I owned an MMF-5SE and it always sounded "lazy" to me. I upgraded to a Scout and it was like taking a blanket off of the speakers.
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I have had my SL1210 M5G for almost 1-1/2 years now. I've added the fluid damper, a more inert mat, and brass cone footers. I'm looking into some more upscale cartridges and headshells, but I have no urge or intention to swap out the turntable or its fluid-damped arm--or its tonearm wire, for that matter.
I really like this rig. It makes music. It's propulsive and has slam right out of the box. The tweaks have improved refinement, inner detail, and microdynamics, but this 'table gets a lot fundamentally right.
An SL-1210M5 will give you a lot more/better music for your money than most audiophile 'tables at twice and three times the price, especially with some KAB mods (e.g., external power supply).
And if you want to do better than that, I'd recommend the grandfather of the SL-1200 series, the Technics SP-10MKII: with the proper high-mass plinth and a good arm and cartridge, it'll compete with 'tables at all price-points...do a Google search to find the guy who finds his SP-10MKII competes head-to-head with his $20K Walker Proscenium, generally considered state-of-the-art.
Kmulkey: Thanks for the input, I have heard the scout many times and I like it a lot. But unfortunately it's out of my price point. And if I remember correctly it is still a belt drive, right?
Musicdoc: Thanks! I'm slowly hunting something good down on craigslist. I'm in no rush.
Stick70: Thanks! I've read about the KAB mods, but how does it sound stock?
Britishbane: What other TTs are you looking at?
Johnny: I didn't have any intentions of modding it if I ever pick one up, But what differences have you noticed after the mods? (I mean, they essentially double the price of the whole turn table.)
Dr Joe: Thats why I'm considering the Technics turntable, now that you mention the SP-10, I think I might have seen one at a thrift store that I passed up. If it was, then I'm going to kick myself in the butt. If for some reason I can't find find an M5G, do you recommend that I just get a regular SL-12x0-MK2 instead?
Gonzo: What made you change?
Johnny: I didn't have any intentions of modding it if I ever pick one up, But what differences have you noticed after the mods? (I mean, they essentially double the price of the whole turn table.)Nope, I didn't double the cost of my turntable. I have a few low-cost aftermarket tweaks and one genuine modification.
By starting with an SL1210 M5G, I avoided paying for a tonearm rewire. That I haggled the purchase price down to $500 (at the local Guitar Center), which made it an even sweeter starting point.
My add-ons and tweaks are:
o Used Oracle Groove Isolator sorbothane (not gel) mat: $10
o Threaded brass cone feet from PartsExpress: $20
o 1-1/2" thick butcher block cutting board to platform the 'table on: $25 from Ikea
o Sumiko headshell (a synergistic match with the Denon DL-160 cart and brings the arm's effective mass up to a better match with med-compliance carts rated at 10-16
My one mod is the KAB damping trough at $150, and it took 30 minutes to install, taking my time and being fastidiously careful.
So my total investment is $500+10+20+25+150=$705, which is just $6 more than the list price for an M5G.
As for doubling the price of the turntable (if you modded it to that extent), don't consider percentages; consider what you get at that price.
For example, start with KAB's SL1200 mk2 ($475) and add the outboard PSU ($250), threaded clamp ($150), tonearm rewire ($169), fluid damper ($150), and Isonoe footers ($175).
You're up to $1369. At that point, the question shouldn't be if the mods cost more than the original turntable. The question is whether the resulting unit is competitive with what you can buy for $1369. I'm in the camp that believes it's highly competitive, especially in the areas of s/n and speed accuracy. Others here would advocate for a Rega, Funk, or VPI at that price.
My first turntable was an MMF-5, and I now have a KAB Technics SL1210 M5G with the fluid damper. The Technics is easily takes the sound up a couple notches, and has a tonearm that has a broader compatibilty with cartridges and is easier to adjust. And it's built like a tank.
IMHO, the Technics is clearly in a different league than the MMF-5.
I guess I caught 'em during a sale. I think the salesman offered $550 and I counter-offered $500. He had to interrupt a mgrs' sales mtg for approval (or so he said), but I got it. At that price it was a no-brainer to get essentially a free tonearm rewire. Plus, with its subtle metallic glitter on anthracite plinth, the M5G is the best looking of the 12x0 variants.
Johnnyb53, do you have the KAB PS-1200 external power supply? If not, you will find that mod will take your 12xx into the stratosphere.
I just got word that my tonearm dampener is shipping now, so hopefully I will have it setup for the weekend.
I can express enough the potential of the Technics SL1210MG5 has to offer for those who are willing to do a little work.
I am going to get the sl-1210 mk5 and eventually rewire the tonearm as well as dampen it and get the external power supply. the only reason I am not getting the mg5 is that I am getting an almost new (used only 15 hours or so) mk5 for $250. The money I save on not getting the mg5 for $500 will pay for both the tonearm rewire and tonearm dampen. Hopefully, I can find something capable in Los Angeles to do the tonearm work and get the external power supply up to snuff so don't have to send the tt back to kabusa
Guys, thanks for all the responses... Quick question to all.. I'm sure all of you know that the M5G is much harder to come by on the secondary market... Are the mechanical/design differences significant enough for me to wait around for a good deal on the M5G when it becomes available? I know that it does come with a better tone arm as well as better wires in the tonearm. Rumor has it that the bearings and the drive system are a lil different than the MK2 and the MK5 also??
And there's also the fact that it's black, which is aslways great.
06-16-08: TvadTrue dat. I've gotten some of my most significant improvements in clarity, jump, inner detail, and dynamics from isolation. In my case, I have $20 in PartsExpress/Dayton threaded brass cones to replace the feet, a $25 butcher block cutting board from Ikea, and Vibrapods I had lying around the house.
If I had a little more to spend on isolation, I'd get Mapleshade brass cones and maple board or KAB's Isonoe threaded feet. Then there's the Gingko Cloud as another viable option. I definitely got a big improvement moving to a less resonant, more rigid rack (that was actually less expensive than the welded steel rack it replaced).
That $45 probably wrought the biggest improvement overall. It also creates a better baseline for hearing other improvements, such as better cartridge, headshell, fluid damper, etc.
06-16-08: TvadThey are a little different, but not in a meaningful audiophile way. The M5G arm has a little knurled screw in the gimbal to help keep the stylus in the groove when scratching. In fact, you have to remove it when adding the fluid damper.
I've read more than one review of a stock SL1200 that criticized its dark, closed-in presentation. I never experienced that with my M5G, which has always sounded extended and open, so my initial impression is that the better tonearm wire makes a significant difference, whether you get an aftermarket rewire of a lower-priced model or start with an M5G.
well I took the plunge and bought the sl-1210m5g turntable. the store installed the shure m97xe. I loaded up on some cheap good lp at Amoeba records. I set it up at home and off to the races I went. My first impressions were not great guys. It does sound natural and organic with good bass but it lacks the dynamics that my reference marantz cd player has. Now granted I am comparing the remastered cd to the original lp version of many albums. I am hoping that despite the fact its not skipping and the speed seems accurate that its not set up right with the tonearm. Might have to call an expert and pay someone to help out here in los angeles and propery set this up.
If you have a DartZeel NHB-18NS preamp, it's phono section is factory set for MC carts: 60dB gain, 836 ohms impedance. It is optimized for carts with outputs between .03 and 1 mV. This info is from page 6 of the DartZeel manual.
Your Shure cart is a moving magnet design with 4.0 mV output and recommended impedance load of 47 kOhm impedance.
So, I'd say to start you have a substantial cartridge/phono mismatch. Try a moving coil cart with specs within your preamp's factory settings. Or, you can change the preamp's phono settings, but the manual says it requires soldering, and why bother?
Setting up the tonearm is pretty easy if you follow the instructions in the manual. Getting it close will get you most of the performance. IMO, a specialist is not required to to this.
Mounting a properly matching cartridge is the first step.
thanks for the information....I knew something was wrong....I will try exchanging the cartridge! I should have checked that before buying a particular cartridge but as a newbie I did not think of it. One down side of buying a technics from a dj shop is they certainly don't ask any good questions.
you are right about the fisher price comment sadly its appears to be my fisher price level intelligence that is holding me back thus far!
any other low output moving cartridges to consider than the denon or benz micro since the dj dealer does not have a wide selection and probably won't let me return the cartridge for a refund. Mind you its only $100 but nonetheless. He tends to have orotofon, shure, and stanton. Unfortunately, I did not see much there in the $299 and below category that is low output.
Michael, if I'm not mistaken, you have a $23,000 preamp, $18,000 amp, and $50,000 speakers.
Why are you intent on purchasing a cartridge below $299?
Seems kind of like owning a $250,000 Ferrari and driving a few miles farther to buy Arco instead of Chevron to save $.05/gallon. (Perhaps not the best analogy...it will undoubtedly encourage debate about gasoline brands...but you get my point.)
If you want some qualified local help with your analog set-up, you might consider taking a drive to visit Brooks Berdan Ltd in Monrovia, or perhaps Gene Rubin in Oxnard. I've also heard good things about Elliot Midwood of Acoustic Image in Studio City, but I have not met or spoken with him. All these guys are analog specialists.
You will not get good advice at Guitar Center or The Turtable Lab. The salespeople don't know diddly beyond DJ set-ups.
You are right but i have reached my audio budget given a wife whose limits i am testing. I am willing to spend around $299....not insisting on less
I wanted to exchange the existing cartridge by the same dealer becaus he wont refund the $ on shure cartridge but that is unlikely because of his limited cartridges and so am willing to spend
Well the bottom line is its not the table.. its the setup of the table and your willingness to do this as correct as possible at this ponit. You made your own assumption correctly, you know you have too much invested to have it fail at this point They should be able to get you like an audio technica OC9 or whatever I believe and it is about 299 on a sale, It has excellent reviews and you can find the right impedance settings running your MC phono stage I am sure
But also HIGHLY suggest on learning about table setup, so you can tweak it out and understand what changes in certain parameters will effect what, I suggest playing with the VTA(arm height) trying to use a ruler and leveling it out on the M5G table, also having a 50 dollar Digital Stylus gauge to help you tweak the weight on your cart correctly and even have an idea how heavy or lite you are which will help get optimal bass and treble response and also helps peace of mind so you know realistically how optimal you have everything set up.. Also table isolation and the mats will be a big thing on any table..
So here is your issue, you do not want to spend more, but to justify your journey here at all especially with the front end equipment you have, believe that you will in time need not only the right matching cart, but several decent accessories/Tools to pull the most out of your analog setup if you want to be as good as you know that dartzeel system should be for the money.. So keep the table and patiently acquire all the knowledge and stuff needed to get you to the next level.
I went thru a similar growing pain a few years back and finally figured out, not only do you need a good table and phono stage which you absolutely have, but clean cared for Vinyl which will also dramatically improve your playback via possible RCM Good stylus maintenance(maybe oznow Zerodust), Good Cart matching your preamps phono setting capabilitys, Good isolation table and possible Platter mats from like Herbies, Iso, boston, whoever It takes a little patience to set up and align all the parameters on your table to get this performance you seek out of such a sensitive and powerful setup you have. Its not as plug and play as some other rigs thats for sure.
If you can't get the money back on the Shure, you can keep it around for testing dodgy used records before playing them with the Denon. Also, when the Shure damping brush is deployed, it enables the Technics arm to track records so warped as to be otherwise unplayable.
But if you add the KAB fluid damper, that will accomplish the same thing (and more).
For future reference, if you want a low-output moving coil cartridge that's very arm-compatible with the Technics, get an aftermarket Sumiko or LpGear Zupreme headshell and mount either an Audio Technica OC9 II or Denon 301 MkII. Both are available at $299, have very modern, low mass cantilevers, and mounted on a 12g headshell, have a near-perfect cartridge/arm compatibility (resonance at 10Hz).
You will also realize big gains in dynamics every time you improve the footing and platforming of this turntable.
If you want to keep it cheap and under your wife's radar, get a set of Dayton threaded brass cones from PartsExpress to replace the Technics feet. Place the spiked turntable on a butcher block cutting board. You can get a 1-1/2" deep one from Ikea for $25, or a thicker nicer one by Cuisinart from Lowe's Home Improvement for $50. Then put shock absorbing footers under the cutting board. You can use Vibrapods at $6 ea. or Mapleshade Isoblocks made of cork & rubber for the same amount of money.
These do wonders for bringing out the dynamics and inner detail the Technics is capable of.
Also, let everything break in, and you may want to get some Technics bearing oil and lube up the motor bearing real well. You never know how much may have spilled or dried up during shipping and warehousing. When I put some in I noticed an immediate improvement in speed smoothness and lowered noise floor. Anything you do to lower noise floor will improve your dynamics.
Sorry to hi jack thread but..
got my KAB fluid damper yesterday after installation I played a few records that I am very familiar with and the change is not subtle. I am still trying to evaluate but I like what I hear so far.
BTW- for those getting the dampers, now that the new batch is in and is shipping, be very careful not to over tighten the set screws- they will strip very easily. Both the stainless screw and the aluminum part are relatively soft....talk about ruining your day.
This might be the most significant upgrade that I got from KAB. BTW I am using a Goldring g1042 cart that was recommended by Kevin, It seemed somewhat veiled at first but as I put some hours on it, seems to be opening up quite nicely. Could be a sleeper at $400 or so.
So I just saw a craigslist ad for 2 M5Gs that hopefully haven't been sold yet. Ideally I'll pick them up this weekend. So if anyone is potentially in the market for a M5G and a (turntable) coffin, I might be posting them soon on a-gon...
I'm excited about that... We'll see how it sounds stock first.. then i'll consider working mods into it...
Any suggestions on the order of mods from most significant to least significant improvement? (If you could give a ball park price to the mod too, that would be great!) Thanks!
Darn there is an inventory problem on the dl-103 so will také a week to get....a different dealer is offering me a benz micro ace low output for $400. It lists at $550 but since its been now renamed the benz micro ace s, he can give me a deal on it. should I counteroffer $350?
If i splurge for the benz micro ace then cannot afford for now other improvements other than feet+butcher block. Thoughts on denon dl-103 Versus benz micro ace?
I'm withdrawing my endorsement of the DL103R with the Technics SL12xx, because according to the resonance calculator on cartridgedb.com, the Denon 103R is not a good match for the 12 gram Technics tonearm. It's well out of the green zone for acceptable matches.
The Denon DL301 is a good match, as is the Benz Micro Ace.
I want a bumper sticker that says "I was using a Technics 'table before the audiophiles thought it was cool."
I moved from a Linn turntable to the Technics SL-1200 MKII, and I couldn't be happier. I haven't done any modifications at all yet. My first one will probably be the cone feet from Parts Express.
But if you swap out the very light Technics headshell for a 12g Sumiko or LPGear, or a 15g Audio Technica Technihard, you can get the resonant frequency down to the 11's. Add the fluid damper and it flattens the resonance out, wherever it is.
All is not lost.
Personally, I'm grooving right now to my brand new AT 150MLX. Mounted on an LPGear Zupreme HS, the resonance comes right in at 10 Hz, plus I have the fluid damper. It's a beautiful match. The cantilever on that thing is amazing. It's so thin you can only make it out by the gleam of its gold plating.
The Cartridge Database resonance chart for the 103R indicates that no tonearm mass from 4gm all the way to 30gm will get the resonance to 11Hz.
I know there are people using the 103R with the Technics SL12xx tables, but if I was looking to buy only one cartridge for the Technics table, and if I wanted to be as certain as possible that I got it right the first time, then I wouldn't buy a Denon 103R. The numbers don't support it...not even close.
06-20-08: TvadRight you are. I should have used the chart instead of relying on my math. Even a heavy headshell only gets the 103R into the 13's.
I do wonder, however, if the DL-103 series should be calculated at the stated compliance of 5 or figured more as 7 or 8. The Catridge Database does mention that Denon cites their compliance at 100 Hz instead of 10KHz (as, presumably, other cartridge mfrs do), which could result in a higher figure.
For example, if you use a 15g Technihard headshell and pretend the DL-103 has a compliance of 7.5, resonance calculation goes down to about 10.9 Hz.
At Denon's stated compliance, the best I can come up with (using a 15g headshell) is about 12.5 Hz. Time to tape some pennies to the headshell? :-)
For all this talk about the DL-103 series, you can get an AT150MLX, AT OC9 II, or Denon DL-301 MkII to easily match to an SL12x0 arm at 9-10 Hz, usually with the 12g Sumiko (or equivalent) headshell.
So let me ask, the M5g Headshell with headshell leads is 7.5 grams? The Denon with a 12 gram shell should suffice? Now Technics supplies the headshell with a 4 gram additional weight as well bringing the total up to 12.5 grams just a tad over this Sumiko shell.. So why not do that for free and try right?
I am going to give this a shot myself, so tell me guys if I do the stock headshell with the 4 gram weight screwed in and the denon 301 II which states its 6 grams etc... I should get this optimal magic figure of 10 to 12hz?
I do wonder, however, if the DL-103 series should be calculated at the stated compliance of 5 or figured more as 7 or 8. The Catridge Database does mention that Denon cites their compliance at 100 Hz instead of 10KHz (as, presumably, other cartridge mfrs do), which could result in a higher figure.I do recall this mentioned by someone somewhere. Perhaps it makes a difference in the calculation.
For all this talk about the DL-103 series, you can get an AT150MLX, AT OC9 II, or Denon DL-301 MkII to easily match to an SL12x0 arm at 9-10 Hz, usually with the 12g Sumiko (or equivalent) headshell.
Exactly. Why twist one's brain about how to get the 103R to work when there are so many ideal matches right out of the box.
My understanding is that the stock Technics tonearm including the stock Technics headshell has an effective mass of 12 grams (from the Cartridge Database).
With 12 grams taken as default, the Denon DL301 II is a good match out of the box without the necessity of adding an aftermarket headshell or adding the headshell weight. If you used a Sumiko or Zupreme headshell, you'd likely have to add the auxiliary tonearm weight.
The largest benefit with the Sumiko or ZuPreme headshells is their azimuth adjustment...IMO. The Technics headshell does not allow for azimuth adjustment.