Would a Technics SL-1200 MK2 be an upgrade from a Denon DP-31L?

Hi all,

just wondering if this Technics turntable is superior to my current Denon for home audio use? The Denon is my first and only turntable, and it sounds great so I have no complaints, but I wasn't sure if the Technics would be even better. Especially considering the Technics is a DJ TT, which I don't have a clue if that makes a difference for my usage in a home audio setting.
Price isn't a factor because I'll only pick it up if I can work out some kind of trade for it (although the asking price is $400 in good working order with a new self grounding RCA board installed)

any my advice would be greatly appreciated!


I would take a 27 lb. SL-1200MKII over a 13 lb. Denon DP-31L any day.  Especially with the aftermarket mods that are available such as those from KAB Acoustics, an SL-1200MKII can compete with decks costing much more.

There is a reason why the new SL-1200GAE is selling for $4000!  It is a direct descendant of the SL-1200MKII.

paraneer +1. Just try getting parts for the Denon," Rots O' Ruck".
Technics SL1200 wasn't designed as DJ turntable on the first place and fully suitable for hi-fi performance even stock as-is. With mods it will humiliate the top model of Rega or Pro-Jekt.

So that seem like a pretty unanimous consensus...as for the price- it's aesthetics are definitely a 4/10 at best (here it is: http://eastnc.craigslist.org/ele/5580637517.html ) but he says it works great.

what would be the lowest reasonable price I should expect to pay for one in this shape? Maybe $400 is it, but if I can haggle the price down I will certainly try...if I do get it, I need to know it was a steal, and not an average selling price (only way to justify it to the wife) :)
It's missing the dust cover too I just found out 

Should i I start a new thread to get more input on how much it's worth? I have to let the guy know ASAP 

i appreciate the guidance, I'm new to vinyl so the buyers market for used equipment is foreign to me :/
Ebay has many 1200's listed. You should give it a look. $400 seems like a real good price ! BTW, the Denon that you have goes for about a hundred bucks,so if you get more than that you should jump on it !
I would not buy this table for $200! This table is RAGGED OUT! and it does not have a original headshell or dust cover?!! Stay away and put your $400 into a better unit. Keep looking.....:-)  I really like the SL1200 just NOT this one.

Matt M             

  P.S. You could buy a new Audio Technica LP120 (very nice table and similar in design to the Technics) and mount a new Ortofon Red for $400!!!!

I agree with Matt. Be careful with this one. Decent SL-1200MKII’s go for around $600 used on my local CL and are not beat up like this one. And have dustcovers too. Apply your $400 toward a good one.  If you do like this one, offer considerably less than the asking price.  The cartridge that it comes with is only $40 new.

And demand an audition. Make sure the tonearm bearings allow for free travel, up and down and left to right. Make sure the cueing is slow and smooth. Finally make sure the TT is holding proper speed. Sometimes, despite all these cursory checks, you may still have to open it up and do some maintenance and repairs. At least a good deoxidizing if the seller hasn’t done it already. If you are comfortable doing the work yourself, go for it. There are great bargains to be found with vintage. If you have to take it to a shop, you have exceeded the cost of a new TT.  Good luck!

yep buy local when you can test it and offer lower dollar.
Technics dust cover cost maximum $60 new, i have never used dust covers for my pair of SL1210mk2 since i’ve bought them in 1996. All parts for sl1200 available online everywhere.

$400 is a waste of money on Technics SL1200mk2, you can buy a much better used direct drive Denon, Victor or better Technics (such as SP10mk2) for a little more, but without tonearm.

Stock SL1200 tonearm is a weak point anyway, even with kab fluid damper and totally rewired. I don’t know what you expect from this Technics Sl1200mk2, your cartridge must be really good (mid or high compliance) to make this deck sing. Some other expensive mods simply not worth the price (better just buy SP10mk2).

However, If someone telling you that cheap modern plastic decks like Audio-Technica, Pioneer or other "clones" of Technics are good, i will tell you there is nothing like Technics Sl1200 in terms of build quality. I’ve been using them for 20 years. This is legendary turntable made like the real thing!

I prefer my Technics SP20 and SP10mk2

I have a 1200 mk2 and like it a lot. It is stock with an AT120 cartridge. I use the Technics overhang gauge and never have an issue with anything, it just plays records, no fiddling. 

Mine me was used but very clean. Personally, I would not buy a unit that had been abused or missing parts.
Well,I have got 2 cents worth. I've used and modded Technics 1200's. It does look like a DJ table, but dead stock, I prefer it over most entry level tables.  The audio Technica mentioned, needs the phono pre removed at a minimum and really could use a ton of damping before it will get in the league of a stock sl1200. However Audio Technica does have an SL1240. As long as you remove the phono preamp, it competes nicely.  Then lastly, in the last month or so, I have purchased 3 vintage fixer uppers, that were all 3 inexpensive and when I'm finished, each will be quite good.... a Technics SL25 with an Audio Technica ATP-12T arm, a Miida turntable that was made by Denon, it is a nice table with fully adjustable arm and a Sony PS-X60 which has a very nice adjustable on the fly tone arm.  I have no doubt that if you are patient, you'll come across a steal out there.  Not a real recommendation on which way to go, but here are some alternatives to think about. I hope this helps, Tim
The Sony psx 60 is the best, imo. 

Comparing the new 1200 to the old is not close. 

It is like comparing an old, watered down 4 cylinder, low horse powered Mustang to a new high horse power muscle car Mustang of today. Well, maybe not that bad.....but I think you get my drift.

I agree that an sp 10 or 15 is a better choice. Yes, you'll need to get an arm for them but the arm on on the 1200 is compromised and for best performance will need to be replaced. Meaning your better off just doing it right in the first place.

I personally wouldn't buy a 1200, however, if I got him down to 150 to 200 I would play with it, mod it and have fun with it.
Hi raymonda, I'm under the impression that hockey4496 is on a budget. What would you buy at $400 that significantly beats it. I agree that the arm in the 1200 is the weak link, but replace the arm cable, heat shrink the tube and add a decent medium compliance cartridge and it's hard to beat on a budget... By the way, the Technics that I snagged was a SP25, not an SL25. Sorry for the confusion.  
Thanks all for the suggestions, very helpful info. Tim is correct though, I am beyond a being on a tight budget, and i likely can only get a turntable if the seller is willing to work out a trade for it, because as far as spending actual cash goes I could probably afford something equivalent to what you might find in a dumpster covered in old food and possibly used band aids (in my 3rd year of medical school living on student loans = almost no free time 24/7 365days, but more importantly no money for things like audio equipment)
Yes, I meant sp not sl....sorry.

I would probably go with a used Rega 3 and gradually upgrade it over time. One can be bought for around 300, or so. 

Upgrading the pulley, spindle, platter and then plinth is a fun project and something that can be done gradually and not cost a whole lot.

I would look at it as an investment in the arm.

That's a different type of table, I know but one which will perform well out of the box.

Secondly, if direct drive is a must a kenwood kd500 with an sme 309 can be had for around 500 if you search.

Not that the 1200 is a bad choice...it is good. But it would not be my first.

Btw, I always thought that the motor in the 1200 mkii was the same as in the sp25. And, yes, I'd buy a sp25 with a arm for 500 before I would buy a 1200mkii.

Thanks raymonda, that's all reasonable. I have owned 2 different KD600's with a Linn arm and an AT arm. It was nice sounding

Thanks all for the suggestions, very helpful info. Tim is correct though, I am beyond a being on a tight budget, and i likely can only get a turntable if the seller is willing to work out a trade for it,

Thanks for explaining Hockey and understood.  Most of us have been in this position at one time in our lives - I know I certainly have.  That's when I honed my skills at repairing used gear. 

The above being said, if you can make a trade for the SL-1200MKII by offering your Denon, I say go for it.  Even if the Technics is a little roached as it appears to be in the link, a little knowhow, common sense and work on your part can get it functioning like new. It should clean up well too.  Eventually you may even find a used dustcover or be able to spring for a new one.  Remember, this is one of the best selling TT's of all time and millions were sold.  So parts are widely available. 

I hope your able to make to the trade.

A  Kenwood KD 500 with  SME 309 for $ 500 ?  You will never find one near that price!
(A  Kenwood KD 500 with  SME 309 for $ 500 ?  You will never find one near that price!)

That is not entirely true. According to ebay sale history, The last 6-7 500's that sold on ebay went between 127 and 250, sans arm, with most below 175. Over the past 4 years or so, I have found a few with a 309 on it for in and round $500. They do not last long and get grabbed up quickly, but they are there.

I've often thought of pulling the trigger for one.
Oops, i meant 3009. My bad........thanks for making me look foolish! ;?) I wish it were a 309!!!!!!!!! Sorry for the confusion.
Dear @hockey4496 : With all my respect to the gentlemans that posted here seems to me that all of them just posted with out real foundation facts. That " superiority " that they spread here just does not exit not even on  dreams and a total misunderstood on the Technics vs Denon.

Denon is one of the best DD turntable/tonearm/cartridge/electronics/LP recordings manufacturer ever, so is not just one of the " pile ".

For example: the Denon tonearm beats easily to the 1200 one. But the Denon not only outperform the 1200 because its better tonearm but ( example again. ) its servo control is BI-Directional. This kind of servo its shared only for other vintage expensive TT as: Denon or JVC, but even really expensive vintage TTs had not.

If you take a look to this Denon link and compare against the 1200 you will see the real superiority of your Denon to the 1200MK2:


If I was you I keep that Denon and I can go for a better cartridge ( I don't know what you have. ) or a better phono stage where you can live a real improvement over what you own. Stay away of that 1200MK2.

I don't know why you want to change your really good Denon performer but I know for sure that you need not hundred of dollars but over thousand of dollars to beat it.

Regards and enjoy the music,

raymonda- I wasn't trying to make you look foolish !
Thanks for all the feedback everyone, it looks like I'm sticking with my Denon for now, the guys wife didn't want him trading for the Klipsch rear speakers I was offering because he has to many already.

with that said, a little off topic, but I just made a weight stabilizer (I'm very good at procrastinating). Since I don't have a scale I'd estimate it weighs about as much as a half a bottle of water (standard 16.9oz). Is that an acceptable amount of mass to add to the platter, or is that too much strain on the motor? It plays fine with the weight on, just don't want to burn out the TT a few weeks down the road. (Specs: It is about 4" tall, with a diameter of maybe 2". It covers the inside half of an LP label, and the spindle has about 2mm of free space around it)
Any thoughts on the DIY platter weight I'm using? Any risk of damaging the TT?
This would not be an upgrade its a sidegrade!!
Weighed the plater weight, it's 361 grams. Is that too much?
Hi hockey4496,
    Not sure that I'll be a help here... I've seen raul chime in saying that your table is already better than a Technics 1200.  I have no direct experience with your model.  I have had A DP59 and a DP60L at my home for a few weeks each while I worked on them,  one for a friend the other, my brother....I have never compared either to a Technics. The 59 was gorgeous, but being sonically better than the Technics,  I can't say that this is clear to me. The DP60L was clearly a nicer table than the 1200 when I was finished... it had interchangeable arm tubes for cartridge matching. I had added damping all over that table as strategically that I could to kill resonances, which was tough, it had quite a bit of electronics inside.  As far as platter mass/weight.... I would add weight without worrying much.  I'm in the U.S. So I think in ounces and pounds over grams, but 361 grams is only about 3/4 of a pound, that should cause no issues at all.  Start up could be ever so slightly slower, but I doubt you'd notice... I personally would take some butyl tape and layer it thinly on the bottom of the platter also.  It helps kill resonances from the motor projecting through the platter.
Thanks Tim for the feedback, good to hear too regarding the weight. I'll check out the butyl tape as well. Are you saying to put it directly on the metal platter and then the rubber mat on top of the butyl tape?
Hi hockey4496,  sorry for the confusion,  no, not on top, on the underside and you'll need to make sure that you have clearance for your platter to spin.  You don't want the butyl to rub on anything and affect the speed of your platter by rubbing. 
Here you go:  butyl tape....

@hockey4496 if you can barely afford 400$ then a Technics 1200 isnt good for you. Unless your willing to spend the money. Look for a revolver or dual.
Dear Raul, I don't challenge your facts so much as I am surprised to read your post stating that the Denon servo mechanism (as used in the DP31L?) is "bi-directional".  Can you cite evidence for that?  JVC claimed publicly that the TT101 (and maybe the TT81) had bi-directional servo correction, but I don't know of any other manufacturer who used that term, specifically.  Then JP told me that the JVC mechanism is not truly bi-directional in the literal sense, but rather that it operates in six phases instead of three phases. (JP, if you're around, please do correct me.)  To be sure, the top line of the vintage Denons, the DP80 and DP75, and of course the DP100, used 3-phase AC synchronous motors and an ingenious method of continuous speed correction, but I don't know if that qualifies as bi-directional.  And would you think that the DP31L would have had as good a drive system as the 75, 80, and 100 models?

In my opinion, the difference between the SL1200 Mk2 and the DP31L is not worth worrying about, but if I knew more about the DP31L, I might think differently.  It's not much discussed and wasn't one of their stand-outs.  I would also point out that for a bit more money, one could probably own a DP75 or 80, which in my house in my system outperforms an SP10 Mk2, let alone an SL1200.