Week 35, 2018: Technics SL-1200GR review

Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Week 35, 2018

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 than the old Technics SL-1200 models?

-F.J., New York, NY

A. I do think it is your best bet, without question. Other than the name and styling, 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 high-end turntables costing $30,000. In terms of sound quality, I’ve never heard anything that makes magic come out of the grooves like the new SL-1200 models. The following story is an example of that.

For years I used a Technics SL-1210M5G as my main turntable. The SL-1210M5G was the last and best-performing iteration of the classic Technics SL-1200, which was introduced in 1972. Though it eventually became known as a DJ turntable, at its introduction the SL-1200 series was marketed as a hi-fi turntable and up until the end of production in 2010, it still made a wonderful addition to a home stereo system.

I tested many turntables over the years and though I found some that I preferred over my SL-1210M5G, nothing impressed me enough to change. Finally, I tested a handmade British turntable package that sold for $4,000. It was a very noticeable improvement in sound quality over the SL-1210M5G, so I purchased the review sample.

When the new generation SL-1200GR came out, I reviewed it and it clearly bested my British turntable rig, doing apples-to-apples comparisons with the same phono cartridges. 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. I played the first track on the Technics, then moved the record to the other turntable and played it again.

About 45 seconds into the song, my friend said, “Ugh. Go back to the other one,”

So, my $4,000 turntable was noticeably superior to my old SL-1210M5G, and the new SL-1200GR was superior to my $4,000 turntable by an even bigger margin. That is how good it is. I had to open up my wallet again because the SL-1200GR was something I just could not live without.

The $1,699 price may seem exorbitant to some, but with the SL-1200GR you are purchasing a precision instrument that will last a lifetime. 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 4 to 8 years. Get an SL-1200GR and I am confident it will be spinning records for you (or your heirs) in 2050, over 30 years from now.

The biggest problem to getting an SL-1200GR may not even be the cost of entry. It is difficult to find them in stock as 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