By Don Lindich
Week 3, 2019
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 top recommendation in that price range?
-D.B., Milwaukee, WI
A. Typically I would encourage 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 had two exciting new turntable announcements. One of them was the Technics SL-1500C, a new audiophile turntable based on the same drive system of their world-beating SL-1200GR.
The SL-1500C 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 of the SL-1500C 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.
The Technics SL-1500C 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 introduction was a DJ version of the SL-1200, the SL-1200Mk.7, which will sell for $999. It is made of different materials and has some DJ-oriented features like reverse play that are lacking on the audiophile versions (The $4,000 SL-1200G and $1,699 SL-1200GR.) It will also sell through a different distribution system. See all Technics turntables at technics.com.
Q. Thank you very much for your article about expensive speaker wire, it settles lots of past arguments. However, isn’t your recommendation for SVS SoundPath cables contradictory? Why spend so much on wire if it does not make an audible difference? While $139.98 for 25-foot SoundPath cables is absurd, over $110,000 for the Nordost Odin is way beyond belief and I am thinking it must be a misprint. Am I really reading this right?
A. That was not a misprint and based on current pricing you would indeed spend over $110,000 for a 25-foot stereo pair of Nordost Odin cables. What makes it especially funny to me is if you open up the amplifier 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 an ordinary-looking wire going from the terminal to the speaker components. So you are just bridging two ordinary wires with one really expensive one.
I do not consider my SVS SoundPath cable recommendation to be contradictory. While you can get the same sound quality from ordinary wire, there are other reasons you may want something a bit nicer. I used the example of jewelry, and nice cabling can dress up your system, giving it more visual appeal. Also, heavy duty cables with permanent connectors are much nicer to work with than stranded bare wire. So, you do get a benefit in terms of appearance, 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. Obviously, if you have long distances to run and more than 2 speakers the price can increase dramatically and make ordinary wire a better choice.