Q: I have a vintage high-end sound system made up of Crown, Nakamichi and dbx components. I am looking to replace my old Bang & Olufsen turntable and would consider spending up to $1,500. What is your recommendation?
A: A couple of weeks ago, I would have encouraged you to spend an extra $200 plus the cost of the cartridge to buy the $1,699 Technics SL-1200GR, But I just got back from the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Technics (technics.com) unveiled two exciting new turntables.
One was the SL-1500C, an audiophile turntable based on the same drive system as its world-beating SL-1200GR. It includes a pre-mounted Ortofon 2M Red cartridge and has a built-in phono preamp, so you can use it in any system or directly with a powered speaker.
An interesting feature I have not seen before is two pairs of outputs, one pair for use with an external phono preamp and another set that works with the internal preamp. The extra output completely removes the phono preamp from the signal path if you are using an external unit, guaranteeing the cleanest possible sound. It also has automatic lift once playback is over, protecting your records and the cartridge from unnecessary wear. It will be released soon and will retail for less than $1,500. Given your budget, I’d say it is a perfect fit.
The second turntable is a DJ version of the SL-1200, the SL-1200MK 7, which will sell for $999. It has DJ-oriented features like reverse play that are lacking on other versions.
Q: Thanks for your column last week about the wastefulness of expensive speaker wire. However, isn’t your recommendation for 25-foot SVS SoundPath cables for $139.98 contradictory? Why spend so much on wire if it doesn’t make an audible difference? Plus, you said that the 25-foot Nordost Odin cables cost more than $110,000. That was a typo, right?
A: That was not a misprint. What makes that price even more bizarre is that if you open up the amplifier to which you are connecting the cable, there will be an ordinary-looking wire going from the circuit board to the outside terminal, and if you open up the speaker, there will be another commonplace wire going from the terminal to the speaker components. So you are just bridging two regular wires with one really expensive one.
As for your first question, I do not consider my SVS SoundPath recommendation contradictory. While you can get the same sound quality from ordinary wire, there are other reasons you may want something a bit nicer. I mentioned appearance (not everyone wants bare wires running across their room) as well as durability and ease of use if you change components a lot. Whether that makes it worth paying for the nicer cables is a decision for the individual buyer.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.