As much as it was exciting to see Technics unveil a followup to its legendary SL-1200 turntable, there is the small issue of its price. Priced at £3,000/$4,000, the new SL-1200G will cost far more than the original SL-1200MK2, which was just £400 before it was discontinued in 2010. And if you're a DJ that needs two of them for cutting, scratching, and mixing, you may need to sell a kidney first.
Paying a premium for audio equipment certainly isn't unheard of in audiophile circles—see the £300 Ethernet cable—but Technics has been taking some flak for the SL-1200G's high price, particularly as it doesn't boast things like a "monofilament" bearing system, or a "low resonance sandwich construction." Speaking to What Hi-Fi, Technics CTO Tetsuya Itani claimed that because the SL-1200G was a complete redesign—requiring a new manufacturing process and new tools—the price had to go up.
"Because the original 1210 turntables were manufactured for so many years, the manufacturing process had got to a very low cost. Now we need to invest in all the tools again, and the price now is much higher than the 1970s," Itani explained. "We began to study just a few months prior to IFA, maybe summer 2014, for the new SL-1200. We learned that it was impossible [to make the same deck], as almost all the tools for manufacturing were gone or heavily damaged—only one die remained, and that was for the dust cover."
Internally, much of the SL-1200G is indeed new. For example, there's a direct drive motor, which Technics claims suffers far less from "cogging" (where small speed fluctuations from the motor are transferred though the stylus, causing a degradation in sound quality). The original SL-1200MK2 may have been the turntable of choice in DJ circles, but it was never the choice of audiophiles, who prefer belt driven turntables that keep the motor as far away from the record as possible. Despite its new motor, it's unlikely that SL-1200G will change that opinion.
"Every part is designed for better sound quality. We are thinking of course it is a 1210 [a later revision of the 1200]... but performance wise it's SP10 MKII [a £1000 Hi-Fi turntable released in 1978] level," said Itani.
The limited-edition SL-1200GAE (limited to 1200 units) is still on target for a June release date, while the regular SL-1200G is will arrive in the winter. Cash-strapped DJs interested in a SL-1200G may want to hold off for now, though. As the manufacturing costs come down, Itani says Technics will "start thinking" about a more affordable model. Or you could just hop on eBay and pick up an original SL-1200MK2 or SL-1210MK2 for around £380. Even those made in '70s are still going strong.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK