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As @cleeds said, to be fair, Technics did make a lot of cheap junk and it should be avoided. The old SL1200's were good, solid DJ tables that could perform pretty well as an audiophile table, especially if mod'd a bit.
The new/current SL1200G is a high end audiophile table that happens to look like the old DJ table. It's also $4000. There is the "trickle down" SL1200GR version for $1700 which also gets you a solid starter audiophile table.
Summary: Yes, there are a lot of old crap Technics tables out there on Craigslist, etc. There are also 2 new Technics tables that have receive a lot of praise at their given price points.
To expand on creeds' comment, there were lots of "junk" tables produced by many Japanese manufacturers, Technics was not unique in that. The reason? Large companies (relatively) produced a wide range of products to appeal to the full spectrum of the market. That meant lots of quality compromises at the lower price points. But Technics, Denon, Kenwood, Sony, JVC, etc. all produced quality tables for the upper portion of their price range, in addition to many cheap lightweight models.
Another point regards the reputation of the SL1200 series as "DJ" tables. Those were designed and sold initially as consumer products. As it happened, some years later the DJ crowd discovered the very good build quality and durability in the modestly priced 1200s and adopted them as their standard instrument. That demand is what kept the 1200s in production long after their competitors gave up. So while the DJ label suggests a negative reputation to audiophiles and music lovers, it really speaks well for the quality of the units.
In fact I believe the discovery of the musical qualities of the SL1200s led the way to renewed interest in direct drive tables at least 15 years ago. Used ones were inexpensive and they responded to a few modest upgrades, thus an underground reputation began building which lead to reconsideration of several quality used DD tables.
Happy Technics 1200 and other series table owners, of which I am one, have nothing to defend. This thread was started by a someone who simply wanted to throw an unqualifed and inexperienced hot potato in the middle of the room and then run like hell. Let’s not be vulnerable to such nonsense and unqualified provocation.
No amount of education and good will changes the minds of such provocateurs.
stevecham2,602 posts07-31-2018 12:31pm
Happy Technics 1200 and other series table owners, of which I am one, have nothing to defend. This thread was started by a someone who simply wanted to throw an unqualifed and inexperienced hot potato in the middle of the room and then run like hell. Let’s not be vulnerable to such nonsense and unqualified provocation.It seemed like a legitimate post to me. After all, Technics has made many junk turntables through the years and, as another contributor noted, so did many of the other major turntable and electronics manufacturers.
Cleeds, The problem with the post is that it threw Technics as a brand under the bus inferring that Craigslist and DJs were unworthy. Audiophiles = snobbery? Since when?
Yeah, I have a problem with that and the OP should know better, or at least ask an enlightened or focused question, such as, how do you all feel about Technics tables? Are they worth considering compared to the competition from an analog enjoyment perspective?
But no, instead the brand is sent to the garbage dump. Recall, many lathes upon which laquers are cut are powered by Technics’ direct drive technology.
The premium Technics product certainly holds its own against many of the best in the business. I’ve just finished restoring a SL-1700mk2, which was the basis for the more simple SL-1200mk2 that everyone knows and some misguidedly despise. That despicability I believe, comes from association of the SL-1200mk2 with fake “DJ”s, who really aren’t using the turntables or the medium for quality. Real deejays are pretty much an extinct breed of music curators for music lovers. Not that FM radio is anything close to true HiFi, but the spirit is in the presentation.
Technics, like all other manufacturers in it’s time, made some tables for mass market. Unless you’re new to this hobby (or this planet), you should remember the famous SP10 series of tables. The new 1200 line has been well-reviewed, and universally praised. Sure, the old 1200 was a favorite of DJs but how do you think it got such a strong following?
P.S. Let's drop the political references and avoid the risk of driving more members from this site.
I’ve been using a stock SL-1600 MK2 for over 30 years. I bought it while stationed in Germany back in the early 80's. I've considered upgrading the arm and cart, but lately, I've been doing more streaming than playing vinyl. While I love the sound of vinyl, streaming from Tidal and Jazz Radio.com is a lot easier.
I thought that someone had a 1200G modded with a 12" Triplanar. Happy for both of us. It is a SOTA rig. I settled on a Oracle hard acrylic mat and a HRS 315 gram record weight. I have been leery of using an outer ring. Would you share what you are using? Is it easy to use? I was diagnoised with an incurable disease in Sept 2017. Makes little tasks, seem almost insurmountable at times. Is it worth the extra effort? I could possibly use it on my "better" days.
I am using a ring that I made myself, following the example of a discontinued model. It is a constrained layer damped ring consisting of two .080" thick stainless steel layers that sandwich a .125" acrylic layer, all bonded using a more ductile cyanoacrylate glue (Loctite 480). I had the ring CNC machined from large squares that I bonded together. It is "one of a kind", to be sure, but it seems to work very well. It would be fun to compare it directly to the same ring sizing made simply from stainless steel alone (I will probably try this at some point), just to see if the damping addition matters much, because it does increase the hassle and expense of making one to add such layers.
I am using a Stillpoints Ultra 5 LP Isolator as my center weight, and my mat is a 5.5mm acrylic mat that sits on top of a 1.5mm foam silicone rubber for damping and adhesion to the platter surface. I really like the total combined affect, with the ring making the final adjustment that brought it all home. It seems that the ring just ensures that the LP surface is in nice contact with the mat so the mat can do its job of draining the energy from the needle's vibrations.
Placing a ring is futsy, no question; and you need a spot to store it safely between plays. My ring is not perfectly balanced, as its overall thickness varies by a range of .005" around the circle; but the direct drive of the Technics does not care one wit - - power to spare, by far, and the servo correction makes it steady, regardless, it seems. I hear tonal purity and sustain on piano and organ notes that I have never before heard on vinyl.
I own a 1600MK2, and vastly prefer it to any of the more expensive "audiophile" turntables I have previously owned. For whatever reason, the Technics SL** decks have a reputation in the "serious" home audio community of being low quality DJ fodder, whereas the reality is that, especially when modded with better suspending feet and a silicone arm damper trough, they sound fabulous and very audiophile, if you will. Direct drive gives you a real leg up compared with belt drive in terms of accuracy, particularly when you have a quartz motor. I have zero ambition to change decks at any time. And trust me I am very fussy and have a far more costly amp and speakers.
Always remember that the 1200 was developed as a hifi deck. It so transpired that DJs seized on the feature set.
Technics tables got me back into vinyl and audio. I imagine I am not the only one.
A friend gave me an SL-220 about 6 years ago. I used it for a couple of years, and with a new belt, some dollar store plasticine inside, and a decent Grado 8MZ stylus on it, it sounded quite decent into a thrift store NAD 3020.
I will always have nice feelings when I see the Technics name, because of this. I still have a relatively modest system (Thorens TD160 with a Benz Micro Wood SL and Benz PP1 preamp) but to me it is cherished and sounds exquisite.
With the title and put-down framing of its question, this to me is a provocative post especially given that this Analog forum has plenty of recent posts on the very good SQ and value proposition of a number of Technics turntables old and new. The OP would just have to scroll down a little to find them let alone use the simple search function. So I can only guess at the motives of the OP and on the circumstantial evidence they do not look positive.
I have never owned a Technics table but I have recently started reading threads here on Audiogon and I find them really refreshing, enjoyable & informative. People are passionate and talking about SQ and the great value proposition of these tables. And thanks to @audiofun on the "Upcoming Technics SP-10R" thread I learnt about SMPS and their detrimental effects on my hi-fi sound.
I can think of nothing better than products like some of the Technics tables appear to be that outperform tables at multiple prices, and all this with a household name Technics. I am a confessed reverse snob. When I am asked about my rig I do enjoy answering to those snobs that are in this hobby that I have Pioneer speakers and seeing quite a few people look down their noses at me. I am yet to hear any speaker that I would prefer to my Pioneer Exclusive 2404's. I was in a meeting a number of years ago with a "high-powered" NY banker who kept on staring at my tourbillon watch throughout the whole meeting. I ran into him after and he asked me what brand it was. It was with great delight that I told him that it was a stainless Seagull made by a master watchmaker in China and that it cost me US$3k new. He looked away in disgust having expected it to be a US$40k Swiss brand.
And for someone like me who has been in this hobby for decades and seen the death and rebirth of vinyl, and who has never been able to approach the overall SQ of my vinyl rig with digital, it is great to see Technics come back into the market with some well designed and priced gear and to know that this means that there are kids coming into this wonderful hobby that are appreciating SQ over convenience.
Do you still have your AFI Flat? Do you still use it and like the results of the Relax function?
Rather than an outer ring; which being futzy to deal with, I have been looking at the AFI Flat again. A new improved model is due out soon.
No doubt in my mind that Flat records play and sound better. It is the Relax Function that I am most interested in. If you still have it and use it regularly; you have a lot of time and experience with it .
Would be very interested in your review / commentary on it.
There is a German firm ( The Link can be found on; " Outer ring- who uses and what are your findings" post by melm on 07-15-2018. )
I am going to pass on using an outer ring; Too futzy for me.
As I just posted to bluewolf; I am going to focus on Flat and Relaxed records next.
As "Ralph" has pointed out, the Triplanar bearings are in the plain of the record.I have a few used records that have long warps or a sudden edge warp. The Triplanar has been handling these with ease. I do have (1) record that has a sharp edge warp that does get a jump in the first couple of grooves out of the Triplanar, but that is it. I have been fussy about my records from the beginning. But even average flat records do have small undulations. Every tonearm must deal with these. I think making the tone arm cartridge combo work even less, even at the micro scale, gets us better SQ.
Flat records will have the best contact with the mat from the start. A mat and weight should effectively deal with groove resonances and give firm contact with the mat. Just my opinion.
I heard the speed control of the Technics within minutes; at Axpona 2016. I knew that I wanted this TT. The stock arm is good, but the Triplanar just brings the rig to a new level. I agree, piano is fantastic, bass is deeply defined and textured, images and spatial information are solid and layered.
Thanks for your response and enjoy your rig.
I think a lot of potential buyers are missing the fact that the new Technics turntables are re-designed from the ground up. They also benefit from advanced production methods and better quality control. If you don't read the fine print, it is understandable you may think the new turntables are just re-hashes of the old ones (which were actually quite good at the time - I had one that I used with my Dynaco tube equipment and horn-loaded speakers back in the day).
Panasonic made a marketing decision to keep the turntables looking the same. This works great in Japan (maybe a larger hi-fi market than the U.S.), who are naturally quite proud of their "Made in Japan" products, just as many U.S. audiophiles enjoy "Made in the U.S.A." provenance. I will admit some prejudice when I looked at the new SL1200 G turntables, but was quickly convinced when I compared them to other offerings in the same price range.
Note: my prejudice was more about the "DJ" looks than where it was made – I am a globalist with speakers made in England, U.S. made amps, German wires and a Japanese turntable and cartridges.
I wound up selling my Sota that had been factory freshened and VTA installed and really wanted to use it and the belt would keep coming off and I frankly did not like the full manual mode. At some point I bought a SL-1600 mk ii off of ebay and sent it to a refurbisher in TN. I think it was.. who has since passed. A weak link in the system is a nylon or plastic of some sort gear that is elemental to the arm operation .. I bought a Rega 3 with upgrades and used very briefly and found on ebay of all places this restorer of Technics who had the gear that I needed. I sent him the table and he fixed it and its back in operation --the only table in here.. Suffice to say,, Im not playing enough vinyl but then I just recently moved to a whole new area in Cali.. surrounded by fires these days although lucked out and not really in a critical area where fuel for fires is plentiful. Makes for some very hot weather after living near the ocean all these years in the bay area.
Hi Norbert @nkonor,
I unfortunately can add nothing to my original post on the wonderful AFI FLAT:
A friend in Europe had arranged for one to go to a potential agent in Hong Kong and he knew I had a number of warped records so he arranged for me to have it first and I used it for 6 weeks. I flattened and heaps of records in that time and Relaxed a whole bunch of others. I wrote my review after that experience. I was so taken with the Relax function that I immediately ordered one from Europe. I also ordered some other equipment and the whole lot was meant to be bundled and sent to me. The FLAT has been paid for and sitting in Europe but there have been delays with the rest of the equipment. My model will not be the new one that you mention but one like I used before as it was bought way back. My understanding is that the efficacy of the old and new model is the same.
From my experiences with the Relax function, as described in my thread, I am absolutely sold on it and cannot wait to get my AFI FLAT, hopefully in the next few months. There is no doubt to my ears and that of my friend’s as to the increase in SQ from this function regardless of whether the record is old or new and or perfectly flat.
I hope you get yours and would be most interested in your experience.
All the best,
I own a Prime and a Technics 1200GR. Each is on a separate system now so direct comparison is not possible; the 1200 is on the main system the Prime used to be on and uses a Dynavector P75 mkiii phono pre and the Prime uses a Parasound JC3+ phono pre. The speakers on the main system with the 1200 are Thiel CS2.4’s. Very revealing speakers, but the Technics is exemplary. I have no complaints.
@chakster The Reed looks nice but its unlikely to have bearings as hard as those in the Triplanar, who has a security clearance to obtain the bearings they use (the bearing is the hardest metal bearing made anywhere; and Triplanar got investigated by the Department of Homeland Security because they use more of these bearings than Boeing Aerospace). Softer bearings tend to blunt with use; this causes the arm to have a limited lifespan (mysteriously goes out of adjustment over time).
The VTA tower on the Reed appears to be a copy of that of the Triplanar, which first showed that technology several decades ago. But the thing that bothers me is the location of the bearings- they aren't in the plane of the LP surface, and while this makes the arm easier to build, it also means that tracking force will be lessened with bass notes and warp. Imagine two people carrying a couch; if going up stairs the one below carries more weight. If on level ground both weights are the same and vary only slightly on uneven ground. This allows for more consistent tracking force.
I like the azimuth adjustment- the Triplanar has that as well. The removable arm tube and cartridge shell is also nice- except that when you are dealing with voltages as small as they usually are with cartridges, the less mechanical connections between the cartridge and arm, the better.
@atmasphere your criticism of Reed bearing can apply to the Kuzma 4 Point tonearm for the same reason?
My Reed 3p does not have removable headshell and the armtube is not removabale:
Since the introduction of the Reed 3p they made 3 more different models with some great features: https://www.reed.lt/tonearm/
The bearings in the Triplanar may be the hardest available, however the VTA tower is a little "loose" dont you think. Don't get me wrong I like the Triplanar very much and have a 12". I have devised a collar for the Tripalnar that stabilize the tower quite a bit. https://www.audiogon.com/listings/lis9302b-pbn-audio-stabilizing-collar-for-triplanar-tonearm-superb...
Ok, what am I missing? When I hear Technics turntables, I think Craigslist and DJ tables. What am I missing?I’ll tell you what you’re *not* missing--too much Kool-Aid--Kool-Aid from high end audio snobs, Kool-Aid from belt-drive snobs and from their chief missionary and evangelist, Ivor Tiefenbrun, who traveled the world demonstrating his rigged A/B tests between SL1200s and his Linn belt-drive turntables. His efforts caught on among cottage industry high-end loyalists and a new dogma was born.
It appears to me that he saw the direct drive designs as a threat to the UK-based turntable cottage industry, which only needed an over-the-counter AC motor, a rubber band, a machined platter and a plinth. Oh, and a tonearm from somebody.
There was only one way to do direct drive and that was with a lot of capital and high precision manufacturing resources.
When the SL1200 came out, it was marketed and perceived as an affordable high end turntable, with nearly the torque of an idler-drive turntable but much lower noise. The SL1200 retailed at $350 in 1975, which translates to $1800 in 2018 money.
The adjustable pitch control was on the original models, and *not* for dance clubs, which barely existed at the time. It was a high end feature for audiophile musicians who wanted to play back LPs at the correct pitch (such as Side One of Miles Davis’s "Kind of Blue") and play fixed pitch instruments such as piano, vibraphone, and marimba along with recordings of mistuned instruments. You can’t tune a vibraphone or marimba to match pitches with mistuned instruments, and it takes half a day to do it with a piano--assuming you have the training and skill to do it.
Well, lo and behold, it turned out that the SL1200 had some desirable features for DJ-ing: It had high torque like the idler drives they had been using, which translates into a more consitent relentless beat for dance music; it spins up for the next song almost as fast as idler drive, it has a much lower noise floor than idler drive turntables (I swear, I could hear idler-sourced turntable rumble on FM broadcasts). And it has a strong, propulsive bass which makes it easier to dance to the music. This was a happy accident, not a targeted marketing plan, at least until the MkII.
Once the dance club market adopted the SL1200, Technics designed the MkII with some features attractive to the dance market, such as big sliders (instead of tiny knobs) for beat and pitch matching. The direct drive with free-floating platter already had an advantage over idler drive for scratching. You can’t scratch idler drive when the idler is engaged and you can’t scratch belt drive at all. Nor is belt drive propulsive enough for dancing.
So just because the Technics was *adopted* by the dance club industry does not mean it was worthless for its original purpose.
And just because it became popular doesn’t mean it was flimsy and cheaply built. Quite the contrary. If you see them show up on Craigslist, it’s because they’ve been played and abused to near death, and yet are still functional with some parts and maintenance. The owners sell their old ones at shockingly durable after-market prices and replace them with new ones.