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Technics SL-1200MK4 Direct Drive Turntable System

Rating:
5/5,
  1. the wizard of oz
    The best SL-1200.
    Written by the wizard of oz
    Published May 15, 2011
    5.0/5,
    Pros - All of the positive points of the previous versions, but with an improved titanium tone arm, OFC circuitry, gold plated RCA's and added 78rpm support.
    Cons - None, appart that it can only be sourced from Japan, thus expensive to import, from shipping costs to custom duties.
    The durability of the legendary "twelve hundred" turntable doesn't need further introduction: original ones of the 70's still work to this day, and since it has been so popular and so many have been sold, availability of spare parts, should any servicing ever be necessary, is guaranteed.
     
    Like all SL-1200's from the MK2 on, the die-cast heavy aluminium housing achieves great stability with a 12.5kg total weight.
    The vibration-damping proprietary Technics Non-Resonance Compound inside does a great job of reducing the vibration of the direct drive motor to the maximum & further isolating any external vibration that the spring-mounted feet unlikely would have let by.
     
    I needn't remind you of the qualities of the actual direct drive, precise, powerful, and very low maintenance compared to belt drives to say the least.
     
    Quite some improvements have been added over the years to the base model, and this MK4 model to my feeling has to most interesting ones. It was released in 1997 in Japan only, and made for the audiophile crowd rather than for the DJ scene.
     
    This model allows the use of one's own RCA cables, and the RCA connectors themselves are gold-plated.
     
    The usual aluminium S-shaped tone-arm has here been replaced with a titanium one, stronger, lighter and more accurate.
     
    The circuitry and inner cabling uses oxygen free copper wire, fore more a higher fidelity of signal transmission.
     
    The most interesting feature of this turntable is the unique support of 78rpm vinyl recordings, which gives it a kind of universal appeal -save for the rare 16rpm, but lets not split hairs.
     
    With the right cartridge -you need a special 78rpm needle for 78rpm records, like the Orthophon N78-, results are very good, the quartz controlled direct drive is very accurate, and sensitivity is impressive, extracting great sound quality from the grooves, provided the disc is in good condition.
     
    A worthy piece of equipment for digitalization of precious records.
     
    For regular playback of 33 & 45rpm's, it works a treat too, though to avoid changing the settings of the anti-skating, weights or changing of cartridges, a second SL-1200 is a good idea, a MK5 or 6 for example, to avoid the hassle of acquiring another MK4.
     
    The phono pre-amp I use is the Onkyo PE-155, that matches my Intec 205 series Hi-Fi set-up, so I can't comment on its performance with potentially better phono pre-amps, but I'm perfectly happy with my set-up, the sound coming from my D-152E speakers satisfies me plentiful.
     
    Very much worth the investment, this turntable I'm sure will last me a very long time and its qualities won't disappoint.
     
    I recommend this turntable if you manage to get your hands on one.
     
    I got mine used but in pristine condition, and for the fair price I noted. However, I ended up paying just as much in shipping costs and custom duties, so bear that in mind when trying to import one. With its size and weight, its not a simple headphone order.
     
    Also since being a Japanese-only model, note that you will need a voltage converter power adapter, since it runs on 100V.
    1. music_man
      for he price the 1200 has always been the only game in town. with a rb300 it is really something. i suppose this one is great.
      the thing is, suspended platter belt drive tt's can take your vinyl to an entirely different level. when you figure the tt,arm,cartrige and preamp you are at 20 to 50 times the cost of the 1200. the 1200 should be good enough for plenty of people. it is also built like a tank. as you mention. the high end suspended belt drives are a huge pain in the neck too. the 1200, you put the lp on and play it. everytime. that right there is worth a lot. i spend a lot of time "messing" with a tt instead of playing it. when i had a 1200 i really enjoyed it more. even though it was not the absolute best sound i could get. i think the 1200 is great and even above mid-fi. i suppose this takes it to a different level.
      music_man, May 16, 2011
    2. dabotsonline
      As of early 2015, does anyone know a place to buy the Technics 1200 Mk4 in fully refurbished form? I know that Green-Vinyl are selling a lightly-used example for £1400 GBP / 1900€ / $2150 USD, and are throwing in a transformer for free.
      dabotsonline, Feb 9, 2015