Thorens TD 209 Turntable
You don’t come across many companies that have been in business for 100 years. Founded in 1883 as a manufacturer of musical boxes and clocks, Thorens started building Edison-type cylinder phonographs in 1903 and has been making turntables ever since. Although the company branched out into audio electronics in the ’90s, it remains a steadfast bearer of fine turntables. Its latest specimen is the ultra-modern TD 209, which borrows design cues from its higher-end sibling, the TD 309.
This belt-driven beauty comes with a pre-installed TP 90 rolled-aluminum tonearm, featuring precision Japanese bearings and a moving-magnet cartridge, making it ready for action within minutes of being unboxed. The triangular plinth is cut from a single piece of acoustically inert MDF and supported by three adjustable feet (which lack the spring-loaded suspension found on the pricier TD 309). The platter combines layers of aluminum and acrylic with a thin layer of treated paperboard in between for decoupling. The TD 209 uses the same servo-controlled DC motor and drive unit as the TD 309, and belt tension can be adjusted to fine-tune platter speed.
What separates the TD 209 from other tables in its class? CEO Heinz Rohrer says, “a lot of individual and small unique ideas”—starting with the tonearm, which closely matches the performance of the TP 92 arm used in the TD 309. The design was borne out of research on simple but effective methods for eliminating tonearm/tube vibrations and distortion. “Another important feature is the production method we use to keep friction in the gimbal bearing system to an extreme minimum,” Rohrer adds, noting that a high-quality motor steering unit helps keep dreaded wow and flutter to a minimum.
If you prefer a more traditional (boring) form factor, Thorens offers the TD 206, which is operationally the same as the TD 209 but with a rectangular base and included dust cover. (A clear acrylic dust cover is available as an option for the TD 209.) Both models are available in red, white, or black and sell for $1,500.