If you have all the KAB upgrades (fluid damper, isonoe feets, external power supply, rewired tonearm and good rca phono cable) already done, all you need is just to invest in the mid or high compliance MM/MI cartridge, mat and clamp (or use it with stock rubber mat without clamp). Vintage cartridges like Grace F9-F, Stanton 881 or higher models, Glanz 31 or higher models, Grado Gold, Technics EPC-205c mk4 ... they are all works fine with rewired stock tonearm, if the compliance is high fluid damper will help. I'm pretty sure with the right MM cartridge and all the upgrades this turntable works fine. In case you want to use low compliace MC cartridges you need to replace the tonearm (Jelco fits well and not expensive), but i wouldn't do that, high compliance MM on the stock arm works great. In my experience this turntable with upgrades is good with MM (it was designed for MM). If you want much better turntable just buy another one like the Technics SP-20 (i curently have one for sale) or SP10mk2 with ability to use custom plinth and any tonearm (including 12 inch tonearms). I would not use expensive tonearm on SL1200 mk2 turntable.
25 responses Add your response
I had the SL-1200MKII with the tonearm wiring, fluid damper, upgraded mat, and clamp upgrades. It was a nice turntable, not quite on par with a Sota Cosmos IV that I owned at the same time, but very similar sounding. I did not get the outboard motor for the Technics, which I think would have made a positive difference. I think it all depends on your listening preferences. I saw in another thread that you just bought a Joule amp. When I had my Joule, I ended up selling the Technics and Sota, and got a modified Lenco idler drive table, with no regrets. The Lenco has more tonal weight and toe tapping drive, which in my opinion was a very nice compliment to the Joule sound.
@fluffers, I agree with the two above posts.
Any of you long timers on Audiogon remember psychicanimal from the original Audiogon? He had a tweaked out 1200 Mk.2 with all the KAB upgrades and it sounded fantastic! There was a lot written about it in the forums fro long ago, I don't know if that information is still available on the current Audiogon.
I have an MkII with the Kabusa upgrades described above, I use it with a Paradox Pulse 103R (requires additional extended weight for tonearm). For my 2 c, for the money it's an excellent TT. I use it primarily for playing 45 rpm vinyl and any vinyl that may be dished or slightly warped. The clamp is a Michell. For reference my main deck is a MS RX5000.
In your situation, given it's new and a sunk cost....it's a great find and I would put to straight to use! :)
I've heard them sound great. There are other upgrades that also take it to a higher level including bearing upgrade, platter upgrade(Mike New from Australia does what are some of the best, external power supply and Isanoe feet.
Tonearm upgrades are also good improvements over even the rewired original if you are inclined to do so. With Transfi Terminator arm, a friend has better performance than his previously owned ELP laser table and his VPI Aries.
Check out theartofsound British forum, the section called Techiepedia for many 1200 tweakers' experiences.
I have a stock 1200 mk2 and love it. In my humble opinion, buy a reasonable cartridge and let it rip.
Mine is carefree, reliable, and trustworthy. No fiddling and or second guessing required.
I don't enjoy calibrating equipment- I just want to play records and enjoy my music.
If you think along those lines- you may have a keeper!
Hope you enjoy your Technics!
I mounted a Jelco 750D on my SL1210 via a wooden armboard sourced from a Technics guru on Fleabay. I have no complants about the Technics arms, they are quite good but the Jelco just brought a little more refinement to the mix with the same carts. It was readily apparent since most of my LPs are classical. Smoother string tone.
I may consider the Kab mods for my 1200mk5 I found on craiglist.
I believe that the stock 1200 is pretty amazing. When the price is factored in its a great deal. I also have a VPI Prime which is also a very nice table. They are closer than I would have ever thought. I don't have enough listening or cart swapping to make conclusions in my system.
After hearing the two I really doubt I will ever spring for another more expensive TT. When I read some comparative reviews on-line I just think the diminishing returns do not justify chasing anything that will be slightly different or a little better with huge sums of cash. If people feel it necessary or worth it more power to them.
Check out this review of the VPI Prime
He compares it to a $19,000 Basis Signature with Vector 4 tonearm:
" Compared to my well-established aural memory of the Basis, the VPI’s overall soundstage volume is more compact, although image placement is excellent. Left-to-right imaging is a bit better than the Basis. The sense of an individual singer being present in 3 dimensions is a little less tangible. The major difference between these two tables, besides the price (the Vector 4 tonearm alone costs about a thousand dollars more than the Prime and 3D tonearm combined) is a small reduction in low level resolution. This most likely contributes to these impressions of the soundstage"
Later he compares them again
"Compared to the Prime, the Basis 2500 Signature turntable offers a warmer overall tonal balance with a bit more low level information. Harmonic trails last just a little longer. Singers have a bit more depth and warmth. These are often the kinds of differences we hear with different interconnects or cartridges, but using the same interconnects and cartridge on both turntables suggests that the Basis is more resolving, as it should be considering the difference in cost."
Again this is not a knock at all on Basis. They are wildly respected tables and I have lusted after them. That being said 19k buys alot of records, live concerts, a car or several vacations.
Then I think back to the Technics 12005mk I just bought for $250 bucks in 8/10 shape with a pretty clean dust cover on craiglist. Then I think yeah I can see why people just by a 1200 and listen to music.
"Compared to my well-established aural memory..." Don't ever put much stock in whatever follows a phrase like this.
The KAB fluid damper, rewired toneram, Isonoe feet, adding a center weight all will be audible improvements on the 1200. It's good to know that the table performs well enough to let each tweak be clearly heard. At every level from untweaked to maxxed out, it's competitive with most pricier tables.
It's popularity with DJs due to its durability will take the shine off for some audiosnobs, but remember that it wasn't designed to be a DJ table; it's for audio enthusiasts and became popular because its reliable speed stability was hard to beat and trickledown tech was unmatched due to the huge investment in analog that Technics had already made.
Never had the pleasure of one of KAB's Technics tables, but if they're anything like the old Technics RS 15xxx series R2R tape decks they gotta be a work of art. The Jelco 750-series arm is head and shoulders above any $~1,000 Rega arm. For anyone going for a vintage belt-drive Thorens or AR, Dave at Vinyl Nirvana (www.vinylnirvana.com) has a beautiful supply of restorations reasonably priced.
I've heard them sound great. There are other upgrades that also take it to a higher level including bearing upgrade, platter upgrade(Mike New from Australia does what are some of the best, external power supply and Isanoe feet.Alas Mike New was discredited when his platters were found to be warped - not the earlier ones apparently. To my knowledge no-one got a refund. I bought his bearing on the strength of AOS recommendations but it was a total waste of money, and I upgraded to a bearing where the thrustpad was made from PEEK, a very hard species of teflon. VPI now use this as well.
To OP. The 1200 family are a pretty decent deck out of the box - just make sure you service the bearing. (PM me if you need help on this). There are two fabulous features. One is that it has a superlative Direct Drive motor, second is that it lends itself to all manner of tweaks. These tweeks are meaningful and can be cheap. They fall into three groups (1) further improving the speed, (2) anti vibration measures (3) tweaking or replacing the tonearm. The 1200 can be a hobby that you can do one upgrade at a time and have a lot of fun in the process. At the end you have a deck that can justify cartridges like the Ortofon Cadenza Black or better, (I have a Benz Wood).
Ok guys I found the build sheets- Here are the upgrades that were done-
Sl-1200mk.2SE, 78 mod, SL-1200 power supply, record clamp , strobe disabler, tone arm damper, 1200 LTD headshell, isolation feet, cushion feet,
tonearm rewire cardas- So there you are - What else needs to be done and how good is it with these upgrades- thanks so much for your input!!!
fluffers.. I find it difficult to type that !!!LOL
See my previous post, there is a lot of money in those upgrades, it's good to go, believe me. There becomes a point of diminishing returns, you could change the tonearm etc, but to be honest, I would not. Make sure the TT is isolated, make sure the records are clean and enjoy.
Conversely, listen to the naysayers, keep it in the box , ping me...and i'll take off your hands! LOL
@fluffers Yeah, as @retrofunk said, that is pretty well loaded, go for it!
@andrei_nz Would love more info on the bearing you mention. My pal's Mike New platter and bearing are both excellent with no trouble for him; he bought them within last few years. Thought I read the Mr. New has stopped producing them or will only when a number pester him to make another small batch. BTW, nice post! Cheers,
I do remember psychic animal. His enthusiasm for the Technics was definitely an influence on my decision to buy a KAB mod’d. SL1210M5G.
Another contributor was when I called a dealer to inquire about VPI and he started telling me about a listening experience he had recently at someone’s house where a Technics table (KAB mod’d, I believe) was in use. He had been very impressed with the "quietness" of the table. There might have been other virtues, too. I don’t recall. I am NOT trying to say the Technics is better than a VPI or that the dealer was saying that, either. BUT the fact a dealer started telling me about a table they didn’t sell made an impression. Ultimately, the Technics was a good match for me. Don’t have the patience or dexterity that I think might be required to keep some twitchier high end table in good nick.
JohnnyB53 is another A’gon member to read. He has posted quite a bit about tweaks to his Technics table...tone arm wrap w/teflon tape is one that comes to mind. He also used the inexpensive cone footer replacement that I shared with him but subsequently he may have gone to a more sophisticated aftermarket footer.
It seems to me you have all the available KAB mods but why not email Kevin and see if there is anything new (the original KAB record clamp was a press on type with rubber friction grip. He offers a screw down clamp now. Not sure which you have.) You might want to experiment with platter mats. I’m using Herbie’s Way Excellent. Vibration isolation as has been mentioned provides significant benefit. I’m using a heavy hard wood cutting board under mine (along with some various elastomeric materials as footers under it). Obviously, there are more sophisticated (and pricier) purpose-built options available.
With many choices for phono pre and lots of compatible cartridges, you could spend many enjoyable hours finding ways to extract the best sound from the Technics you have right now. Good luck. Hope you keep and enjoy it.
I had the same KAB mods on mine and liked it a lot. I sold it when I bought a new SL1200GAE, which sounds a bit better. Not a huge difference, but it you want the perspective, spend $4,000 on a new SL1200G and it will sound a wee bit better than yours. Now let me bracket it. I also have a VPI Prime, and it too, lists for $4K. Stock I think yours would be very close to the Prime. If you spend about $2K on mods the Prime is going to sound better.
I have a KAB modded 1200 with isonoe feet, damper, 78 rpm, an Achromat and upgraded headshells. He was still working on the tonearm rewiring when I bought mine so I didn't get that done.
Since you bought yours, Kevin has come up with a couple more minor tweaks but nothing essential. I think you have a great turntable now. Only thing I would upgrade is the mat. Herbie's mats are good too. Both are available with a return policy so not much to lose by trying one.
I never thought clamps improved the sound on mine but YMMV.
I just put a Hana EL cartridge on mine and it sounds better than anything I have had before.
I bought my table many years ago when my old table broke down. It was going to be a stopgap until I could find a "real" table. From reading reviews online I was sure I wanted a VPI, a Scoutmaster, the one that "HW hit so far out of the park it isn't funny" as one writer put it. The Scoutmaster turned out to be the only turntable I have ever completely disliked. Wonky unipivot tonearm and anemic presentation of music really put me off. Checked out a number of other tables as well and came to the conclusion that I would have to spend over $4000 to considerably improve on what I had.
I was going to buy the 1200G but the upcoming SP 10R is messing with my mind!
Let us know what you think when you get yours going. If you decide to sell it I don't think you will lose any of your investment.
From someone who has owned an entry level project, Original VPI Scout
Currently I have a VPI Prime and a 1200mk5
I would lean towards keeping the KAB 1200. Reasons is simply money. You will be looking at a Prime used to have something maybe a little bit better or just a slightly different flavor.
My Prime and stock MK5 are pretty close. The Prime has better left to right Imaging and soundstage (not a huge difference). A smoother sound which you appreciate in longer listening sessions. It has a bit more round/fat bass as compared to the 1200. It has maybe a touch better resolution. Depth seems similar in my setup.
Saying all this it could just be the cart differences as I have not done apples to apples comparison. With all the KAB mods I could see Bill Stevenson opinions being pretty accurate.
As I learn more about this hobby I realize at a certain point you have to devote longs listening sessions to discover if something is really an improvement. Stuff at these 4k price points sound more alike than different. The small differences are what we are paying for and choosing. To many these subtleties are worth it, to some they are not your choice.