I remember NAMM 2005 very well. I had reviewed the SL-DZ1200, and gave it a less than glowing recommendation. At the time, Skratchworx was about the only game in town, so getting the cold shoulder and subsequent freeze-out from the brand over that review was kind of a big deal.
Even though the DJ media world has gotten larger, writing this I’m getting flashbacks. When the new DJ-oriented 1200 was announced, I was excited. While expensive, it wasn’t $4k. Even though its only available in one color, they chose the best one (in my opinion). While not adding many new features, the ones they added are smart. On paper, it is in many ways the SL1200mk5g, minus the somewhat weak anti-skip tonearm adjustment. So, why am I so let down?
ABSENCE DOES NOT MAKE THE HEART GROW FONDER
The first big loss is in the material and weight. Beyond pitch stability, one associates the 1200 with incredibly robust build quality. Unlike other pro turntables the 1200mk2-6 had a 3 layer construction, combining a steel top layer, solid rubber bottom and a chewy chocolate center (a solid plastic spacer). This multi-layer construction gave the 1200 industry-leading feedback resistance, almost unmatched.
The new SL1200mk7 however has a plastic bottom piece, which feels somewhat hollow in comparison. While the injection-molded piece provides a really great cable plug-in bay and solid handle grip, I would have taken the permanently attached cables any day. There are a few other little things that bother me as well. The pop-up light snaps instead of rising slowly, and the paint feels cheap compared to the anodized SL1210mk2 or the beautiful scratch magnet powder coating of the SL1200mk5g. Overall, the SL1200mk7 is a let down, if only because of the almost impossibly high standard of the original.
OH LORD PLEASE DON’T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD
So, I have to hate it, right? No. I think it is a pretty decent turntable. The new motor is awesome. The pitch fader and buttons feel great. The tonearm is classic Technics. If you were to put this in front of me as the Pioneer PLX1000mk2, I would honestly say it was a quality piece of kit. The problem though is that it IS a Technics. Putting out a new 1200 carries with it certain expectations that this doesn’t quite match up to, and unlike the Super OEM turntables out there, the new SL1200mk7 lacks the features of Reloop, the unique looks of Stanton, or the less expensive, but not cheap price of Pioneer. While this isn’t a Super OEM turntable, it is a $1k turntable that feels like one.
The SL1200mk7 will sell a boatload. The people who buy it will like it. Kids who are buying their first good turntable will feel good knowing they are part of a legacy. This isn’t a bad turntable, but it feels like Technics believes their name is worth more than any feature. Color me conflicted.
Guessing Technics won’t be sending us any Christmas cards this year.