Technics 1200 Sent for KAB Mods - w/Audio Samples

Hi All -
Like many Audio-goners, I've been curious about the KAB technics 1200 mods. I've just sent the 'table to KAB for a rewire but recorded three samples of the un-KAB-modded table for future comparison. You can download them from Rapidshare if you are curious! (you get one download every 30 minutes for free, or just change computers and download from there if you can't wait).

I made 3 selections that I am very familiar with. I'm already a little sick of them since I had to record them, edit the recordings, and bounce them to AIFF (44.1Khz, 16-Bit). Using these as a baseline, I hope to be able to readily identify the changes any upgrades will bring.

Current system consists of: Technics SL1210MK2, Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge, and the phonostage of an old NAD 7100 receiver. This was fed to my Pro-Tools MBOX and recorded at 48KHZ, 24 Bits. These have been bounced to AIFF files so that they can be burned onto a standard CD for comaprison.

The tracks are:
Paul McCartney, "Too Many People" from the original US Apple pressing of RAM:

Miles Davis, "Seven Steps To Heaven" from a 90s Columbia standard-issue "Seven Steps..." LP.

Holst, "Venus" from The Planets conducted by Adrian Boult, Angel 1967 LP.

Now, the name "No Mods" is a slight misnomer, as the table has brass cones instead of the original feet. Despite this "mod", the stock 'table sounds kind of ordinary.

Note that I used "real world" used records for this instead of audiophile pressings - this was done on purpose. I am interested in upgrading my turntable in order to enjoy my current record collection, which includes all-analog British vinyl Beatles as well as some other great-sounding goodies, but also some not-so-well-cared-for finds.

I hope others will find this useful and fun!

Take care,

Is the only mod you are getting the Cardas tonearm rewire? And are you using the stock Technics headshell?

Interesting approach to digitize the 1210 output before and after KABing. I'll be tuned in. Have a KAB 1210 myself, but (un?)fortunately this is my first TT so I don't have any reference in my system. Have fun.
This is a great idea. I have a fully modified KAB 1200 but didn't get a chance to listen to the unmodified version first so I'm very interested.

How long before you think you'll have the comparison tracks up?
Hi again - I'm starting with the Cardas-rewire-to-RCA mod, so there will be another interconnect in the mix too. This will probably arrive at KAB by Saturday, so as soon as it is upgraded and shipped back, I'll record and post the results. The fluid damper will follow soonafter.
I have about 25 hours on a 1200M5G that I got from KABUSA w/Goldring1042 cart -Technics HS. Since KAB has been out of the Fluid dampers for awhile I have been able to get a good idea of the sound without damper. Kevin emailed me yesterday to let me know that the dampers will be in very soon so I am looking forward to trying it out.
BTW- I am fairly impressed with the Gring 1042 cart /Technics synergy in my system. It has been very open and revealing without being bright- the freq range is much broader than I am used to. The vocals make me keep playing just one more album. I have to thank Kevin-KAB for convincing me too spend just a few more bucks to get a pretty special cartridge.
If you are thinking of purchasing one of these tables, my experience has been that the extra service you get from KABUSA to go along with the goldmine of information you get from Kevin is one of the biggest bargains in analog today.
Don't forget to thank the dj's for making it all possible!
Joelv -- that new Cardas arm wire and the interconnect could probably benefit from a little break-in before you make the test recording.
Thanks for the advice, gentlemen!

Zenblaster, I am indeed considering different cartridges as well. I am extremely curious about the AT ML150, the Denon 160, and the Grado Prestige Gold. If the Benz Glider wasn't so expensive, I'd try that too.
Have a look at PureVinyl, used in conjunction with the RME Fireface 400 AD/DA, you can capture/playback at 192kHz. And you have 20some odd record label eq filters to choose from along with the standard RIAA, and you can even set your own EQ.

This software package is pretty complete. Because the RME device has 8 channels of IO, you can even use it as the heart of a active bi-amped system, if you have four mono blocks or two stereo amps on hand.
James1969- Thanks! Pure Vinyl looks really fun. Unfortunately, recording at 192KHz would require me to buy a new computer as well as the interface :)

I am toying with the idea of archiving /digitizing people's analog audio and video as a business, but right now I'm only recording vinyl for comparison.
Just an update - I spoke with Kevin this afternoon - I should have my 'table back with the Cardas re-wire in 5 days or so - hopefully by Saturday, but by next week on the outside. Hooray!

I will, of course, post results as soon as things are settled in. I can hardly wait.
Turntable arrived tonight - The sound is completely different - way, way more "air" and treble sparkle. I'm going to let things settle in for a few hours, then I'll post some "just out of the box" recordings later today.
I'm excited about hearing the results!
Here are two "fresh from KAB" audio samples using my SL1210 with the Cardas Tonearm Rewire mod. This is after about 2 hours use only.

(I have had several failed attempts to upload Venus but I'll try again in a bit.)

My initial impression as written early this morning (way more "air" etc...) was based on listening through my newer integrated amp (NAD 304) - When I switched back to the same phono stage as last time (NAD 7100), the sound was still airier, but only slightly.

So far, these setups sound very, very similar to me. I am using 18 year old AQ Ruby (1m) interconnect... no idea what the capacitance is (no meter and no word from Audioquest yet) so I may not even be loading the cart properly.

Perhaps some of you have more resolving systems than mine and can hear greater differences? I'll be interested to hear your impressions.

Have fun!


And here's the third track.

I should have the fluid damper in a couple of weeks so we can compare that as well.

Too bad I didn't catch this thread earlier! Great to hear that someone else is giving the SL12x0 another try at an audiophile level. I actually just bought an SL1210 M5G used from Craigslist and replaced my MMF5 with it and the speed control as well as bass was a drastic improvement. There was something that was just lax and lazy in the way the MMF5 sounded that just bothered me. The reason that I held out for the M5G was because the M5G was supposed to have slightly better tonearm wire than the stock MK2 as well as a better stock interconnect. But gosh they're hard to find secondhand! Currently i'm running a dynavector cartridge inside it with just a stanton headshell. Something cheap I picked up at Guitar Center.

On a side note also, since I bought 2 turntable ( I bought it from a DJ) I lent one out to a friend of mine who is using it with a Dynaco PAS3 pre and 2- MC275 on McIntosh Speakers, and he's kicking me because he likes it much more than his 2700 dollar Pro-ject space deck. Haha! He's still running the DJ needles on it but he's going to mount his own cartridge on it this weekend hopefully.

But with regards to modding my M5G, I think the first thing I will look into is having the fluid damper installed just because from reading the posts and what not, this seems to be like the single greatest improvement that can be made from all the mods that KAB offers. But again, I will need to touch base with Kevin on this just to make sure.

Thanks again for the post and I look forward to hearing about the results on the damper soon!
I got the KAB Fluid Tonearm Damper yesterday, didn't sleep much last night :)

The fluid damper does everything I had hoped for - namely to help my cartridge track sibilants better, deeper bass, everything.

For me, the fluid damper made the biggest and most obvious change in the system, though I have to be up front: I also swapped out the cables to proper, low-capacitance (the $22 mogami "Blues" that Kevin sells) cables before testing the damper, so I may have made two significant upgrades at once.

In any case I am so happy with my setup right now. Cymbals no longer spit, they shimmer. Bass lines dig deep but don't ring/resonate/overwhelm so much, they just... ROCK! Hard to track vocals sound *right*, with none of the irritating edge from mistracking.

Strangely, I'm more drawn into the music even with mediocre recordings - and I was excited listening to my three stand-by testing tracks which I assure you I was quite bored by in the recent past. It is this ability to keep my interest, to stir the passion that has made me so immediately happy.

I am once again having trouble uploading to rapidshare, but I'll get the needle-drops posted shortly. Viva KAB usa!

Here it is, the first recording of my Technics 1210 with cardas tonearm re-wired, fluid damped tonearm, and low capacitance phono cable connected via RCA jacks:

Miles Davis, "Seven Steps To Heaven" from a 90s Columbia standard-issue "Seven Steps..." LP.

I think you'll be able to hear the difference in this one.

Paul McCartney, "Too Many People" from the original US Apple pressing of RAM:

Venus will be along soon I hope.
Joelv, I brought this up in another post, but i'll ask you directly. Based on your experience with the fluid damper would you make the purchase if you had a 1210 MKII, and were not going to get the rewire? My setup consists of the 1210 sitting on three inches of maple, a denon 110 in a sumiko headshell, mapleshade brass footers, and an isoplat mat. Let me know what you think--Cheers
Yes, if I were to limit myself to only one upgrade, it would be the KAB fluid damper. I will qualify this by my preferences:

I really hate mistracking, and I was considering selling my 2m Blue cart for that reason, but the damper seems to have alleviated that issue. Vocals are pleasant and present, not overly edgy and irritating as they were before.

I have my 1210 sitting on a nice rack, but I haven't done much to further isolate it. The damper improves mechanical isolation which contributes to the increased bass response I'm so happy with. You have lots of isolation going on, so I'm not sure the damper will yield as big an improvement in your system.

I do agree with another Audiogoner who once posted that with the damper engaged, each musical event seems to have much less of an impact on the others, eg a tympani hit seems quite separate from the delicate vocal on the Beatles' "Mother Nature's Son".

With my previous phono stage, the cardas re-wire didn't make a giant improvement, which was disappointing. At least my upgrade-curiosity is assuaged and I can just listen to music again :)

I hope this helps!


Holst, "Venus" from The Planets conducted by Adrian Boult, Angel 1967 LP.

Thanks for playing along!

Though I have the external power-supply socket installed, I don't think I'll be getting that upgrade - at least for a while.

I'd love to hear your feedback.
Hi Joe,
Thanks for the hard work. I'm a little confused, though. Do you have one song that is from before the mod and the same song after the fluid damper mod? I downloaded some of your samples but unless they're the same song it's impossible to compare. If you did this but i'm just missing it, can you tell me which downloads they are?
Hi Kublakhan - If you look at my first post, all three songs without any KAB mods are posted.

My posts from July 3rd (there are two separate posts) have all three songs with the cardas re-wire only.

Finally, my posts from 7/16 (there are three with links) have the same songs but recorded with cardas rewire, fluid damper, and inexpensive low capacitance mogami cable.

I hope that helps, let me know if you need any more help.

Thanks Joe. I completely forgot about your original post!

I'm out of the country away from my gear so I can't judge the difference but I'm looking forward to it.
Thank you for this experiment. I have been thinking about purchasing this turntable for a couple of weeks!

I have been scrutinizing the recordings carefully and have a couple of questions.

First how were the recordings made? Did you use the exact same settings under as similar conditions as possible? Did you normalize the signal before saving?

I find that slight differences in volume make a big difference in perceived sound quality. Did you take this into account in any way?

Thank you very much. I will continue to listen and compare,

Hi Ron -

Another audio-goner and I are trying to determine why the levels are changed... it's possible i had the rumble filter "off" for the last recording, but I can't account for the level differences other than I blew it on the recording.

I went straight into my MBox with the gain turned all the way down... I may have selected "mic" input instead of "line" which would account for level differences.

Which are you hearing as louder or softer? I am not able to get to this for a bit, but new recordings may be in order. I apologize for any confusion that I may have inadvertantly caused.

At this point, I can obviously only do a "with damper" vs "without damper" since the re-wire is a done deal.

I'll try to look at this and post more next week.
New Samples!

I spent some time creating more controlled "Damped VS Undamped" recordings today. I'm using a different phono preamp so I went ahead and changed the songs up - I was tired of those first three, weren't you?

The songs are:

Led Zeppelin, "The Song Remains The Same" from a 90s German LP:

Holst, "Mercury" from The Planets,conducted by Adrian Boult, Angel 1967 LP.

These were done within a few minutes of each other and were recorded identically l in every way except for the presence or non-presence of the KAB Fluid Damper.

This should provide a clearer picture of what the damper does. Good luck!
It is worth noting that a good portion of what the KAB Damper does can't be demonstrated with a recording. Things like the elimination of woofer pumping and major reduction of acoustic feedback due to high volume levels are benefits that aren't shown here.

Still, the increased soundstage, better delineated musical events, and vastly improved tracking make the KAB fluid damper my favorite upgrade.
Hi, very nice from you providing the records. Yes, it is better the modded LP. By the way. At least for me.I did also a record on my rig. Wilson Benesch Full Circle, Mellorn phono and apogee rosetta ad/da. Please find enclosed. best
Resurrecting this ancient thread - I just purchased a Technics SL-1700 MK II, from a fellow Audiogoner. it has more metal in the chassis, and it suspended (just barely). In any case, it sounds very different: brighter, more robust, more "alive" sounding than the modern 1200.

I am considering getting the KAB Fluid Damper for this 'table and making it my main rig for the digitizing business. If this happens, I'll post before-and-after audio clips.

Meanwhile, has anyone had experience modifying an SL-1700 with the KAB stuff?