Technics Turntable Upgrades Thread

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Dr. Metal MD, Jun 4, 2020.

  1. Dr. Metal MD

    Dr. Metal MD Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    As a fellow Technics SL1200 lover/owner, was interested in seeing what upgrades and customizations people have made to their own Technics. Doesn't have to be a 1200, any Technics tables.

    Use this thread to show off!
     
    BrentB likes this.
  2. gmcjj

    gmcjj Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mid Michigan
    I am in the process of painting my 1200 mk2 so it is in pieces at the moment. I did rewire the tonearm with the kit from kab, and added the plug the end of the arm. While I had the arm apart I added some heat shrink to help dampen it. I need some better cables and the kab fluid damper.
    It sucks waiting for paint to dry:waiting:
     
    Brother_Rael and action pact like this.
  3. luckybaer

    luckybaer Thinks The Devil actually beat Johnny

    Location:
    Missouri
    I installed one of these fluid damping gizmos from KAB (KAB TD-1000™).

    I don't know if the sound improves (I think it does, but my ears may deceive me), but the arm moves up and down much more smoothly, and records that used to skip with my cart requiring low VTF no longer skip. Well worth the cost IMHO.
     
  4. dcarwin

    dcarwin Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Trying a couple different mats. Got a clamp and the KAB damper. If I win the lottery (or my kids finish college) I'm going to get a Funk Firm tonearm.
     
    gmcjj likes this.
  5. arem

    arem Forum Resident

    The KAB dampener is an immediate improvement, anyone who has a stock 1200/1210 will benefit from it. Rewiring the tonearm gives another very noticeable improvement, but you need to have some skills to DIY, I botched the job and had to send mine to a professional. Anyone with hands that can work a screwdriver (which I realize is not everyone) can add the fluid dampener. Do it.
     
  6. chipcalzada

    chipcalzada Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Philippines
    As a Technics fanboy, I love this thread! My 1200 has a Rega 251 tonearm with aftermarket weight and isonoe footers, funk firm mat, cart is a Denon 102 mono.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic

    Location:
    Sweden
    I only agree with points 3 and 5, the rest being mostly bs I think, but here you go:

     
  8. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic

    Location:
    Sweden
    Get a good cart add a fluid damper if needed, record weight and make a DIY anti stat solution with some grounding wire from your amps connected to some carbon fibers barely touching a playing record.

    Thats all I can think of that makes sense.
     
  9. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    Should I repost my before-and-after sound clips, or has everyone who’s interested heard them already?
     
  10. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic

    Location:
    Sweden
    Of what? Upgrades? Please do.
     
  11. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    Will do shortly!
     
  12. IRG

    IRG Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    I'm still looking at DD tables, either the Pioneer PLX1000 or more likely, the SL1200mk7. Are there good/necessary upgrades for the Mk7 or is it pretty solid as is? Thinking of an ATVM95ML or SH to go with it.
     
    Floyd Crazy likes this.
  13. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Technics new SL-1200MK7 and SL-1500C*

    ^I commented on my MK7 here. The deck works fine stock, but KAB does have upgrades like the silicone damping well and the Isonoe feet available, if you want. Mine is stock except for the headshell, mat, and clamp. The 95ML is my current daily driver cartridge.
     
    Floyd Crazy likes this.
  14. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    I had initially considered getting either an SL-1500C or SL-1200GR, but in early March the opportunity presented itself to acquire a clean, non-DJ'd '02 SL-1200MK2 that already had the KAB 78 speed mod done, but was otherwise stock. This 1200 spent most of its life in the UK and so has switchable voltage; I just needed to get a $4 adapter plug to use it in North America.

    Upon receipt, I cleaned/oiled the bearing and took apart the seized arm height ring assembly and cleaned/re-greased it.

    I was initially unimpressed with its stock performance. The SL-1200 is often criticized for sounding "dark," but that's not what I was hearing. They were was a certain harshness to the upper frequencies, bass was slightly lean, and the soundstage was flat and 2D, which I attribute to the well-known issue of the arm tube ringing.

    ----

    My initial modification was to add some heat-shrink rubber tubing to the arm wand, which tamed the upper end a lot, and allowed the imaging to gain some definition.

    Audio sample #1:
    stock SL-1200MK2 with shrink tubing on arm wand and KAB resonance cap:

    Dropbox - 1.no damper.flac - Simplify your life

    It was better, but not quite where I wanted it to be yet.

    ----

    I then placed an order with KAB for their fluid damper and the resonance cap that screws into the end stub. The fluid damper is absolutely a game-changer! I immediately noticed how silent the backgrounds had become, and the bottom end was now filling out nicely. The top-end was totally controlled without sounding dull, and imaging was now popping into vivid 3D. PRaT was also superb as well.

    Audio sample #2:
    SL-1200MK2 with shrink tubing on arm wand, KAB fluid damper, and KAB resonance cap:

    Dropbox - 2.damper.flac - Simplify your life

    ----

    I was pretty happy with what I was hearing now, and considered stopping there, but I had a nagging notion that there was still some more performance to be wrung out of the SL-1200.

    After watching some YouTube videos and studying a great DIY pictorial thread by @Dr. Metal MD, I decided to have a go at it myself, and it worked out beautifully. I used KAB's SuperFlex arm wire and KAB/Cardas SpiralAir interconnects, and also I inserted into the wand the latex internal damping tube that KAB now sells.

    This is the same stuff I used, except I retained the OEM circuit board and ground wire:

    [​IMG]

    Audio sample #3:
    SL-1200MK2 with shrink tubing on arm wand, KAB fluid damper, KAB resonance cap, KAB SuperFlex arm wire, and KAB/Cardas SpiralAir interconnects:

    Dropbox - 3.rewire.flac - Simplify your life

    I was somewhat skeptical that re-wiring would make a major improvement, but it's kicked the performance up quite a few notches. It now sounds clearer, more detailed, and overall more refined and sophisticated.

    ----

    So this is where I am at at the present.

    Yesterday I placed an order for a set of Isonoe suspension feet and will report back once received and installed.
    (TIP: It's a lot cheaper to order them from a UK retailer like Analogue Seduction than from a US retailer.)

    Down the road I may install an upgraded bearing, external power supply, etc., but I suspect that I am close to the point of diminishing returns.

    ----

    NOTES:
    I highly recommend NOT playing the audio samples 'live' from the Dropbox preview, you won't get the full 24/96 resolution and the differences won't be well-defined. Download and play them off your local drive for best results.

    All samples were recorded using the same gear with the same settings, and the only processing was normalization in Audacity. The cartridge is a 1984 Grado Signature 8MR with 8MZ stylus, and the preamp is the phono stage of a Rega Brio-R.

    The samples were recorded immediately before and after the re-wiring was performed. At that time, the stylus was new and only had maybe 30 minutes of use, so if it sounds a bit forward overall, now you know why.

    ----

    To present a clearer picture of the table's performance, I did another sample recording after the stylus had been run in for several hours. I think it sounds really sweet now. :)

    Audio sample #4:
    Dropbox - 5.rewire + KAB stub.flac - Simplify your life

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2020
  15. IRG

    IRG Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    Thanks, I recall seeing your post in that massive thread. And I read a lot of that thread too, some of it a bit over my head technically. It also doesn't seem to include the Mk7 all that much. But I think it will be more than sufficient for my needs. It doesn't seem to have the tonearm issues that has affected some of the Pioneer models. Seems like the 95ML is a good match too. I thought about the 540 as well.
     
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  16. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    I'm probably one of the few people here that have actually purchased an MK7. The 540 will work but would do better with the KAB damper due to the higher compliance. Also, with AT carts, keep in mind that you need to keep the capacitance low with your cabling and the phono preamp.
     
  17. IRG

    IRG Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    I'm using a Moon LP110v2 preamp, and cables are short, either Blue Jean RCA or a set of Pangea cables. With the VM95, should be compatible as is, correct?

    Also thinking of the cart and the headshell together, like this: Audio-Technica: AT-VM95ML/H Cartridge & Headshell Combo
     
  18. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    That looks really sharp!!
     
    chipcalzada likes this.
  19. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Yes, that should work fine. I'd use the BJC cables because I'm not sure what capacitance the Pangea ones have. Set your phono preamp to 100pf capacitance. RE: the combo with headshell, that's fine, just note that some folks have a problem with a thick rubber washer on the AT headshells. You can just swap the rubber washer for the Technics headshell rubber washer if that's a problem.
     
    IRG likes this.
  20. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    I've tried some Pangea (and Monoprice) audio cables and they are just OK. Blue Jeans makes their cables using materials from brands of known quality (Belden, etc.), so those are probably a better bet.

    As long as the cartridge is still properly aligned, the thickness of the rubber washer shouldn't be an issue. I have some aftermarket headshells with thick washers, and it's created zero problems.
     
  21. BrentB

    BrentB Urban Angler

    Location:
    Midwestern US
    I am very interested in constructing a wood case from the plans on KABUSA. I am no woodworker though.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  22. Erik Tracy

    Erik Tracy Meet me at the Green Dragon for an ale

    Location:
    San Diego, CA, USA
    I've done the easy ones for my Mk2

    Clearaudio Twister Clamp
    Isonoe feet
    Tonearm damper

    I waffle on more upgrades vs going for a step up to a different table (whatever that may be).
     
  23. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    I know someone that had a problem using the thicker washer on an older Technics automatic. I can't say if it would be a problem on a 1200 or not. Just putting it out there in case OP runs into an issue. I do have one of the headshells @IRG is talking about but haven't tried it on my MK7 yet. I've got a backup cartridge mounted on it, mainly for records in rough shape. I use the LPGear Zupreme 10g headhsell with my AT VM95ML.
     
    Floyd Crazy likes this.
  24. Dr. Metal MD

    Dr. Metal MD Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    That looks awesome.

    1) Did you re-finish the table? The black MK5's don't look like that to my memory. It looks awesome.

    2) Did you install that arm? If so, was it difficult? I am considering arm upgrades and wondering what arm(s) pair best with the 1200?
     
  25. Dr. Metal MD

    Dr. Metal MD Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    I have the same questions. My question for you and one that I've been pondering is what does a new, more expensive table get you? I haven't listened to my metal LPs on a belt drive table, but it would seem like a direct drive table might be better suited for metal and rock music. If you can replace the arm and wires, then what else would you get in a table that would be an improvement (actually curious, not rhetorical)?
     

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