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TECHNICS SL-1200 MkII
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Revolver
VINYL HEAVEN  and  The Technics SL-1200 MK2  



Thanks for visiting VINYL HEAVEN  -  We're well into the 21st century and I'm happy to say that vinyl is still alive - indeed independent record shops are also thriving at the moment and the interest in the vinyl format actually appears to be growing.  Vinyl records are, of course, rather delicate and may be now be viewed as increasingly precious, so it is more important than ever to preserve them by using a high quality turntable and take good care of the discs themselves by keeping them clean.


Get Your Vinyl Out!


So - fancy a bit of fun? Have you got a box or shelf full of records? .... Well, why not get them out and enjoy all those old favourites!!


There's no time like the present, so unpack all your treasured LPs and singles. Clean up your vinyl. Spin those discs and have some fun....


In this section you might find the way to real vinyl nirvana......

The Technics SL-1200 Mk II

There is a real magic about playing records that - for me - is absent from CD's and certainly from those highly compressed and invisible MP3 and AAC files which can sound very tatty. Part of the magic of playing a vinyl record is the unique ritual of removing a treasured 12 inch LP or 7 inch single from its sleeve, carefully placing it onto the turntable platter, cleaning the dust off and then gently moving a precision engineered pick-up arm over the lead-in groove and carefully lowering the delicate stylus onto the playing surface of the record.


Playing our vinyl records can also evoke unique memories of the sounds as we remember them from being played heard them from our turntable back in the day. So sit back and enjoy that special and, as some might describe, mellifluous sound that only your vinyl records can provide!


LP Records and Singles & The Technics SL-1200 mk2LP Records and Singles & The Technics SL-1200 mk2LP Records and Singles & The Technics SL-1200 mk2LP Records and Singles & The Technics SL-1200 mk2LP Records and Singles & The Technics SL-1200 mk2LP Records and Singles & The Technics SL-1200 mk2
So - Get Your Records Out!



What About A Turntable?


Many of us will still have a turntable connected to a stereo or hi-fi system, which will make the process very easy. Perhaps there is a turntable lurking in the cupboard or attic perhaps just waiting to be re-connected to a hi-fi system. If not, there is still a wide variety of turntables being manufactured ranging from high-street cheap-and-nasties to very good quality hi-fi models.


The high street cheap and nasties will be found in the typical electronic gadget shops and even electrical stores such as Maplin. They will often include a facility to convert the audio to digital mp3 files via a USB connection to a computer. While this facility is useful, and it might be seen as admirable that these devices are still promoting the vinyl medium, the turntables themselves are usually of extremely poor mechanical quality and as such will provide very poor and disappointing sound quality.


It is still perfectly possible and quite easy to convert your vinyl records (and cassette tapes) to mp3 files using a better quality hi-fi quality turntable using some free software called Audacity. Admittedly it might not be quite as easy to set this up initially, but once done the recording process will be just as straightforward as with a cheapo turntable and will obviously provide infinitely superior sound quality.
See: Digitizing Records



Vinyl reproduction, being an electro-mechanical medium, requires top quality engineering precision as far as turntable design and manufacture is concerned. High quality engineering does, necessarirly, cost money. Cheap turntables will be flimsy in constructing a manufacturing tolerances will be lax, this will result in poor sound quality, unwanted distortions and speed fluctuations and will do your record collection a disservice.


It pays to use a good quality turntable to obtain the most enjoyable sounds.



What's The BEST TURNTABLE ?

Better quality turntables are offered by manufacturers such as Dual, Goldring, Project, Thorens and Rega. Such turntables range in price from around £100 to around £300 and will provide better sound quality. There is also a "high end" market in turntables that aim to provide the very best sound that can be achieved from vinyl. These can cost thousands of pounds and the name Linn may be familiar.

Until the end of 2010 Panasonic-Technics manufactured what was arguably the best value bargain - sound for pound - that a reasonable money could buy -
the Technics SL-1200 series. However, after thirty eight years of manufacture, Technics decided to discontinue this marvelous turntable.

These pages started off as being devoted to the Technics turntable, but even though it is no longer produced I hope that my scribblings will still encourage you to get out your classic old LP's and Singles and even your old turntable if you have one lurking in the cupboard or loft.



Your Vinyl Replay Turntable Recommendations (NEW):

If you don't have a turntable, Ivan Kursar of Cool Gales has been kind enough to make some excellent suggestions (April 2011):


"Hi Mike

My current favourite for a superb budget turntable is the Pro-Ject Xpression III, now fitted with the very fine Ortofon 2M Red cartridge. Extremely stylish deck. Both my daughters have one.

Moving up the range, the Scheu Cello is another great looking and great performing deck. It just got a rave review from Hi-Fi Choice. A popular (rightly so) alternative at just a bit more dosh is the Clearaudio Concept.

And finally, I believe the Scheu Premier II to be the best-value turntable we sell. I have heard it in several very, very high-end systems, and it more than holds its own. This is really a top-notch deck at around a mid range price.

Best wishes, Ivan Kursar [Cool Gales]"

Pro-Ject Xpression III
Scheu Cello
Clearaudio Concept
Scheu Premier II
Pro-Ject Xpression III Scheu Cello Clearaudio Concept Scheu Premier II




The Technics SL-1200 Series

Matsushita-Panasonic-Technics discontinued the SL-1200 mk2 turntable at the end of 2011

In November 2009 internet forums were buzzing with un-verified speculation that production of the SL-1200 series was about to be discontinued. Ceasing production of this very fine instrument was a great shock and very sad indeed.

Buy Your New SL-1200 if You Still Can!


In early 2010 it seemed that Technics were only dropping production of the SL-1200MK5 and SL-1210MK5 but continuing with the most popular SL-1200MK2 and SL-1210MK2 and the most expensive top of the range MK5G version - However by the end of 2011 all production had ceased at prices of those SL-1200's still available, unsurprisingly rocketed to over £800.00


Matsushita, Panasonic, Technics discontinues SL-1200 turntable series

Matsushita, Panasonic, Technics discontinues SL-1200 turntable series


The Technics SL-1200 Mk II
The Technics SL-1210 Mk 2 (SL-1200 MK 2 PK in N. America)


These pages aim to explain some of the fun in more detail, especially why the Technics SL-1200MK2 or SL1210MK2 really provided magical sound quality and a brilliantly enjoyable experience! So, if you have arrived at this page there is a good chance that you are looking for a turntable to play your precious collection of vinyl records. There is also a very good chance that you are dissatisfied with your current turntable and are looking for the ultimate turntable upgrade for not too much money.


Having owned some different turntables over the years and heard many others, I finally discovered the Technics SL-1200MK2 (and SL-1210MK2) turntables and it now has pride of place in the sitting room and playing records has never before been such and enjoyable and rewarding experience.


It is unfortunate that many people believe that vinyl records are not worth playing. I must disagree. One of the main reasons for the misconception is that the record decks that are supplied with the typical all in one ‘stack’ or midi system are horribly substandard and generally produce extremely poor audio quality. Sadly there are also mini, midi and even full size turntables that are being sold separately for about £100 or less that will produce equally horrific sound - such turntables may also have well known manufacturer names on their badges, but appear to be cheaply made 're-badged' products.


Given a turntable of suitably high quality and a vinyl record that is in good condition and clean (see cleaning), the sound quality obtainable from an LP can be extremely enjoyable as well as being great fun too. Indeed there are some people who would argue that the sound from vinyl is even more enjoyable than from CD! But you do have to use a very good turntable -  the Technics SL-1200MK2 fits / fitted the bill perfectly.


Unfortunately good mechanical design and engineering of a quality required for a turntable to provide decent sound quality is difficult and therefore expensive when compared to the design and manufacture of electronic products such as hi-fi tuners and CD players. This is why the cheaply made turntables included with system packages sound so poor whereas a cheap CD player can often sound quite adequate. Good mechanical design is very important for a turntable and is difficult to achieve and will therefore cost money.


A really good quality turntable will inevitably cost more than a mass produced CD player.



The Technics SL-1200 turntable was expertly designed and engineered to produce excellent, top quality sound and while not exactly cheap, it represented phenomenal value for money for sensible sensible amount of money (around £350-600).


I have owned and listened to other turntables - some with disappointing results. Then I found the Technics SL-1200 and knew instantly that it was right!




My Turntable - The Technics SL-1210 Mk2 - High Specification = Amazing Sound Quality

Specifications can tell you a lot about a product, how well it has been conceived and its ultimate quality.  True spec's cannot actually tell you how it will sound in the real world (you'll need an audition for that), but it's a safe bet that poor technical specifications will result in poor sound and that a machine with excellent specifications has a much better chance of producing good sound. But go and listen first.


It should be noted that many other turntable manufactures do not appear brave enough to publish the specifications of their equipment - are they that poor?


As it happens, the Technics SL-1200 has some of the best specifications in the industry with a highly specified FG servo direct drive system and solid and thoughtful construction. Of course these paper facts, as mentioned, do not guarantee great sound. It turns out though, that upon listening to the SL-1200 MK2, it does indeed sound magnificent, and I have to conclude that this must be due to excellent design and engineering.


The Technics is the only system that can guarantee absolute unerring speed stability and 'blackness' of background absent from many belt drive spinners. No other turntable at its price or even several time its price can match the specifications of the Technics SL-1200 MK2.



I decided on the Technics SL-1210 MkII because I wanted a black one, well it’s Technics own very attractive dark gunmetal grey in actual fact – 1210 denotes black rather than silver. It's called the SL-1200 MKII PK in North America, by the way. Incidentally the MK5 version offers no significant improvement in the way of sound quality over the MK II for Hi-Fi use, merely having some cosmetic changes and ergonomic improvements for DJ usage. The construction is identical save for the better quality wiring, gold plated sockets and removable phono inter-connect cable. The MKII has captive phono leads.



On unpacking the SL-1210, I was instantly impressed by its battleship build quality, the balanced and rubber-damped METAL platter and its generally fine engineering quality. Everything about this turntable exudes precision quality. No electric motor glued to the underside of a bit of MDF, or chipboard platters here! The Technics is different to anything else I have seen or heard at the price.


The Technics arm is a precision instrument with bearing tolerances of 0.007mm (another specification other turntable manufactures seem reluctant to quote). The arm is a medium to low mass affair (12g) the wand of which is of the classic ‘S’ shape and incorporates a useful SME type removable headshell. For those that follow trends and fashions, the ‘S’ shape arm may seem slightly 'old hat' since many other turntables use straight / tapered arms, but the Technics arm looks extremely business like and very elegant and having listened extensively proves its worth in every way. 


Incidentally the ‘S’ shape does perform a practical function, as does the taper of a straight arm, in that it eliminates standing waves along the arm, which would otherwise degrade the sound quality.



MP3 - Wave - Media Players?

You precious record collection deserves to be preserved with the highest audio quality. P
roduc Wave files to burn CD's or MP3 files for your MP3 or media player. See 'digitizing your record collection here >




The Cartridge


The headshell of the Technics SL-1200MK2 will accommodate all standard ½ inch mount cartridges, such as moving magnet types from Ortofon, Goldring, Shure, Grado and Audio Technica and those from other familiar manufacturers.


I opted for an Audio Technica AT120E, since I have had very good experiences with other cartridges in the Audio Technica range.


I removed the headshell from the arm and used the cartridge gauge supplied with the Technics SL-1200 in order to set the specified overhang when fitting the AT120E.  After re-fitting the headshell onto the arm (with the AT120E lightly screwed into place) I also used my “Baerwald” cartridge alignment protractor to check to make some very fine adjustments that I hoped would ensure absolute tracking accuracy:


You can download a very useful Baerwald Protractor as a PDF from the Vinyl Engine.  Make sure that you print it out very accurately, otherwise it will be worse than useless, and laminate it if possible.  Find it here:
http://www.vinylengine.com/manuals_tonearm_protractors.shtml


Once the turntable had been made completely level by the use of a spirit level, and the tracking weight and anti-skating force had been correctly set to Audio Technica specified 1.7 grams, it was time to play some records.

Read more about Cartridges and setting up HERE >>



Technics SL-1200 Mk II Arm
The Technics SL-1210 MK2 Arm and Audio Technica AT120E/T Cartridge


While the Audio Technica AT120ET cartridge really is excellent and I can recommend it very highly indeed, there are plenty of high quality alternatives available if one wants to consider a different pick up. 


Some other choices might be the Ortofon 2M Red, 2M Blue, Super OM10, OM20 or OM30, the Shure M97XE or a cartridge from the
wide Goldring range, maybe the new 2000 series.. Some cartridges offer styli with ‘Fine Line’ type profiles – much smaller diamond tips that can extract even more information and musical detail from the record groove.


You can see more about Cartridges Here >




First Impressions - Nectar For Your Ears  -  The Technics SL-1200 and Audio Technics AT120

After playing the first number of LP's my thoughts were that the sound quality is utterly breathtaking - in fact it was like nothing I have ever heard from vinyl records before.  The sound was a revelation, incredibly clear, lacking distracting distortions and full of details that I have never previously experienced. The sheer stability of the sound-stage is something to behold, and with good LP's the lack of noise was impressive.  The Audio Technica AT120AT cartridge and the Technics arm seemed to be working very well indeed with each other. There are minimal discernible end of side tracking problems (Something that has always seemed to plague record playback for me in the past.), the music remarkably smooth, with the combination extracting enormous amounts of detail from the record without ever sounding stressed or harsh.


This must be down to the rock solid, utterly stable and 100% accurate Technics Direct Drive system (something not available on any other turntable at this price or anywhere near the price) and the absolute solidity of construction of the SL-1210 and its immunity unwanted resonances.


Credit must also be given to the Audio Technica AT120E cartridge, its musicality and clarity is wonderful. The bass from the AT120ET is clean and musical, utterly controlled and lacking any of the woolliness and 'waffle' that can be apparent on some systems.


Initially I noticed a slight lack of bass weight which I thought may have been an effect of the phono pre-amp built into the Marantz integrated amplifier that I was using
(* see next paragraph below), but I found that this effect could also be attributed to the fact that the new AT120ET cartridge had not yet been 'run in'. It is worth noting that it can take around 50 to 75 hours for a new cartridge to 'run in'.


During fifty or so hours of playing the AT120ET cartridge the sound gradually changes and gets even better, and when it is fully run-in it really is a wonderful little marvel! 


A different and higher quality phono pre-amp will certainly change and improve record playback when compared to some phono pre-amps that are built into integrated amplifiers. You will be able to read more about phono pre-amps later in this article. Different cartridges will also display rather different sonic characteristics.


It is certainly fair to say that  the treble is brilliantly smooth yet very detailed and sparkles really sweetly with none of the roughness and sibilance that can be present on some turntable set-ups.


I also used an Audio Technica AT-110 with the SL-1210, and while it is not quite as refined as the AT120E, it is still weighty and punchy which makes it very suitable for most rock and pop music. It is also amazing value for money and I feel sure that it would meet many listener's requirements. [Unfortunately Audio Technica have now discontinued the AT-110]



A Different Pre-Amp

I later changed from using the phono preamp that is built into the Marantz amplifier for a discrete outboard phono stage, this brought about a improvement in reproduction.
The new outboard pre-amp was a further revelation, the music gained some weight and scale, there was also noticeably more presence and music had even more focus.


The AT120ET can have a very slight tendency towards brightness with the Marantz phono pre-amp (probably due to capacitance and loading issues) but this was not an issue with the new pre-amp, and the tremendous levels of detail and enjoyment remained from the SL1210 and AT120 remained. I have to say that the new phono pre-amp really allows the Technics SL-1200 and Audio Technica AT120 to sing a very sweet song and for me the combination makes an ideal partnership.


I can already hear you asking the question "What is this remarkable phono stage?".


Well the pre-amp in question is the Elliott Sound Products Hi-Fi Phono Pre-amp. This high quality device is actually a DIY project, Project 06 on ESP's website in fact. To quote: "It is very easy to build, and gives performance that is second to none. Using 2 op-amps, this preamp will outperform most of the circuits you find anywhere on the Internet or the high fidelity stores, with very low noise and accurate RIAA equalisation (but with an extended bottom end that sounds much better than the "true" RIAA equalisation curve". You can read more here >.



Audio Technica AT120ET phono cartridge
The rather good Audio Technica AT120E/T     cartridges >




The Foot Tapping Technics SL 1200


As you may well be be able to deduce, I am extremely happy with my Technics SL-1210MK" & AT-120 combination.
Musicality is brilliant: This combination passes the foot-tapping test every time!


The Technics is very quiet and extremely stable in operation, the arm works so well that it simply lets the music flow in the most detailed, enjoyable and above all, musical and  way - which is what a good turntable should do. The Technics SL-1210 MK2 really is a tremendously entertaining piece of equipment.


The SL-1200 not only sounds better than anything else I have heard at anywhere near its price, sound is always the premium consideration of course, but if you own a collection of 45 rpm singles
this turntable even has the truly modern convenience of being able to switch between 33 and 45 rpm at the press of a button! This might seem obvious, but perhaps will not be appreciated until one realises that on most other turntables currently offered it is necessary to remove the platter, move a belt from one part of a spindle to another and then re-fit the platter.  


Can you believe that? What a chore! It's no wonder that many people faced with this bothersome fiddling end up ignoring their collection of 45's. What a shame - if only they'd bought a Technics SL-1200 Mk2
!


The Technics SL-1200 Mk2 is a one time purchase – you just know it’s right from day one, and I am certain that it will continue to be right.





Why Does The Technics SL-1200 Sound So Good?

Here's why . . . . . .

Development Of An Icon  -  Why the Technics SL-1210 MkII sounds so good

In the 1970’s Technics parent company, Matsushita, invested the equivalent of millions of Dollars, in today's terms, into research and development into turntable and, indeed, cutting lathe technologies. This has resulted in one of the world's finest no-compromise turntable drive systems. [As correspondent Euan Stuart points out] the benefits of this extensive R&D work have trickled down to the Technics SL-1200 range of turntables. These benefits can now be enjoyed by Hi-Fi enthusiasts who demand accurate and stable sound reproduction by utilising one of the world's finest turntable drive systems.

One of the results, today, of all this R&D is the Technics SL-1200 MkII and its other incarnations. (The 1210 is the black version but otherwise identical to the 1200, and you will find other versions up to MK 5, but all offer essentially the same construction as far as the highest quality Hi-Fi reproduction is concerned.)


If an independent turntable manufacturer could afford the massive R&D budget that was lavished by Technics on development then, with much much smaller sales volumes in today’s smaller overall market, the unit cost of the resulting product could well be in excess of £1000 or more.  The fact that you can buy a brand new miracle of precision engineering in the form of the SL-1200MK2, for around £400* is quite a bargain.

The reason that the cost of the SL1200 MkII is now so reasonable is that the enormous research and development costs have been written down over very many years of production.

*The typical price of a Technics SL-1200 MkII in 2007 was £340. By 2010 due to the falling value of the British Pound the cost rose to somewhere around £400 to £450 - which I would still consider good value for money considering what one is investing in.

The Finest Engineering

The construction of the Technics SL-1200 series is extremely solid and non resonant and minimises acoustic feedback that could otherwise mar audio reproduction. The plinth comprises three layers; A special non-resonant composite sandwiched between a high quality cast aluminium top, and a moulded solid rubber base. The feet are also spring loaded, and rubber damped and are adjustable for accurate levelling.

On this extremely solid foundation Technics have built one of the finest drive systems available and fitted a high precision pick up arm:

The FG (frequency generator) Servo Control Quartz Lock Direct Drive system produces the most accurate and consistent speed of any drive system. Unlike most of the common belt drive systems, it is immune to static and dynamic stylus drag. This stable and extremely quiet drive system turns a balanced, heavy 1.7kg cast aluminium platter which is damped not only with a heavy rubber mat but also with additional rubber damping from underneath. The Technics SL-1200 MK2 is topped off by the inclusion of a high precision tone-arm which benefits from bearings polished to a finish of +/- 0.5 microns which have a mere 0.007 grams of friction.

The Technics SL-1200 MK2 turntable must be one of the technological icons of our time.


Technics SL-1200 Mk2 Arm
The arm of the SL-1200 series has very high precision bearings

SPECIFICATIONS

Big clues as to why the Technics SL-1200 MKII sounds as good as it does:

Turntable Type

FG Servo Quartz Direct Drive

Wow and Flutter

0.01%WRMS,

+/- 0.035% peak

Rumble

-78dB DIN B

Speeds

33/45 RPM

Tonearm Shape

Universal S-Shaped

Tonearm Offset Angle

22°

Tonearm Effective Mass 12g
Tonearm Bearings Polished to a finish of +/-0.5 microns
Extremely low friction 0.007 grams

Anti Skate

0-3g

Tracking Accuracy 0° 3'   inner groove (12" record)
2° 32' outer groove (12" record)
Standard Cable Capacitance 100pF including tone-arm cable
8pF per 10cm approx

Dimensions (W x H x D)

453 x 162 x 360 mm

Weight 12 Kg
Technics SL series turntables are still hand built in Japan and have become legendary with over 3 million sets being produced. All SL models feature the undisputedly accurate, reliable and durable Quartz Direct Drive Motor, with extremely high precision arm, precision Aluminium Diecast cabinet and heavy rubber base for vibration damping and total stability.

Quartz Lock FG Servo:

Quoting KABUSA: "This is perhaps the best drive system available today. Not only is it dead accurate and stable. But the ability to correct for both static and dynamic load friction is uncanny. This, thanks to the frequency generator servo. Very few 'tables use this technology due in part to it's complexity and also patent infringement consideration. We are intimately familiar with one design the Technics SL1200 MKII. With this system, there are simply no speed variations. You can, for instance, rub your finger on the edge of the platter and the platter will hold perfect speed. We consider this to be a world class reference turntable. The economical price is misleading Since 1,000's are sold monthly worldwide." www.kabusa.com

You will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to find another turntable that has such a low rumble figure and such precise speed accuracy at anywhere near the price of the Technics SL-1200 MK2 turntable, or even at many times its cost. That is how well this turntable is engineered.


The fact that other turntable manufacturers offering devices costing up to many thousands of pounds do not publish any specifications must immediately raise a number of very serious suspicions.
.



Hijacked?

It is unfortunate today that the SL-1200 has come to be regarded as purely a DJ’s turntable for use in nightclubs and by 'scratching' enthusiasts.  While the SL-1200 MK2 certainly has been adopted by serious DJ's as the de-facto standard turntable, it should not be dismissed by home audio and hi-fi enthusiasts as merely a DJ machine when, in fact, Matsushita embarked on a no-compromise mission to develop the finest sounding Hi-Fi turntable possible – the result being the SL-1200 series.  


Certainly the SL-1200 is built like a tank, it is rock solid and extremely reliable and these strengths have earned the SL-1200 a well deserved reputation as king of all DJ turntables.  However the 1200 is more than this, it is also a very fine sounding piece of audio equipment, and certainly far better than anything else in or well in excess of its price bracket. It is
a high precision instrument that is capable of the very finest hi-fi reproduction when combined with a suitable high quality phono cartridge and phono pre-amplifier.


The vast sums that were initially lavished by Matsushita on the SL project having been written down during its long production run which makes the SL-1200 series the most competitively priced and best engineered Hi Fi turntables available to serious music enthusiasts.


The SL-1200 remains the very best Hi-Fi turntable a sensible amount of money can buy.  A word of warning though; despite being built like a tank, the Technics is possibly the most exquisite piece of precision hi-fi engineering you might ever own, so it would be wise not to buy a second hand 1200 that has been used as a DJ deck.  It may have undergone all sorts of mis-treatment and mis-handling, such as ‘scratching’, or if used as part of a mobile disco may even have been dropped.  The wear on the platter and arm bearings will be unknown and if any damage has been done it may go unseen. 


It is interesting to note that there are reports of Technics SL-1200’s being dropped and surviving unscathed – which proves just how strong and well built they are. I doubt that you could drop any other turntable and expect it to still work properly. 



If you must buy a second hand SL-1200 MkII ensure that it is known to have only been used for home Hi-Fi use.  and be cautios as turntables are comprised of many very delicate parts that are easily damaged by clumsy fingers.


Note: The arm and main bearings can be replaced
fairly easily, as can many other important components on the SL-1200 series.


The Hi-Fi press, and consequently many other music and so-called 'hi-fi purists', seem to look down their nose at the Technics. This is unjustified and is a great shame and may have denied thousands of people the accurate and enjoyable vinyl reproduction that they sought. I believe that the SL-1200 will sound better than most turntables of a similar price, or indeed many costing a good deal more than the 1200's very reasonable asking price.


So far from being ‘hijacked’ by club DJ's and the budding home DJ's fraternity we should be very glad that the SL-1200 has been adopted by DJ's! Their adoption that has brought about a very beneficial consequence: Without these continuing DJ sales Technics may have ceased production some years earlier, thereby denying real vinyl enthusiasts access to one of the best sounding and most rewarding and exciting hi-fi products of all time.


So a BIG thank you to all the DJ’s who enabled the production of the world’s finest turntable to continue for over thirty years and a big thank you to TECHNICS too for continuing production for that long!
It is also worth noting that Hi-Fi World have been pretty much the ONLY paper magazine to champion the 1200. The 1200/1210 series are superb value for money players, which can be upgraded  to majestic levels.


You might like to look at http://www.soundhifi.com/sl1200/index.htm for some of the hi fi world mods and also http://www.vantageaudio.com/


SL-1200 Product Brochure:  The Technics SL-1200 product brochure, from Vinyl Engine is here.

Read more about the Technics SL-1200 on Vinyl Engine: Part One Here and Part Two Here


Technics SL-1200 series versions

The original SL-1200, released in 1972, was marketed as a hi-fi turntable.

The SL-1200MK2, released in 1978, has a silver finish. This was a continuing trend, as later 1200 models would be silver and 1210 models would be matte black. Technics improved the motor and shock resistance, added a ground wire, and changed the rotary pitch control to a slider style. This is now the base model and is the oldest still in production. The older version of this model which was sold in the 70's and 80's has a large 4 inch diameter plate where the RCA and ground wires enter the unit. The newer version has a smaller 2 inch diameter hole in the rubber where the RCA and ground enter. The Technics SL-1200 MK2 is still manufactured and makes the perfect Hi-Fi turntable with performance far exceeding any other turntable anywhere near its price.

The SL-1200MK2PK is a USA-only piano-black (glossy) model.

The SL-1210MK2 is the matte black version of SL-1200MK2. It used to be unavailable from official Panasonic dealers in the United States, until Technics released SL-1200MK2PK.

The SL-1200MK3, released in 1989, has a matte-black finish like the 1210, gold RCA plugs, and a small gold-foil technics label on the back. It was destined only for the Asian market.

The SL-1200M3D (1997) adds a quartz lock button which resets pitch to 0 immediately. The purpose of this button was to remove the detent/"click" at the 0 point of the fader to improve the accuracy of the pitch fader.

The SL-1210M3D is the same as the SL-1200M3D except with a black finish.

The SL-1200MK4 (1997) is only available for sale in Japan. This model is aimed at the hi-end audiophile market rather than for DJ's. This is the last model made with the detent in the middle of the pitch adjustment slider. It has a third button added for 78 RPM located to the right of the 33 RPM and 45 RPM buttons. It is also designed to be used with regular removable RCA cables (along with a removable ground/earth cable) rather than having hard wired RCA cables like all the other 1200 models.

The SL-1200MK5 increases the range of anti-skate settings from 0–3 grams-force (0–30 mN) to 0–6 grams-force (0–60 mN). Also has a white LED target light (previous versions only had a globe and burnt out over time).

The SL-1210MK5 is the black version of the SL-1200MK5.

The SL-1210M5G was launched in Japan on 1 November 2002 (together with the MK5) and is a special 30th-anniversary edition of the SL-1200. The difference from the MK5 model is the ability to switch between ±8% and ±16% ranges for pitch adjustment. It also featured blue target lights and blue pitch-number illumination. The pitch control in this model is all digital.

There are the limited edition gold finishings of the SL-1200LTD (1998) and SL-1200GLD (2004) models, the latter also having a blue instead of the usual white target light. The SL-1200LTD is based on the MK3D and the SL-1200GLD is based on the M5G.

The SL-1200MK6 and SL-1200MK6K1 (black) released in 2007 have some minor improvements including: Improved tonearm mounting and oxygen-free copper wire being used for the signal, improved vibration damping in the body, improvements to the pitch control accuracy and better LEDs.  The other SL-1200 variation that would make a perfect Hi-Fi turntable.


All the SL-1200's were essentially the same, most of the differences and tweaks are aimed at DJ's and will offer of no real additional benefits to those interested in Hi-Fi reproduction.

SADLY ALL VRSIONS WERE DISCONTINED FROM MANUFACTURE BY MATSUSHITA / PANASONIC / TECHNICS BY END OF 2011.


Additional series version information gathered from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SL-1200


PROS AND CONS

Pros
Remarkably clear, detailed, punchy and highly musical sound.
Smooth fine treble and well defined bass.
Lack of distortion.
Excellent tracking performance.
Change between 33 and 45 rpm with the touch of a button.
FG Servo Quartz Direct Drive assures absolute speed accuracy.
Excellent signal to noise ratio.
Ease of set up, very good instruction book.
Adjustable feet.
Very heavy and solid construction.
Feedback immunity.

Cons
No phono plugs for audio output (MKII) - connecting lead is fixed so could not easily be changed, though it appears to be of excellent quality anyway and it would be doubtful that a change would offer any real improvement. (MK5 offers gold plated phono sockets rather than captive cable)
When releasing the arm from the arm rest one has to remember to raise the cueing lever before moving the arm over the record. Not really a problem, it might just be different procedure to other turntables.
Styling might be regarded as somewhat out of  vogue and the finish of the moulded rubber base is slightly rough in one small patch, perhaps due to the different properties of rubber compared to plastics.

Overall
As  you will have gathered I believe that the Technics SL-1200 MK2 is an unbeatable package at the price given its extraordinarily good sound quality fabulous build quality and sheer convenience in use.

Is it the best sounding turntable on the market? Well possibly not, but a better sounding turntables will surely cost more than £1000 and quite likely several thousands of pounds. The point is that the SL-1200 will sound extremely good, and will more than satisfy most requirements and most importantly will not cost the earth!

It may not look like the most modern piece of hi fi, but when one remembers the quality of design and engineering, unmatched by its peers, that hardly matters one jot. Personally I think it looks rather beautiful with what one may term classic hi-fi appeal.

I consider myself highly critical of electronic equipment and particularly hi-fi and yet the SL-1200 more than satisfies my requirements.

.




Where To Buy YOUR Technics SL-1200 MK2


As with any piece of sophisticated equipment, such as the Technics SL-1200 MK2, the only safe option is to buy [your used turntable] from an approved and authorised dealer. It is only in this way that users will be able to obtain the proper after sales support.


In North America the renowned Technics turntable experts are KAB Electro Acoustics. There is probably nothing that KAB's Kevin Barrett does not know about the Technics SL-1200 line. Visit http://www.kabusa.com


NOTE: Now that Panasonic have discontinued the Technics SL-1200 the only way to obtain one will be on the used market.


Second Hand. Although the Technics SL-1200 is regarded as almost 'bomb proof' by many, make no mistake, it is a precision instrument and it is probably very wise to avoid buying a used model, unless it is certain that it has been used carefully and only for hi-fi reproduction and definitely not for DJ work or 'scratching'.






WHAT OTHER EQUIPMENT WILL I NEED ?


You may already own some sort of stereo system, in which case if its amplifier has a turntable input it will simply be a matter of connecting the turntable (according to the manufacturers instructions) to the phono input.

Place the turntable on a very solid and stable cabinet or a good solid shelf. (No wobbly equipment racks or hi-fi units please.)

The excellent sound quality of the Technics SL-1200 will be immediately apparent on a high quality separates hi-fi system. The improvement is so vast when compared to ordinary ‘midi’ style record decks, that listeners will probably appreciate the high quality sound even on midi, mini and micro systems.

For the very best musical enjoyment good quality hi-fi separates should be used, although it is not necessary to spend a large amount of money to obtain a taste of real hi-fi sound.

Cartridge:
As mentioned, it will be necessary to fit a suitable cartridge. I can highly recommend the Audio Technica AT120ET. The Audio Technica AT110E is also an excellent cheaper alternative. Cartridges from Ortofon also come highly recommended.
Find out more on the 'Cartridges' page here.


Amplifier:
A good amplifier from a well known hi fi manufacturer, such as Marantz or Denon, can be bought for between £150 and £300 and will probably be all that most people need to enjoy superior results. There are a number alternatives such as those from Cambridge, NAD, Yamaha, Musical Fidelity and Arcam for example with quite a wide variations in price. £400 to £500 will buy a superb amplifier, but remember to audition first!


Phono Pre-Amp:
A turntable needs a special input on a hi fi amplifier in order to work. Many amplifiers sadly omit this facility and it is then necessary to use an external phono pre-amp which can be connected to one of the amplifier's ordinary Line inputs. Read more on the 'Cartridges' page here.

If you are handy with a soldering iron you can even build your own extremely high quality phono pre-amp that could very well sound better than anything that you can buy ready made! Read more about the High Quality Hi Fi RIAA Phono Pre-amp HERE


Speakers:
A pair of top quality speakers is of utmost importance. Loudspeakers have the most significant influence on the overall sound of a hi-fi system, but there is plenty of choice available. Because speakers from different manufacturers have noticeably different sound characteristics it really is absolutely essential that they should be auditioned before buying. Good quality budget loudspeakers will cost between £180 and £300. Look out for names such as Mission, Castle, Acoustic Energy, Tannoy and Monitor Audio for example. The very best sounding speakers will cost somewhat more but will offer a far more detailed, fullsome and musically rewarding sound. Look out for the names Epos, Opera,  Revolver and Proac for example consider spending £350 to £800 in this range.

My favourite speakers are Epos and Mission and also the old JPW brand whose directors now run Revolver Audio.



DIGITIZING VINYL RECORDS

The process of digitizing vinyl records can be used to produce good quality wave files that can be used to burn audio CD's or used to create MP3 files for use on anr MP3 or media player.

For the preservation of audio quality it is very important to use a turntable that will provide the best technical quality. Sadly many 'budget' decks can play at the wrong speed, have a tendency to induce wow and flutter, speed variations and background rumble, motor vibration and other distracting and unwanted noises. Using high quality turntable such as the Technics SL-1200MK2 will ensure the highest possible sound quality for a very reasonable cost.

(Caution: If you are simply looking to buy a turntable that will enable you to copy your records onto your computer in the form of mp3 files then don't, whatever you do, be tempted to buy one of those crummy plasticky 'USB' style (or similar) turntable packages that you'll see advertised in various magazines, newspapers, electronics shops and gadget websites. These turntables pretty crummy - more like lathes than precision audio equipment. They are cheaply made have the most rudimentary spring loaded arms that track at FAR too high a weight and not only sound absolutely horrible, but will very likely damage your records. Be Warned! AVOID! - Conversly The Technics SL-1200MK2 can be confidently used as a high quality transcription source and is highly recommended. If £130 really is all you want to spend, then buy a Project Debut which at least has a reasonable arm and decent cartridge and will not amage your valuable record collection.)

How to digitize your records
:

It is quite a straightforward matter to record vinyl records onto a home computer (PC, laptop, Mac) in order to make 'wave' files that can then be made into a CD, or mp3 files that can be used on any portable mp3 player.

For the very highest audio quality it is best to save each track as a wave file (.wav) when considering burning them onto a CD. In order to save hard drive space on a computer or MP3 player then another option is to create .mp3 files. MP3 files (and other compressed files such as .ogg .aac and .wma) are popular because they can be as little as one tenth the size of wave files, but being highly compressed do not sound as good as an uncompressed wave file.

The output of a phono pre-amp or the tape loop output of a hi fi amplifier must be connected to the input of the computer sound card. Generally a fairly inexpensive stereo jack to phono plugs lead is required to do this. Such a lead has two RCA Phono plugs for the left and right channels on one end - these are connected to the left and right outputs of the phono preamp or the tape loop outputs of the hi fi amplifier. The other end has a stereo jack plug which is connected to the audio input of the computer’s sound card.

Open the "Control Panel" in Windows and click on "Sounds and Audio Devices". Click on the tab marked "Audio" and ensure that the Sound Recording is via the main sound card (e.g. Creative Soundblaster or whatever the main sound card is installed in your particular PC) - this needs to be set as the 'Default Device' from the drop-down menu. Additionally it might be wise to ensure that Sound Playback is also via the main sound card - again this can be set as the 'Default Device' from the drop-down menu. Click "OK"

Next, from the "Sounds and Audio Devices" window (accessible from the Control panel) click on the "Sounds" tab. Then click on the "Advanced" button. This will bring up the "Playback Control" window which will have a number of volume 'sliders' on it. (incidentally this can also be accessed by right clicking the volume control icon in the task bar near the clock and selecting Open Volume Control.). From the "Playback Control" window select "Options" then "Properties". In the "Properties" window click the  "Recording" button and make sure that box adjacent to the option called "Line In" has a tick in it. Click "OK".  The window with the sliders on it will now be showing the "Recording Control" and the slider marked "Line In2 should be ticked and it should be pushed to the top.

The PC is now ready to accept and record the audio input from the Turntable/Amplifier.  To make successful recordings and be able to edit them into useful sound files some special software will be needed. Some options are described below:

The Programs:

Audacity - Perhaps the best program for recording and editing music on a computer is Audacity, and what’s more it’s free. It can record your records and save them as high quality wave (.wav) files which can then be burned to CD using a program such as Windows Media Player, Nero or Easy CD Creator. Alternatively there is a free ‘plug in’ available for Audacity called Lame which will allow the recorded tracks to be converted to MP3 files at various levels of compression. 128kbps should be seen as the absolute minimum bit rate with 160 or 192 kbps being preferred for better quality.

The Lame encoder has to be downloaded separately as a zip file and once the contents have been unzipped a single DLL file called  lame_enc.dll simply has to be copied and pasted into the Audacity program folder. Comprehensive instructions are available from the help files and various websites.

To obtain Audacity and Lame please visit:

http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/faq?s=install&i=lame-mp3
http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~raa110/audacity/lame.html

)))))  Sample Audio  ((((((

Here is a digital  audio file made using Audacity. It is from one of my favourite LP's called Free Ride from a duo called Marshall Hain. I wanted to play this album in the car so I converted it to wave format and burned a CD.
The LP is recorded directly from my Technics SL-1210MK2. The tracks were also converted to MP3 at a reasonably high bit rate (192k as opposed to the usual 128k) to preserve the quality so that they could be played from the PC and on an MP3 player.

Free Ride was a very nicely produced and engineered LP with some lovely quirky songs and excellent performances. The LP is over 30 years old so general wear and tear has inevitably resulted in some surface noise, crackles and a little distortion. This can probably be forgiven! It's a disc that has been played time and time again, but it still plays quite well and hopefully you should be able to appreciate the clarity and neutrality of the reproduction. I particularly notice how clear and free of equipment induced distortions of the letter S is reproduced - this is down to the correct setting up of the cartridge geometry and the cartridge itself of course, but it's very nice on the SL-1200 + AT120 combination.

I believe that these 192k MP3 files stand up reasonably well considering that these digital formats, such as MP3 and Sony Mini Disc, use clever psycho-acoustic masking to necessarily digitally compress the file sizes and therefore there is inevitably some loss of ultimate quality. So, here
is sample of one of my favourite tracks from the LP- the title track "Free Ride". Due to its age, it's might not be the best showcase for the SL-1210 / AT120, but I think that it may give you an idea of what the SL-1200 is capable of with a typical collection of well worn records.

192 kbps MP3 File recorded from the 1978 LP "Free Ride" by Marshall Hain


FLAC - Declan Kelly kindly suggests that you might consider FLAC as an option for people wanting to compress WAV files without loss of detail. FLAC typically gets WAV files down to 50% or less of their size, and can be played back in most music player software (though not all portable devices support it). It is mainly useful for archiving, as it un-compresses back to the original WAV with no loss of information.
Visit the website at:  http://flac.sf.net

Sound Cards - Some computer sound cards may come with recording software of some sort. For example Creative Sound Cards may come with an application called Wave Studio. Wave Studio is not as comprehensive as Audacity, but may be adequate for most purposes.

AudioGrabber – There is another free program called AudioGrabber which when you first open it looks merely like a CD ripping program (which it is) but it can also do a lot more than rip CD's: If you select the "Line In Sampling" option from the file menu, AudioGrabber can also record the sound input to the sound card.

Helpfully AudioGrabber adds some automation to the process of recording LP’s by automatically splitting the tracks. I must add that there needs to be sufficient silence between the tracks in order for it to works correctly, and that it can tend to curtail very quiet lead-in and lead-out tracks. I have used Audiograbber many times with generally good results.

It must also be noted that this program also needs the Lame encoder to make mp3 files, that is if one does not wish to only work with wave files. Like Audacity, Lame has to be downloaded separately as a zip file and once the contents have been unzipped a single DLL file called  lame_enc.dll simply has to be copied and pasted into the AudioGrabber program folder.

To obtain AudioGrabber and Lame please visit:

http://www.audiograbber.com-us.net/

http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/faq?s=install&i=lame-mp3
http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~raa110/audacity/lame.html


Help


There are many help files and pages concerning setting up a PC to record audio and make wave and mp3 files using these programs, and I hope that what is written here is helpful to you and encourages you to have a go!




The Technics SL-1200 Mk II
Solid & Unerring Stability -
The Highly Entertaining Technics SL-1210 MK2



The SL-1200 MkII is a revelation, requiring no tweaking or endless and expensive upgrades - just sit back, relax and enjoy more and more and more music. And that's what enjoying music on your hi-fi should be all about - shouldn't it? The music now flows perfectly, this is surely as a result of the solid and unerring accuracy of the excellent quartz lock direct drive system. Also what is also readily apparent is that audible mis-tracking and tracking error distortion has evaporated now that the Technics SL-1200 MkII is employed for vinyl playback.

The main consideration now is cleaning dirty records and then keeping them clean.  See Record Cleaning here >.




LINKS

Links to other Technics SL1200 websites:

RESOURCE: KAB USA - The Technics Turntable experts: http://www.kabusa.com

TNT Audio - Technics SL1200 - review 1: http://www.tnt-audio.com/sorgenti/technics_sl1200_e.html


TNT Audio - Technics SL1200 - review 2: http://www.tnt-audio.com/sorgenti/technics_sl1200_2_e.html

SUPERFI - UK Hi-Fi experts: http://www.superfi.co.uk

Vinyl Engine - an extensive resource centre: http://www.vinylengine.com

Technics Repair - www.technics1210repair.co.uk

For DJ enthusiasts - a new microproccessor-based plug-and-play reversing module, developed and designed to be
fitted to TECHNICS SL-1200 and SL-1210 turntables and their many variants.: http://4thstateaudio.co.uk/

OTHER LINKS



More About Cartridges and Other Things Here >

Cartridges >             Cleaning Your Records >

More Testaments To The SL-1200 MkII >

Build A High Quality RIAA Phono Preamp >

Comments >

More about cartridges & alignment >





The Technics SL-1200 Mk II


Next Page  - Cartridges >


Incidentally, I don’t work for any company or organisation that has any connection with the manufacture or sale of the Technics SL-1200 series turntables.  It is when one experiences an epiphany as great as the one I have experienced with my SL-1210 MkII that realise that you just need to shout it from the rooftops.  Lacking any suitable rooftops, I am shouting it from the world wide web!


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The opinions expressed on this website are entirely the personal views of the author. The author has no connection or commercial interest in any company or organisation in the audio or radio industry. No liability can be accepted for what the reader or viewer of these pages may or may not do with the information provided therein.
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Technics SL-1200 Mark Two,  Technics SL-1210 MK2, Technics SL-1210 MKII, Turntable, Record Player, Record Deck, Phono, Phonograph.