Thorens TD 1601 Turntable Page 2

Unlike the fully manual TD 1600, which has a conventional cueing lever mounted on the tonearm, the TD 1601 boasts a rather neat in-built photoelectric auto stop system. Here, the cueing lever is replaced by a button on the plinth that activates a tiny motor under the cueing platform to lift and lower the arm. The button illuminates green around its periphery when the arm is up, and red when it is down. When the end of a record is reached, the arm lifts and the motor is shut off, although it's not exactly whisper-quiet in operation!

sqnoteSweet Success
For the listening I loaded up the arm on the TD 1601 with a Clearaudio MC Essence cartridge [HFN Aug '17]. This fed an Anatek MC-1 phono stage, hooked up to a Naim Supernait amp [HFN Oct '07] driving PMC Twenty5.24 loudspeakers [HFN May '17].

From the off it was clear that Thorens' bearing and drive set-up is of high quality as there was precious little groove roar to be heard as the stylus hit the first record. So when the music started, it came from a clean and silent background. More generally, the deck has a pleasing crispness and verve to its presentation and proved capable of capturing the essential dynamics of recordings with ease.

Popping Mark Ronson's album Record Collection [RCA 88697736331] onto the platter revealed the TD 1601 to be something of a master at carrying a tune. It picked up the bass lines very well indeed, and while the low-end was not the deepest I have heard, it never felt lightweight or lacking in body. This was notable on tracks such as 'Somebody To Love Me', where the underlying beat was solid and taut. In addition, the upper bass had a pleasing litheness, being free of 'bloat' – not always the case with suspended belt-drive designs.

It was in the upper registers where the TD 1601 really came into its own. The deck had the sort of detail and openness that suggested a much higher price tag. Occasionally, what initially appears to be startling clarity can reveal itself to be an artificial brightness that becomes wearing after a while. This was certainly not the case here, for instead of harshness, splashiness and uncertainty I found real insight and a fine sense of sweetness.

The TD 1601 maintained an air of quiet sophistication and confidence with all material played, the TP92 tonearm ensuring the stylus was securely locked into the groove. This meant no hint of mistracking and, consequently, no top-end misbehaviour. The TP92 is a great performer in this respect, and has proved to have a delightful treble performance whenever I have encountered it. It was a very wise choice for the TD 1601.

I was pleased to hear that the midrange was inviting and open too. While I appreciated the strengths of the Thorens TD160, at times I found it to be a rather soft and woolly performer, but the TD 1601 revealed all instruments, acoustic or amplified, to their full extent.

Absolute Hoot
Playing 'The Dance' from The Cinematic Orchestra's soundtrack The Crimson Wing [Walt Disney Records 050087443269] was a joy to behold, with percussion leaping enthusiastically from the loudspeakers. Behind this, the double-bass was appropriately fruity and fulsome and, when The London Metropolitan Orchestra's strings came in, they soared magnificently.

The TD 1601 has a lovely sense of depth and scale. It may not quite pull performers out into the room in the manner of some rivals, but it conveys good atmosphere, which fills the space between and behind the loudspeakers well.

Switching to something with a bit more pizzazz, the TD 1601 was more than happy to pick up its skirts and boogie. 'Come To Me' from Koop's Koop Islands LP [Compost Records 234-1] was an absolute hoot. This is a magnificent slice of jazzy happiness and the TD 1601 lapped it up. Yukimi Nagano's vocals were breathy and vivid, underpinned by a solid walking bass line and topped off with a delicious sprinkling of crisp percussion that drove the track along gleefully.

Finally, a few words on the platter mats. As well as the default rubber version our turntable arrived packed with the suede mat, which weighs in at 100g and comes in either black or brown. I found this to bring a touch more dynamic clout to the proceedings, but at the expense of a fraction of top-end smoothness. The Crimson Wing recording benefited here whereas the default rubber mat, with its rather more controlled and smooth performance, brought the best out of the Koop album. It's a case of try before you buy.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Thorens has brought a classic turntable design expertly up to date by adding an ingenious modern twist to a tried-and-tested recipe. The result is a turntable with a highly impressive sound at the price, with none of the softness of the original. Only you can decide if the automation of the TD 1601 is worth £500 extra over the TD 1600, but I found the system to work very well, and wouldn't hesitate.

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