Thorens TD 148A Review: Meets all requirements for a high-end turntable
The Thorens TD 148A turntable is a fully automatic model that occupies the top position in the company’s catalog in its class. The player has a high-class design and meets all the requirements for a Hi-Fi model. The Thorens TD 148 A features a two-piece floating suspension chassis that reliably protects the disc and arm from external vibrations. The outer chassis frame is made of MDF and can be finished in black or natural wood veneer, while the sub-chassis is made of aluminum. The special suspension design eliminates swaying, making the turntable very stable.
The Thorens TD 148 A has a classic belt drive from an engine mechanically decoupled from the chassis. The turntable platter is made of tempered glass and precision polished. The subdisc is housed on a precision bearing with very low runout, which significantly reduces noise and sound distortion.
The Thorens TD 148 A is equipped with a proprietary TP 92 straight arm, which is mounted on a precision bearing. The tonearm provides adjustments for tracking force, as well as anti-skating. This model comes standard with a TAS 267 cartridge, which is fully adjustable at the factory. However, thanks to the standard arm shell, other cartridges can be fitted to the Thorens TD 148 A.
This model has three rotational speeds (33, 45 and 78 rpm), which are selected using a switch on the top panel. When listening to 78-revolution shellac records, it is recommended to install a special ATN 9578 stylus on the turntable’s pickup. The turntable has manual and automatic playback start modes. For the automation to work, you need to set a special switch to the position corresponding to the diameter of the plate used. After that, when you press the “Start” button, the turntable will bring the tonearm to the beginning of the head and lower the stylus onto the sound track. After listening to the disc, auto-stop is activated, which raises the tonearm and returns it to its place.
The Thorens TD 148A model is not the cheapest in the Thorens catalog, but it implements everything that a wide range of listeners needs – from music lovers with inquiries to sybarites who are too lazy to jump out of their chair every time the side of the record ends. Automation is a great thing, but orthodox vinyl people dislike it due to the complexity of the design, which reduces reliability and negatively affects the sound. But this is all based on ideas dating back to the past century; in our time, it is not difficult to create precise mechanics for controlling the arm.
This is exactly what the Thorens experts proved with the release of the TD 148A. To start playback, just slide the lever to the right of the disc. Immediately, the tonearm will remove from its stand, turn clockwise and gently lower the stylus onto the lead-in groove. The disc diameter (30 or 17 cm) is set by another lever switch. At the end of the record, the tonearm will lift the crown by itself and return to the starting position. And all this is done almost silently, even in the speakers there is no response when the mechanics are triggered.
What I have always been impressed by the turntables of this brand is that the constructive always dominates the design, just for the sake of beauty nothing is done. The veneered skirting board is made of MDF in the form of a high frame (the so-called “well”), with an upper supporting panel for rigidity. A steel sub-chassis is installed in its slots through spring shock absorbers, on which all the mechanics are mounted – the main bearing, engine, tonearm and its control device. A glass disc with a thickness of 12 mm and a mass of 2.3 kg is placed on an intermediate drive pulley, which is connected to a DC motor through a flat belt. This design makes better use of the inertial properties of the main disc and, accordingly, reduces knocking – in this case, to 0.07% according to the DIN standard. The electronically controlled motor rotates the disc at three speeds – 33 1/3, 45 and 78 rpm. The rumble level is -72 dB, which is very good for such a laconic design.
At first glance, the Thorens TP 92A tonearm does not seem to be too complicated, but in fact, much more expensive Thorens models, including the TD907, are equipped with the same. The removable shell, thanks to a clever configuration, is secured with a single hex screw. Downforce is set by turning the handle on the right, anti-skating – by a plastic ring at the base of the rack The tonearm can be controlled either manually, with the help of a microlift, or you can entrust this matter to automation by moving the START lever.
The Thorens TAS 267 MM head flaunts the Thorens logo, but it painfully resembles the popular Audio Technica AT 95E, and the insertion, if necessary, in the instructions is recommended from this particular model. The cartridge is inexpensive, but its parameters are quite at the level: the frequency range is 20 Hz – 20 kHz, the channel run-up is not more than 1.5 dB, the diamond needle is sharpened for an ellipse of 0.4 x 0.7 microns. The output signal (3.5 mV average) is fed to the RCA jacks, which makes it possible to experiment with phono cables. The set includes a thin felt mat.