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Choosing the right turntable is extremely important. It makes a big difference to your performance, the sound quality, but also to your experience as a DJ. If you choose the right turntable, then working with it will feel effortless which leaves you to get lost in the music.
Many DJs struggle to decide whether it is better to get a second hand 1200, or to invest in a brand new turntable.
To make this decision easier for you, I have reviewed some of the best Technics turntables and put together some useful information about how to choose the right turntable for you. Keep reading to find out more.
OUR TOP PICK
After the original SL-1200 was discontinued, Technics designed a new version from scratch with improvements to the original model. The platter is heavier with a brass top plate supported by rubber.
There is a new direct drive motor system which removes the stator clogging, resolving one of the common issues reported with the original SL-1200. The digital speed control system more accurately controls speed.
There is also a new SL-1200GAE which is a limited edition model. There are some differences between the SL-1200G and the SL-1200GAE. A different type of rubber is used on the feet of the limited edition model.
The arm tube is also different, made from aluminum rather than magnesium. Both of these differences will improve isolation and reduce the amount of damaging noise entering into the turntable.
The SL-1200 is considered expensive, but it's a very good piece of equipment. It is considered to be the best Technics turntable that you can buy.
It is well-balanced so you don’t need to worry about it falling off the table, or excessive vibrations ruining the sound quality. The twin rotor reduces resonance and the sensitive tone arm helps you to achieve high precision to get a nice warm sound
- Coreless direct-drive motor — Prevents sonic degradation due to minute speed vibration and “cogging” (slow rotation stutter).
- High torque — Platter gets up to speed after manipulation in a snap. It also makes beat matching way easier.
- Pre-balanced — Every SL model turntable is balanced in the factory to eliminate excess vibration, meaning they’re show-ready right out the box.
- Durability — A robust aluminum enclosure keeps the sensitive inner workings of both the SL-1200G and SL-1200GAE safe at all times.
- Aesthetics — These things look immaculate. You won’t be able to keep your hands and eyes off them.
- Price — As mentioned in the review, these are pricey bits of gear, but they’re also total works of art, so the price tag isn’t completely unfounded.
The SL-1200 MK7 is another take on the original SL-1200. It has a similar look and feel with great functionality.
The coreless direct drive motor provides a higher torque and stable rotation.
By improving the slow turning motor used on previous models, Technics were able to fix the ‘clogging’ that users were reporting- this is where the rotation became irregular- by removing the iron core.
The gap between the coreless stator and the rotor magnets has been optimized which creates a better magnetic force and an overall improved performance.
The unit features an improved vibration damping platter with iconic side strobe dots, along with a precision S-shaped tonearm with a Technics headshell. The cartridge is not included so you will need to purchase this separately.
The digital pitch control function allows fine adjustment of the rotation speed from positional detection of the slider to rotational control of the motor.
This allows for better tracking performance with greater accuracy and stability. The reverse play function creates new options for performance.
The turntable is user friendly, with switches on the main unit for the torque speed adjustment, rotation speed and reverse play.
The S-shaped tonearm has a reliable static balance and high-precision bearings which makes it perfectly motion sensitive and reduces stylus jumping.
The stylus illuminator has an intuitive push-type structure along with a bright, long-life white LED. You will be able to see the stylus area even when you are playing in a dark environment.
The phono terminals on this turntable are gold-plated which helps to maintain sound quality. They are easy to maintain as the terminals allow the power and phono cables to be detached.
The aluminum is integrated with a material made from ABS and fibreglass. This double layer construction helps to reduce external vibrations to improve the sound quality. The spring and rubber insulator also prevents external vibrations.
This turntable comes in a choice of a matte black finish or a smart silver finish. Both look great, and you can choose the one that best suits the rest of your equipment. It has a detachable RCA + power cord which is very convenient.
- Coreless drive-drive motor — Highly stable rotation with fewer sonic artifacts.
- High torque — Reduces slowing of the platter when holding the mix, which is a godsend for beat matching.
- Reverse play — Augment your set by incorporating some backwards passages.
- Aesthetics — The matte black finish is super sleek and super cool.
- S-shaped tone arm — Extremely vinyl-friendly design.
- Originality — This turntable isn’t a far cry from its predecessor, which is a little disappointing.
This is a direct drive manual stereo turntable. It has a sliding pitch control function and is designed for both professional and amateur DJ applications. This product was intended for the Japanese market.
The headshell is detachable and the unit comes in a matt black finish with gold detailing.
This product has a diecast aluminum body with a heavy rubber base which prevents vibrations ruining the quality of the sound.
The high torque allows for quick starts and stops and the quartz locked pitch adjustment works very well for a reliable performance.
- TNRC (Technics Non Resonance Compound) — Robust vibration dampening for optimal sound quality.
- Aesthetics — Slick blacked-out look.
- High torque — Gets back up to speed after scratching and other manipulations.
- Durability — There’s a reason people refer to Technics turntables as the “Wheels of Steel”.
- Platter mat — The platter mats that arrive with Mk3s aren’t bad, but you’re best off choosing something tailored to your spinning style.
This direct drive manual turntable has a quartz synthesizer. The S-shaped tone arm is very sensitive, with low mass and gimbal suspension for an excellent performance. The height of the tonearm can be adjusted with the helicoid feature.
The cabinet is made from diecast aluminum with a heavy rubber base to prevent unwanted vibrations that could impact the sound quality. There is also a handy disc slip mat.
You can choose from a silver or a black finish and there is a removable dust cover for easy storage of the turntable when not in use.
- S-shaped tone arm — Low mass S-shaped tone arm reduces tracking errors.
- Durability — A diecast aluminum chassis keeps the SL-1200M3D in tip-top shape, no matter how energetic your sets become.
- Heavy rubber base — Keeps vibrations to an absolute minimum.
- Dust cover — Arrives with a dust cover so you can keep your turntable nice and clean when not in use.
- Price and audio quality — It’s not the best-sounding turntable in its price range, but better than it’s main competitors for DJing.
Now that you have a better understanding of different Technics turntables, it’s time to choose which one will be best for you. This can be a tricky decision, and it depends largely on what you need out of a turntable. Each DJ will have different requirements.
The first thing you need to think about is whether you want a new unit, or if you would prefer a second hand original turntable. Some people find the original models are more durable and reliable, but you have to be careful when buying second hand.
Always look at the unit in person so you can inspect it carefully for wear and tear. Ask for a demonstration so you can check the sound quality and make sure there is no crackling from deteriorated wires.
Going for a second hand turntable won’t necessarily be cheaper. There is limited stock available of the discontinued models, and not all of them are in good condition.
They are in high demand and you could end up paying quite a lot, but if an original unit is what you are after and you are vigilant in your inspections then you won’t be disappointed with your purchase.
Whilst the old models are durable, the newer models are considered to have better sound quality. If this is your priority, then you might be better off avoiding the second hand turntables and buying a new one.
The model best suited to you will depend on what features are most important to you.
When it comes to motors, you can go for a magnetically driven direct motor with an iron core or a coreless direct drive motor. The coreless motors have less issues with clogging, but they are not always as reliable and accurate when it comes to performance.
Both are good options, so it will come down to personal preference. If possible, you should demo a turntable with each motor so you can see which one suits you best. If this isn’t an option, then reach out to other DJs and see what their thoughts and experiences are.
This could help to sway your decision and make it more informed, removing some of the guesswork. If possible, choose a direct drive motor over a belt drive system as they are more hard wearing and reliable.
If you are planning on playing a lot of vinyl records, then you would benefit from a turntable with an autolift function which raises the tonearm at the end of a record. If you do a lot of scratching, then you will need a high-torque turntable with excellent speed control.
If you need to be able to match tempo, then choose a turntable with smooth pitch control and adjustable braking system.
If you want the best sound quality and aren’t too fussy about playback options then the SL-1500C has some excellent features to preserve and enhance sound quality, but without the benefit of pitch control.
Whatever turntable you choose, think about the material that the chassis is made from. Aluminum helps to reduce vibrations, especially if it is a double layer construction. This will really reduce unwanted noises that could impact the overall quality of the sound.
If you get the opportunity to go to a shop or a show room where you can have a good look at the turntables before you buy them then this would be beneficial.
If you attend a lot of music events then try and look at the DJ’s set up and consider the sound quality of what you're listening to, as this could give you some inspiration for your own set up.
When buying a second hand unit, there are a few things that will affect the price. The price will largely be dictated by the condition, but also the age. The newer models will usually be more expensive.
If the turntable was modified then this could reduce the value, especially if the modification wasn’t completed by Technics. Resprays and cosmetic modifications won’t affect the performance of the unit, but avoid turntables that have been ‘earthed’.
This means that it has been changed to prevent the need to connect an earth lead, but this can lead to a build up of static which might have a negative impact on the sound quality.
Despite being extremely durable, you could still find some second hand SL-1200’s with a few wear and tear issues.
There are certain features you will want to check when inspecting the turntables to make sure you are getting a good unit that will function properly before you hand over the money.
The first thing to check is the pitch control. Make sure it is still working accurately and use the strobe to check that the platter is turning at the right speed and is responding to the pitch control.
Next, inspect the anti-skate mechanism to make sure the dial beside the arm bearing is pulling the arm away from the platter and that the arm base lock works.
Double check the platter bearing by spinning the platter in both directions with your hand. Make sure it is running smoothly, then check that the rubber underneath is not coming away and the magnet is undamaged.
Have a look under the turntable and platter to check that no screws are missing. Make sure there are no loose connections in the RCA Plugs that connect to the amp or mixer by asking for a demo of the unit and listening out for crackling sounds.
Check the arm is moving smoothly and that the headshell clamps firmly with no loose screws.
A turntable is a big investment and you want to be sure that you get the right one. If you choose the right product then it can last you for many years, so it is an important decision.
History Of The Technics Turntable
Technics Turntables, manufactured by Panasonic, have long been favoured by many DJs across the world.
One of their most popular models was the SL-1200, but it was discontinued in 2010, mainly because the original mouldings that were used to make it had worn out. You can still get hold of some original stock, but it is in high demand and quite expensive.
The original SL-1200 turntable has a magnetically driven direct motor and a high torque which enables accurate scratching and mixing. The pitch control is very responsive, which is perfect for beat matching.
These units are durable and were built to last, which is why they have a high resale value. Even second hand they aren’t cheap! These turntables were designed to be incredibly durable, not to have the best sound quality.
The sound is excellent, but if that is your top priority then there are other models that might suit you better.
If you are on the lookout for a second hand SL-1200 then it is important to understand the difference between the US model and international model.
When the turntable was originally produced, they created an international model, also known as the ‘gray market’ model. They were less expensive and had a less comprehensive warranty.
The international model can be used in the US with an adaptor (which comes included) and the performance won’t be impacted. It has a 220v-style power plug and a voltage control to switch between 110v and 220v.
There tend to be more international models available to buy second hand.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Should I Choose A Technics Turntable?
Technics turntables are known for being durable. They don’t have the most superior sound quality on the market, but they certainly do a good job. They are reliable, user friendly and are considered to be a great investment.
The units are well built with high quality parts and materials, and carefully designed for a good user experience with many practical features. You don’t necessarily need a turntable stand as Technics turntables are very portable and fit easily in many spaces.
What Features Define A Technics Turntable?
Technics turntables are known for having top quality circuitry, a three layer turntable platter, a high precision motor, and a 4 layers cabinet construction.
They are also known for including a highly sensitive tone arm, and superior quality terminals to make attaching and detaching cables nice and easy.
Should I Get A Second Hand Turntable?
There are pros and cons to going with a second hand turntable. It can save you money, unless the model you buy has been discontinued but is still in high demand.
If you go for a newer model that is still in production but a second hand unit then you could be spending less, but make sure it has been well looked after and is in good condition.
Buying a second hand turntable is a good option for beginners who are still fairly new to DJing.
What Is So Good About Vintage Technics Turntables?
Vintage Technics turntables have a reputation for having massive torque, stability and precise speed.
The shape and design is very recognizable as it has been mimicked by other manufacturers. If you find a vintage Technics turntable with a direct drive system then these are the cream of the crop.
Some of the vintage turntables have belt drive designs which are not as good, as they are more cheaply made and don’t wear as well. The downside to vintage turntables is that they can be very expensive.