Thorens TD-235 turntable review




























History

There is a special place in each of us that secretly or openly admire the tradition and fine craftsmanship of Swiss manufacturers. Over the past 150 years many companies established legendary status with their approach from watchmaking, precision micro machinery and non the less excellent product finishing. Swiss quality represent a synonym for a quality and long term lasting products.

There are few audio enthusiasts, at least i hope so, that didn't hear about Thorens. Their turntables set the standard for well thought, quality and precision vinyl playback machines over the years. Numerous analog playback lovers from all over the world still hold in their possession one of the legendary TD models. Many of models, like for example TD-124 can still be refurbished and even upgraded with new components. It makes you think. Few decades old audio playback machine, that not only works, but can stand up to the contemporary rivals. I wonder how many decks will be still functional or even part replaceable after some 30-40 years. Few i guess...

Thorens TD-235

Heinz Rohrer of Thorens offered a review sample of their semi automatic version of TD-235. Test sample arrived after few days packed in a huge carton box. Following simple instructions I managed to set it up in a few minutes without any problems. Thorens TP 19-1 tonearm offers easy and simple adjustment for balance with counterweight, tracking force and VTA. All the needed info about this you'll find in the short and vividly written manual. Those shouldn't give you any headache. Everything is presented in a way that even a first timer would know how to make it happen. With some milage in analog domain and spinning your favorite records you'll notice that raising VTA (arm) will usually affect high spectrum in pleasant way, but be gentle or you might loose to much of the low end. And it's normally vice-versa; by lowering the VTA bass will get stronger and raising it too much will steal you highs. You can also experiment with tracking force. While increasing it you'll normally improve the lower end and mid-range, but do this carefully since highs might quickly lose focus and bass could become distorted. Get to know turntable and live with for a while. Original settings will give you hours of pleasure and for majority of music lover there will be no need to change any of these.For music lovers entering into analog realms this is the way to meet their turntable. Simple and functional.

Appearance

TD- 235 comes in a a black or color. Massive solid wooden plinth and nicely shaped chassis under the main base, smoothly blends with the four big and recognizable resonant feet. Translucent acrylic dust cover comes in the standard with the package as well as Audio Technica AT-95E Moving Magnet cartridge and RCA stereo pair outputs (cable) to connect with your phono preamplifier of a choice. Heinz let me choose between built in phono preamp and the model with out it. With my current state of phono preamps I preferred the absence of one. Firestone Audio Korora, Acoustic Preference phono stage and Hajdinjak Labs reference tube preamplifier gave me better perspective, variety and veracity in my test.

The machinery

Thorens TD-235 is a manually operated with opto-electronical shut-off. Without reading the manual or specs a rookie might scratch his head for a while finding the on-off switch. They elegantly used semi automatic instant start that happens with the movement of the tonearm. When you have your LP on the platter and after lifting the tonerarm, you simply pull the tonearm with already mounted AT-95E cartridge towards the start of the vinyl grooves. TD-235 will automatically start electronically controlled DC motor with the preselected chosen speed. With the build in massive and instantly recognizable knob on the left side of the chassis you can quickly choose between 33-1/3 and 45 rpm. This is really elegant solution. No fuss with platter lifting and changing the speed manually by setting rubber belt, which brings problem of moisture fingers and over stretching the belt by often use. The later approach never settle on my grounds. This is just one of the things that set TD-235 above many similar priced turntables. Remembering my time with Pro-ject turntables always brings out some sort of over salty experience. You must really invest much more money to get silent running with their models and selectable speed knob or external modul. TD-235 seems to transcend noise, running almost silent, with the similar belt driven system and sub-chassis.

The music

My love for jazz especially Coltrane would never leave any of my analog oriented tests without putting one of his records on the platter. Familiar sound, technique and style of John never fails to give me insights of the products in spotlight. Maybe I imprinted him into my sub-conciseness with all the the hours he companirf me from the time of my primary school greatest findings. He's and open secret and deeper than most of well known giants. Thorens TD-235 convey melodies, dynamics and feel of the recordings more than well and in style. Changing my vinyl to Sonny Rollins's Way out west, recorded with two-track tape, tube AKG-C12 microphones and tube Ampex 350 machine, gave me firm feedback about this turntable well equipped package. Recorded in 1957, album represent one of the finer analog recordings. Ray Brown keeps the rhythm flowing with ease and Shelly Manne play the drums in a specific, momentous-recognizable way. Shelly drum solo in first track at around 6 min is probably one of the closest feelings of the real live drum set ever plaid, that you'll get recorded on any media. You can almost feel hits and pace of a rim shot, and you breath along evolving drum crescendos. This is a rare recorded audio history occasion, where you don't have to imagine three dimensional drum set in a reproduced sound-stage. It's there! Thorens TD-235 didn't fail at brining this breathtaking experience to life. It might have been reserved in few things, but let us not forget where in price range this turntable is positioned at. I'm looking forward testing some of the bigger brothers from Thorens present model offering. It's always a good thing to find sparkles with the company entry level product. Usually that is a safe conclusion path at what to expect on the higher grounds.

Conclusion

We can always go back and forth with dynamic, sound-stage, bass and other worn out descriptions. These words can be all just plain terms that might help (or not) describing a pureness of expected via-medium playback machine conveying the music as best as possible. What I expect from reviews and trying to describe myself in my own, is how well music speak back to us. Do you feel the music? Not in the matter of words, but natural feeling and vibe. Many components lacks this and fortunately Thorens TD-235 isn't one of them. At this price point it's a stable performer, an entry level turntable from legendary company with enough Thorens DNA and music reproduction capabilities, that makes it more than just interesting among other rivals on the market. TD-235 wasn't designed as a high-end player, but it's an open door to more complex and refined Thorens family. Thorens TD-235 will give you enough insights into analog universe and that special, unmistakable natural character that distinguished vinyl instantly against compact disc or digital media playback.

Matej Isak
Mono & Stereo
matejisak (at) gmail.com























Estimated price: 629 eur

Technical specification:

Operation semi-automatic
Drive System internal flat drive belt
Motor electronically controlled DC motor
Speeds 33-1/3, 45 rpm
Speed Select electronically
Platter 12” / 0.6 kg (aluminium, non-magnetic)
Tonearm THORENS TP 19-1
Pick-up Cartridge AT-95E
Anti-skating (Bias) by spring (adjustable)
Automatic Shut-off opto-electronically
Cable Capacitance 160 pF
Power Supply external mains adaptor (115-230 V / 50-60 Hz depending on type)
Dimensions 410 x 130 x 340 mm (W x H x D)
Weight 6.7 kg
Finish solid wooden plinth with black or silver structured enamel
Scope of Delivery mains adapter, dust cover (acrylic), RCA interconnects, operating instructions