The Thorens TP-16 Tonearm
A TP 16 tonearm rewired with modern litz wire is a revelation. It asks some questions about how it was reviewed in the past. It appears, that even Thorens came to see it as a liability in spite of its always been held up as an excellent tracker. It just lacked excitement on the highs but the rewire add that. A rewired TP 16 is the best upgrade you can make and ought to be the first step in upgrading or restoring a TD 160.
I’ve contemplated replacing the original Thorens TP-16 tonearm many times over the years. This was a common upgrade for Thorens TD 160 owners – often installing an SME tone arm. When Thorens released the TD 160 Super in 1982, it came without a tonearm. That certainly gave me to lose confidence in mine.
I have my Thorens TD 145 since 1976. The TD 145 is a TD 160 with an auto shut-off. Installing a replacement arm decommissions the auto shut off and the queuing mechanism it shares with the TD 160. The queuing mechanism is integral to the turntable’s elegant and intuitive operation. Decommissioning it disposes of an ergonomically insightful engineered solution that is the signature of the Thorens legacy.
For an SME tone arm I could live without the auto shut-off. They are a beautiful piece of engineering. In truth my desire for a SME arm was not all sonic – they look cool. What killed me is that I hated the idea of cutting into the top-plate – it would be irreversible. Also, I didn’t like that without the auto shut-off my Thorens TD-145 would lose it’s identity. In its own way the Thorens TP-16 tonearm is a thing of great beauty and a genuine mid-century artifact. Without the TP-16 tone arm my TD-145 would become a hacked turntable. So, it wasn’t just the auto shut-off that was the issue. It was something more intangible related to the provenance and authenticity of the turntable. My relationship to the object itself and its personal meaning inspired me to devise a rewire. I now believe changing out should only be done after consideration of rewiring. That’s for sonic reasons not because the TD 160 quirky engineering makes it, in 2019, very cool indeed.