The Thorens TD-203 Turntable was introduced to me by a friend who is a long-time turntable owner. Riding on the turntable trend, I told him specifically that I was looking for an entry-level turntable that provides great quality music, is value-for-money and also easy to set up. The next thing I knew a Thorens TD-203 Turntable was delivered to my place and I was hooked ever since.
This beautiful piece from Switzerland is produced by Thorens, a company that has been making music playback machines since 1883. With its long and successful history, it is no surprise that the quality of both the music and the body of this equipment is of superior quality. Did I also mention that it comes fully assembled and works straight out of the box? Well, it is and believe me that saved me so much time. So, if you are looking for a good, manual turntable, then continue reading.
Classy looking design
The Thorens TD-203 Turntable is a classy-looking turntable, with a rectangular MDF plinth. Unlike other turntables in the market that comes only in 1 colour, the Thorens TD-203 Turntable comes in 3 – red, black and white high-gloss lacquer. The main bearing is made from pure bronze and the 2-part platter is engineered from non-resonant, audiophile grade composites– showing how money has been spent on high quality material to ensure optimal sound quality and excellent reliability in longevity. And because of the quality of the material it is made from – it is heavy, but sleek and classy-looking. Definitely a beautiful piece to display.
Key competitive specifications
Since it is easy to look up all the specifications of the Thorens TD-203 Turntable on any of your preferred search engine, I will not go into detail here. What I will do, however, is to tell you the key features that gives this manual turntable its competitive advantage.
Firstly, its tone arm. The Thorens TD-203 Turntable has a new TP 82 Timearm that has a uni-pivot design – not something you usually see in this class of turntable. The TP 82’s bearing is a carbide tip resting in a detailed arrangement of 5 tiny bearing ball and the arm tube is crafted from rolled aluminum. This design allows the arm to move in both the vertical and the horizontal planes, freely and without friction, at the same time providing great stability. All these helps to ensures longevity of the turntable.
The tonearm comes pre-installed with the Thorens TAS 257 cartridge, a high-quality moving-magnet pick-up suitable for all MM phono inputs. This means that there is no need to worry about alignment, making it easier for new users. All you have to do is set the tracking force and fit the bias weight and you are good to go.
I would also offer my praises for the turntable’s headshell fingerlift. The Thorens TD-203 Turntable has a side lift control so that the vinyl will be played safely without damaging it. This feature has proven to be helpful to me – being a new turntable owner. However, for people who prefers to needledrop, the headshell lift is thin but long, and it contrasts well for visibility against the white cartridge used. Hence, there is likely no painful noises.
Lastly, I would like to mention that that the TD 203’s drive-belt tension is adjustable, and the speed can also be fine-tuned. Although it is not something that I personally have touched on, it gives those who prefers to a greater level of customizability. For beginners, though, I would suggest to leave it as it is.
Although I would say that the performance of Thorens TD-203 Turntable is pretty decent when it comes to the level of detail, the Thorens does perform better in some aspects than the others. To summarize, it sounds better playing bass-emphasizing vinyl, better than high-toned vinyl at the very least.
Sadly, the highs do not sparkle or perform as well as I would like it to, and the overall soundstage sounds flat and a little subdued. To be honest, it feels as though the Thorens conveys only part of the entire story while other turntable in the same class seem to be able to better deliver the vibrancy of tracks with both highs and bass. The lows also sound over-egged. The Thorens overplays the heaviest slightly, this causes the track to be unbalanced and it diverts the listener’s attention from the mids and the highs. One good thing about the Thorens though – low noise due to its low voltage electronically speed controlled DC motor.
So in general; good for heavy-bass tracks, acceptable in other aspects. This works for me however since I have always been into heavy bass.
It is obvious to me that there are more positives than negatives for this high-performing turntable, especially its reliability and longevity. This is based on other reviews I read as well as my own opinion.
So, the good. Firstly, this turntable has a great, sturdy built made of high quality equipment. It also comes in 3 different colours should it be an aspect important to you. It is extremely easy to operate and arrives, requiring less than 5 minutes before you get to enjoy your new turntable. Many aspects of the Thorens TD-203 Turntable was designed with both performance and convenience in mind.
New users, like myself, will appreciate the easy setup and operation, whereas advanced users will appreciate the fine controls adjustments such as platter speed, belt tension and anti-skate. It is fitted with the new and excellent TP 82 unipivot tonearm. This turntable is powered by a DC motor, fully decoupled using a rubber suspension. Moreover, high quality bearings are used throughout to ensure smooth operation.
However, one negative about this turntable, I would say it’s the sound quality as mentioned above. Definitely,if you are not someone that is into bass, you might want to give this turntable a miss. Otherwise, a great turntable for beginners and professionals alike.
The Thorens TD-203 Turntable is definitely a purchase I do not regret – I really do enjoy my set. Some others, however, feel that the Thorens does not perform above the rest of the turntables in the same class, although there is nothing offensive about the turntable’s sound. However, I do feel like this is a superb turntable that is value-for-money and a good investment, especially for beginners. Should what I say impress you, trust me, you will not regret your purchase. Alternative option, consider the Rega RP3. Click here to view the Thorens TD203 vs Rega RP3.