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This review first appeared in the September 2010 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Thorens TD309 in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Thorens- Ed.

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Sources: Analog – deck -
Acoustic Solid MPX; tone arms - Phonotools Vivid-Two, SME M2 12-inch; pickup - Denon DL-103, Ortofon MC Rondo Bronce, Zu Audio DL-103; phono pre - SAC Gamma Sym; digital – player - Audionet VIP G3, Fonel Simplicité, HIFIAkademie cdPlayer; Computer & Co -
Logitech Squeezebox 3, Readynas Duo NAS-Server, HP Notebook; D/A converter - Benchmark DAC1 USB
Amplification: Preamplifier - Octave HP300; power amp - Electrocompaniet AW180; integrated - Denon PMA-2010AE, Lua 4040 C
Loudspeaker: Ascendo System F, Thiel SCS4
Various accessories, cables & racks
Review component retail:

If you believe in the form follows function mantra, fitting a tri-point suspended turntable with a triangular plinth as Thorens has done for their TD309 only makes sense. As we’ll see, this decision wasn’t purely to chase cosmetic originality. While a fourth corner of sorts became necessary for the arm board, this deck from the traditional Swiss house clearly looks nothing like the usual rectangular boxy affair.

The 309 arrived pre-assembled. I had to just loosen a transport screw, fit the belt, platter and weight and presto. Designed as a true plug ‘n’ play machine, the Thorens TD309 took about five minutes from unpacking to playing the first tune. Granted, those five minutes hold only if you stick to the pre-installed Audio Technica MM cart. Should you want to fit your own pickup, things get a bit fussier. Respect to you if you manage that in my allotted span. But this comment already overshoots. Let’s first inspect the basic table design.

The Thorens TD309 doesn’t merely look original. So are certain solutions. The first is that the ubiquitous sub-chassis architecture of outer plinth connected via springs to an inner platform isn't present. The Thorens places its sub chassis inside the three footers instead. According to the maker, those footers and the triangular synthetic brace connecting them (aluminium had inferior resonance suppression) create the decoupling base to support the top deck to which the platter, motor and arm mount.

Each footer contains a spiral spring whose compliance is tuned to the table’s weight for a resonant frequency of ca. 4Hz, i.e. well below sub bass. You could demur that such springs aren’t exactly unique but might then admit that the centering suspensions as we normally see them in dynamic drivers are quite unusual. Why were those added?

They ultimately serve the same purpose as in loudspeakers – to suppress lateral motion and maximize pistonic behavior. Pushed down from the central axle, the deck does indeed move up and down very pistonically. The spiders also work as excursion limiters so that the ‘jello’ action of typical sub chassis constructions doesn’t really describe the TD309.

In practice, two items associated with the footers are important. First the obvious – loosen the transport safety screw. Two, each corner contains a hole for a hex key to adjust footer height. You see that, think great, throw the owner’s manual into the drawer, a torpedo level onto the platter whilst quickly adjusting the sucker. Joy? Not. Altering footer height impacts spider tension. This obviously would end up asymmetrical since you’d adjust the footers to compensate for level offsets. It creates compliance differentials and pistonic behavior would then be true only if you referenced it to a Wankel engine.

From this follow two more things. To level the table, level whatever it sits on and keep away from that hex key. Which begs the question why Thorens provided this adjustment in the first place. It’s simply so that if you alter top deck weight via another platter mat, arm or record clamp, you can recalibrate optimal suspension compliance to show ca. 2mm of the footers (the left adjustment above shows too big of a gap). Such adjustments with the usual sub-chassis tables tend to be quite finicky. Thorens’ preference for an integrated solution means that the deck itself cannot be leveled. Use shims or adjust the shelf/rack the table sits on.