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The return of a legend: the Technics SL-1200 turntable

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DMC world dj championships

From the 2004 DMC World DJ championships

In a galaxy far, far away and many moons back, I used to spin records on various occasions, something between a DJ and a teenage radio producer. It was huge fun while it lasted and got me even deeper to music. The tables used were nothing more, nothing less than the classic Technics SL-1200 MkII, featuring quartz-controlled, direct-drive, high-torque motor designs which would start and stop almost instantaneously with the touch of a button. Pitch control ranged +-8% which translated into perfect mixes, at least for those with an ear for bpms (bits per minute, the tempo or pace for disk-jockeys) .

What made the 1200 so popular among DJs and radio stations alike was its sturdiness. Never seen one fail, no matter how many drinks were spilled on, how many clumsy so-called DJs put their hands on, how many scratch sessions, whatever, you name it. Rock-solid performance like very few other things out there in the hi-fi world.

Then in 2010 Panasonic called it a day….

Panasonic reactive statement – Production of analogue turntables has ceased

Panasonic has confirmed that it ceased the production of its Technics-branded analogue turntables this autumn.

After more than 35 years as a leading manufacturer of analogue turntables, Panasonic has regretfully taken the decision to leave this market. However, Panasonic will continue to sell headphones under the Technics brand.

We are sure that retailers and consumers will understand that our product range has to reflect the accelerating transformation of the entire audio market from analogue to digital.

In addition, the number of component suppliers serving the analogue market has dwindled in recent years and we brought forward the decision to leave the market rather than risk being unable to fulfil future orders because of a lack of parts.

Panasonic employees who have been working on the analogue turntable range have been redeployed elsewhere within Panasonic – many of them continuing to work in Panasonic´s Audio Video Business Unit.

That proved to be a colossal mistake as demand for turntables was strong, so strong that many companies found the opportunity to duplicate the classic 1200 design, throwing in the market cheap knock offs. Ugly, plasticky, prone-to-fail tables flooded the market. The alternative was to go after the used, or NOS, 1200s and probably end up spending way more than what you should for a nearly beaten-to-death Mk2.

That is, until yesterday, when Panasonic made its 2016 CES presentation with the reintroduction of the new 1200, now in a Mk7 iteration, carrying the name 1200G. A limited-run 50th anniversary edition, the SL-1200GAE, will bear a magnesium case — and a premium price tag — and will find general availability this coming summer. The all-aluminum “regular” version will follow.

The 1200 family had one major sonic handicap, and thankfully Technics promises the new units will take care of it. That was “cogging”, minute irregularities during rotation, an inherent issue with many direct-drive motors. The new 1200G will feature a coreless direct-drive motor which, they say, will eliminate cogging once and for all. Expect the 1200G to have among the best measured wow&flutter performances in the market.

The rest of the construction is armored-vehicle quality with highly rigid four layer diecast aluminum and BMC chassis, a three-layer high-inertia platter with brass insert and a magnesium S-shaped tonearm.

[Notice of editorial intervention]

Panasonic has not announced retail prices yet, but rumors seem to center on the Limited Edition targeting $4k, with the standard version coming in around half that for the same price.

For the build quality (and an included tonearm!), the standard version could be one of the best values on the market.

Ouch.

Maybe if Panasonic threw in a mechanism-only version (without tonearm and pitch control) for us audiophiles, but $4,000 is a lot of dough for an up-jumped DJ turntable, and that move puts it squarely in competition with some very good audiophile-quality vinyl-spinners.

Here’s to hoping we’ve got it wrong ….

Specifications

All New Design for Redefining the Direct Drive Turntable

  • Twin-Rotor Surface-Facing Direct Drive Motor
  • Direct Drive Motor Controller
  • High Sensitive Tonearm
  • Brass-Top Turntable Platter

Technics Definitive Design

  • Inherited SL-1200 Series
  • Heavy Aluminium Top Plate

Turntable Speeds

  • 33 1/3 rpm, 45 rpm, 78 rpm

Variable Range Pitch

  • ±8%, ±16%

Dimensions & Weight

  • W: 453 mm (17-27/32 inch); H: 170 mm (6-11/16 inch) including dust cover; D: 372 mm (14-21/32 inch)
  • Approx. 18 kg (39.7 lbs )

Terminal

  • Phono Output x 1 / SIGNAL GND x 1

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About Panagiotis Karavitis (161 Articles)
Doctor and Editor @ Part-Time Audiophile Publisher @ Audiohub.gr

3 Comments on The return of a legend: the Technics SL-1200 turntable

  1. I have a heavily modded MK2 I use to transfer vinyl to digital, it is great because of its speed stability.

  2. Having owned several Technics models back in the early eighties, and having owned much better pieces since including right now, I still wonder why anyone who isn’t beat- matching while deejaying even gives a damn!

    • There is a great following of the 1200 even among non-DJs. The price of the classic 1200 was unbeatable, many used it on classic two channel stereo systems with or without heavy modding.

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