Just how good is the Technics SL-1200?

I keep reading posts about how good this TT is. I read as far as direct drive TTs go its very good. How resolving is it. I also read you can get it modded. Just how good is it? Is it in same league as Linn or Rega? Anyone ever do a shoot out between the 2?
Your question sounded familiar, so I found this....
(Discussion about mods, Rega, Linn)

Hah hah hah.. That is an interesting question, which, if the old time Technics fanboys are reading, will soon fill this thread with Technics love.
The Technics 1200 was an decent platter and motor with a below average arm.
The Denon turntables are about the same, with a slightly better arm. You can find DP59L or DP-47F available for the same money.
Denon do not have a lot of mods available though.

The Rega, VPI etc are different.

Linn is a whole different pile of fish.

Generally the Rega/Technics are 'opposite' in that those who like one dislike the other.
I own a Rega, and would never bother to own a Technics. (though I owned a Denon Dp-59L)
Most folks who own a Technics would never own a Rega.
So it goes.
And your reading 'how good'... That is all fanboy ravings..
Like I wrote. it is an average TT, decent motor/platter. below average arm.
The Rega has it's own flaws.. So does VPI, or Linn, or ANY TT. At least the worst fault is not their fans. Who show resraint when praising the product.
Technics fanboys have NO shame, and usually claim the Technics 1200 series is the Second Coming.(or close to it.)

Since the 1200 has been discontinued.. The roar of praise has dimmed. I guess with nothing to sell, the paid choir has gone home.
Just my opinion, and snide crack at the Technics crowd.

If you really want a TT with autoreturn, then the Technics is OK, So are the Denon.
The Technics (particularly the M5G or Mk. 6) is a superb turntable all the way around...the secret is to put a top class MM cartridge on it, and it will reward you with many hours of happy listening.
A KAB USA modded SL-1200 with a Dynavector 17D3 is a killer turntable. The ultimate would be with a stock Shure V15VxMR cartridge, but they've long been discontinued and the JICO SAS replacement styli changes (brightens) the sound dramatically. The Audio Technica AT150MLX is also an excellent cart for it but is too bright at 47kΩ. I use all 3 carts on mine.

For speed stability, ease of use, and reliability the SL1200 is incredible. Get some mods done (fluid damper, new wire, and power supply) and I doubt you'll find a significantly better sounding table. I actually find no fault with the stock arm as long as it has upgraded wire and the KAB fluid damper. There is an ideal amount of "play" in the headshell for azimuth adjustment (if you need more, there's something wrong with your cartridge). There's repeatable VTA adjustment. The VTF and anti-skate adjustments are extremely accurate and reliable. Being able to swap headshells is invaluable (especially for mono and 78 RPM carts). I've had two other "high end" belt drive tables, and I'm never going back. Did many needle drop comparisons with the same cart and phono stage. Zero difference in audio quality. However, the Technics speed stability was better, was quieter, and tracked better! It's just not very pretty compared to other turntables. Don't judge it's performance on aesthetics. I have a fully modded KAB SL-1210M5G. Set up with a Mint LP Best Tractor. EAR 324 Phono Stage.
Exactly. You nailed it. But, I really don't need the mods, personally speaking. The 1210MG5 sounds good as is too me. I also don't find the AT150mLX to be too bright @ 47k. It really depends on the record. Actually some records sound rather dull...
Anyone with a 1200 should look at this site: http://www.mikenewaudio.com/bearing.php

The link I posted is for the new bearing! Between that and the new platter I suspect this would make a really nice machine!
Dave_72: Actually the AT150MLX measures about +7dB (max) above 10,000Hz at 47kΩ/120pF. So, technically it is a bright cart at it's recommended loading. But, it's a great one nonetheless. It'll test near flat at 15kΩ/570pF and listening tests support this. This is through an EAR 324 phono stage.
Dave_72: Actually the AT150MLX measures about +7dB (max) above 10,000Hz at 47kΩ/120pF. So, technically it is a bright cart at it's recommended loading. But, it's a great one nonetheless. It'll test near flat at 15kΩ/570pF and listening tests support this. This is through an EAR 324 phono stage.
Ok, fair enough. Can I see the test results?
Elizabeth: Nine responses, not one from a "fan boy" stating the Technics SL-1200 is the second coming. I find your patronizing attitude rather arrogant.

I own a KAB modified one. I am a record collector and for my needs it is an excellent table. I can switch cartridges and change setting in seconds. Plays all speeds from 33 to 78 dead on. I looked at a number of other turntables before I bought this one. I thought it sounded as good as the Projects, Rega and a few others in its price range. Matter of taste but I thought it sounded way better than a VPI Scoutmaster. You can do better (SL-10 Mk3?) but for much more money.
Oh Andy you had to break the silence and be that one fanboy.
I agree with Andy! It truly does compete with other turntables in its price range, and even beyond that. It's hard to beat the build quality as well. What's not to like?
At risk of jumping on top of the dog pile, I have owned a couple of SL-1200s (a MkIII and MkV) over the years, and they were OK. I will agree with Elizabeth; IMO it is a somewhat better than average cheap Japanese DD deck with a mediocre tonearm. While I have not owned a KAB modified version, I have used one and didn't find it to be all that much better.

Personally, for the ridiculous prices that are being asked for a clean, non-DJ'd SL-1200 I would hunt for a Luxman PD-121 or 131, a Systemdek IIx, a Rega P3 or a maybe even a Sansui SR-939. If I was feeling lucky I might look for a clean Oracle Alexandria. Just my opinion...
I am not sure that I qualify to be what Elizabeth calls a fanboy but I do use a Technics SL1200MK5 that I bought new on eBay last December, 2011. It is mated with a KAB/Ortofon Pro S cartridge and STY40 stylus. No headshell.

It took only twenty minutes to set up the table and cartridge and I was spinning my old vinyl from the 70's.

My albums sound great with black background, punchy bass, clear treble, and good sound stage. It is a big improvement from my old Luxman PD272 with a Shure V15type4 cartridge.

Well recorded albums sound alive.

The Technics is well built and its direct drive speed control is critical to good listening IMHO. I spent a lot of time researching this purchase and felt that belt drive is inferior unless you have a lot of extra cash sitting around.

So for about $1,000 I am in heaven with a table that will only get better with low cost modifications.
I have to agree with Elizabeth. That table is just not that great. If all you want to do is rock out, it would be fine. There are good things about it, and good reasons why the DJs loved it. But if you listen to classical or jazz, and want a table that has great resolution of instrumental timbres, a big soundstage, etc., look elsewhere. Also agree that the 1200's, especially the modded ones, are really overpriced. You can do much better for that money. It is certainly the least good of the tables I have owned, and I include a cheap Sony one in that list...
How exactly does the turntable have an effect on the soundstage? Please exclude te wiring, the cartridge, and the phono stage. Just the turntable. In my experience, the table is not the deciding factor in things like that. The only difference I can hear between tables is noise and speed stability.
Hi Learsfool, I use a 1200 for classical music, and I hear great resolution of instrumental timbres (my number-one priority), a big soundstage, etc. So one of us must be nuts, right? Isn't it great to have a hobby whose enthusiasts are absolutely intolerant of the opinions of others?! :-)

Hi Hessonn11,

You're absolutely right. It's a great turntable for any genre of music. And a great turntable period. The price/performance ratio is way off the charts.
Hi Hesson11 - different strokes for different folks. The 1200 is a very well made table, but IME it appeals mostly to audiophiles who are more interested in build quality and the technical side of things than the actual sound, believing that if it is built out of materials they prefer, that it must sound better (not saying this is true of you, this has just been my experience). Also, most of them listen primarily to rock, apparently you are an exception here. IME, the 1200 does not have as much of the qualities I spoke of in relation to the vast majority of high end tables out there. A similarly priced Rega, to choose Elizabeth's example, will beat it for me every time. As Elizabeth said, I think if the table really was that good, it would not have gone out of production, with no similar replacement. I also never quite understood the popularity of a table that even most who love it think needs to be heavily modified. Again, I suspect this is because some people are more interested in tweaking their toys than actually enjoying the music. And that's OK.

There are many who do love the table, and no two audiophiles will have the same set of sonic priorities exactly. That's part of the beauty of this hobby. If you truly do enjoy it's sound in comparison to others mentioned in this thread, knock yourself out! Enjoy your music! As a professional orchestral musician, I am very glad to hear that there are still many fans of classical music out there. I hope you also attend live performances of your local orchestra or chamber group or university ensembles.

My personal sonic priorities are formed by the fact that I get to hear live music in a great hall almost every day. So while I actually dislike the term "the absolute sound," I do consider the sound of live acoustic music in a great hall to be a sort of benchmark, though an unattainable one in reality. For me, the Technics 1200 does not come nearly as close as many other high end tables.

Dconsmack - as my expertise is in music, not electronics or engineering, I cannot truly answer your question - I just know that I have heard many different tables in many different systems over the years, and the differences most definitely exist, especially when comparing different tables in the exact same system otherwise. This type of direct comparison can be especially shocking. Rather than thinking negatively about it and wasting time figuring out why I don't like something, I tend to ignore things I don't like as much, and focus on the things I do like, and when I have time, trying to learn why they might sound better. Folks like Atmasphere and Almarg and several others in these forums I have learned a great deal from in this respect.
Learsfool- I understand what you're saying. I'm am simply reporting that in my tests that I cannot detect any musical qualities that contribute either positively or negatively when comparing an SL-1200 with the same wiring, cartridge, phono stage via needle drops. That way I was able to go back-and-forth between recordings instantly to hear any differences. It's taken me years to do this and honestly, the musical differences just aren't there in a way that I can even convince myself of. I don't have perfect ears, but I know what to listen for. Changing a cart, a phono stage, a A/D converter (I've done many of each)... I can hear that. But, this is the reason why I love my Technics so much: it's sound (if it has one) is inconsequential. Only the technical aspects were noteworthy. And those were BETTER speed stability than a belt drive, BETTER tracking of sibilants (with my Dynavector 17D3/ Mint LP BestTractor Stevenson alignment, KAB Fluid Damper), LOWER noise, especially towards the center of the record, with the KAB Power Supply.
Add the fact it has the physical qualities that make playing records a joy: adjustable VTA, azimuth, detachable headshells with optional 4g weight, pitch control, platter braking, 78RPM, self leveling feet, easy and accurate VTF and anti-skate adjustments, etc. It just everything I want it to do, sounds amazing too. It's just... an ugly, mass produced TT and not for the people who demand beauty in design. I had to be honest with myself and let the sound and the performance speak for itself. I don't regret dumping my higher end gear. I've done my homework and I feel ended up with a better turntable.
Do the fans of the SL1200 believe that it is better than any of the high end direct drive tables of the late 70s, early 80s, when the japanese actually cared about turntables. I have a Sony PS-x65 and PS-x60 as well as a Yamaha PX-3 and technics SL1200, and I think the Sonys are easily better built and sound better than the technics. I am not impressed with the Yamaha, but many love them.
That said, my main listening right now is through an Oracle Delphi V SE. None of the above tables comes close.
I doubt if you'll find any 1200 fan who thinks it will run with an SP-10, SP-15, or Kenwood L07D etc, etc. The 1200 is an SP-25 factory set up for DJ/disco. It has great immunity to feedback, pitch stability, adjust-ability, and VTA on the fly. It does not have a 10 or 30lb platter for depth and authority, but it also doesn't have the often associated ponderous presentation, speed issues, and lack of PRAT. If the 1200 plinth is overdamped, and the arm wire questionable, it may compliment the sound of some carts/systems and/or be modified.

I've seen pics of 1200s with SME V, Syrinx and other high end arms. Ridiculous? I'm sure their owners don't think so. Before being discontinued the 1200/1210 went for $500 to $700? Can a similarly priced belt driver keep time like a 1200? Not even with an additional speed box. How much does an Oracle Delphi Mk V cost?

One advantage of the 1200, it's possible to get one of recent manufacture. All the rest is belt vs direct and YMMV. There is no Rega in this price range that can compete with what the 1200 does right. People have different listening priorities. To each his own. Spend lots of money and those advantages start to disappear.
Learsfool, I respect your thoughts, even though our opinions differ. I actually had to overcome my prejudice against the 1200 because I think it's butt-ugly! I don't care much about its purported indestructibility, but it's nice to know that it will last a while, seeing that it's out of production.

I, too, listen to a lot of live classical music, and I'm encouraged to hear that you apparently are very happy with your Rega-on-Rega setup (P5 and Exact 2). I've always wanted to try a similar approach, but I've never been sure how the Exact would perform with unamplified acoustic instruments. So if I ever get a few extra bucks, I'd love to give that kind of setup a try. All the best.
I just got the chance to pick up a couple of 1200 mk 2's from a kid who thought he wanted to dj but didn't like it. I haven't seen them yet, but assuming they're clean & working properly we agreed on $200 for the pair. I'm gonna sell the dj carts that are included & sell one to a buddy's dad for $125, so ill basically end up with a near free one. I'm pretty excited as I've read lots of good & bad about the table. I'm currently using a Pioneer PL-514 so I'd say its a step up. I'm planning on using it alongside my Sota Sapphire once I get it spinning too.
Hi Bob - the Rega was the best of all the things I tried in my budget, which is certainly limited. Not saying it is a be-all end-all thing by any means. What I would really like to try sometime is an old Thorens 124. Every one of those I have ever heard sounds fantastic. Will probably be a few years more before I can afford to mess around with new stuff, though. I'll probably have to replace my cartridge on the Rega before that.

12-28-12: Hesson11
I, too, listen to a lot of live classical music, and I'm encouraged to hear that you apparently are very happy with your Rega-on-Rega setup (P5 and Exact 2). I've always wanted to try a similar approach, but I've never been sure how the Exact would perform with unamplified acoustic instruments. So if I ever get a few extra bucks, I'd love to give that kind of setup a try. All the best.

I've heard A Rega P7 with an Exact and it was excellent on acoustic instruments. The demo wasn't classical music, however; it was acoustic guitar, upright bass, and (I think) drums. It have a relaxed and musical sense about it and was timbre-correct to me.
and you can feel the differenceFor the past few years I have been a fan and owner of a KAB SL-1200 (fluid damper, cardas rewire). I felt that it performed very nicely with the rest of my system (2- Bryston 4bST monoblocks-B&W 802-CJ Pre/phono)Running a Ortofon 2M Black. I recently purchased a VPI Traveler and Ortofon 2M Blk and have about 30 hours on it. The most striking difference is the arms, The 1200 has a $100-arm while the VPI has a $600- arm. Just lifting the headshell onto a record will tell you the difference. The vpi will flesh out more information and let me hear things that the 1200 just cant. I still love my 1200 for all the reasons mentioned but the 2m Blk on on the Traveler is sweet to my ears and a tad more involved than my Technics.