‘Level your turntable’ is one of the first rules of vinyl club. But it’s surprising how some manufacturers have managed to turn a straightforward task into one of the trickiest to master. Handling a turntable with only three feet, unsighted and from underneath, requires juggling skills usually reserved for the Moscow State Circus.
Thankfully, Swiss turntable manufacturer Thorens has been in the game long enough – more than 80 years – to address this issue. The feet on the TD 206 can be adjusted from above, so you can keep an eye on your spirit level.
The TD 206 opts for a classic turntable look with a rectangular MDF plinth available in red, black or white high-gloss lacquer. Compared with the more smartly dressed Clearaudio Concept and Pro-Ject 2-Xperience 2-Pack, the Thorens appears functional and it doesn’t really pull off the £1000 price tag.
It’s nice to see electronic speed-change included, but the switch doesn’t feel solid or terribly nice to use.
More after the break
To the right of the belt-driven platter sits Thorens’ own T90 tone arm. It uses a rolled aluminium tube, which has been damped in an effort to prevent vibrations travelling up and disrupting the needle when it’s in the groove.
As standard, the deck comes fitted with the company’s AT95E cartridge, but our sample came equipped with a Grado Platinum Reference 1. For the price you still get the AT95E included as a spare – useful for any slight technical hiccups…
Listen to the Thorens TD 206 for a while and you discover the deck does the basics fairly well. It doesn’t have any serious issues locking onto and following the rhythm of The xx’s Heart Skipped A Beat.
There’s a decent level of detail, but the Thorens struggles to express itself fully. Highs don’t quite sparkle and pop, and the overall soundstage sounds flat and a tad subdued. It feels as if the Thorens is conveying only part of the story, whereas rival decks don’t seem to have a problem expressing the vibrancy of the track.
Lows sound weighty and meaty but they also sound over-egged. Play SBTRKT’s Higher and, as the bass notes rise and fall with varying weight, the Thorens overplays the heaviest, upsetting the balance and diverting your attention from the mids and highs.
There’s nothing especially offensive about the Thorens’ sound, but it does give the impression that it’s out of its depth in this company. At this level, you can find much more impressive decks.