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Which gets our inspection to the upper storey, the 22mm MDF platter finished red or black. The plinth itself is more interesting. The lower left corner is for the counter weight to the tone arm – ‘to’, not ‘of’. This round metal disc weighs 620 grams to balance the arm’s equal weight in the opposing corner by applying the same down force on each footer. As the above made clear, that’s important to avoid horizontal oscillations. Said weight isn’t bolted but loose and moveable to compensate should you fit another arm. Now let’s look at the center and the bearing, motor and platter.

The bearing mounts to its own MDF plate whose tri-point interface minimizes vibrational transfer to the chassis as per Thorens. The bearing itself is a bronze sleeve with steel axle and synthetic race to support a 16cm Ø aluminium sub platter. The main quartz glass platter doesn’t contact the sub platter across its entire surface but on a contact patch ring whose 60.5mm diameter around the axle creates the lowest system resonance according to subjective listening tests as well as finite elemente simulations conducted by the Swiss.

Some might be surprised that the DC motor driving the sub platter via a precision flat belt mounts to the plinth itself. Shouldn’t one want the tone arm isolated from the motor? Indeed. That’s why Thorens decouples the motor mount once again with repurposed spiders. Surprised what these parts are good for? It’s a simple but hopefully effective solution. Ditto the eccentric arrangement of the motor. That sits inside a short synthetic tube but not centered. Loosening its fixing screw means the entire tube inclusive the motor can be turned to adjust the belt tension. Supported speeds are the usual 33.3 and 45RPM. Fine speed trim is via tiny setscrews at the left and right of the speed selector [first picture grouping on top of the page, upper left quadrant].

The arm was specifically designed for this table to make it quite unique in a price class that traditionally relies on Rega or Jelco derivatives, not that anything speaks against those. But Thorens seems to disagree. Their TP92 is a cardan-suspended 9-incher which affords trim of overhang, azimuth, VTA and anti-skating. Whilst requiring a bit of fidgeting and patience, that flexibility is very welcome.

Thorens dubs their resonance suppression efforts for the straight aluminium wand Random Mass Reducing Technology. Coolly McGooly. But what's it mean?  Primarily two things. For one the 'funny' ring which Thorens claims sits exactly in the right spot with the right mass made from the right foam optimally damps the tube so please don’t move it. Two, inside the wand hides a synthetic tube which deliberately doesn’t line the aluminium shaft to instead damp its surface. The counterweight sits low to align with the pickup’s center of gravity and bearing for good static and dynamic balance. Finally, the removable head shell shows a fifth ground wire to avoid unwanted currents.

Again, the arm offers all the necessary adjustments simply scaled back in convenience to match the affordable price of this entire package. To change VTA for example requires loosening the arm bolt to trim the desired value with the ring on top – simple and efficacious but more elegance can be had elsewhere.

Overhang is adjustable +/- 5 mill. Should this not be sufficient, loosen a small hex screw to move the entire arm +/- 3mm fore or aft. Neat. However, this is also how azimuth gets adjusted because the same screw allows you to turn the arm tube.

That’s neat too but I’d prefer discrete adjustments since my fumbly fingers would nail either azimuth or overhang but to get both right took a deep breather and starting all over again. That was just reviewer fussiness of course. Who else books himself three daily cartridge swaps? Time for them tunes…

My first approach of the Thorens TD309 was shortchanged when I decided to upgrade the €30 stock Audio Technica AT95E MM with a 25 times dearer Ortofon Rondo Bronze for proper street cred. After much fidgeting I realized that I lacked one lousy millimeter of overhang tolerance. Inquiring with our domestic Thorens importer, he explained that this exact pickup was one of the very very few not accounted for by the table's designers but that production had already been instructed to lengthen the head shell slit by 2 millimeters. The review loaner simply wasn’t so outfitted yet. Too bad? Most would actually—rightly—question just who would settle on an analog deck where 50% of the budget gets blown on just the cartridge. To stay real, it was far better to stick to the AT budget cart and then sneak in my Denon DL-103 and Shelter 201 options.