Originally Posted by ]eep
I know the SL-5 because my brother still owns it. He bought it new 30Y ago. He still thinks it's a fabulous player...
WHen I bought my first TT, a Dual 505-II it slapped it all around the room. Tangential tracing is a good concept only almost impossible to do it right. Or very expensive. I really don't get it why people are so fond of Technics TT's other than for nostalgic reasons.
Just a moment ago I was listening to The Planets by Solti (VINYL2496: Gustav Holst - The Planets - 1979). When the choir came on it just sounded horrible
. Really horrible distortion. I couldn't trace the setup so I looked it up in google how it was done. I give you 1 guess... (yes, the SL1200).
OK - the whole story. Technics SL series is a potential world beater - actual product sold to the public can be very so-so. SL-5 is not among the players within the range/line with great SQ to begin with.
My first encounter with SL series came in about early 90s - since I am very good with anything vynil ( worked briefly at Benz Micro Switzerland, following quite a long line of prototypes and pre production units I evaluated back then), an acquaintance called me if I can "fix" a strange table with strange symptoms. Sure enough, it was one of SLs. This is about the most hermetically unpenetrable design as they go regarding ANY adjustments to the tonearm/cartridge : no precise lateral geometry correction, no VTA adjustment, no azimuth adjustment, later/latest models even no vertical tracking force adjustment , no "official" possibility to check for vertical tracking force with a gauge, etc, etc - therfore ZILCH one could do about it. But it did give me creeps - attached to that strange looking arm was a Technics cart that belied each, every and all beliefs regarding my then opinion on Technics - the cantilever and stylus on that "thing" certainly did look the part, easily equaling or besting ANYTHING seen to that time. Scratch the head as I possibly could , I could not decipher how to do - anything. I am frank by nature and admitted to the owner of the deck I have not got the faintest about it and told him I am afraid to monkey around so precious cartridge/stylus without any user manual etc. For the first time in my life, I had to admit defeat - by some TECHNICS table, of all of them !
The cartridge on that fateful table was later identified as EPC P205CMK3, one of the very best MM cartridges in history, performance of which is exceeded only by a very small number of carts, be it MM or MC - mostly from the Technics itself: EPC P205CMK4 and EPC P100CMK4, which I consider to be the best ever - unfortunately never heard one, but did hear those that the fabled 100/4 should improve upon.
That Planets ( one of my fav demo pieces for TTs ) plays on well adjusted 1200 just fine - but wait till you hear it on well adjusted SL !!! I did my homework since that horrible day I had to admit the defeat - this thing operates on entirely different mind set than practically anything else and unless you start thinking similarly, effectively repeating the thinking of its designer, and continue with "turntable bussiness as usual", you will not get anywhere but to results you described. You simply need not to be appaled at lack of adjustments for - ahem...everything and not capitulate from the deck's automatisms that prevent - ahem, everything again. It is made and conceived as "fire & forget" - and that would work in a perfect world, where each and every cartridge is made with zero tolerance, etc, etc. Real world tolerances are what they are and Technics could be accused to show more variations sample to sample than some other manufacturers - some 20 or so ( from low to P205CMK3 quality) Technics P Mount carts in residence are statystically enough to lay down such a claim. No wonder very few actual combinations table/cartridge/stylus performed as they should - giving the design bad reputation in the process. QC on the actual tablers also left much to be desired - free play in tonearm bearings, poorly adjusted servo for tonearm movement etc, etc were unfortunately more rule than exception.
In a word, you must not fight it, trying to prove it has many flaws ( it does, all but the very last one in the series, at which any "serious" audiophille would scoff at, as it is taken together about 3,5 kg of plastics, power cord included - yet, it is the most technically advanced TT Technics ever produced and can be made to sound absolutely fabuolous - but it "looks" so that "serious" audiophile would never admit ever to come within a mile of that table ! ), but you must try to help it as best as you can. Then, it will return your effort - many times over.
After that , you will begin your hunt for GOOD P Mount cartridges ...a properly set up SL will hold its own against most, given a good vibration free support. A properly modified one on equally good or better support with good cartridge will give ANY other table, regardless of cost, a bloody nose.