Technics 1200 GAE, 1200GR or 1200G?


How many of you have or have heard the Technics 1200 GAE, 1200GR or 1200G? I know the specs and the differences between the three tables, the 1200 GAE, being the limited edition, the 1200GR similar build quality and the 1200G, being of lesser quality, motor, plinth and platter, but I wanted to know if you have heard it at an event or have someone that you know that has or have had it. I have negotiated a deal at a shop for some other components and really thinking about closing the deal, the wife wants some of my older stuff out of the house. My Deal would be for the Technics 1200GR.

I currently have a VPI Classic 1, 30th Anniversary Edition. If one of you have both, I would really be interested between the differences, bass, treble and mids between the Technics and any VPI, including the Prime, but I would like to get your impressions. I have had an older Technics 1200 in the past and there is no comparison, the Classic is the better table. I’m thinking about a simpler set up and I’m thinking speed stability should be equal or close to equal.
sid1
GAE and G are the same, minus a gold plated tag.

I currently own the 1200G as well as a Gyro SE with an SME 309 tonearm. So far in my comparison, Michell is a significantly better turntable. But the 1200G is great too. 
i have a GAE and a VPI Prime modded as follows:  Eagle and Roadrunner, 3 belts, periphery ring, 2 arms (metal and 3D both with dual point kit).  The two tables sound different, but I would not say one is better than the other.  Without the mods the GAE is the better of the two. To your specific points, perhaps the VPI is better in the bass, more definition; the GAE a bit brighter and more open in the highs.  Mids, hmmm, not sure and would have to spend a lot of time swapping cartridges back and forth to answer that one.  Probably the 3D arm would get the nod, but that is a guess.  The GAE is easier to set up and to use, but if you have your Classic all set up, why not keep it?  That is what I would recommend.
IME the platter pad is a problem with the SL1200G, just a rubber mat.

That affects the sound; if you really want to know how it does, use the same mat when doing comparisons!
Hi, billstevenson, how did you manage to put 3 belts on the VPI Prime, I would love to see this. Does the 3 belts make a difference in sound quality and speed stability and does the platter still make that noise upon start up or does the three belts grab with more force and prevent the slippage. I’m not selling the Classic 1, just looking for another table and since I missed out on a Rega RP10 for less then half with cartridge, I started to think about the Technics.

Bass control and the amount was one of the big things I wanted to find out about between tables, because I have gotten use to the bass that the Classic provides. I thought about adding a 3d arm to my classic, but my understanding is that I would have to change the sharp pivot point because it might not reach the 3d Arm as some have complained of.  The main reason for not wanting to do too many upgrades to the Classic is because the price of the 3D Arm and Adjustable VTA platform, which the Prime has, would raise the price to Prime levels and if I'm going to do that, I might as well by a Prime.  I did think about a VPI Periphery Ring.  The Classic's speed is to stable for needing a SDS from what I have experienced.
The three belts are achieved by using the HRX pulley but I could not justify 3 belts over 2, with that said you will need the SDS to play at 45 rpms and that introduces a new issue of the motor being audible at the higher speed. I have had my Prime for a couple of years and have finally got in settled in and for the most part it was due to taking the feet off the motor pod which also removes the plate covering the electrical pieces, setting the pod on a like thickness sheet of metal, tracing out the pod and cutting out a piece the exact side of the bottom of the pod, drill New holes attach this piece to the pod and adding a set of Herbies Firm Tenderfeet have solved all but the noise of the motor issues at 45 rpms. I added a Symposium ISO platform on top of my 3" maple shelf on top of my Lead Ballon and the results are stunning, I will be keeping my Prime and source a new motor for the issues I have at 45rpms.
I listened to a gyro se and I would like to know how think its better than the technics?  Just curious.  I thought the Technics was a lot better than an SME 10 and I think the SME is better than the michell
@tzh21y I've been a huge proponent for Technics. But you're crazy talking there. Both SME Model 10 and Gyro SE are substantially superior turntables. 
I hate to say it but they are not.  I was going to buy the SME.  After hearing the Technics, I just could not justify the cost.  Technics killed it. 
Not crazy, heard them all.  Speed issue on michell, mind as well keep my VPI Scout, and the sme sounds mechanical to my ears.
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Here are some of the things I love about the GAE I own that swayed my decision. 

Built like a tank
Easiest VTA adjustment ever/—nearly on the fly.  No tools required. Great for dialing in the sound
No sensitivities to footfall
Simple and precise setup
Motor, power, stability

I will leave sound to the pro reviewers. 

The build quality is like buying a Toyota that will outlast seemingly fancier upscale models. The sound is as good as most anything I could audition. See Michael Fremer’s review.  

Im going to be honest. I’ve owned slicker looking turntables.  I did kind of miss the eye candy and the conversation piece quality of those tables. The Technics is a bit of a Trojan horse in that outsiders just see it as a run of the mill table from yesteryear. That it is certainly not!!
a highly trusted source says that the GR sounds amazing and is truly 90% of the G.  
@tzh21y Must have been a broken Michell. I'm playing one as I type and it has no wow and flutter or speed issues whatsoever. Speed is adjustable on a Gyro SE with the stock power supply as well as with HR.
I Have the SL1200G and I sold a Prime once I got it. I have not said too much about the VPI but I feel that the 3D arm when released was not a completely finished product.  I tried to get along with the newer 3D arm on a Prime and ultimately had to sell it because I feel the arm is not that easy to use repeatedly and is frustrating to live with.

A little back ground, like you I have been a passionate music lover and collector since the 70's. My first turntable was an Hitachi that I bought over the Harmon Kardon table with the Rabco linear tracking tone arm and it sounded great, but I always like the engineering and the argument that linear trackers should be the best way to play a record. So in the 80's after I bought my first house I got a VPI HW19 with a Eminent Technology air bearing linear tracking arm and it was a huge step up in sound quality. I used that until I was intrigued by the VPI Scout with the uni-pivot arm they offered so I got one of those but felt the arm gave up some transparency to the ET, so I started researching tone arms and found a new company out of England Trans-Fi and the Terminator tone arm I bought the second generation of that arm and was back to what I had with the ET but with less fiddling I had with the ET. I did all the upgrades over the years that they offered and was very happy until last year when I started having issues keeping the arm working I probably need a new pump reservoir tank etc. but getting near retirement age I wanted to keep thinks simpler so I started looking for a replacement player and noticed all the press VPI was getting with the new Prime.

Since I already had the SDS speed drive box why not get the new Prime, so I sold my Scout with the Terminator 3 and bought a open box Prime to replace it. The dealer installed my Ortofon Quintet Black on the table so that I would be ready to go once I set it up. So I thought. Due the 3D arms construction it is very difficult to get the tracking force and azimuth set. The weight that you have to slide back and forth to adjust tracking force has a screw that you have to tighten down but if you tighten too hard it can leave an impression on the back of the arm which will interfere with setting the weight for other cartridges also once you have the weight set you have to turn the weight left and right to set azimuth which messes with the tracking force. You are supposed to use the outrigger weights but they did not work well at all. I found it very frustrating and not as easy as I wanted. It is funny that on the forums nobody talks about the difficulty of this arm. Also bought the counter intuitive and that did make it easier, then the 2nd pivot came out and I was just fed up with the arm every time I wanted to change out a cartridge. The frustration I was and sure others were having must have of been noticed because they released a gimbaled arm.

Moving on I sold the Prime only having it 4 months and am totally happy with the Technics SL1200G I bought to replace it and I also think it sounds better.
The Technics if set up properly sounds incredible and easily bests much more expensive tables.  The Michell I heard was not broken.  They do sound great and are one of the best under 15 grand no doubt.  Once the 1200g breaks in it is truly an amazing table.
I heard a GR and I do agree that its a lot of table for the money.
The VPI classic one is a great table.  Those unipivot arms do things that it takes very expensive gimbal engineering to accomplish.  That being said,  the solidity of the gimbal sound along with super accurate speed really is tough to do at 4 grand.
Response to Sid 1, as TooBlue explained either 2 belts or 3 belts can be fitted to the Prime once an HRX pulley is fitted.  Very easy to do.  I can't hear much difference 2 belts or 3, either improves the sound of the Prime. Tighter, better definition, greater impact particularly for percussive sounds.  A strong pianist stands out more for example.  The sound of belt slippage on start up can be ameliorated if you periodically apply a bit of talc to the belts.  I use the small Ziplock bag that VPI supplies their belts in, put some talc in it with the belt, squish it around and viola - lightly coated belt.  I find the periphery ring to be very helpful for warped records.  It doesn't do anything one way or the other for flat records, though. 
I would like to corroborate jtsnead's comments concerning the VPI 3D arm as being difficult to set up.  It gets easier with practice and the dual pivot and the Counter Intuitive help quite a bit, but it requires patience and time to properly set up a Prime.  To me this is perhaps the most important difference between the Technics TTs and the VPI TTs and reason why I have mentioned in other threads that the ease of set up and use of the Technics make them perhaps the TT of choice of record collectors and people who are not comfortable with TT set up; whereas, the VPI TTs with their greater flexibility in terms of options and control are more likely to appeal to the true audiophile.
Thanks @billstevenson  I will admit that as I get older the tweaking of tone arms like this is past the patience I have but I have tweaked many of them mainly linear tracking arms which as far as azimuth/vta was a lot easier than the VPI, also I am a true audiophile and want the best from my setup and I am very comfortable with turntable set up just not one that is not repeatable consistently hence the need of the counter intuitive and dual pivot, which I would not call flexible and not part of the original design. Also the sound is as good or better without dealing with the frustrating setup
The VPIs are difficult to set up.  In time you learn what you are listening for and these tables can really deliver amazing sound.