Thor Audio - Answers to recent FAQs

Hello Everyone,
All TA-1000 preamps are NOT the same - not even close!
That being said, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify some of the questions that have been raised here lately.....
During Thor Audio’s history (starting in 1996), there have been over three separate iterations of our preamps. The first was the “gray and brass” series – an Oakton Gray powdercoated chassis with a solid brass front panel. These were produced from 1996 to 1998.
Then, in 1999, the black chassis (the one most people are aware of - with a choice of either chrome silver or 24kt gold accents) was introduced. This chassis change also coincided with a significant “audio” upgrade.
These continued in production until the beginning of 2003 when BOTH the chassis and all circuitry went through an extremely large engineering change (and we went from our Five Year to our Lifetime Warranty). Since these changes encompassed 100% of the preamp, it made sense not to refer to these as just an “upgrade”. It required a new name – hence the “MKII” model designation was born.
In our continuing effort to support any/all Thor owners, we then sent a flyer to all registered owners offering to upgrade the electronics (just the electronics) in their older chassis versions (now being referred to as the MK1s) with circuitry closer to the new MKII versions. This effort was to help our customers on a budget glean the best possible sound from their preamp. What we offered was a relatively inexpensive, achievable upgrade path and did not put our customers in a position of HAVING to purchase a brand new preamp just to remain current – a practice we had seen too often in the industry. The “Electronics Only” upgrade gave them about 80% of the sound of the full MKII version with many customers writing in later to say how happy they were with the sound and especially our continuing support and customer service.
However, as we all know, anytime there is a large change to an existing product, there will be many customers who want the very latest/best, and this was certainly the case with us. There was an immediate increase of Audiogon sales offering the old versions in order to purchase the new MKII versions. Unfortunately, some months later when some customers started selling these “upgraded” MK1 versions, they started referring to them as “MKII”. This wording caused massive and IMMEDIATE confusion! Buyers thought that they were hearing/purchasing FULL MKII versions, not knowing that it was just an upgraded MK1. Buyers had no way of knowing that these preamps did not reflect EITHER our best sound or our MKII chassis design quality!
FYI - As of 11/04, there have been NO full MKIIs ever sold on the internet. This is proved very easily - If the serial number on the preamp is less than serial # 1000, it is NOT the full MKII version! Make SURE you ask for the serial number before you purchase any of our components over the internet!
Further confusion can be also be cleared up right now regarding whether or not the "electronics-only" MK1 upgrade was ever really done to the preamp - Look at the back of the preamp on the top left of the RCA jacks. If there is a 1” round gold sticker saying “Mark 2”, then it was done. No sticker = No upgrade.
Regarding recent resale prices...
To our dismay, we noticed that five of the last six preamps for sale on Audiogon actually started life as discounted B-Stocks! Obviously this goes directly to the original selling price, and ESPECIALLY to the subsequent resale price! (Not one of the sellers mentioned anything about this for obvious reasons.) Add to this that fact that one seller was the THIRD owner and two sellers were the FIFTH owners of their particular preamps, it is now easy to see why you wound up with the ridiculously low prices posted recently!
Please contact us directly BEFORE you purchase any of our used components on the internet. While we can only estimate (but very closely) how many previous owners the preamp may have had in the past, we WILL be able to answer the most important questions of how it started life (a B-Stock?), or whether it was originally a Show or Dealer Demo, etc.! As you can see, all this is crucial to your purchase and goes directly to “you get what you pay for”! More importantly, if you contact us first, we can also point you towards an authorized Thor retailer who may have a MK1 and/or store demo/trade-in available. (Very Important - If you purchase your used Thor component directly from an authorized Thor dealer, you will automatically receive a free Five Year Warranty with it. You can then also order any of our “After Market Options” like a Remote Control or a Home Theater Bypass Switch, etc.)
For complete information on warranty policies and upgrades, please refer to the “Warranty Page” and ”After Market Options” pages on our web site.
Lastly, it is indeed frustrating for us when people see a TA-1000 for sale with a very low selling price, and think that figure reflects Thor's true resale value. As stated, the preamp does not reflect our best sound or chassis, and could be up to nine years old. Please note that this is long past the warranty and the life expectancy of many other preamps with their one, two, or three year warrantees. Many of these other components could have stopped working and obviously would not even be available for purchase anywhere. As strange as it seams, it looks like we are actually being hurt on some level for our longevity!
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I sincerely hope that it has helped in guiding any future internet sales or purchases. Please feel free to contact Thor Audio directly at the telephone numbers or email addresses listed on our site with any questions. We make ourselves available at all time and will respond quickly and thoroughly.
P.J Zornosa
Sales Manager
Thor Audio
just wanted to say ive heard your products and they sound extremely good,i live near st.cecelias sound gallery in clearwater fl. and the owners are great!even though i cant purchase any of your products right now,Brian lets me listen to the Thor system for as long as i like,and its always a great exp.
Thank you for the post. I second Raytheprinters positive evaluation of your products. Could you please explain further what B-stock is. I'm dumb on that subject.
Hi Holzhauer,
In our case, the term “b-stock” has to do with subtle cosmetic imperfections in either the power supply or main chassis of our preamps (never with the sound).
At CES about five years ago, we happened to be talking with three of our retailers. We mentioned in passing that we were sending any chassis that had even the slightest blemish back to our fabricator to be either tossed out or re-done until it was perfect. And that it was about one in fifty chassis that had something that, under our criteria, fell under this category.
Unanimously, they asked us to hang onto all of them going forward. Their thought was that if we installed brand new electronics inside slightly blemished chassis, they would be able to discount them enough to get them into the hands of some of their customers who would not normally be able to afford our preamps. They would have a happy customer, and we would have another “word-of-mouth” owner/advertiser. It made a good amount of sense and we started to do it.
I must mention that the “imperfections” in many of these chassis were almost un-noticeable unless you knew exactly where to look. Sometimes it was on the bottom; sometimes you even needed just the right light, etc.! In fact we had more than one customer call us directly to say that we must have made a mistake and sent a normal preamp because they couldn’t find anything wrong with it!
Looking at our database, there have been roughly thirty b-stock preamps sold since we started doing this. It all worked out well and everyone was happy with our collective decision until we saw that an inordinately large percentage of our preamps being sold on the internet over the last three years were these particular units. And, they were also being sold every year or so to someone new. Now, five years later, we are now dealing with multiple re-sales and owners and very low resale prices. Additionally, as our preamp model names TA-1000 (line stage), TA-2000 (line w/phono stage), and TA-3000 (stand-alone phono stage) had not changed, it was very easy to confuse a one year old preamp with a seven year old one. Worst yet, there is now a direct correlation with the b-stock’s resale price and our printed Blue Book value for normal preamps.
I must mention that Audiogon has been extremely understanding in this matter. When we asked them to try and separate out at least the newer “black” ones from our seven year old “gray and brass” preamps, they said that they would give them a separate categorys in their Blue Book. This would at least help in educating potential buyers that there was at least a 30% resale price difference, and up to a seven year date-of-manufacture difference between the two versions.
I have no idea in how to handle the confusion regarding our upgraded MK1 preamps and the “MKII” wording/terminology used in the newest internet ads. I suppose we could (reluctantly) change the model names completely, but that could potentially be even more confusing. I will however ask PJ to continue to try and keep all potential internet buyers as informed as he can so that they do not wind up with something much less than they thought they were buying!
Going forward, all of us at Thor Audio will answer any questions about our used components immediately. Please contact us before you make your purchase.
Thank You,
Paul Marks
Thor Audio
Certainly purchasing audio equipment on Audiogon can be confusing with some equipment that may have been around on the market for many years, and may have had a number of named or unnamed revisions over that time.

I applaud Thor Audio for coming to Audiogon to clarify the situation with respect to this confusion as it relates to some of their products. It is great that Thor is willing to help the purchaser confirm the number of owners, the age of the unit, and whether it was a B-stock, demo, etc... I am even more impressed that they listened to their dealers to introduce this B-stock for sell, to help consumers who would not normally be able to afford their products. I am not sure that all companies are willing to help in the resale of their products to this extent. I hope other manufacturers take note.
I also would like to thank both Paul and P.J. for posting their comments aimed at aiding the Audiogon buyer sort through the various iterations of their products on the used market. It is rare and laudable to see a manufacturer meet consumers of their used products head on. It seems that many manufacturers would prefer to deny the existence of a used market altogether or at the very least treat it's denizens as second class citizens. Thanks to Thor for behaving so dramatically otherwise, it speaks very highly of the company and the people behind it. Thanks.
Thank you to both Thom_y and Jond for your kind words, and I'm sorry it took so long to see them. We do not get a chance to get here that often. Being Christmas, I am sitting here waiting for the coffee to brew and got a chance to read your posts.
It is interesting that after our two posts explaining all iterations of our preamps, (and what to watch out for before purchasing our used products off the internet), there are no used Thor components for sale recently.
However, there are two of our authorized retailers who have MK1 "upgraded" versions available. These DO come with a full warranty and can also have remote controls, HT bypass switches, etc. added later. Please contact us directly for complete information.
Thanks and Happy Holidays,
Paul Marks
Thor Audio