Thorens

Thorens is one of the most well-known and widely respected turntable manufacturers in the history of home audio. In 2008, the company celebrated its 125th year in business. Established in St. Croix, Switzerland in 1883, Thorens Services Ltd. continues to produce high-end turntables, tonearms, amplifiers, and accessories.

In St. Croix, Switzerland, Hermann Thorens started a firm that manufactured cigarette lighters, razors and harmonicas. The firm eventually employed 1,200 workers. By the 1920s, the Thorens factory had already begun to manufacture musical reproduction equipment with direct-drive motors. Between 1939 and 1945, Thorens built disc-cutting lathes and introduced a record changer called the CD30.

The first Thorens turntable, the TD 124, was produced in 1957 and was aimed at the amateur (but wealthy) audio enthusiast. This turntable did not initially feature a tonearm. However, in 1958, Thorens produced the BTD-12 turntable, which came complete with a high-quality arm.

In 1966, Thorens improved the original TD 124 by introducing a lighter tonearm, “tweaking” the motor and modifying the speed adjustment and speed change knobs. Both versions of the TD 124 featured oversized moving parts to enhance stability of the turntable. Both turntables also featured the ability to play 16, 33, 45 and 78 rpm records.

Thorens introduced the more complex TD 224, a record-changing turntable. This turntable had the ability not only to play records one after the other but to actually change them. However, both its weight and price proved to be excessive, and the production of the TD 224 stopped in 1968.

In the 1980s, the compact disc nearly eliminated the demand for turntables, and the market for them died. Thorens experienced serious financial trouble, but investors ressurected the company in an attempt to rebuild the name. Thorens Audio Hi-Fi VetriebsGMBH became owned and managed by Herr Helmut Leitner and operated factories in Berlin and Lahr.

In December 2002, Thorens attempted to claim bankruptcy in Germany, but the German government denied the filing. Consequently, Thorens decided to return to Switzerland and, in May 2002, the company was restructured with new management. Operating as Thorens Services Ltd., the company continues to distribute its products to more than 50 countries worldwide.