Thorens TD 124

Thorens TD 124 (1957) and TD 124 Mk II (from 1966)
– simply the best. Period.


Tonearms : mostly Thorens BTD 12 S, SME, Ortofon, Thorens TP 14 (TD 124 Mk II)

AC 4pole induction motor, belt/idler wheel drive, 16, 33, 45 and 78 rpm, mechanically switched, pitch, platter weight 4.5 kg (cast iron) or 3.0 kg (zinc alloy), top platter (aluminium) with clutch, manual operation.


Check out Joachim Bungs book about these fine turntables (and more).
Here's a link to Rudolf Bruils review of "Swiss Precision".

My story :

Today I have four TD 124s in my possession, three of them are Mk IIs and one of these is equipped with the Papst-Aussenlaeufer - the rare motor that was introduced in the seventies as an upgrade (you can find a picture below).

I got the first one (a Mk II) from ebay in late December 2000, and I paid 50 Euros ! Including a large original plinth, SME 3012 tonearm and Shure V15-II cartridge with a spare stylus !! For fifty bucks !!!

Well, the seller obviously did not know what he had and I was the first to see it (just before midnight that very day) – any other sane vinylophile would have grabbed it at first sight as fast as I did.

Original ebay-picture

After cleaning and lubricating everything it now looks like new and the motor is running silently and with great accuracy.

The above pictured TD 124 after cleaning and lubricating

First I used the Shure cartridge and it sounded really good, but I always wanted to get the classic Denon DL 103 R to put it into the 3012.

But I was reluctant because I’ve seen a friend actually “glue” a DL 103 to the platter due to the fact that the iron platter is highly magnetic.

But I thought that this problem could be solved by increasing the distance between platter and the magnet of the cartridge, and so I got a glassmat to put on the rubber mat of the original aluminium top platter and a cork mat on the glass.

No signs of magnetism anymore !

I also thought that the DL 103 R liked heavier arms – yes, I know, the SME 3012 Series II is far from being a lightweight tonearm, but with an effective mass of 14 grams it is really not one of the heaviest either.

So I decided to put the DL 103 R in a heavier headshell. The original SME headshell weighs just under 7 grams, so I got an Orsonic AV-101b headshell which is a hefty 9 grams heavier – with the cartridge-weight of 8.5 grams the counterweight had to deal with 24.5 grams now ! But it worked, and it sounded simply fabulous.

Deno DL 103 in Orsonic AV-101b , the record is Supernatural by Santana

I was stunned by the impact and precision and speed and PRAT (pace, rhythm and timing). I don’t remember hearing such a good sound before that day, even my 1999 Linn LP12 with Ittok and Benz Glider could not deliver this.

Just 4 months later I found another TD 124 Mk II with SME 3012 on ebay, but the reserve price was not met so the auction ended at 310 Euros without a winner. I tried to contact the seller to ask what his reserve price was but he never answered.

Fourteen days later I got an email from a guy in Austria who told me that he watched the auction because he had such a TD 124 Mk II with SME 3012 and wanted to find out how much he could possibly get.

He offered me his turntable for 310 Euros, but told me that the antiskating weight was missing and the motor refused to work.

I told him that I would take his Thorens, but for 100 Euros less because I would have to buy a new weight and – more important – the risk of getting a motor that might not be able to repair. He agreed.

The Austrian TD 124 Mk II, now with SPU

To make a long story short : the weight was found inside the plinth and all the motor needed was a thorough cleaning and lubricating.

The SME was in great shape too. The turntable is running perfectly now in a heavy plinth which I made from MDF (medium density fibreboard) and has an SME 3009 Series II mounted on it (the 3012 is on a Garrard right now).

The third TD 124 in my collection (on continuous loan) is the original one (Mk I so to speak). It came in a wooden cabinet with space for a radio and some records beneath it.

A rather strange tonearm was mounted, a Pickering/Stanton Unipoise, a very crude design dating from 1959 or 1960 as far as I know. No cartridge.

I put it into the plinth of the Austrian Mk II mentioned above but equipped it with an SME 3009 R.


The plinths :

Both Mk IIs came in large original plinths (for the 12inch tonearms) which are made of rather thin material and therefore are not the ideal choice.

Because of the heavy and powerful motor and the idler wheel drive you can hear a lot of noises when you use a stethoscope and put it somewhere on the original plinth. You won’t hear them from a distance, but they are definitely present.

And because what causes these noises are most likely vibrations of different kinds, they might affect the sound when the plinth is taking them on and lets them travel right to the tip of the stylus.

So the right thing to do is to build a heavy, sturdy plinth.

The easiest approach is a simple frame made from MDF (20 mm thickness at least), a pillar in each corner with a piece of rubber on top. These pillars are the rests for the top plate (20 mm MDF too) in which the turntable itself is mounted.

A rather crude plinth, but it sounds fine already

If carried out with great craftsmanship these plinths can look absolutely marvellous, take a look at (these are built for Garrard turntables but will work for the TD 124 perfectly too).

Now this is a really nice looking plinth

Here are pictures of my new plinths, one for two tonearms, the other one for a standard one-arm-outfit :

This one is equipped with the above mentioned Papst-Aussenlaeufer, especially designed for the TD 124 because the production of the original motor was stopped in 1977.
Here’s a picture of this motor :

And please visit the website of Dr. M. S. Imbabi to check out his plinth design : (originally for a Garrard too).

You can also cut more plates like the top plate and glue or screw them together to get a solid base for the turntable. Take a look at this website : . You’ll find useful information on other materials for constructing a heavy plinth there too.

You may try to mount the TD 124 with or without the rubber “mushrooms” if these are still functional – most likely they are dried out and cannot be used anymore.

I normally don’t use them.


The tonearms and cartridges :

“Natural” partners for TD 124s are the original BTD 12 S and TP 14 (very similar to the EMT 929) or classic arms from Ortofon or SME.

I had/have the following models on my 124s : SME 3009 Series II, SME 3012 Series II, SME 3009 R and Audio Technica AT 1005 II. I did not use neither lightweight nor unipivot designs.

The cartridges I tried are various Shure and Denon models plus the EMT “Tondose” and Ortofon SPU GM/E. I like moving coil cartridges, so I’m sticking with the Denons and the EMT XSD 15 (for use in SME-type arms) and of course the SPU GM/E (for SME too).

Because the SPU is extremely heavy (>30 grams) I use a special counterweight made of brass to balance it.

Brass weight to balance the SPU

The Audio Technica AT 1005 II works fine with the EMT XSD 15.

TD 124 Mk II with AT 1005 Mk II and XSD 15

The Denon DL 103 and DL 103 R are screwed into heavier headshells (Orsonic or Clearaudio) while the DL 103 D (higher compliance, lower VTF) is used with the original lightweight headshell.

If you want to use moving coil cartridges with your Thorens please keep in mind that there are two kind of platters available for the TD 124 – the standard platter is made of cast iron (4.5 kg) while a lighter platter made of zinc alloy (3.0 kg) was offered when the highly magnetic iron platter caused problems with moving coil cartridges like the SPU. Thorens even published a leaflet covering this issue in the Sixties.

Most TD 124s are equipped with the magnetic platter, but there’s a solution – just increase the distance between cartridge and platter.

I have a glass platter with an extra cork mat to increase the distance for 5 to 6 mm and now even the SPU works fine.

Two old records (from the Fifties oder Sixties probably, they made them really thick then) plus a thin felt or cork mat will give you very good results too.

A highly informative website for TD 124 aficionados is

And visit Stefano Pasinis great website. He’s got a REALLY nice collection:

System : Rogers E-20a integrated valve amplifier, Spendor BBC LS 3/5a, phonostages from Creek (OBH-8), Musical Fidelity (X-LP),
Linn (Linto), Brinkmann (Fein) and transformers from Denon (AU-320) and Ortofon (T-10, T-20).
Transformers connected to the Rogers’ integrated phonostage.

> Holger Trass 2003 <