Thorens TD 202 Review: Affordable entry-level turntable

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The Thorens TD 202 turntable has a design similar to the younger model in the series, but has enhanced functionality. Its massive construction is highly resistant to unwanted vibrations and resonances that can affect sound quality. The Thorens TD 202 is mounted on robust vibration damping mounts and comes with a dust cover.

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The Thorens TD 202 ships with an 8.8-inch aluminum tonearm pre-installed on which the Audio Technica AT95E pickup is mounted. Thanks to the removable shell, as well as a full set of necessary adjustments, other pickups can be installed on the turntable tonearm. Lightweight and rigid tonearm, mounted on a precision bearing, ensures accurate and smooth movement of the stylus along the track of the vinyl record.

The Thorens TD 202 is equipped with a cast aluminum platter which is driven by a belt drive. This model also features a low noise DC motor powered by an electronic speed control. The latter also provides for the ability to conveniently change it using a switch on the top panel (33 or 45 rpm), which will surely be appreciated by many music lovers. The player is powered by an external power supply.

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The Thorens TD 202 has a built-in phono stage, which makes it easy to connect to integrated amplifiers or AV receivers that don’t have the right built-in circuitry. However, if desired, the signal from the cartridge can be removed directly, bypassing the phono stage of the player.

Another interesting additional feature of the Thorens TD 202 is the built-in ADC with USB output. With it, records from records can be saved as files on a connected PC, and then listened to on a portable player or smartphone.

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The player has a robust design and is very easy to set up and use. Its thrust bearing is precision-crafted to ensure smooth and quiet rotation of the plate. Thorens TD 202 is equipped with a damping rubber mat and an acrylic dust cover. Thorens TD 202 is a good choice for both beginners and experienced music lovers.

TD 201 and TD 202 are completely new models, they are interesting because they were created under the new management of Thorens and go on sale fully configured and equipped. Let’s see how the oldest player manufacturer managed to stay within such a democratic price range.

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The vinyl wave is sweeping the mass consciousness, engulfing more and more music lovers. Many of them would not have thought about playing records at all, if not for the active efforts of manufacturers supporting novice music lovers in their quest for analog sound. In general, this is good, since here the interests of the seller and the buyer coincide – the former earns and develops technologies, and the latter gets the opportunity to try a method of reproduction, alternative to general digitalization. Freedom of choice is important, and the more music lovers have this choice, the better. The main goal of the manufacturer is to make the turntable affordable without disappointing the buyer with the sound quality. There is another aspect in the affordable price segment – ease of installation and configuration for an inexperienced user.

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Exterior view of Thorens TD 202

The new  Thorens TD 201  and  Thorens TD 202  are plug-and-play and have almost the same design. The difference is that the TD 202 has a built-in A / D converter, allowing you to digitize vinyl without any special skills. In addition, this model is equipped with a different head (more on that below) and has an increased table height.

Both players use a belt drive. The DC motor is hidden under a 30cm aluminum rim, with torque from the drive pulley transmitted through a flat rubber belt to an additional inner rim. Due to this, the inertial properties of the disc are improved and, as a result, detonation is reduced. Both models are equipped with elastic rubber mats with the Thorens logo. The players are controlled by two checkbox switches – 33/45 and START / STOP. Powered by a 12-volt wall adapter.

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Thorens TD 201 appearance

The TP71 straight arm is a completely new development from Thorens. The statically balanced aluminum tube design accommodates 3.5 to 6 grams of heads. Anti-skating is controlled by a rotary knob with a scale applied to it. The shell is removable, which makes it easy to install the heads. The built-in phono stage is designed for connecting MM cartridges; the manufacturer does not report its characteristics (as well as the characteristics of the ADC). The signal can be output to RCA connectors and bypassing the equalizer, for this purpose the PREAMP ON / OFF switch is intended.

The Thorens TD 201 model is equipped with an Audio-Technica AT 3600 cartridge. Despite belonging to the entry level, it has rather high parameters: a frequency range of 20 Hz – 20 kHz with a channel separation of more than 18 dB, a tracking force from 1.5 to 2.5 g The profile of the diamond needle is an ellipse of 0.4 x 0.7 mm.

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Rear connectors Thorens TD 202

Thorens TD 202 is equipped with a more expensive Audio-Technica AT-95E head with very similar parameters. The digital signal from the ADC is output to the USB B port. Even those who have never dealt with such a technique can assemble the player, and adjusting the tonearm with the head according to the supplied template will not cause any difficulties.

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Rear connectors for Thorens TD 201

First turn on – Thorens TD 201 with a signal in PREAMP ON mode to the line input of the Rotel A12 integrated circuit. The intrinsic noise of the built-in phono stage is noticeable if the volume is turned to full, but everything is clean at comfortable listening levels. The tonal balance is even, and the sound is not boring – it has both a live “spark” and a very intelligible lower middle. At peak levels, there is no coloration or dragging out of harsh sounds. This means that the corrector has a fairly high overload capacity.

The nature of the bass is determined by the class of the head, but there are no questions about the player itself: the lower middle with rich filling, the noticeable emptiness characteristic of lightweight structures is not felt. The rhythmic structure of the music is transmitted quite adequately – the speed of rotation of the disk is stable, the detonation is minimal.

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Switch to the PREAMP OFF mode and connect the external Lehmann Audio Decade phono stage to the direct output from the head. No radical changes are taking place, but it is clear that the entry-level AT 3600 head does not match the potential of a turntable. The sound becomes more open, there is a very decent bass, but even so, the reproduction does not seem very energetic and detailed. It is also clear that the table of the Thorens TD 201 is sufficiently well damped – even an expensive corrector with fast dynamics does not reveal its resonances.

To test the Thorens TD 202, we didn’t supply the standard Audio-Technica AT-95E, but a higher class head – Sumiko Olympia. This change turned out to be much more significant: both drive and dense filling in the lower register are already felt, the upper range is noticeably cleared. You can listen to any music, including symphonic music – there are very few simplifications and conventions in its presentation. I also liked the fact that the ADC does not interfere with the built-in phono stage, which means that they are properly decoupled in terms of power supply.

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With an external corrector, the Thorens TD 202 showed real class. Well-structured bass and no rumble in the pauses, well-developed middle, natural sounding of cymbals, a little larger scale of the soundstage … The turntable has a more solid height table, which is probably why the energy in the lower register increases, the attack becomes clearer. I’m sure if you experiment with additional supports or put the player on a massive platform, the result can be even more impressive. But even without any special tweaks, the 202nd is quite a decent player for its money, and even with the ability to digitize records. This is an option for a music lover, albeit with little experience. And also with an understanding of how vinyl should sound in a decent system.

Thorens TD 201 is a real launching platform for those wishing to get involved in the current vinyl theme. Subsequently, you can change the head and not worry about anything else, because although this is a budget one, it is still Thorens.

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