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Technics SL-1500C: would you recommend it?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by bmusic, Aug 28, 2020.

  1. bmusic

    bmusic Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Hi folks,

    I got a lot of great advice about upgrading my system from SH users and, after doing some research about the different turntables, I'm curious to get some feedback on the Technics SL-1500C turntable, which has a built-in preamp and comes with the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge. I know that a separate pre-amp is advisable, but I'm trying to keep my costs down as much as possible and wonder if this pre-amp/turntable/cartridge combination will do justice to my Mobile Fidelity One-Steps and other audiophile vinyl.

    I'm curious if anyone has compared it to the Technics SL-1200MK7 and how it compares as it seems like there are more reviews for the 1500C. I'm also curious how people think this turntable ranks next to the Rega Planar 3 Turntable, which also gets very good reviews. Lastly, I'd like to know if the Ortofon 2M red cartridge is highly recommend or if I need to be getting a better quality one.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2020
    grx8 likes this.
  2. Nephrodoc

    Nephrodoc Forum Resident

    Well, upgrading your table depends on if you prefer belt or direct drive. Your profile shows a LP-120 table, not sure if this is current, also not sure what cartridge you are running.

    The 2M carts are great, the blue is where I would start.
     
    Technocentral and bmusic like this.
  3. bmusic

    bmusic Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    My profile is current. That's why I need to upgrade -- I need a new cartridge and turntable. As far as the whole belt vs. direct drive issue, I'm just looking for the best playback for my vinyl. I'm not a DJ.
     
  4. Nephrodoc

    Nephrodoc Forum Resident

    What’s your budget?
     
  5. bmusic

    bmusic Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I don't want to spend more than $2000 for turntable, cartridge and preamp.
     
  6. LivingForever

    LivingForever Always one more tomorrow...

    The Technics is likely a great deck (I hear nothing but praise for the latest models), but the Ortofon Red cart will not do it justice at all.
    If I got that deck I would immediately swap it for an AT Microline cart and then sit back and enjoy. :)
     
    JohnO, SpeedMorris, Big Blue and 2 others like this.
  7. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Location:
    Katy, TX
    This is plenty. I would probably look at used deck though. But if you are looking new, you could look at a MoFi StudioDeck and StudioPhono and you're well under your budget. Looking used, you get a Rega 6 and any number of cartridge and phono stage combinations.

    With $2000, I would just jump to the SL-1200. The SL-1500 looks fine, but I don't like the trades. The SL-1500 has a wonky VTA adjusting scheme in exchange for a mediocre cartridge and a phono stage. The pitch control on the SL-1500 is removed, I wouldn't use it on the SL-1200 but since is a more than capable 78 rpm deck, it's a not completely useless feature. Down the road, exploration of shellac records is always an option. The trades just look awful to me. You're paying $200 more to get a $100 cartridge and a phono stage but losing some very useful functionality. With this budget, you still have $1000 for items not included. If you wanted, you could get the 2M Red cartridge and a decent phono stage and still be around the price of the SL-1500.
     
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  8. woodpigeon

    woodpigeon Well-Known Member

    Location:
    New Zealand
    The SL-1500C is a great deck. You can and should cheaply upgrade the stylus to a 2M Blue (just the stylus, rather than the whole cartridge) which will sound better than the Red. Then you will likely be very happy!

    If you want to spend more on better sound later on, the 1500C will do justice to better cartridges and phono stages. With this table, I am running a Quintet Black through the phono stage in a Yamaha A-S2100 and couldn’t be happier with the way it sounds.

    If you prefer to bring your own phono stage and cartridge right away, the SL-1200 would be well worth a look too, and may even be a better choice since you are not paying for parts you will not use.
     
    bmusic likes this.
  9. caracallac

    caracallac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ireland
    The Technics 1500c is a great choice, but I'd partner it with an Ortofon Quintet Bronze and perhaps a Rothwell Rialto or a Graham Slee Fanfare.
     
    bmusic likes this.
  10. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Location:
    Netherlands
    If you want a step change you could go for Rega Planar6, AT VM 95ML and iFi phono2 or Puffin phono stages.
     
    Dennis Metz and bmusic like this.
  11. Danilo

    Danilo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milano Italy
    With your budget I would consider the Marantz tt15s-1
     
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  12. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I agree the 2M Red will not do records of that quality justice. For less than the cost of upgrading the stylus to a Blue, though, you can change the entire cartridge to an Audio-Technica AT-VM95ML, which has an advanced profile stylus that will absolutely play your records right while also reducing wear to the grooves. Personally, I wouldn’t play expensive records like that with anything less, simply for the preservation factor. YMMV, of course!
     
  13. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uruguay
    The new Technics! Anyone (1500, 1200GR, ...), just let the budget decide.
     
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  14. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    If 1500C/1200 mk7 are the options in budget, a couple of things I would consider:

    1) If you’re going to need to change VTA with any regularity (you may not, if you’re just using one cartridge), the 1500C doesn’t have the easily adjusted dial to move the arm up and down. If I was going to have different cartridges for different purposes (a mono cartridge, a conical for beater records, if you have any 78s...), I’d want the mk7 for the easier VTA adjustment. That’s not to say you can’t use a 1500C, but it seems a little more fiddly to make arm adjustments.

    2) In the 1500C, you’re paying a little more for a cartridge and a built-in phono stage, both of which I believe you will want to replace (the cartridge immediately, the phono stage perhaps later on). You are also getting an auto-lift feature that I do kind of wish I had. Also, the mk7 does not come with a platter mat, which you will want, while the 1500C does. That can be a pretty minor additional expense, but it does contribute to closing the price gap a little.

    Personally, if I did not already have a 1210GR and was shopping with a budget of no more than $2K, I would strongly consider a modded 1500C from KAB ($1695). If doing so, I would also consider a stylus upgrade for the Ortofon SuperOM cartridge he includes. It comes with a fine-line STY30, which may be just fine and worth trying first, but you can put the Fitz Gyger STY40 on the same cartridge. My thinking is, if I’m playing $100+ records, I want the most advanced stylus I can use, which is going to be a Fitz Gyger if it can’t be a micro-line/micro-ridge. That’s $366, so it does put you $61 over budget, not including any shipping or tax that may be involved. You could also just go with the included STY30 to start and consider upgrading later. The KAB 1500C as it comes looks like a very compelling package at its price, which is about the price of a 1200GR alone.

    Now, that leaves you with the built-in phono preamp. The reason I’d maybe stay with the Ortofon using the built-in preamp is because I don’t know if the capacitance of that preamp is low enough to work well with an Audio-Technica cartridge. You may very well want to move to an external phono stage in the not-too-distant future if you go this route, at which time I would also be looking at an Audio-Technica cartridge with ML stylus. You also could, instead of spending $366 on the STY40, buy an AT-VM95ML for $170 and just try it. Again, I don’t know the capacitance of the built-in phono preamp, I’m just assuming it may not be low enough because Ortofon’s recommended capacitance range is 150-300pf as opposed to AT’s 100-200pf.

    These are just musings based on the budget you gave, and by no means a strong recommendation you should take as any sort of gospel. I don’t know if everybody is aware that KAB offers that modded 1500C, though, and I do think it’s worth a look. Some of the mods included are things I have done even with my GR (the tonearm damper and the clamp, which is more of an accessory than a mod...), and they have been worth doing.
     
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  15. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I briefly considered the 1500C and decided to go with the 1200MK7 instead. I am not a DJ and I am one of the only people on here (or anywhere) that did a review based on a home listening hi-fi scenario.

    You can read my review here:

    Technics new SL-1200MK7 and SL-1500C*

    I wouldn't recommend the Rega RP3, or any Rega with a stock plastic subplatter. These will put you on an upgrade treadmill for aftermarket parts. If you add all that extra stuff up, you'll end up spending in total as much as a 1200GR or Rega RP6.

    Now, back to the 1500C. I would assess whether you really need the extra things it has vs. the MK7, or something else. The 2M Red is a pretty crappy cartridge so I'd be looking to replace that within the first 30-60 days of ownership. The built-in phono preamp is going to be better than an average built-in on cheaper decks but I'd still rather have a standalone phono preamp. The 1500C has a hinged dustcover. The MK7 has a set-on style dust cover. I realize it is trendy now to play with the cover down but since I don't do that I didn't care about the lack of hinges. If you don't have children or cats jumping around it's going to be better to just remove the dust cover completely.

    Now, just like with any new product there have been some hiccups with the 1500C and MK7. These are relatively new models. There were similar problems with the 1200G and GR when those came out, but are mostly ironed out now. So I suggest whatever you buy - get a good return policy and work with a dealer that is not going to hassle you if there is a problem. If you end up with a defective turntable - send it back for an exchange.

    My MK7 was fine.
     
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  16. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I did note this in my review. For around $30, you can buy a Panasonic 3mm rubber mat, which is the same mat that comes with other Technics turntables. I am using an Oyaide 5mm mat which costs around $60. The Oyaide must be used with a TT weight or clamp. Of course there are many other aftermarket mat choices.
     
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  17. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Ah, yes, I forgot about the dustcover difference.

    My personal experience, having a GR with a hinged dustcover, is that I sometimes kind of wish it wasn’t hinged. I remove the dustcover completely nearly every time I use the turntable (very rarely, if I’m listening to records while doing something away from the turntable and the dog seems kind of active, I may play with it on). It’s not a huge deal to remove the hinged dustcover, because the hinges do just lift out, but they can kind of catch a little sometimes and require lifting exactly straight up. Very minor annoyance, not a reason to not buy a model with hinges, but definitely a reason to not overlook a model with a set-on cover.
     
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  18. bmusic

    bmusic Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    thanks for the advice, everybody! Does anybody recommend a good dealer for this? Do any turntable sellers ever put these on sale?
     
  19. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    If you’re looking at the KAB-modded version I suggested looking at, you order directly from KAB’s website.

    I got my SL-1210GR from Guitar Center. I believe they (and Musician’s Friend) also sell the mk7, as does Sweetwater. Since these are ostensibly sometimes used by DJs, music stores tend to carry them, but not the SL-1500C, as far as I have seen. Crutchfield carries the SL-1500C, and I have always been satisfied with my experience ordering things from them, but they appear to currently be out of stock until late October (expect this for any Technics turntable at a lot of sellers, though, because these are high-demand and backorders are common).

    For local dealers (which would be my preference if I had one within reasonable distance), I’m not familiar, but I would assume there are several in the Los Angeles area? A local dealer may be your best bet for a discount, too, as they generally seem more open to haggling or working out package deals than the major online stores.
     
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  20. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Guitar Center runs coupons but depending on when you want to buy they may not apply. I had trouble working with GC so I gave up and ordered somewhere else.

    In general I would say Sweetwater is easier to work with than GC, at least pre-pandemic. GC often has long shipping times and customer service may be a mixed bag.

    Another shop is Value Electronics. You won't get a discount from them though.

    You can look at the dealer directory on the Technics website. There aren't that many local dealers nationally, and some of those dealers may not actually have anything in stock - they may just drop ship when a customer places an order.
     
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  21. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    And, actually, if you were to successfully get a discount from Guitar Center, you may get a 1210GR for a low enough price to still get a VM95ML and decent phono stage in under the $2k budget, if you wanted to explore that option.
     
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  22. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Side note, I’ve placed several orders with Sweetwater during the pandemic, and they have continued to be great. Mind you, my dealings have been limited to placing orders and receiving them, but they ship just about immediately despite their disclaimer that they may be slower due to virus concerns.

    However, both Technics models they carry currently say backordered, no date given as of now. Though I suppose OP didn’t say he couldn’t wait.
     
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  23. bmusic

    bmusic Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I've never heard of KAB before. Is this it?
    KAB Electro Acoustics http://www.kabusa.com

    Also, what's the difference between these two packages? I'm new to this...
    SL1500C SE Black $1695.00
    KAB SL-1500C SLV Mod Package $555.00
     
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  24. bmusic

    bmusic Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Thanks, I'm leaning toward the SL1500C though.
     
  25. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    The first option is for the entire turntable with mods.

    The second option is if you have a stock turntable, and want to send it in for mods.
     
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