Technics is not in its infancy in the field of audio, since it was founded in 1965 when it was marketing its first product, the Technics 1 two-way loudspeaker. Many of its achievements were quite a feat at the time, and I will name only the SP-10 and SL-1200 direct drive turntables. The latter have long been highly regarded by radio hosts and DJs. Technics is owned by Panasonic Corporation. The latter gave it a rebirth in 2014 when the brand had a vacuum and almost disappeared for a decade. While keeping its rich heritage alive, we are now combining the past with the latest technical developments of our time to manufacture a wide variety of products accessible to all budgets.
However, one thing has never changed. Technics is a manufacturer that never runs out of ideas. The design of new innovative products is in its DNA. With this in mind, I am pleased to present the return of a revised and corrected Classic, the SL-1200GR direct drive vinyl record player from the Concert Class SL-1200 series, designed and manufactured in Japan. It has all the technological innovations which its big sister, the SL-1200G (itself the descendant of a prestigious heritage) possesses.
In fact, at a quick glance, the two turntables could be mistaken for one another, aesthetically at least, if one did not take into account the SL-1200G’s brass top colour. Without a doubt, the structure of the latter undoubtedly benefits from higher-quality materials.
The frame construction leaves no doubt as to the rigidity of the plate. A BMC (Bulk Molding Compound) resin layer is used as well as a second aluminum layer, which is poured under pressure. The whole is covered with a 10 mm aluminum plate.
Direct drive is a technology that was developed by Technics and commercialized by the firm in 1970. You will have understood that rotation is not done with a belt. At the time, we will remember that it was a rather radical change in the manufacture of turntables. To date, Technics continues to develop in this direction. It is believed to be the best technology because the motor turns the tray directly. In addition, the speed of rotation is slower than belt systems. Technics submits that there is little or no degradation of sound, as the rotation of the tray is not dependent on a belt, so the movement is much more stable, as it is not affected by the various components of a belt motor. Note that a belt undergoes deterioration over time, which is not the case with direct drive. Since its launch in 1970, numerous improvements have been made to the engine, including the addition of a control to maximize continuous speed maintenance, a double-rotor engine to reduce engine vibration, and an oiled rotation axis to ensure smooth rotation.
The tray is incredibly stiff and believe me, it’s really sturdy just like the whole deck. Handle it with great care. It consists of two layers of moulded aluminum, which are trapped by layers of rubber on both surfaces to eliminate any resonance and/or vibration. A rubber ribbon was added to the inside of the tray for the same reasons. At the time of the final installation, the rubber mat provided with the turntable for holding the discs will be affixed to the tray. That mat adds a layer of protection against vibration. It can be assumed that the high weight of this turntable minimizes the jump of the reading arm. I was not able to assess this aspect because the floors of my condo are made of cement.
The S-shaped rotating reading arm is typical of a Technics turntable. It is made of aluminum, therefore, very light, but with great rigidity. According to the manufacturer, its shape allows a perfect alignment with the grooves of the vinyl discs. This arm is equipped with the same gimbal mount found in the other turntables by this manufacturer. In addition to the swinging counterweight on the arm, the turntable includes a small auxiliary counterweight (which I used) allowing it to be used with almost all the cartridges available on the market.
At the rear are gold-plated phono connectors. These allow you to use RCA cables of your choice. A set of RCA cables is also included in the package. They are of average quality, but it is still a good gesture from the manufacturer. The lead wire, which is also supplied, is inserted into the input connector intended for it. Here again, one could use the cable of one’s choice. If required, a grounding connector is made available. Silicone rubber insulating feet provide increased protection against external vibrations.
You might think that putting the cartridge on the shell is a major obstacle for some of you. Honestly, I don’t think we should worry too much about that. This is a relatively simple operation that requires little expertise. Very precise explanations are provided by the manufacturer within the instruction manual which is very intuitive in this respect. Moreover, although the operation is relatively easy, I cannot stress too much to follow the instructions exactly to ensure a smooth assembly. Also make sure you have your cartridge specifications on hand, as they will be required in the installation process. Once the cartridge is installed on the removable shell, it should be attached to the reading arm by tightening a locking ring. However, if you are not comfortable with this step, do not hesitate to ask your dealer who will install it with pleasure.
For this test bench, I mounted this SL-1200GR with the same accessories that I use for mine, namely a Klyde (Moving Coil) cartridge by Linn, Linn Silver link cables, a Cardas AC Twinlink power cable and a Linn Linto phono preamplifier.
To get the most out of this device, I suggest using good accessories without falling into esotericism. It is still an excellent quality turntable, so it would be sad to associate it with too cheap a cartridge, for example. You would not stand to gain from that. First of all, please note that you can play 33, 45 or 78 turn vinyl with this turntable. However, there is something that bothers me here. I don’t know why some manufacturers insist on offering turntables that include 78 rpm compatibility. Never ever, would I dare put my Klyde cartridge on an old 78 rpm. That would be an assured slaughter. If you absolutely want to play records of this format, and it is your right, I propose to get you a second shell / cartridge set of lower quality so you will have the best of both worlds, especially as the shells are very easily interchangeable.
This turntable has several interesting little gadgets. First, there are two steps to getting it started. It is necessary to activate the power switch, which also controls the stroboscopic light identified by On / Off, and then press the button, which controls the rotation of the Start / Stop tray. Reverse the operation to turn the device off. This function is not trivial. It was developed to prevent premature wear of the drive system when it is shut down. The rotation speed of the tray is adjustable. If you’re one of those who opt for voluntary simplicity, adjusting the rotation speed is certainly not your cup of tea. In this case, simply press the Reset button under the tone arm. The rotation of the tray will take place at predetermined speeds. If not, to take control of this aspect and wake the DJ inside you up, you will use the Pitch Adjust command. Using the strobe light, the rotation speed can be adjusted to suit your needs. The adjustments are then much more variable.
I like to listen to my records, at night, in a subdued atmosphere. There’s a certain magic in listening to vinyl under these conditions. There is, however, also an irritant. When changing a disc, the light is sometimes too dim to be able to perform the operation safely for the cartridge. This turntable offers the ideal solution. It is equipped with an option that allows the illumination of the needle. It’s an outstanding idea. To read 45 rpm vinyl discs, Technics included a high quality adapter which is located at the back on the left. This will eliminate the need to use the horrible yellow plastic adapters.
I recognized the sound of my own system a little bit, and that’s normal, because I made the connections with the same accessories as on my own turntable. However, it is something that I found very interesting. This turntable does not mask the characteristics of the elements to which it is associated. This is not trivial, because you will understand that when purchasing a cartridge or a phono preamplifier, for example, that meets all your criteria, or if you want to use what you already have, you will certainly not want to acquire a device that will take you away from the sound for which you have invested money.
The Klyde cartridge, when paired with a phono preamplifier, such as the Linn Linto, does not offer a hyper analytical playback, not surgical some would say, but rather a precise and well-detailed reading. The SL-1200GR was able to make the most of the available resolutions. There are many schools of thought as to what the ideal analogue sound should be. I am a man fulfilled when the high frequencies are slightly subdued, but detailed, that the low frequencies are deep, precise and take up a lot of space, while the medium predominates widely. In addition, when a good combination of analogue devices and accessories is created, a softness and a certain darkness is obtained that digital devices rarely restore. These are qualities that I attribute to this Technics turntable. In all objectivity, I admit that all my listening on this vinyl turntable does not compete with the best in this world, but surely this is not the goal sought by the acquirers, in this category. However, this does not mean that you will be disappointed, as your investment will be rewarded. This turntable has an excellent balance in terms of coherence, definition of space and sound spectrum. It’s very musical. Isn’t that an essential attribute? Before I forget, I must add that it’s very quiet. I increased the playback level of my preamplifier to a dangerously high volume (without a disc, of course) before I heard a signal from my speakers.
You want a vinyl turntable, and the price of this one is right for you? I recommend it without restriction. It will bring you much pleasure. However, I will repeat that it is important to associate it with a high-quality cartridge, while remaining reasonable, in order to respect the value of the quality-price ratio. This also applies to the RCA cables you will be using. As such, those who are graciously included in this set are not holding up in my view. I’d rather warn you.
Musicality, consistency, dynamism, very honest tonal reproduction, ease of use, versatility.
Objectively, in its category, it is a device that has nothing to envy to the competition.
Technics’s vinyl turntable is also available in black (SL-1210GR).
Price: $ 2,499
Warranty: 3 years parts and labour
Manufacturer/distributor: Technics Canada, Tel. : 905.624.5010 or in Quebec, 514.245.0383, www.technics.com/ca_en
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