Technics SL-1200 - do they really sound good?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by vw1300, Apr 3, 2024.

  1. vw1300

    vw1300 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore
    To clarify - I get that this turntable is sturdy and will last for years. But do they really give a decent sound like one might expect from turntables that are in a similar price range ant least when new, at least in stock form?

    I ask because I have no experience with a 1200 or its siblings, nor with Regas et al. to compare it to. I’m considering upgrading my Music Hall 1.5 and It does seem easy to find used Mk2 1200s, been reading up on how to shop for one that’s not worn out. Price range I’m considering is $1000-ish. Just wondering if that’s what I really want to do. I like the idea of a sturdy turntable with easy cart replacement, but it’s got to sound good too. Decent Mk2s seem to run $700-900 which leaves me $ room to play around with carts.

    My ears are not audiophile grade either so this would likely be an upgrade that will hopefully last for a very long time.

    thanks!
     
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  2. Built like a Tank. Do some research for a good Cart & Headshell combo. Also, an KAB tonearm damper down the line. I've had 2 since 83 & sold 1 off since I purchased the GAE & kept my other one. Total of 4 decks in my collection. Enjoy!
     
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  3. Technocentral

    Technocentral Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    I bought a mkii for €650 summer 2022 in great condition as it was. I got it serviced and checked straight away just to be certain that all was OK, the same person added new low capacitance rcas to it, replaced the capacitors on the main board, slightly tighened tye tonearm screws etc, then I got a silicone tonearm damper and a AT6006R tonearm lifter, total cost without carts circa €1000. I have 4 carts for it and it sounds great imo.
     
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  4. Oelewapper

    Oelewapper Plays vinyl instead of installing it on the floor.

    “Technics SL-1200 - do they really sound good?”

    - Yes.
     
  5. Dansk

    Dansk rational romantic mystic cynical idealist

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    It spins at the right speed and is quiet. It does the job of a turntable.
     
  6. john stein

    john stein Well-Known Member

    Location:
    United States
    +1 for @Danmar comments.
     
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  7. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    There are some nicer versions of this table with heavier platters, etc. What I see from audiophiles is a desire to swap out the tonearm.

    I think there are some videos on youtube where you can hear comparisons. Like mentioned, that KAB damper takes it up a level. I can't imagine how that works in a house full of pet hair. Good luck.
     
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  8. punkmusick

    punkmusick Amateur drummer

    Location:
    Brazil
    I only have direct and continuous experience with the recent G and GR models and I think both sound superb. The G a bit better.
     
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  9. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    A 1200 can sound very good when properly set up, but the cartridge and the downstream equipment will account for the majority of the sound you get.

    Also be careful buying an old 1200. Many old models were not treated well and problems are common. That's especially true the deeper we've gone into the whole vinyl comeback thing as better examples got scooped up years ago. Most problems on these things can be fixed, but if you didn't budget for repairs and bought a lemon, you'll end up regretting it.

    My advice would be to take your time and really test things out in person if buying used. There are many videos and articles online that explain how to test out an old 1200. Visually if something looks like it was treated roughly my advice would be to walk away unless you are prepared to pay hundreds of dollars for parts and repairs. Pay close attention to the tonearm as broken anti-skate and jacked up tonearm bearings are extremely common with abused models.

    In my area heavily abused vintage 1200s are extremely common and "nice" examples that haven't been used by club DJs touring around the country and the world are very rare. Many old examples I've looked at needed $300-500 in parts and repairs.

    For a lot of people it may be easier and less expensive overall to just buy one of the new Technics models instead.
     
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  10. vw1300

    vw1300 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore
    yes, and there seem to be low-mileage SL100c turntables out there for less than $1000. Would that be a good alternative, especially since I don’t really need the pitch control and cue light? Would the other suggestions of tonearm damper upgrades still apply? Should they sound as good as a SL-1200?


     
  11. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, ID, USA
    I have the SL1500C and damper, and cats. No problem, I keep the dust / cat hair cover closed.
    I would think the SL100 would sound as good and yes the damper is still recommended.
     
  12. Technocentral

    Technocentral Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    We have a cat, no hairs in the silicone tray
     
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  13. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Nothing wrong with the 100C, though for a recent model I would not suggest buying used. You might end up with a lemon or customer return. Maybe it will work out, but maybe it won't. Basically if you're interested in a newer Tech I always recommend buying from a good retailer that will make things right if there is any issue at all. Here in the U.S. that's mainly Crutchfield and Sweetwater. Other dealers might not be so accommodating if you are unlucky.

    KAB makes the tonearm damper for the new models as well, check their site. I have one on my MK7.
     
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  14. vinylkid58

    vinylkid58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Victoria, B.C.
    Buy a 1200MKII/MK5/M3D, even if you have no use for the pitch control etc.

    jeff
     
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  15. RWAudio

    RWAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brick NJ
    It depends what you mean by 'sound good'. Tonally, they are neutral to a bit coolish. They give a very accurate, non-colored kind of sound. Music Hall's tables tend to sound warmish in tone IME, but I haven't heard the 1.5.
     
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  16. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I agree with this.
     
  17. tootull

    tootull I tried to catch my eye but I looked the other way

    Location:
    Canada
    I have a Technics SL-1700 MKII that sounds good.
     
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  18. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    My own recent experience is… I removed the KAB damper from my SL-1210GR. My reason for doing that was because there was fluid wicking to the outer surface of the trough, but when I took a close look at it, I saw it had, indeed, become kind of a cat hair trap. Not disgusting levels, but definitely a few hairs in there. My original intention was to empty and clean the damper, then refill and re-install, but, honestly, everything still sounds fine without it, and I’m not sure it’s worth the cat hair trap and risk of maybe some of that hair wicking fluid onto other parts of the turntable.

    And really my point in sharing this, in light of the thread topic, is to say I honestly think the stock Technics arm, at least on the GR, is just fine. Could be bettered? Sure. But it’s not bad. The way some people talk about it, you’d think it was like using a rusty nail on a stick or something as a tonearm…
     
  19. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I never noticed when we had one dog. Now that the one dog is gone and we have four cats, there was hair in there. :laugh:
     
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  20. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
     
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  21. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, ID, USA
    we have four cats. Do you keep your dust cover closed? :D

    I do admit, I haven’t looked at it in a few days though.
     
    Big Blue likes this.
  22. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I do, but it’s not a hermetic seal, and obviously it’s opened every time I change or flip a record… dust and airborne hair find their way inside, and, apparently, the fluid in the trough was acting as a sort of trap for a very small amount of it.
     
    Rick58 likes this.
  23. hoytis

    hoytis PDX Cratedigger

    Location:
    Oregon
    Love my MKII. Most reliable TT I've owned - spot on speed, detailed, quiet, neutral. But, per previous comments, it's not as warm as my belt-driven decks, which haven't been as reliable either. So I guess it depends what you're after. But I doubt you'd be disappointed by a 1200.
     
  24. vw1300

    vw1300 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore
    Lots of helpful responses and insight here, thanks to all. Two takeaways - either:
    1. Buy a new/nearly new SL-100c or maybe SL-1500 from a supportive source. These turntables also have auto-lift which would be a useful feature for me. The built in preamp on the 1500 not so much. Tonearm upgrade is recommended but watch out for pet hair. We have a dog who sheds constantly, tho not as bad as a cat
    2. Buy used SL-1200 - but inspect for wear and buy cheap enough to allow for some repairs if necessary.

    Will report back when I move forward on this.
     

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