vintage turntables?

i dont know, but vintage technics, jvc, and pioneer are the only decks ive had experience with, but they have a special appeal to me. it seems to me that theres all these super fancy turntables out there, and im sure they sound really great, but things like funk firm, the pro-ject rpm aren't the same to me. they're not what i picture a turntable to be. anyone else out there feel the same way? i think what it comes down to is the look. maybe i'm just crazy, i dont know. haha
Don't be afraid of the better quality vintage Japan Inc. tables. Denon, JVC, Technics, Pioneer etc. all made high quality tables during the day that would give many an new light fantastic tables today a run for the money if not beat the snot out of some. Caveat Emptor though applies.
Old Linn, Garrard and Thorens tables still set a high standard to which all others aspire to. Shindo in Japan has a highly modified Garrard 301 that sports a price tag of $20k. Vintage can be very desirable!
chuckelator...i somewhat agree. a friend of mine just purchsed a used table for almost 7k. it sounds fine...not the revalation you would expect if you have read its reviews...but it looks like a veg-o-matic juicer thingy. its paired with public address sized horns and nightlights for power, that cost more than tuition in a great college. it becomes evident that after a lifetime in this hobby, i still can't say i understand the need to focus on visual weirdness, knowing full well that the sonic results are no more satifying than the oldies but goodies.
I bought a new SOTA Cosmos mk3, had it upgraded to a mk4. It still couldn't hold a steady pitch compared to Technics SL1210MG5 (a current turntable in production) for 1/10 the price.

My advise is to enter the 'high end turntable market' with caution. You can easily spend a lot of $$$ and get nothing in return in terms of turntable performance.

I have invested around $1400 with various modifications from KAB and others on my new Technics SL1210M5G and I'm in a place that is untouchable by a SOTA.

I agree, the high end turntable market is dominated by visual appeal as one of the high priorities. Call me silly, but I've learned that if you can't spin the record consistently at a stable pitch, all other things are bogus.

I started out with a stock Technics SL1210MG5 and have upgraded the footers, record mat and power supply so far. Very happy with the results. But I'm not done yet. It's been quite an educational journey so far.
Dual of Germany made some great turntables during the 1970s and early 1980s.

Any of them will work very well. The best of best vintage Duals are the 1209, 1219, 1229, CS-5000, CS-7000, any 700 series.

What many do not know is that the RCA plug wires on the 1209/19/29 are actually connected inside the player to RCA jacks. So it is very easy to upgrade from the standard lamp cord RCA plugs they came with. It makes a huge difference.
"I bought a new SOTA Cosmos mk3, had it upgraded to a mk4. It still couldn't hold a steady pitch compared to Technics SL1210MG5 (a current turntable in production) for 1/10 the price."
Youve mentioned this in several posts in the last few weeks.
It should be pointed out to people unfamiliar with Sota that your experience with your cosmos was truly rare. Having owned almost all the decks in there line up for many years and having discourse with many Sota owners I would comment that Ive never heard of or had any speed problems with their decks. Its unfortunate that you had a bad experience and I share your enthusiasm for technics decks but your experience was remote and in fact could happen with any deck as a matter of fact I can show you a 1200 mk 2 with speed drift, it happens. Im not inditing technics for what I know is an isolated occurrence. I can also say with assurance that after spending many hours comparing technics decks to the Sota that although the technics are remarkable machines they are not in the same league sonically as the Sota.
Just an alternate point of view
Right on, Rccc!
James1969 does have a valid point regardless of other comments. True, his experience with the Sota may have not been typical of the brand, but his comments do bear some merit.

Listening tests alone do not offer enough resolution.

If you really want to see how a DD quartz lock table compares to a belt drive, you will need a NAB broadcast test disc and an HP frequency counter.

First you'll find that many belt drive tables are off speed; just a bit; and usually on the fast side, seldom on the slow side. A 10Khz tone will playback at a frequency somewhat higher.

secondly, observe the pitch stability or tone frequency deviation from the targeted value. Variation is ubstantially less on a DD quartz table, be it Technics, Sony or Denon, etc.

Happy listening.
I have an old Denon, AC DD that works well in a second system after I puttied the platter underside to stop the ringing. Has a Black Widow tonearm, w damping. Late 70s vintage. Needs a high compliance cartridge.

Also bought an old SOTA Sapphire 3, non vacuum w original Well-Tempered tonearm. Sounds great. Very quiet. Live sounding.

Get your SOTA fixed. The unit is so simple that this can't be a big deal. Might just be grease on the belt or other drive. Could be oxidation on the speed pots, or a loose/bad connection somewhere in the speed control.

That Technics should not even be mentioned on this site. Strictly DJ fare. DC Direct drive. With all of those DC pulses and other coupled motor noise, it is unlistenable on a ref or near ref system. Made for a different purpose.
I agree, perhaps my SOTA experience is unique.

With that said, I started down the path of going for 'high end' turntables - SOTA being my first. After 3 years of a 'sad story' I cut my losses and sold the table. After spending around $7500 on the SOTA, I started to look around. The prices go up really fast, $14k, $20k, etc etc. I asked myself, does good sound from records really cost this much?

So why not do some exploratory work and start out at the bottom with a popular turntable that has ready made modifications available? The Technics was the candidate for me. Looks have no meaning to me when the lights are out and the system is playing and sounding good.

This hobby has a lot of 'extreme engineering' that goes into products, and their prices reflect it. My next turntable purchase I want to have a solid understanding of where the engineering goes and what kinds of audible benefits those efforts have on sound. So for me, this exploration with the Technics turntable is and education.

But to be honest, the thought of spending $$$ on a 'high end' turntable is starting to loose it's appeal. The Technics is giving me quite a bit of enjoyment, and to think I've only spent a fraction of what some spend on just a cartridge.

It's all relevant, if you have the $$$ to throw around in the 'high end turntable' arena, that's great. I started down that path and got a whopping wake up call with the little $$$ I have into this 'direct drive experiment'.
That Technics should not even be mentioned on this site. Strictly DJ fare. DC Direct drive. With all of those DC pulses and other coupled motor noise, it is unlistenable on a ref or near ref system. Made for a different purpose.


I'll be the first here to call B.S!

You've obviously not really listened to any SL-12xx or if you have you came with a jaded POV. It's OK many of us were jaded and pulled by our nose by hifi snobs who often waste(d) many thousands on sub par vinyl playback and we too thought "Hmm the Japanese couldn't have been right or able to make good to great turntables at more affordable prices." "They had to be cutting corners and marketing lies to us all." BTW no it's not a D.J. table though D.J's use them. And what difference would it make if it was? A turntable's job is to spin the record as accurately as possible, help control other noise and vibration and also be a platform for tone arm to trace a record groove as accurately as the arm can.

The SL-12xx are dead silent in motor noise none of this D.C. plus stuff you state either as being heard or otherwise revealed. They turn the record as near perfect as any turntable can, they are well dampened, have tone arms which are surprisingly good and I defy anyone to tell me they can truly hear the motor or other noise during playback. Motor noise from all too many highly rated and often sold belt drivers can often be heard from across the room at worse to maybe a couple of feet away at best. Not so with the Sl-12xx series and not so with all too many of the better vintage Japan Inc. tables.

Nobody will state the SL-12xx series are the ultimate turntables but they can and often do put to shame all too many of the so called "Wonder" tables being sold to the public which are themselves not being well qualified at being better to great turntables today.

I would have thought that Nakamichi's dragon TT was on the right path with it's self centering platter system.This was most likely the right path, but got lost either because it was much of an expense to manufacture or to much to repair when serviced? The Micro Sekis look like a great deal when considering the amount of enginering and over built quality to these TT.
I understand your nostalgia on classic turntables.

I owned and enjoyed a JVC QLY5F direct drive and had Thorens TD 125 and TD 126 to compare and contrast direct drive with belt drive and suspended vs. non-suspended designs. Much enjoyment was had by all tables and although I think the Thorens is the better table the JVC was no slouch and with the V15MR on the JVC servo tonearm could track anything including the infamous cannon shots from the Telarc pressing of the 1812 overture.

I ended up with a stock Sota Sapphire with FR 64fx tonearm and it easily bested my Thorens. (and I love Thorens and still have my 126). I had the same cartridge to compare in both decks but the SOTA was a clear step up in my system.

I thought so much of the setup that I am in for a SOTA Cosmos Mark IV using the FR arm/cartridge. SOTA's are fantastic tables in my experience. The knock is usually on a fuller more rounded bass notes vice the competition (big hip type bass. As a listener that prefers tube/full/rich as compared to the prat side of the equation, perhaps that explains my SOTA love, although that is a poor general observation and I believe synergy is extremely important.

In any event I work for a living and the Cosmos was a huge investment for me. I lived in the day of the 250 dollar new Thorens or gorgeous Japanese direct drive. Today's prices on everything audio related seems like Scrooge McDuck territory.

Enough drivel, on a budget a classic turntable is a wonderful, aesthetically pleasing, and imho a very rewarding investment but I think you know that.

Have fun!
yup. and i think thats where my journey in this hobby is gonna keep me for the most part. i feel like i want to collect vintage turntables.

You stated "What many do not know is that the RCA plug wires on the 1209/19/29 are actually connected inside the player to RCA jacks. So it is very easy to upgrade from the standard lamp cord RCA plugs they came with. It makes a huge difference."

I have an early 80's Dual 1264 I use in a 2nd system and it still works great. Do you know if this model has the plugs inside and if so, is it easy to get in and change it?
Pcoppola, I agree with you the stock Technics is pretty bad out of the box. But the KAB power supply addresses the noise you're talking about. That modification should be done before any serious evaluation of the table is done. That $225 upgrade allows the Technics' table to show what it is capable of.

I do not know about the 1264. All I know is most of the models between 1209 and 1229 are this way.

You will just have to try to remove the bottom if you can and take a look.
Another thing I would like to add to my SOTA experience is the mk4 upgrade. A $900 cost with no clear results or clear definition of what that upgrade entailed. Only here say on this site. The receipt I got was a simple line item:

Cosmos Series IV Upgrade

Bam, $900 gone, and I couldn't hear any audible change. I've been told (on this site) that the mk4 upgrade consists of a motor mount change/upgrade. Wow, for $900, there must have been quite a bit of engineering that went into that motor mount.

Once again, A Fool And His Money.

Now that I've done some modifications on the Technics, I can definitely understand how critical it is to keep vibrations away from the turntable. As far as the stock Technics is concerned, it is very noisy due to the transformer that is used (and mounted) in the turntable. Adding the KAB external power supply changes the Technics to an entirely different table all together.

Consider this, that KAB power supply is a $250 upgrade. I think more engineering effort goes into designing a power supply than a motor mount. The SOTA mk4 upgrade is a $900 upgrade. Once again, I have to ask exactly where did that money go to justify that amount? Makes no sense, unless you concede that you are in the 'high end turntable' market and have a lot of money to spend.

I think there most certainly are expensive turntables out there that do justify their cost (I have yet to actually hear one) but consider the history of records. This is an area that is not new and has seen many decades of improvements and change. There is nothing revolutionary since the 70s for turntable technology. Only new materials, and manufacturing techniques.

Where do these new 'high end turntables' justify their prices? I guess you could think of the 'high end turntable' market as an art, that would explain why you should leave your objectivity and cost consciousness at the door.
How does the sota blanket all the high end 'tables? Since you had this experience with a particular sota 'table, now all high end 'tables are overpriced and bad values.
Not at all, that was my bad, I don't mean to blanket the market like that. I am certain there are tables out there that are well suited and justified their asking prices. I still have my own personal short list. But I have to qualify that my dream turntables are by no means anywhere near prices above 5 digits.

I am just taken by how much good sound you can actually get at these small prices in comparison. I then can only reflect back upon my own experience.
"Consider this, that KAB power supply is a $250 upgrade. I think more engineering effort goes into designing a power supply than a motor mount." As a small scale manufacturer I can tell you $900. doesnt go too far so that may not be a good comparison. However your point is taken, the KAB modded technics gives enormous value. In Sotas case getting that last little bit of performance in anything consumes an exponential expenditure of resource compared to return look at performance cars for example. We find that last little bit of refinement can be 50% or more of the final cost and some customers cant justify that. But if you want to take anything to the extent of its potential that last bit is gonna be expensive.
as it seems you guys are saying, it just seems to me that its more cost-effective to go with something vintage, and also, they have sort of a different vibe to them (might be just me) but its much like a guitar. if your buying an old, well used guitar (or turntable) it seems like it has its own stories, its lived a life already. it has a "soul" so to speak. and i like that about buying the older stuff.
Never disregard the Maplenolle Turntable (Record Player) Line. These tables are reaching 30+ years ; are air driven and offer great value and sota sound reproduction to those that understand and take a hands-on approach. More about Maplenolls's can be found on exsisting threads, should you want a good read.
Vintage Thorens units were always the best as I recall.

Some of the Duals were OK but not in the same league as Thorens. I still have a nice Dual 1264 in my second system...sounds good with a good phono stage.

There were some vintage Micro Seikis that were very nice also.

I had a Philips TT (model anyone??) that had a very cool and clean Scandinavian design with wood veneer and chrome base and led touch sensitive controls that I really liked. I still have some cassettes recorded off that unit + they sound pretty good still. The Philips were prone to breaking down though I was lucky with mine, I suppose. Don't know if any of these are still around in good working order.

I've been sold on my Linn table now for over 20 years and still going strong.
Check out the Lencos in my system.
The L75 is a superb vintage table with incredible stability. Stability translates musical dynamics, rhythm and punch.
Beware: A table of this caliber will only lead to vinyl obsession.
Philips 312 is the tt model # I referred to...I looked it up.

God, I loved that tt! It was very unique, simple and sleek in design and didn't sound half bad either!
Mapman, I had a Philips 212 back in '75 that I remember being a very good table. Loved the electronic touch controls! I got me a Linn a few years back, and will probably stay with it.
I remember the 212 I think..used to sell it along with the 312. The two were very similar designs with mostly just different aesthetics as I recall.
Nobodys mentioned AR certainly a venerable vintage table along with Linn, Garrard and Thorens.
Less familiar with AR than some others but yes, it was!
The high end vintage Japanese turntables were statement products which came from huge companies with vertical integration and economy of scale that today's turntable manufacturers can't even dream about. There was a huge R&D budget subsidized by the sale of tens of thousands of mass market siblings. I have a Technics SP-10 with the EPA-100 tonearm. If that were developed, manufactured and marketed by a current company, you could expect a price well over $20K.

Use simple logic and disregard reviewers. Your dollar will go much further.
yup...thoes lenco's look like their right up my alley. i'd be pretty happy to own one of those for myself, but i think once i get what i need for this jvc i just got i'll more than likely be happy for a good while.

the other ones i like, being super particular, are the old thorens td-160, and (while ive never heard one) the AR tables are beautiful, and i would love the chance.
it seems like most of what the 'bay has to offer in the turntable category is pretty much what i'm looking for. its either someone who doesnt know what they have selling it really cheap, or someeone over charging it seems...regardless they over charge for shipping...haha
yeah, Macrojack, thats actually how i figured it would work cost wise. then you also had the fact that everyone was using a turntable back in those days, where as, these days, not so much. supply and demand type situation
Here is a good source of info and a good review back at the peak of the era:

Excellent history along with photos and ads.
Dear James: Interesting link about. I read it and see that on some of those TT they use different tonearms and cartridges and not always the same ones.

One thing that is a surprise to me is the SP-10 rating ( quality performance ) where them rate: 3 and 3 against the top ones that achieve 5 and 5: EMT, Micro Seiki RX-5000 and Pioneer Exclusive.

From al these TTs I have in deep experience with all but the Pioneer and I agree with the EMT and MS rating quality performance but IMHO the SP-10 is ( at least ) in the same league.
I'm using it right now with out plynth and its performance is just first rate, perhaps the SP-10 does not performs so well with its own base and arm board, I can't say for sure because I experienced it in that configuration too many years ago.

Now, in some ways I agree that too much of the today very high price top TT resides in its looking more than in its real quality performance against that very high price and against vintage TTs like the SP-10 MK2/3, Micro Seiki or Denons. But that could be because of what Macro jack posted about and where I agree.

About Technics 12xx IMHO I think that it is worth the effort ( a lot lot better ) to find a SP-10MK2 that to invest on the 12xx with its up-grades for almost the same final price or very near: not something totally different about price and of course with the advantage with the SP 10 that you can choose the right tonearm for your cartridge (s ).

Regards and enjoy the music.

I like that site, it puts things back into perspective. The article I thought was quite refreshing to read and analyze, but I do agree with you they should have kept all things equal as best as they could have.

I've been curious about the EMT 930, but you like the SP-10 just as much? Very interesting. Did you own an EMT at any time?

I'm wondering what to do with my Graham Phatom arm now, what do you think about getting an arm pod to mount it next to a 12xx?

james, neat site...definately worth looking at.

You bet. Here is another good site:

wow...lots of neat stuff on there...i really found interest in the phono cart thing on there...never really understood the difference between mm and mc i do!
Dear James: I have it for around seven months.

Your Phatom is very good tonearm it does not matters where you mount ( the 12xx is an option ) but with cartridges you want to use on it.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I used to have the old Kenwood 550 w/a black widow arm and V15 type III cart. Sounded better than the MMF-7.1 I have now......... Hmmmmmm
the kenwood 550 are the marble plinth ones right? those look amazing
Simulated marble. Kinda a concrete resin.
There is one on ebay now with a SME arm....
the 600/650's were the same except they were quartz locked. Nice tt's for the day, still are. You could pick one of these up, and mount whatever arm you wanted. One of the few tables in the mid 70's to offer that option.
Creative edge is correct. The Technics 12xx series are so-so in stock form, but with the KAB upgrades compete seriously with the multikilo buck tables; have been there and done the comparison myself. Its tough to admit a hot rodded KAB technics is giving a TNT a run for the money, but it does.

The other key option to get on the technics is the RCA outboard connector termination, allowing the user to select his cables of choice to route the signal to the pre amp or phono stage.
I contacted Kevin (KAB) last year to ask about his mods and their potential. He told me to keep the SP-10 because the best he can achieve with the 1200 series won't quite reach that level. Bigger, better motor, etc.

I already had the SP-10 so the debate does not apply to me but I can see where the KAB mods might be a better deal considering you can get one with zero miles on it whereas, if you found an SP-10 brand new, it would cost a fortune and a half.
Also, you can move up incrementally with KAB instead of having to plunk it all down at once on an SP-10. In my experience it is more fun to get your improvements in small doses.
Bottom line, in my opinion, is that you can get way more bang for your bucks with a high end, vintage, Japanese direct drive than any modern table can deliver.

Check out yard sales. You may very well get lucky and buy a very serious DD table for $15. If it is heavy, holds speed, and appears to be complete, buy it.
never liked technics...... fancy word for panasonic....matsushita...all the same

Do you have any thoughts to a London Decca cartridge on the Phantom? I have the Ortofon 2M Black on the way. This will be my first MM.