The Technics SL-1200 is back, and this time for DJs again

First it was dead. Then, it came back but … inexplicably cost four thousand bucks and seemed to be for audiophiles, not DJs. Now, at last, the iconic* Technics SL-1200 turntable is back, and in a newly-manufactured form that might actually suit DJs.

The pitch: take advanced tech, learned from Blu-ray players, and turn it into an accessible turntable that delivers the performance and playing style of traditional players, with greater reliability and better sound.

If you don’t particularly need the name “Technics” on your turntable, of course, this may not even qualify as news. Manufacturers from Pioneer to Reloop now make reasonably affordable turntables that expand on the legacy of the Technics turntable and enable DJs to play decks like an instrument.

A couple of years ago when Panasonic revised the SL-1200 name, it at first seemed the company was surrendering the DJ market to those rivals. The first SL-1200GAE/1200G was a heavy, expensive machine engineered to within an inch of its life for vinyl consumers and deep-pocketed audiophiles. (Okay, I want to say “suckers.” At least people with money to burn.) Bizarrely, there wasn’t much mention of the DJs or hip hop producers who made the SL series famous in the first place. (Wired got the first preview; Vinyl Factory commented on the company’s explanation of that $4000 sticker shock.)

Now, it seems, we’re back to reality. The new SL-1200MK7 has specs more like a normal SL-1200, has marketing and specs intended for DJs, and while we don’t know the price, at least returns to a normal weight (just under 10kg).

The SL-1200MK7 (aka the SL-1210MK7 in Europe) then can be fairly dubbed the first Matsushita/Panasonic turntable for DJs to come off the assembly line in nine years – and the first in nine years to be a direct successor to the 1972 original 1200.

Onboard, some new engineering, now again in the service of DJs:

Coreless direct drive motor – okay, first, Panasonic are again making a new motor, apparently even after the 2016 audiophile take on this. It’s a direct drive motor like the original, but Technics promises the torque of the MK5, but without the iron core that can cause cogging (inconsistencies that impact audio quality).

To put it more briefly – this is the kind of more reliable motor Technics was pushing, but this time not so damned heavy and expensive.

Also new:

Reverse it. Provided you have a compatible phono cartridge, you can enable a reverse play function accessed by hitting the speed selector and Start/Stop at the same time.

Scratch-friendly – with computer control. Here’s the surprise: you get new motor control Panasonic have borrowed from the development of Blu-ray drives, using microprocessors to keep the motor operating smoothly. The MK7 tunes that relationship, says Technics, to work across playing styles – including DJing. What else does that mean?

Pitch is digitally controlled. Greater accuracy of pitch adjustment is another side benefit, because the motor can respond interactively as you play.

Well, apparently the original silver color is now reserved for audiophiles.

But there’s no question this is a sign of the times. Where as the digital age first seemed to jettison old brands and old technologies, all of them are back with a vengeance, from film photography to turntables to synthesizers. And finally even the likes of Japanese titan Panasonic, Technics parent company, are getting the memo. Just like a violinist wants particular features out of a violin, a DJ has expectations of what a turntable should be – not only appearance or moniker, but engineering.

And, let’s be honest, there is something nice about seeing new Technics in production.

Now the question is, can Panasonic trickle down new advanced tech in motors and control, inherited from advanced Blu-ray players, to the traditional turntable? If they can, they might just be able to best some of the other commodity turntables on the market.

Full details: [Press release]

[Product page]

A timeline of Technics turntables

The SP-10 started it all – at least introducing the world to direct drive turntables. But notice it didn’t even have its own integrated tonearm.

DJ Kool Herc was far enough ahead of the curve that he started on the 1971 SL-1100, not the SL-1200.

1970: SP-10
World’s first direct drive turntable (the enabling technology that would enable DJing technique and scratching)

1971: SL-1100
Starts to look like the turntables we know (integrated tonearm and platter). Used by hip-hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc.

1972: SL-1200/SL-1210
You’d feel at home cueing and beatmatching on this, but – note that the speed control was on a dial. (The 1210 variation of this is a Euro-friendly model with voltage selection and black, not silver.)

1979: SL-1200MK2
The SL-1200 was already a standard, but the MK2 looks more like the template DJs recognize today. Influenced by a field trip to Chicago clubs, the engineers unveiled the MK2 with Quartz Lock, a big pitch fader (whew!), and other details like a vibration-soaking cabinet and rubber.

Later revisions added other minor improvements, but it was really the MK2 that looks like the template for all DJ turntables to come – particularly thanks to pitch being on a fader and not a tiny knob (once Japanese engineers worked out how artists in Chicago were using pitch).

1989: SL-1200MK3
Improvements largely around vibration.

1997: SL-1200MK3D
The end of the center click pitch controller (so you could get hairline adjustments around zero more accurately).

2000: SL-1200MK5
Sort of the gold standard here, based on tiny performance enhancements and details like brake speed adjustment. See also the MK5G variation, 2002.

2019: SL-1200MK7/SL-120MK7
All-new motor, digitally-controlled pitch, reverse play.

And yes, I agree with my colleague James Grahame of MeeBlip in thinking this is all becoming a bit like the modern Spitfire kit remake planes, the Submarine Spitfires.

All photos courtesy Technics.

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Audio-Assault launches RM-2 Analog Channel plugin at $10 USD intro price

Audio Assault RM 2

Audio-Assault has announced the release of the new RM-2 Analog Channel effect plugin for Windows and Mac. RM-2 aims to capture the warmth of the Panasonic Ramsa WR-S4424, a Japanese console that is praised for its tape-like character inherent in its preamps. The RM-2 captures the character of the preamp section, while bringing a modern […]

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National Panasonic RF 1300 Rhythm Machine 70’s Rare Vintage

Published on Apr 6, 2018 SUBTOKYOSHOP

via this auction

“National Panasonic RF-1300 Rhythm Machine 70’s Vintage Analog Drum & Radio – This unit has some scratches and discoloration, but operational and functional in pretty good condition. We have tested all switches, knobs, outputs works fine. The AM Radio does not work besides FM Radio is working. Not sure but some of the rhythm patterns

There’s a new Technics SL-1200 coming, officially

The Technics SL-1200 turntable that defined DJing with record players has been awaiting a successor for some time now. Pioneer’s PLX-1000 is already earning some acclaim among DJs; it looks and feels like an SL-1200, but has great control and stability.

Well, now it’s Panasonic’s turn. Having revived the Technics moniker for the hi-fi market, they had already teased the return of the SL-1200. Today via social media, that became official.


The new turntable is called the SL-1200G, and it’s a new revision of the 1200 classic – what Technics says is a “new system for Hi-Fi use.” As many predicted, the presumably deeper-pocketed Hi-Fi market is the big target. Now, these days, “direct drive” turntables are known mostly as being for DJs, but as Technics note, their original invention was to produce greater reliability and stability for listeners wanting to splurge on gear.

So, what are they actually saying? They appear to reclaim higher sound fidelity, arguing that belt drive decks, thanks to the lower cost of development and production, had left a gap between belt and direct drive models. They spell that out here:

If we redesign the direct-drive motor and control circuitry, we will be able to create a turntable that is superior to other systems.

That also tells you what’s new: a new motor, new control circuitry, with an intent to make sound better.

From there on out, there’s a bunch of engineering razzle-dazzle that may or may not mean something to you. Being skeptical, I just want to let a DJ get their hands on the decks. Just because this is being made for the Hi-Fi market, will it be somehow less appealing to DJs – either because DJs weren’t taken into design consideration, or because it’s prohibitively expensive? That remains to be seen, although while Panasonic aren’t saying this is for DJs, they’re not saying it isn’t for DJs, either.

Of course, I don’t doubt for a second that listeners are a big market, too. And engineering aside, there’s some sense to Technics going after hi-fi fans, as Pioneer courts DJs. There are two vinyl resurgences on at the same time.

They say it isn’t a “replica of the SL-1200” – but then, we learned neither was Pioneer’s outing, and many people are happy for that. People may not simply want a remake, so much as they want at least what the original gave them.

First up is what’s called the SL-1200GAE – 50th Anniversary Limited Edition, coming summer 2016. This seems to imply there will also be a non-anniversary 1200G, of course, but no specifics on that or pricing.

Check out more on Technics’ site, including a feature-by-feature tour:


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Technics turntables return, but for DJs or aging audiophiles?


Panasonic, the company that still owns the Technics name, is engineering what it says is an all-new direct drive turntable.

And it certainly looks beautiful. Looks are all we get, as a prototype shown at Berlin’s IFA electronics show is just a futuristic aluminum slab with a platter on it. But as far as aesthetics, the company isn’t messing around: this thing looks like something you’d find in the listening lounge of a flying saucer.

Also interesting: just as Pioneer has done with their (excellent, by the way) new turntables, with the Technics model there’s a whole lot of new engineering. Japan seems to prefer doing that to simply reissuing the legendary Technics 1200 – and in the case of the Pioneer model, at least, the results work.

But, while DJs ears ring the moment they hear Technics (okay, DJs’ ears are generally ringing all the time), that doesn’t necessarily mean this is really DJ news.

Remember, there are essentially two vinyl revivals happening at once: there’s the DJ enthusiasm for the format, but there’s also the consumer side. And by consumer side, it’s not so much the kids picking up reissues at Hot Topic and Urban Outfitters an electronics giant might want to target. Think, rather, high-end audiophile customers. These are the types of people who will be impressed by the repeated references to “analog” turntables in a preview by Wired, whereas the rest of us might note that a phonograph is the very definition of analog, and that’s sort of redundant. (I mean, it’s obviously not a LaserDisc player. Well… although the styling might match.)

Speaking through a translator, a Panasonic representative doesn’t say much, but he is quick to use the phrase “high-end.” And sure enough, the Technics turntable announcement accompanies Technics-branded “premium headphones,” networked amp, and Hi-Fi all in one.

We live in a world where some people increasingly have an awful lot of money, and as with the gold-plated Apple Watch, you can expect electronics makers will start to plot how to separate those Scrooge McDuck-style wads of cash from their owners. (For more evidence this might be Panasonic’s strategy, look no further than the 4G-quality security camera system they’re apparently also hawking at IFA. You know you’re rich when you start filming security on your grounds in IMAX 3D, I suspect.)

In the tried-and-true history of audiophile equipment, then, Technics is targeting that demographic – people willing to spend more for better sound (or certainly the impression of high-end, recognizing those two aren’t always one and the same). Technics’ lineup since last year’s reboot by Panasonic have been squarely in that category, with reference systems running into five-digit price points.

And the video from last year’s IFA neatly sums things up. The whole line is marketed, literally, to people getting older who remember this stuff (that’ll be my Generation X and up). In fact, the marketing, with pounding heartbeat in back and nostalgic references to dust, comes across as music as mid-life crisis, part Viagra ad, part car ad, just with warm and fuzzy record noises:

And I do mean Viagra ad:

“Time has gone by … you’ve grown older. But the passion still lives deep inside of you. Rediscover the passion.”

Yeah, shut up Technics; you’re making me feel $#&*(ing old just because I remember mix tapes. I know I’m not as young as I used to be. I don’t have to rediscover anything, damnit! Wait… what were we talking about again?

Oh yeah. For more nostalgia:

So, that’s the audiophile angle.

The question is whether Panasonic can successfully cater to both at once. After all, DJing is now inseparable from the definition of what a turntable is. And:

  • It’s direct drive.
  • Panasonic does say the legacy of the 1200 series is part of what they hope to reinvigorate.
  • Patrice Bouedibela, the Berlin-based DJ who shot the pic above, is himself a DJ and tells me “more to be announced this winter!” via Twitter.

I’m intrigued. We’ll be watching. The turntable is due some time in 2016.

And if you want something out now, this is clearly the successor to the 1200s to watch:

Pioneer PLX-1000

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National (Panasonic) SY-50 Automatic Rhythm + Fostex 3180 Spring Reverb

Published on Mar 10, 2015 SubTokyoShop

subtokyoshop on eBay

Here’s something you do not see everyday. This is the first post on the site to feature the National SY-50 rhythm drum machine. I’m not sure if National is the model name of the SY-50 or a sub-brand name from Matsushita/Panasonic. If you know feel free to comment. Curious if Moby knows about this one. If you spot it in the video

Rhythmic Robot releases free PanaRhythm for Kontakt + 33% off sale

Rhythmic Robot has announced the release of PanaRhythm, a free snare drum instrument library for Native Instruments Kontakt. PanaRhythm is sampled from a tiny analogue Panasonic drum machine we found at a car boot sale. … read more

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Circuit Bent Panasonic WJ Ave3 Video FX glitch noise VJ mixer

YouTube Uploaded by TokenRecluse on Aug 9, 2011 via this auctionmore vids at the auction”Note: Although I am associated with Folktek as a visual artist/sound designer, this work is unaffiliated with Folktek.This is the ultimate live glitch visual production tool. Every professional VJ should have one of these in their arsenal. It has an amazing way of fragmenting, fractalizing and freaking