Q: I read the cartridge comparison test on your soundadvicevinyl.com website and saw how much you liked the new Technics SL-1200GR turntable. I am in the market for a turntable, price up to $2,000. Do you think it is my best bet? Is it much different from the old Technics SL-1200 models?
A: It is your best bet, without question. Other than the name, the SL-1200GR does not have much of anything in common with the Technics turntables of old. The new turntables are handmade in small quantities, using advanced direct-drive technology typically found in models costing $30,000 or more. In terms of sound quality, I've never heard anything that makes magic come out of the grooves like the new models.
For years I used a Technics SL-1210M5G as my main turntable. It was the last and best-performing iteration of the classic Technics SL-1200 series, which was introduced in 1972. It eventually became known as a DJ turntable, and up until the end of production in 2010, it made a wonderful addition to a home stereo system.
I tested many turntables over the years, and despite some excellent performances, nothing impressed me enough to make me abandon my SL-1210M5G. Then I tested a handmade British turntable package that sold for $4,000. It was a very noticeable improvement in sound quality, so I bought the review sample. When the new generation SL-1200GR came out, I reviewed it and it clearly bested my British turntable. Not only was it superior, it was superior to the point where I could hardly even listen to my $4,000 turntable again.
I am not the only person who felt that way. I had an audiophile buddy come over to hear the difference. I mounted the same cartridge on each turntable and played the same record at the same volume level. We used the Technics turntable first. Then we switched to the British one. About 45 seconds into the first song, my friend said, "Ugh. Go back to the other one."
That is how good it is. The $1,699 price may seem exorbitant to some, but with the SL-1200GR you are purchasing a precision instrument. If you have a lot of records, it will pay off every time you drop the needle into the groove. Think of how many TVs and computers people buy for $2,000 or more, that are then trashed and replaced in a few years. Get an SL-1200GR, and I am confident it will be spinning records for you (or your heirs) 30 years from now.
The biggest problem to getting one may be finding one in stock. Demand has outstripped supply by a healthy margin. If you want one, find your nearest authorized dealer and get on their waiting list. It will be worth it. (technics.com)
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.