Technics SL-1200G Review
In the relaunched line of Technics turntables, the SL-1200G ranks second from the top of the home range, not the limited-edition professional. Older only the very expensive SL-1000R turntable or the SP-10R phonomotor identical to it, sold without a body and without tonearms.
Outwardly, this player is very similar to the entire 1200-series, but in fact it has a number of significant differences. However, this device is positioned as a completely household, home model, belonging to the pre-top line of Grand Class appliances. The device has incorporated a variety of features and characteristics: both independent or more similar to the 1000th top, and borrowed from professional Technics models.
At the first acquaintance, it becomes clear that the Technics SL-1200G is very heavy. The manufacturer indicates a weight of 18 kg – with outwardly modest dimensions, this is impressive. The bulk falls on the table. The top panel of the player is really a massive aluminum panel, not plastic with a cover. The main components of the player are fixed on it – the motor, tonearm, electronics.
Even for partial disassembly of Technics SL-1200G, you will need to unscrew several dozen different types of screws, but first – large adjustable feet. They are unscrewed from a massive bottom made of plastic with impressive rubber damping. The legs are not connected to the rest of the table.
Having removed the legs and the first bottom, we see that further the whole structure is closed with a casing made of thick hard plastic. A few more screws and it can be removed too. Now let’s take a look at the cast aluminum top plate, the mount of the motor, which itself is entirely located above, the control electronics and the view of the tonearm from below.
The power supply unit of the Technics SL-1200G is impulse – here its multi-voltage becomes clear. It seems that all the electronic stuffing here is its own – on the insides, for example, Technics SL-1500C, it doesn’t look like it. There are partial similarities in the implementation of the power supply, but otherwise they are different boards.
The same can be said for engine management. The digital circuitry, according to the manufacturer, is partly borrowed from the rotation stabilization systems of Blu-Ray players. Otherwise, everything is logical for such a device: a motor with a sensor, a control and feedback system. Note that the drive is really very stable according to the indicators that I was able to check.
Functionality: three speeds of rotation, including 78 rpm, switchable dual-range (± 8%, ± 16%) pitch, backlight and strobe. Nothing else is provided. Of the unusual functions: the ability to adjust the “behavior” of the motor – start speed and electronic brake.
There are two start and brake modes: factory-programmed and manual. Personally, I would prefer to transfer both parameters to the slowest positions, because speed at home is not critical, and unnecessary jerks are useless.
Another interesting thing is that the Technics SL-1200G has a USB port for firmware. I’m not sure if this will be needed if the modes recorded at the factory are already working correctly. And we did not notice any incorrectness.
What else is important in terms of electronic stuffing – all electronics here refers only to functionality and motor control. There is no built-in corrector, as well as automation, the signal circuits from the head are in no way connected with the internal electronics, but are routed directly from the tonearm to a pair of RCA connectors mounted on a separate casing under the tonearm base.
The Technics SL-1200G has a very impressive motor – it cannot be compared with the same 1500. The design is interesting, but most importantly, it is quiet and powerful.
The main disc is made as follows: its lower part is aluminum, there is a damping rubber layer from below and a brass disc tightened with screws on top. Of course, the whole structure is balanced after assembly. All this looks more complicated than the younger models.
In addition, a three-screw fixing system is required to mount the disc on the motor pulley. But the rubber standard mat is more or less familiar and recognizable.
The tonearm is also quite familiar to Technics – statically balanced. But it is arranged somewhat differently. The first difference is in the proprietary height adjustment. It seems to be the same lock that blocks the adjustment, and the rotary ring that lifts the tonearm together with the base, but this unit is made so that no backlash or any errors are noticeable.
The adjustment is convenient, precise and clear. The range is from conditional zero to +6 mm up, which is sufficient for most cases. The rest of the tonearm is also made more precise than that of the younger models. The shape and principle are the same, but the metal and processing look a little different.
It can work with a fairly large range of heads, the kit includes a main counterweight and two additional weights, you can balance a head with a shell weighing more than 25 g to the maximum. Of course, Ortofon SPU cannot be supplied, but for most heavy heads you can always find a suitable shell.
By the way, the regular shell did not please at all – it is the same as that of the youngest devices. And I would like something better in general, with a separate azimuth adjustment (the device has its own, you can tighten the entire shell clamp, but this is not so convenient) and decent wiring. Otherwise, there are no questions. Everything is clear, simple, convenient and configurable without problems.
Initially, it was not clear to us how much Technics SL-1200G was made for good sound, and how much – for the sake of style and aesthetics. But to put some kind of budget Audio-Technica head or even a kind of Ortofon Concorde at such a cost of the device seemed to me an unsuccessful idea.
So we decided to make friends with him with a decent head – more likely not high-end, but high-end class. We put on Van den Hul The Frog. This head remained in our test arsenal – it is quite good and predictable.
Everything turned out quite well: both in tracking and in anti-skating settings. During the first trial listening, it became clear that the system as a whole fulfills the requirement of the head for very small changes in downforce – it was not difficult to hear a difference of 0.1–0.2 g.
A phono cable is included in the standard delivery, but we could not check which one, because the Technics SL-1200G arrived for the test without a cable. However, given the level of the head we would like to use, we were not very upset, but immediately put in the Audio Craft PEX-150.
The first was Herbie Hancock’s “Sextant” CD. Quite informative recording – you can hear a lot. The sound turned out to be very voluminous, rather dark than light, body-dense and rather energetic.
The dynamics are very good. There is neither haste nor lethargy – everything is quite smooth and precise. And the detail is not bad: you can hear most of what this head can pull from this recording.
But if we would designate the head as light in sound or closer to neutral, then the resulting one is somewhat puzzling. This is only a slight shade, but it is unusual – all the more so since there are much more techniques with a light sound than with a dark one.
The character of the sound is precise, moderately restrained and in some ways even straightforward. With good detail, the sound is perceived more unambiguous and straightened.
The bass turned out to be of medium depth, collected, fast, but harsh. He was slightly lacking in volume and texture. But with the basic notes, he creates a very emotional impression. The middle seems to be either very flat, or even slightly pressed, compacted. Although there are details and air.
The top is moderate in number, this system cannot be called bright, and no color is noticeable on the tops. The sound often seems monitor-correct, confident, and still somewhat unambiguous. But there is still a good volume, fullness and some fundamentalness.
At this stage, we wanted to experiment a little with mats – replacing the standard “rubber band” with something more advanced almost always brings a good result. And then there’s a damped disc with a brass lining.
From previous tests, we still have Pro-Ject Cork It and Leather It mats – cork-composite and leather, respectively. It is worth considering that if the head is small in height, then the tonearm adjustment can be almost at the lowest point, and the standard mat is thicker than the average.
Of course, we try with height adjustment. The leather mat added some bass, but the sound as a whole became a little dull – I did not like the already not bright highs in this form. And in general, it turned out somehow not very inharmonious, so this mate is definitely not suitable here.
The second number is cork crumb with additives. Here everything is more interesting. The sound is brighter, more airy, more relaxed. The scale seemed to have become a little smaller, but everything was fine with him, so it did not affect the resulting one.
By the way, it will not be superfluous to press down the plate with a clamp weighing 400-600g. For many players, this is not quite a suitable option, but here you can. But with a caveat: we liked the work of the clamp less with the standard rubber mat than with third-party ones.
We returned the Technics SL-1200G to its original state, put on the Nils Peter Molvaer “Khmer” record. Good confident volume, decent color (but rather dark) presentation, good detailing, but the sonority of the pipe is slightly smoothed out.
But with the bass everything is very impressive. For my taste, it turned out to be even too much. However, everything is in order with control – it’s just that the path has set the accents. The presentation is a little formal, but biting and energetic. Only without the pungency, which would be appropriate in a certain amount.
Emotionality is neat, honest, quite accurate, although a little more liberation would not hurt. However, let us note that the sound of the device is not at all dull-forceful – this is not the case.
Then we listened to the Dead Can Dance disc “Spiritchaser”. The beat quality and volume are impressive. However, the disc is published very well, but not every device can pull it out. A somewhat dark presentation of this album is very useful, and the sound has both detail and emotion.
The air and the feeling of three-dimensionality are slightly smoothed out, but the volume does not suffer from this. Emotionally, the presentation is not simplified, but some accents can be traced in it, slightly unusual, but not changing the picture as a whole – it is rather just a look from a different angle. The vocal parts are worked out quite fully, without simplification – in space they turn out to be correct and proportionate.
Another album is Richard Hawley’s “Standing at the Sky’s Edge”. The track plays out the density of the recording and overloaded moments in detail, juicy and voluminous. There is pressure and fullness. And you can hear everything very well. And a somewhat dark presentation, perhaps, is very suitable for this album.
Emotional transitions from melancholic music to other moods and emotions work especially well. This emotional rhythm is the main focus of the listener, and the details – they are present, but you don’t want to “absorb” them in the first place when listening.
Let’s move on to classical music. First we listened to Bach’s “Well-tempered Clavier” performed by Svyatoslav Richter. Everything is very good, the accents are right, the performance is heard well, and so is the recording. Maybe a little softer than we would like, but this record has a very complex border between “softer” and “harder”.
The dynamics are correct, the detail is at the level of everything heard before. In principle, good, but in the nuances I noticed some smoothing of the overtones and a little more than necessary, the emphasis on the main tones.
Stravinsky’s record Die 3 Grossen Ballette somehow became frequent in my tests, so I know it very well too. The sound basis is quite correct. There is a scale, there is a good, albeit a little formal, orchestral scene – the geometry and localization are correct, but there is a little less air and dimensions in depth.
What draws out the picture is primarily the dynamics, as well as good detail. There are some small questions about the after-sounds, but the device did not complex on complex fragments, and the sound remained harmonious.
Technics SL-1200G stayed with us for a long time, and we managed to listen to many different recordings. The main conclusion is that the apparatus is all-genre.
Perhaps rock and pop music will suit him more than others. He can also play classics confidently, but not as refined as connoisseurs would like to hear it. However, let’s leave the question of taste readings open. Otherwise, everything is sound, predictable and confident.
With this player, you can not be afraid of bright heads – they are even more likely to be shown to him. Bright recordings on this device sound somewhat calmer, completely dull ones can be lost, but at the same time everything will be fine on any discs with detail, dynamics and sound scale.
You can experiment with the player, it responds well to changing shells, wires, mats and clamps – although, of course, all this does not turn the sound upside down. Otherwise, the Technics SL-1200G has a very predictable and distinct character – no paradoxes.
Official site: www.technics.com
This review is a translation of an article from hi-fi.ru