is out, provided you study the owner's manual.


King Of The Ring
Of note is the clever height adjustment via a ring around the arm pillar, the upper ring locking it in place. Thorens even supplies a custom tool for turning both. A dedicated Ortofon SPU moving-coil in a captive headshell is available for £1999, while a universal headshell is also supplied for other cartridges, along with two counterweights. The heavier weight deals with the 30g mass of the SPU, the lighter weight accommodating everything else.

Connection is simplicity itself, with a threaded four-pin connector for power-in and RCA phono sockets for output, with the added bonus of balanced outputs for those blessed with balanced input phono stages. The outboard power supply has an on/off switch on its rear panel, but without an LED the only clue to power on is when the speed selector is chosen, which sets the platter in motion, and then illuminates the light over the strobe.

Worth The Weight
Aside from the usual caveats about locating the deck on a solid surface – resistance to microphony and airborne schmutz is not this turntable's forte – there is one absolutely necessary accessory not supplied with the turntable…

Thorens TD 124mkII, reviewed HFN Jul '66 by Ralph West

I cannot name any deck that I have used which responds so audibly and immediately to the application of a record clamp or weight. I tried both, with differing but not mutually exclusive results, so I won't state a preference. Suffice it to say, 45rpm/200g LPs sounded better with a clamp, while the weight was preferred with 180g or less pressings. Then again, there were exceptions to the rule, so a Well-Dressed Audiophile will have access to both. I paid £14 on for a clever weight from Richer Sounds, and there are clamps for the same amount, so we are not talking about costly extras.

sqnote Blast From The Past
First impressions being powerful and influential, I was taken aback by my initial response to the Thorens TD 124 DD fitted with a DS Audio DS-E1 [HFN May '19]. Maybe 'terrified' is a better word. I knew that the eponymous Blood, Sweat & Tears One-Step release [Mobile Fidelity UD1S 2-016] had punchy brass and deep bass to rival just about any LP that I own, but I was not expecting mass nor extension to rival open-reel tapes like the near-mythical Persuasive Percussion.

Thorens GmbH
Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
Supplied by: Signature Audio Systems
07738 007776