CES 2016: Legendary Technics SL-1200 Direct-Drive turntable makes a comeback

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Technics 1200 turntable is due for comeback
Technics 1200 turntable is due for comeback

Nearly six years since Panasonic took the decision to stop producing the legendary SL-1200 turntable, parent company Panasonic has announced at CES in Las Vegas it is to produce a limited edition 50th anniversary model to debut this summer with the production of 1,200 models. A wider release of a consumer model is also expected in late 2016.

Widely regarded as one of the most reliable (though not necessarily best sounding) turntables ever made, the 1200’s powerful direct drive motor and solid tone arm – which was able to manipulate the sound of records without skipping – has been revered by DJs worldwide over the decades.

And although many models made in the 1970s are still going, online petitions have called for the product to be re-introduced.

While the limited-edition 50th Anniversary Grand Class SL-1200GAE will go on sale this summer there’s also a non-limited Grand Class 1200G, expected to be available towards the tail end of the year. Panasonic promises DJ-level reliability and audiophile-grade sound quality for both models.

However, audiophile-grade sound quality isn’t typically associated with the 1200, thanks to its use of a direct drive motor, as opposed to the belt-driven motor often used in an audiophile turntable, reckons tech blog Ars Technica.

“The high-torque direct drive motor is excellent for stability, very low wow and flutter (how much the pitch varies during playback), and swift start/stop speeds, but has been criticised in the past for suffering from “cogging,” where small speed fluctuations from the motor are transferred though the stylus, causing a degradation in sound quality.”

But while most DJs on social media are generally excited about the imminent return of the SL-1200 turntable, not everyone is so overjoyed. Says Evan Judd Rogowski on Facebook: ” Its not that exciting to me. I am sure they will dreadfully overpriced.” The new 1200s are expected to cost several thousand pounds, with second-hand models currently going for hundreds on eBay.

Chris Price