The new Pioneer DJ PLX-1000 Professional Turntable appears to be a clone of the Technics SL-12xx.
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Treated myself to a Stanton ST 150 a few months ago and I am really digging it, so to speak. What made me choose the Stanton?
First, there are not many audiophile type reviews out there for what are essentially DJ turntables. What I did pick up though is that Stanton has become the leader in direct drive since two things occurred: 1) Technics patents (for lack of a better word) expired after 25 years and companies like Stanton began introducing serious product 2) Technics stopped offering its SL 12xx turntables.
Second, the on-line reviews of the Stanton 150 all seemed very positive.
Third, Mapleshade Records is offering various souped up versions of the Stanton 150 as its turntable of choice.
I started out chasing the Pioneer PLX-1000 and there was an incredible backlog to actually get one. After 3 months of waiting, I gave up the ghost. In the interim, I did come across a review or two of the Pioneer that said even though the PLX-1000 looked like a Technics clone, it ultimately wasn't and its innards were not up to Technics quality. And yes granted, so much of this is from a DJ perspective.
So for $600 I purchased the Stanton. It comes with a built in pre-amp, which isn't half bad, and a Stanton cartridge, which I have swapped out. For a $100, I picked up a Ortofon Serato OM S-120 Pre-mounted Cartridge , which for the cash is pretty excellent. I also use a Shure M97 and AT 120. These two cartridges I had to mount on universal head shells, which is getting tougher for these baseball mitt hands that I have.
That GrooveMaster is *gorgeous*!! Is it priced in the $1k range?
I've always loved the vintage Denon DP series. A DP60, 62, 70, etc. are terrific tables: great performance, built like tanks, and pretty darn good looking. I bet you could find a very nice, gently used one in your price range if you do a decent search...
The Denons use an AC Servo direct drive system. All the rest are DC direct drive. The new VPI Direct is an AC servo DD and supposedly is an updated clone of the Denon DP-100. The Denons are widely considered to be the best of the vintage direct drives, especially the DP-100, 80 and 75.Harry Weisfeld has written himself on AA that the Victor TT-101 DD turntable made in the late 70s-early 80s is the best turntable he's ever heard and together with the Kenwood L-07D inspired him to create his VPI Direct.
Both of these use DC servo motors as far as I am aware...?
The motor Harry uses for the VPI Direct is the Thingap (made by an independent manufacturer) which is also used in the belt drive Continuum turntables.
It is the performance and availability of the motor that promps the usage in the VPI Direct....and not the choice of power delivery.
Whilst I do not think the SL1200's are the ultimate in terms of engineering - they are one of the best performance/cost wise in engineering terms.
The thing is that Technics/Panasonic see manufacturing resource allocation on the basis of opportunity cost so they are probably better off dedicating their manufacturing resources to TV's and BluRay players as they have significantly more demand.
The technology and research to develop a mass manufactured good, could, in essence be dedicated to making a very technologically advanced at a very good price - eg IPhones - that can't be made by small companies - that's why DD's of the 70's were such incredible products and you won't see that kind of technology in TT's at a relatively affordable price again.
I will say, however, that there are quite a few high spec DD decks available such as Stanton, Vestax, and Numark that have impressive specs - in fact some better than the SL1200. I know that seems like heresy to the SL1200 gang - but I had 1200's from my time as a DJ and the newer decks sounded at least just as good.
Halcro, IMO, the use of AC and DC to describe the servo is a little misleading as regards these turntables. The Denon uses a 3-phase AC synchronous motor, if I recall correctly. Thus it tends to be more speed stable even without a servo, compared to DC motors without a servo. The Victor and L07D use coreless motors that yes run on DC. The servo circuits in these TT's are very different from one another in design and application, I think. I guess you can lump them as AC or DC, but it does not tell you much.
Picked one up last week at a good price with the plans to ultimately give to my daughter, however she may be waiting a while :-)
Frankly I am amazed with its excellent performance and for the $$, imo pretty unbeatable.
DD starts and stops on a dime, almost plug and play and looks cool to boot. Surprisingly heavy and nicely damped.