Thorens is having a busier High End show than most. Not only is it showing off its majestic New Reference turntable built around an innovative isolation system, but it is also releasing a limited-edition anniversary version of its TD 124 DD deck as well as modern reinventions of its SoundWall dipole speakers from four decades ago.
The TD 124 DD 140th Anniversary record player is an upgraded version of the TD 124 DD model it launched in 2020, which was itself a remake of the 1960s TD 124, or in Thorens’ words, “a completely new player dressed in the attire of its famous ancestor”. The anniversary model builds on the 2020 iteration with a number of upgrades that the German company has devised from R&D in the past three years.
One of them is a new two-layer platter, which connects the already heavy aluminium platter of the 124 DD with a 5mm-thick solid copper layer, and has been chosen for extra mass as well as the two materials’ supposed ability to cancel out unwanted resonances together. Thorens says this evolution has no detrimental impact on the existing drive or platter bearing.
Then there’s a special version of its SPU 124, available only as part of this anniversary package (sorry, existing 124 owners! Ortofon has manufactured this for Thorens using pure silver coils, and at the company’s request was able to produce the cartridge housing from the formerly used material, Bakelite, instead of the newer fibre-resin composite.
The tonearm remains the same save for new wiring – high-purity silver wire connects the cartridge to the outputs this time round, making for, says Thorens, an improvement particularly with moving-coil cartridges.
The last point of difference between this anniversary model and its 2020 one is in its finish. Here there’s a real wood veneer, with the plinth and armboard benefitting from high-gloss lacquered, hand-polished wood. Of course, there’s an anniversary badge to complete the special outfit, too!
The damage for this anniversary package is €11,999, though what might be harder than prizing that cash from your wallet is getting hold of one – Thorens is only making 140 of them to release into the wild, making it a pretty cool collector’s item.
And now onto these new SoundWall speakers...
For the uninitiated, Thorens used to make a few SoundWall speakers in the late 70s/early 80s – the HP 360, HP 380 and, according to VintageKnob, HP381 – that, true to their dipole design, emitted sound equally forcefully to the back and front. And now Thorens, with speaker engineer Joachim Gerhard (founder of Audio Physic), has redeveloped that design to make a new pair, the SoundWall HP 600. Why? Because the company argues that these speakers, which don’t interact with the room like conventional pairs, are great for the kind of expansive rooms, hard floors, glass surfaces and modern furnishings we have in our houses today.
Like their predecessors, the SoundWall HP 600 is a three-way loudspeaker based on the open baffle principle that sees the low-frequency and midrange drivers operate freely in their flat sound wall, without an enclosure or damping material. To improve bass performance, they actually feature fewer bass drivers than the older models – 12 15cm woofers compared to 15 – but thanks to clever wiring can apparently reach down to 40Hz.
As for the frequencies above, they’re handled by two midrange drivers surrounding two tweeters in the upper section of the sound wall. The tweeters work back-to-back to maintain the dipole character throughout the entire frequency range, while the tightly concentric driver arrangement has also been chosen to ensure the symmetry of mid-high frequency energy. The level of the rear tweeter is also adjustable.
Thorens says that the combined surface area of the 24 woofers allows for “extremely high undistorted sound levels”, though high-power amplifiers are not necessary to appropriately drive the speakers – “any transistor or tube amplifier” will do, says Thorens. What is hasn’t said publically at the time of writing is the pricing for the Thorens HP 600, so we'll have to sit tight.
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