Turntables – dead or due for a reboot?

Posted by Gizmo on November 7, 2011 :

Decks - dead or due for a reboot?

Turntables, from a DJ perspective are slipping into obscurity. Sales have plummeted to a fraction of what they once were, which has in turn seen the completely unassailable leader of the pack Technics shutter up the factory. But there is a call to arms to keep turntables alive, but given that most of you own the supremely high quality unbreakable Technics, just how do you intend to do this?

It is a readily acknowledged fact that manufacturers, regardless of industry can, but don’t make things that last forever. Why? Because you’d never need to buy anything else from them ever again. And this is very true of Technics decks. Finding stories along the lines of “20 year old 1200s still going strong” isn’t hard, which brings me to my point – if you own a pair of largely indestructible and readily fixable turntables, where is the market for growth? Are you all going to ditch your existing iconic turntables en masse just to stimulate growth for other manufacturers’ turntables? Of course you’re not.

And then you wonder why turntable sales are on their arse and the product is on life support.

It’s important to remember that costing considerably less that a good TV, a turntable is now a consumer unit. We shouldn’t expect it, or any other DJ gear, to last longer than 5 years. Indeed, in a technology driven market, the lifespan of products is down to 2-3 years these days. So forgive me if I don’t put a 30 year lifespan at the very top of my technology shopping list. I expect to change my computer, camera, TV etc on a 3 year cycle. Why shouldn’t you expect the same of turntables that get a daily and weekly battering?

It’s a strange thought – Technics made a product that by accident defined an industry (the 1200 was never a DJ deck), and because of the stellar quality, essentially doomed it from the start. They built it so well, that it was a kind of commercial suicide product – others got a look in for a short time, but Technics always prevailed. Quality, rather than features it seems, has been the primary selling point. That and the iconic branding that can sell anything, no matter how poor it might be.


So I’m left with this nagging feeling that unless manufacturers take the closure of Technics as a ground zero moment and essentially toss away and burn the blueprint, there is no market left for new decks, simply because there are so many immortal Technics out there that people still crave. Perhaps it’s time for the likes of Stanton, Numark and Vestax to revisit the established decades old workflow, and update it to deal with all the modern digitalness that we have at our disposal.

More importantly, you turntable lovers need to make your voice heard. If you still want needles, tonearms and motorised platters, you have to let the powers that be know. Perhaps you want say a Numark V12 – a V7 with the TTX tonearm that plays vinyl and links to software. Maybe you’d just be happy with a deck with built in Novation Dicers.

Ultimately though, unless you’re going to buy new decks, you can’t keep turntables alive – fact. It’s an empty call to arms, backed up with anecdotal evidence of the rise in vinyl sales (I still say that 100% increase in nothing is nothing). Manufacturers are unlikely to try to stimulate interest in new decks when it’s much easier, cheaper and more profitable to flood the market with controllers on a 2-3 year cycle.

Mark my words – turntables won’t die, but will continue to slip off into the annals of DJ history. They’ll see off CDJs and many controllers too. But if you claim to care, and make all the right noises, what are you actually really going to do about it? And if even Technics couldn’t survive in the turntable market, what are the chances of anyone else doing so?

Is a new age for turntables dawning? Do we want spangly reimagined turntables stuffed full of USB, MIDI and HID, or will you continue to keep those old decks going yet still moan about the death of decks?

Discuss.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001138444109 Mutis Mayfield
  • beuis

    If i see a real dj they need to be on a turntable otherwise its all just button pushing controllers and no skill

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001138444109 Mutis Mayfield

      Loop mode: on

  • http://3insanity.com 3insanity

    No matter what the future of DJing is, I will always be using vinyl, theres just something magical about pulling a record out of its sleeve and dropping a needle on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1427768273 Luis Garcia

    thing is im a turntable dj have been for 15 years .but i know at one point they or going to stop making needles .
    what do we do at that point beuis ? it takes skill to mix. no mater what the controllers or cdjs dont mix them self .same goes with dvs. i use mixvibes cross and the cash i save on buying just one inport record i can buy 12 tracks with. in the end the music is what to move you and not what you spin it on .
    take it from a dj that been around .plus there is gear out there that can scratch just as good my vestax turntables .

    :) im never going stop djing even losing some of my hearing on my left side didnt stop me :)

    • djsureshot

      I went from analog decks to midi and now I’m back to analog with Torq 2.0.
      it’s personal thing for me, I love two turntables and a mixer with vinyl, so that’s what I spin on.
      Will turntables die? I doubt it, but I do know that the sales on new ones are in heavy decline. With e-bay and craigslist out there, you can get a good pair of decks a decent prices. Ish, I got my Two TTX (practically brand new) a mixer and coffin for $150. You can’t even by a new mid level deck for $150. So the end of deck production could be due in part to the amount of used gear DJ’s are purchasing. That and the amount of updated MIDI controllers that keep coming out.
      But I’ll keep holding on to my analog decks thank you.

      • gg

        Sorry but Technics is the industry standard- PROVEN to last 25 years+… these other brands havent been around 10 years and then they bring out another model, and another model, and another model…. who cares if cream or ministry of sound uses other decks- theyre just cheaper. TECHNICS IS THE ORGINATOR NOT THE IMITATOR—- original genius will last forever- just like a beautiful song PS PEOPLE- the art of DJing is to mix and sequence songs you scour the globe for to tell an emotive story and give feeling and emotion through those sound waves…. It is NOT layering 4 songs/samples on each other trying to impress an uneducated audience who prob dont know whats going on….its called raping an original song and destroying it….testwarn@hotmail.com

    • gg

      LOL- they will never stop making needles or parts… in fact they charge permium prices for them.. that is ludicrous to say that…. Vinyl is the closest to a PURE SOUND FORMAT we have on this little planet we call Earth- other than live sound that is….

  • http://facebook.com/djklh KLH

    DVS packages are the ONLY reason why TTs and (increasingly) CDJs exist. The DVS package WAS the reboot that they needed to compete with the controller onslaught.

    Fortunately, technology marched onward. Convenience killed the CD in favor of the MP3. Convenience with laptops killed TTs and CDJs. Convenience too, ultimately replaced TTs and CDJs with controllers. The price/performance ratio is unbeatable.

    Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi.

    -KLH

  • http://soundcloud.com/dj_osiris DJ Osiris

    I love my turntables… LOVE EM!!! The feel of the vinyl. The degree of control. I will never get rid of my turntables and if they ever crap out on me, I will purchase more and will continue to use turntables until there are none left in existence to purchase. Although, I am not blind to technology either. I have Serato and I also have an NS6. It’s amazing how fast technology is changing the game, but I think the key is just to evolve with it to enhance your skill set.

  • http://www.StudioScratches.com Short-E – Studio Scratches

    Hey Gizmo!!! Just found the new site, guess I’m a bit behind! Looks cool, I’m diving in to have a look around.

    I still love my technics 1200 mk II but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t curious about the alternatives. s2 maybe? Gotta get my hands on a pair.

    I saw DJ Happee cutting it up on the s4 and was well impressed.

    take it steady!

  • status_six

    I’ve always been a digital only DJ. I fully intend to grab some secondhand technical as soon as finances allow. I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to learn to mix on vinyl too!

  • gg

    please- turntables will be around forever- well technics will anyway. VINYL obselete?? doubt it. germany pump out turntables worth $10,000- $100,000 A PIECE to the day and people buy them… these idiots who say vinyl is dead… are speakers dead??? NO. speakers are as big and heavy as ever. A technics turntable will last 25yrs minimum. Anyone who knows ANYTHING about sound knows vinyl is as close to pure live sound as possible… Even a 1000kbps WAVE CD file has nothing on vinyl. Digi is just compressed sound- VINYL IS SOUND!!!! Little sound ripples you can hold, see and feel in your hands. Twelve year olds can beat mix perfectly these days- and automatic key mixing???? LOL- really skillful!!!!! 90% of DJ’s now cant beatmix 3mins without their programs or little BPM counters. If you cant beatmix 2 songs seamlessly for 5 mins with your eyes shut and mixing by sound alone- THEN YOU ARE NOT A DJ!!!!!!!!
    PLUS JAPANESE LOVE VINYL and they know quality….. Laptop DJing is for people like Sasha who travel the world everyday. HIP HOP DJ’s will never stop scratching with them- jazz producers will always use vinyl…. and when you download music you own NOTHING- just computer bytes…Nothing physical. No artwork… NOTHING>>> biggest con in the world digi music. I CANT evn listen to MP3’s…….PC djing has led to overkill in the industry. the aim of DJing is to source the world for great music and sequence it to tell a story full of feel and emotion…NOT layer 4 songs on top of each other and totally destroy the beauty of the original track….. and heres a tip for those overkill laptop DJ’s (who couldnt beatmix using their own brain alone- they need a screen or something to tell them) the tips are A) 90% of club goers wouldn’t know when beatmixing is occurring B) they havent heard the song before C) they will never hear the song again and finally they would have no idea what youre doing on your laptop and whether you f*ck up or not. so its a waste of time anyway…… the skill is this- find moving music- sequence it to tell a story- do not destroy the sound of the original song you bought in the first place- let your choice of music speak for itself- YAWN to digi DJ’ing- so boring. and easy. i mean seriously, you can learn to mix in 1 hr on a laptop. it takes YEARS to learn how to MIX LIVE SOUND- not mix files but SOUND.. and vinyl is sound… SALES are going up, pressing is much cheaper and more efficient, and the artwork of the vinyl sleeve— I LOVE IT!!!!!!! Vinyl skips and continues playing— ever been in a digi club when theres laptop/CD problems or mismapping problems…. KILLS the dance floor and the WHOLE club environment!!!!!!!!!! I BUY CLASSIC AND CURRENT PROGRESSIVE MUSIC ON VINYL- BRAND NEW between AUD$4-$12…every month… friends say “hey listen to this i downloaded. its awesome”. I listen and it is a crappy 320kbps download. I show them my vinyl sound quality and they are blown away. It reminds me of a story…. i said to a V8 owner once- “hey mate you should sell your car and buy a Mazda rotary if you want hi RPM street racer… noone i have ever known with a rotary has sold it to buy a V8 but I know plenty who have sold their V8 for a rotary engine”… he belittled me infront of everyone… 2 weeks later he had a Mazda RX2 rotary… point is i knew i was right and he finally agreed… same with vinyl… NOONE who has vinyl listens to digi music and thinks “hey that it better quality”… but most people who listen to digi music hear vinyl and go WOW!!!! its just a fact… NASA said in 2008- “we are 10-15 years away from safely landing a man on the moon and bringing him home alive (didnt they do that already???? LOL) anyway thats what NASA officially said in 2008…. technics have been around for 40 year (few years after moon landing in fact) and still have not been surpassed for quality, response and reliability. Even these new turntables are inferior to technics- and these new ones have had 30 years to study 1200 and better them and they couldn’t….. THERE ARE ORIGINATORS AND THERE ARE IMITATORS… only ORIGINATORS truly excel!!!!!!!!!!!! its called passion!!!!!!!!! If you TRULY WANT SUPERIOR QUALITY then vinyl is the only choice… people buy BETTER mixers, BETTER amps, BETTER speakers… Why not just buy the sound source to begin with????? VINYL- WHY NOT? because its too heavy- that is the simple and plain fact- LAZINESS- even DJ sasha knows the quality of a REAL piano versus an ARTIFICIALLY REAL piano… SO VINYL WILL ONLY DIE OFF IN CLUBS DUE TO LAZINESSSS- NOT DUE TO BETTER SOUND QUALITY… but it will be in the home and niche clubs for the next 20 years…. and those niche clubs will become real CLUBS- a club environment where people go to support and enjoy the SOUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!! testwarn@hotmail.com

    • http://www.facebook.com/Metachemical Mike Stannard

      Vinyl is obsolete. So is a 68 Dodge Charger – dosen’t mean you can’t drive a Charger around, and love the hell out of it. And YAWN at your “real dj I’m more hardcore than thou BS.”

  • http://twitter.com/SteelLungs Steel Lungs

    Frankly, I couldn’t give a damn about the market, or even other DJ’s. I already have my Technics. There’s still enough vinyl out there that I haven’t heard or don’t own that’ll last me a lifetime. Any new innovations I think are cool I will buy. “Fake DJ’s” and trend followers don’t bother me in the slightest. I’ll continue doing things the way I’ve always done them, basically; which is not taking other people or myself too seriously and trying to have fun with music. Meanwhile, the world keeps on turning. Who cares?

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  • mike loe

    Technic made the ultimate dj turntable by accident… Yes and correct the product was so reliable that it became the standard….. Did they doom themselves by creating such a reliable product…. I think not, cause the dj culture has grown so much in the past 20 that most dj that aren’t using controllers use turntables and most use Technic, so instead of people buying so many used pairs that have doubled or tripled in price, people would have most likely bought a new pair or two… I know I have four pair.