Thorens TD124 + Garrard 301

Thorens TD124 Mk. I and II

Thorens TD124-II +
SME 3012 + Audio Technica ATP12T

I have a special affection for the Thorens TD124 having bought, sold and traded over a dozen since the late 80s. I admit that I was in denial of its virtues then. I spent so much time modifying and upgrading an original AR turntable using Merrill components and even toyed with a Thorens TD150. No matter what I did to the AR/Merrill and the TD150 the 3 point suspended belt drive could never equal the musically authoritative presentation of the TD124 even mounted on a lightweight box type plinth particularly in the area of pitch stability. So I always kept a couple (or more ;) as back up and reference.

TD124 + Rega RB300 + Denon DL103R
lightweight box type plinth

By the early 90s my system was evolving into a SET/High-Efficiency speaker set up and this was the period the TD124/Rega RB300/DL103R combination became my reference analog front end and gave up on 3 point suspended belt drive. 

I like the convenience of removable head shells and have used quite a few gimbal bearing tonearms like the Fidelity Research FR64fx.

Thorens TD124 II on 6-layer 3/4" plywood plinth
Fidelity Research FR64fx
Excel ES801 which is not quite as analytic in sound as the FR64fx.

Thorens TD124II + Excel ES801

However classic tonearms like this unimproved SME 3009 with metal bearings will perform just as well if not better.

TD124 + SME 3009 + Dl103

In my experience, there is no significant difference in sound between the earlier ivory white chassis commonly referred as Mk. I with the heavier iron platter vs. the later Mk. II 'non-magnetic' but lighter platter which has a grey colored chassis. I also never had issues with the magnetic platter giving trouble with any of the cartridges I use. 

Butcher block type plinth for a TD124

 All three of my TD124s are running on original idler wheels and only replaced a belt on one unit. I also advocate the use of rubber mushrooms (or replacement rubber bushings), direct mounting will not make a TD124 sound like a Garrard 301. They are very different in design.

Garrard 301

Garrard 301
Ortofon RMG309 + SPU GME
SME 3012 + Denon DL103

I acquired this grey grease bearing model Garrard 301 in the mid 90s. This particular sample is not cosmetically in mint condition but mechanically sound. All I had to do was clean and lubricate all the moving parts. I used Castrol GTX synthetic grease for the main bearing but was careful not to over fill because it slows down platter rotation. It has given trouble free performance for years.

301 after cleaning, ready for a test drive
Rega RB300 + Denon DL103

After several years of using both the TD124 and 301, I cannot say that one is superior to the other. Sonically the 301 is more direct and forward in presentation whereas the TD124 is slightly more laid back with the same amount of detail retrieved. 

I attribute this to the drive mechanism of the TD124 which uses a rubber belt to 'decouple' the motor which drives a pulley that turns the idler. 

Garrard 301
Ortofon RMG309 + SPU GME
Schick 12" + Denon DL103C1

Swiss + British

Nice to have two flavors ;)

Have fun and happy listening!


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