The renowned Swiss analogue hi-fi brand Thorens, known for its excellent turntables, has recently announced that it is working with none other than Ballfinger to launch a brand new reel-to-reel player, designed for home use.
The machine is due for launch in summer 2020 with a limited production of 100 units. Its estimated price will be around €12,000.
A prototype of the new machine will be previewed at this coming weekend’s 2019 Munich High-End Show. To be among the first to see it, head over to visit Thorens in hall 3, stand K02. The machine’s designer, Ballfinger’s Roland Schneider, will be there to chat and answer questions.
German Ballfinger is currently the only company worldwide to be producing completely new tape decks, after a 10-15 year hiatus in which nobody made them (Otari having been the last company to do so before the market basically disappeared – at least for a while). Then from around 2014 rumours began to abound regarding plans for a new breed of modern-day decks, with companies such as Horch House and Metaxas tipped to be the first to bring something to market. However it was Ballfinger’s Roland Schneider who actually delivered the goods last year, launching not just one model, but four variations on his core M 063 machine.
Since then, Schneider has pretty much had the market to himself. While there are other companies making ‘hybrid’ decks, which are essentially updated or customized versions of existing vintage models, Ballfinger is, at the time of writing, still the only company to be selling a brand new, modern tape deck (but keep your eye on Metaxas, as there are still plans afoot there).
So why is Schneider now making a machine for someone else? How did it come about? Is this a one-off project or might there be others? These are all questions I plan to ask when I meet up with the man himself in Munich in a few days’ time. Until then, here’s what I can tell you…
The new Thorens TM 1600 is a two-track, quarter-inch design with three motors. It handles reels up to 10.5” with speeds of 7.5 or 15 ips. Equalization is switchable between CCIR for most European recordings and NAB for the Americas and Asia.
It’s a wonderfully compact and super-slim design which lends itself to either flat use or vertical wall hanging. Its plinth is very similar to that of Thorens’ new TD 1600 series turntables and, like them, it comes in a black high gloss or walnut high gloss finish.
Discover more on the Thorens website
Right, I’m off to pack for Munich. If you’re heading that way and fancy meeting up to chat R2R, why not drop me a line!