Can a Technics SL-1200G challenge the state of the art?

As already said the original magnesium arm is a really fine all-purpose tonearm, BUT a heavy SPU or a stonebody Koetsu only really sings in a heavy arm (for example a Glanz MH 94s or FR 64s).
 
I love that Devon plays avant-garde/free jazz to demo his gears just to turn off the audiophiles and that's good enough for me. The newer generation of Technics direct-drive turntables all use a coreless motor and that's worth investing time in modifying. Best of luck to you, struts!
 
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For the last 15-or-so years I have been the proud owner of a Nordic Concept Artist (here sporting a Breuer 8c and Dynavector XV-1s).

View attachment 125213

























This beautiful and great sounding deck (sadly no longer in production) was the brainchild of Robert Grubstad, proprietor of AudioConcept, one of the leading high-end dealers in the Nordic region. He designed and built it from the ground up and it incorporated some innovative ideas (for instance the mass-matched mechanical grounding) as well as good old-fashioned top-notch audio engineering. However over time the evolution of my digital source led to me playing less and less vinyl. As more and more of my listening went over to streaming I started to realise how few of my own discs (mostly contemporary rock/indie starting from the late 1970s) were unavailable in streamed form. Ignoring my singles it is currently less than about 50. And when I upgraded to a Vivaldi stack I started finding that in head-to-head comparisons I actually though the digital version sounded better . The Artist was good, but comparing it to current SoTA digital, I was for the first time starting to clearly hear its limitations.

The optimisation of my digital system eventually led to my ditching my preamp and driving my power amp directly from the DAC and this put my vinyl listening on hold for a few years. As the beautiful Artist was just sitting gathering dust I decided it was time to let it go so it could make someone else happy. However during a visit to a local dealer I started talking to my friend G who has worked there forever and at other dealers before that. He is a true veteran of the high end and someone whose opinion I respect enormously. He showed me a picture of his own current system and I saw a turntable that I thought I recognised. "What's that?" I asked. "A Technics SL-1200G" he said, "it's really good!" He didn't need to say more, I changed than plan and the sale became a trade-in. Very soon a new SL-1200G was spinning chez Struts, jury rigged with a Parks Audio Waxwing into the Vivaldi Upsampler while I figured out which direction to take on the preamp question.

View attachment 125216

I started reading up on the SL-1200G and appreciating that this was indeed no ordinary high-end turntable. Above all the massive R&D resources of Technics (now owned by Panasonic) and the advanced tooling they were able to invest in for production contrasted what looked like the classic DJ deck from the vast majority of boutique audiophile designs. How many of those for instance could boast optical speed control technology that had originally been developed for Blu-ray players, or a specialized high precision machine specifically to test and calibrate platter balance? But on a subsequent visit to my dealer G told me a story that really got my ears twitching. He told me how he had compared his SL-1200G with a friend’s TechDAS 3. As you know, this is a serious audiophile deck costing in the region of $40k. Well, he said when they measured them up his Technics out-performed the TechDAS on every parameter: speed accuracy, short-term speed stability, long-term speed stability etc. He said his friend went away with his tail between his legs and came back a week later having used various test discs to “dial it in”. At this point he said it was now pretty much on a par with the Technics. This fascinated me, and what had started as an envisaged retirement from vinyl ended with me tumbling down a new rabbit hole.

Could the humble SL-1200G be used as the platform for an “assault on the summit”? A true SoTA deck that can go toe-to-toe with the best available? This idea was fuelled by the joy of having one in-house and being able to play my records again which had led to a major vinyl renaissance!

I started researching and soon realised that as far as the original "deejay" SL-1200s go this was a well trodden path. I found a wealth of information (some examples) on power-supply upgrades, bearing upgrades, sub-chassis tweaks and replacement footers, as well as platter-mat, -weight and arm-board and arm upgrades. About the only thing people never seemed to touch on the older SL-1200s was the motor - and that is significantly upgraded on the SL-1200G! As hard as I looked I could find very little information on people trying similar things with contemporary "audiophile" SL-1200Gs. So I thought “why not give it a try?”

So that is my new project. To identify tweaks and upgrades that will take my SL-1200G as close to the state of the art as I can.

And just to address one elephant in the room, yes, I know the SL-1000R is still available and out-performs the SL-1200G. It has an out-board power supply, a heavier platter and stronger motor, and maybe not insignificantly, can accommodate 10” arms. However, the only direct comparisons (such as this one) I have been able to find are of the decks in their stock configuration, including tonearms, raising the question how much the quality difference here (magnesium vs aluminium arm tubes etc.) may have been a deciding factor. And in that comparison even then a simple tonearm cable upgrade took the SL1200G to within striking distance of the SL-1000R. An outboard power supply and a better arm can be retrofitted, we’ll see how much of a limitation the 9” constraint turns out to be. Everything I have read convinced me that the SL-1200G is a good enough motor unit that my thesis is that I can actually evolve it to outperform the SL-1000R and at lower cost.

I have already spoken to Hugo at Ammonite, Dave at TimeStep and Arthur at TheFunkFirm so huge shout-outs to them for sharing their wisdom and experience. I also have a friend who is ex-Technics and who is introducing me to some former colleagues from Technics Product Management and R&D in Osaka. So I have started collecting various accessories and these are now winding their way towards the frozen north.

If anyone here is aware of people who have trodden this path before please let me know, I am really anxious to learn from the experience of others. Likewise if you have any ideas or suggestions of upgrades to try, or indeed if you think I'm mad, please drop me a line! @mtemur & @Johan K I see you have posted on relevant topics here previously and welcome your input.

Let’s see where we end up.


I bought the SL1200G a couple years ago. I chatted to Arthur at the Bristol show last year and a couple of people who have used his mods.
I ended up getting an achromat and houdini, they both helped to make an improvement.
I had a Kuzma XL/dc 4pt for many years - I dont miss it at all, the Technics seems to match it.
 
For the last 15-or-so years I have been the proud owner of a Nordic Concept Artist (here sporting a Breuer 8c and Dynavector XV-1s).

View attachment 125213

























This beautiful and great sounding deck (sadly no longer in production) was the brainchild of Robert Grubstad, proprietor of AudioConcept, one of the leading high-end dealers in the Nordic region. He designed and built it from the ground up and it incorporated some innovative ideas (for instance the mass-matched mechanical grounding) as well as good old-fashioned top-notch audio engineering. However over time the evolution of my digital source led to me playing less and less vinyl. As more and more of my listening went over to streaming I started to realise how few of my own discs (mostly contemporary rock/indie starting from the late 1970s) were unavailable in streamed form. Ignoring my singles it is currently less than about 50. And when I upgraded to a Vivaldi stack I started finding that in head-to-head comparisons I actually though the digital version sounded better . The Artist was good, but comparing it to current SoTA digital, I was for the first time starting to clearly hear its limitations.

The optimisation of my digital system eventually led to my ditching my preamp and driving my power amp directly from the DAC and this put my vinyl listening on hold for a few years. As the beautiful Artist was just sitting gathering dust I decided it was time to let it go so it could make someone else happy. However during a visit to a local dealer I started talking to my friend G who has worked there forever and at other dealers before that. He is a true veteran of the high end and someone whose opinion I respect enormously. He showed me a picture of his own current system and I saw a turntable that I thought I recognised. "What's that?" I asked. "A Technics SL-1200G" he said, "it's really good!" He didn't need to say more, I changed than plan and the sale became a trade-in. Very soon a new SL-1200G was spinning chez Struts, jury rigged with a Parks Audio Waxwing into the Vivaldi Upsampler while I figured out which direction to take on the preamp question.

View attachment 125216

I started reading up on the SL-1200G and appreciating that this was indeed no ordinary high-end turntable. Above all the massive R&D resources of Technics (now owned by Panasonic) and the advanced tooling they were able to invest in for production contrasted what looked like the classic DJ deck from the vast majority of boutique audiophile designs. How many of those for instance could boast optical speed control technology that had originally been developed for Blu-ray players, or a specialized high precision machine specifically to test and calibrate platter balance? But on a subsequent visit to my dealer G told me a story that really got my ears twitching. He told me how he had compared his SL-1200G with a friend’s TechDAS 3. As you know, this is a serious audiophile deck costing in the region of $40k. Well, he said when they measured them up his Technics out-performed the TechDAS on every parameter: speed accuracy, short-term speed stability, long-term speed stability etc. He said his friend went away with his tail between his legs and came back a week later having used various test discs to “dial it in”. At this point he said it was now pretty much on a par with the Technics. This fascinated me, and what had started as an envisaged retirement from vinyl ended with me tumbling down a new rabbit hole.

Could the humble SL-1200G be used as the platform for an “assault on the summit”? A true SoTA deck that can go toe-to-toe with the best available? This idea was fuelled by the joy of having one in-house and being able to play my records again which had led to a major vinyl renaissance!

I started researching and soon realised that as far as the original "deejay" SL-1200s go this was a well trodden path. I found a wealth of information (some examples) on power-supply upgrades, bearing upgrades, sub-chassis tweaks and replacement footers, as well as platter-mat, -weight and arm-board and arm upgrades. About the only thing people never seemed to touch on the older SL-1200s was the motor - and that is significantly upgraded on the SL-1200G! As hard as I looked I could find very little information on people trying similar things with contemporary "audiophile" SL-1200Gs. So I thought “why not give it a try?”

So that is my new project. To identify tweaks and upgrades that will take my SL-1200G as close to the state of the art as I can.

And just to address one elephant in the room, yes, I know the SL-1000R is still available and out-performs the SL-1200G. It has an out-board power supply, a heavier platter and stronger motor, and maybe not insignificantly, can accommodate 10” arms. However, the only direct comparisons (such as this one) I have been able to find are of the decks in their stock configuration, including tonearms, raising the question how much the quality difference here (magnesium vs aluminium arm tubes etc.) may have been a deciding factor. And in that comparison even then a simple tonearm cable upgrade took the SL1200G to within striking distance of the SL-1000R. An outboard power supply and a better arm can be retrofitted, we’ll see how much of a limitation the 9” constraint turns out to be. Everything I have read convinced me that the SL-1200G is a good enough motor unit that my thesis is that I can actually evolve it to outperform the SL-1000R and at lower cost.

I have already spoken to Hugo at Ammonite, Dave at TimeStep and Arthur at TheFunkFirm so huge shout-outs to them for sharing their wisdom and experience. I also have a friend who is ex-Technics and who is introducing me to some former colleagues from Technics Product Management and R&D in Osaka. So I have started collecting various accessories and these are now winding their way towards the frozen north.

If anyone here is aware of people who have trodden this path before please let me know, I am really anxious to learn from the experience of others. Likewise if you have any ideas or suggestions of upgrades to try, or indeed if you think I'm mad, please drop me a line! @mtemur & @Johan K I see you have posted on relevant topics here previously and welcome your input.

Let’s see where we end up.
I’m a huge fan of dd’s. And the technics is quite superb and can take you very far. The issue is that whilst you can do magic with the plinth platter mat and arm there is the issue of the speed control. It’s a 12 pole motor the sp10 is 15 pole. This is where say the Sony TTS8000 is superb it uses. Clever magnetic tape for speed control and is smoother. The JVC ql10 has a bi directional servo and the EMT 950 has hall generators - this is a snapshot I hasten to add - but have a look at thevintageknob which sets out many classic Japanese DD specs. This was all explained to me at length by a very respected Japanese cartridge manufacturer together with a very respected EMT technician (I am somewhat bound by confidence which I have to respect). Consider the 1200 like a Denon 103 - you can take it so far but it’s no Lyra or Koetsu
 
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I’m a huge fan of dd’s. And the technics is quite superb and can take you very far. The issue is that whilst you can do magic with the plinth platter mat and arm there is the issue of the speed control. It’s a 12 pole motor the sp10 is 15 pole. This is where say the Sony TTS8000 is superb it uses. Clever magnetic tape for speed control and is smoother. The JVC ql10 has a bi directional servo and the EMT 950 has hall generators - this is a snapshot I hasten to add - but have a look at thevintageknob which sets out many classic Japanese DD specs. This was all explained to me at length by a very respected Japanese cartridge manufacturer together with a very respected EMT technician (I am somewhat bound by confidence which I have to respect). Consider the 1200 like a Denon 103 - you can take it so far but it’s no Lyra or Koetsu
I have no experience of the Sony and EMT you mention, however imho the current 1200G is a very different beast to it’s predecessors.
A few years ago Fremer posted recordings of his then TT of choice (Continuum Audio Labs) compared to the SL1200G, the difference was marginal.
Prior to my 1200 I had a Kuzma XL/dc/4pt, although I did not manage to compare side by side, the SL1200G more or less matches the Kuzma and has truer tone.
 
No.
but it may be all the turntable some will ever need.
 
I heard a 1210 with the supertrac and it sounded very good. I have a SL1200G and thought about fitting the Blackbird - does look like a bit of a mission to do on a 1200G though.
Interesting, thanks!

Yes, I have spoken to Arthur and definitely think he is onto something. I have an Achromat and intend to try a couple of his other mods and maybe one of his arms.

The Blackbird looks supa-interesting and I am looking forward to trying one out. I don't understand your comment about it being "a bit of a mission to do on a 1200G though", what do you mean? Looks pretty straightforward to me given the excellent adjustability of the Blackbird, the compatibility with standard arm mounts such as SME and Rega and the ready availability of such armboards for the 1200G. I will certainly let you know how I get on!
 
I’m a huge fan of dd’s. And the technics is quite superb and can take you very far. The issue is that whilst you can do magic with the plinth platter mat and arm there is the issue of the speed control. It’s a 12 pole motor the sp10 is 15 pole. This is where say the Sony TTS8000 is superb it uses. Clever magnetic tape for speed control and is smoother. The JVC ql10 has a bi directional servo and the EMT 950 has hall generators - this is a snapshot I hasten to add - but have a look at thevintageknob which sets out many classic Japanese DD specs. This was all explained to me at length by a very respected Japanese cartridge manufacturer together with a very respected EMT technician (I am somewhat bound by confidence which I have to respect). Consider the 1200 like a Denon 103 - you can take it so far but it’s no Lyra or Koetsu
Thanks, this is the first time anyone has explained the difference between the motors in the 1200G and the SP10. Makes sense that the SP10 motor would be better given the price difference, but there is so much else in the 1200G (see my earlier posts for countless examples) that seems to represent extremely refined engineering belying the price point.

Folks seem unprepared to believe that a 1200G can compete with the high price/ low volume esoteric decks but to me many of those (not all) seem to me to represent fairly rudimentary engineering combined with large helpings of "throwing mass at the problem". For instance most platters on the esoteric decks are machined, but is that because machining is better than casting or is it because producing a mould is prohibitively expensive for such low production volumes? And how many of them have access to the tooling used to balance bullet train wheels? Likewise, the vast majority of high end decks use belt drive, but is that because it is inherently better or is it just because it is a lot easier to get it performing relatively well?

I like your Denon analogy although I am hoping to push my 1200G closer to "Lyra or Koetsu" territory than that implies!
 
Interesting, thanks!

Yes, I have spoken to Arthur and definitely think he is onto something. I have an Achromat and intend to try a couple of his other mods and maybe one of his arms.

The Blackbird looks supa-interesting and I am looking forward to trying one out. I don't understand your comment about it being "a bit of a mission to do on a 1200G though", what do you mean? Looks pretty straightforward to me given the excellent adjustability of the Blackbird, the compatibility with standard arm mounts such as SME and Rega and the ready availability of such armboards for the 1200G. I will certainly let you know how I get on!

I opened up the 1200G and it looks a bit complicated to fit a different arm. I would be most interested to see how it is done, please let me know :)
 
I opened up the 1200G and it looks a bit complicated to fit a different arm. I would be most interested to see how it is done, please let me know :)
I ordered an armboard from Ammonite Audio and it came with really clear step-by-step instructions. Basically you unscrew the bottom "tub", then the BMC sandwich layer and then it is a simple case of loosening three screws that hold the armboard in place from below. The key thing is to remove the headshell beforehand and put a towel or something inside the lid to "catch" the arm when it drops down once detached.

This was a bit less daunting for me as I have already opened mine up to fit a TimeStep power supply. It's just a helluva lot of screws, nothing difficult at all.

I'll post photos when I get there. Patiently waiting for delivery of my arm..
 
Thanks, this is the first time anyone has explained the difference between the motors in the 1200G and the SP10. Makes sense that the SP10 motor would be better given the price difference, but there is so much else in the 1200G (see my earlier posts for countless examples) that seems to represent extremely refined engineering belying the price point.

Folks seem unprepared to believe that a 1200G can compete with the high price/ low volume esoteric decks but to me many of those (not all) seem to me to represent fairly rudimentary engineering combined with large helpings of "throwing mass at the problem". For instance most platters on the esoteric decks are machined, but is that because machining is better than casting or is it because producing a mould is prohibitively expensive for such low production volumes? And how many of them have access to the tooling used to balance bullet train wheels? Likewise, the vast majority of high end decks use belt drive, but is that because it is inherently better or is it just because it is a lot easier to get it performing relatively well?

I like your Denon analogy although I am hoping to push my 1200G closer to "Lyra or Koetsu" territory than that implies!
First of all thanks.

I think Inspire Audio (or similar name) do a very impressive SL1200 upgrade. I know many claim they can hear the speed correction in play due to the multiple one way speed corrections - i think they are talking a bit of nonsense frankly - once up to speed fluctuations on the AC grid tend to not make much of a contribution to speed fluctuation. What does cause speed fluctuation is stylus drag - theres a great video by a chap called HAlcro with a timeline - i hope admin won't mind me posting this link:


John Carr or was it Stig Bjorge (sorry for any miss-spelling) from Lyra Audio explained the drives and differences to me once before about 20 years ago.

I'm not qualified to comment on all platters and MAts - but the TTS8000 and JVCQL 10 had specific mats and the platters have damping compounds.

If you wanna go crazy:
get a Townshend Seismic Speaker Platform
get a tuned record weight - it adds to the platter mass in part
get a Zanden Record Mat or one made of deerskin
in terms of arms - i can't advise fully but there are several companies that do conversions - personally my favourite arm is my Helius Omega


Belt drives were primarily/initially developed for most everyday/affordable decks as they were cheap and gave bang for the buck - the Airpax/Phillips buzzed its way through many decks - Manticore, Rega, Linn, Townshend (I changed mine to a Berger Lahrs), Roksan, Michell. Sadly vibrations from a motor spinning at 300rpm down a belt is gonna be more than one circling at 33 RPM. Why do you think there are so many motor and power supply upgrades for belt drives???

I hasten to add that before this becomes a drive type hate post/thread I have two BD decks which i absolutely love and the silly money BD's take and run with their respective strength traits - and essentially it is about application.
 
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Been there done it. And yes it was a lot better than the standard tonearm, BUT the upgrade to an SL-1000r changed things considerably!View attachment 127047View attachment 127057
The SL-1000r is massively better than the 1200G (even with the Technics tonearm of the SL-1000r).
IMHO the 1200G was only slightly ahead of my old trusty 1210 MkII
I agree !
 
First of all thanks.

I think Inspire Audio (or similar name) do a very impressive SL1200 upgrade. I know many claim they can hear the speed correction in play due to the multiple one way speed corrections - i think they are talking a bit of nonsense frankly - once up to speed fluctuations on the AC grid tend to not make much of a contribution to speed fluctuation. What does cause speed fluctuation is stylus drag - theres a great video by a chap called HAlcro with a timeline - i hope admin won't mind me posting this link:


John Carr or was it Stig Bjorge (sorry for any miss-spelling) from Lyra Audio explained the drives and differences to me once before about 20 years ago.

I'm not qualified to comment on all platters and MAts - but the TTS8000 and JVCQL 10 had specific mats and the platters have damping compounds.

If you wanna go crazy:
get a Townshend Seismic Speaker Platform
get a tuned record weight - it adds to the platter mass in part
get a Zanden Record Mat or one made of deerskin
in terms of arms - i can't advise fully but there are several companies that do conversions - personally my favourite arm is my Helius Omega


Belt drives were primarily/initially developed for most everyday/affordable decks as they were cheap and gave bang for the buck - the Airpax/Phillips buzzed its way through many decks - Manticore, Rega, Linn, Townshend (I changed mine to a Berger Lahrs), Roksan, Michell. Sadly vibrations from a motor spinning at 300rpm down a belt is gonna be more than one circling at 33 RPM. Why do you think there are so many motor and power supply upgrades for belt drives???

I hasten to add that before this becomes a drive type hate post/thread I have two BD decks which i absolutely love and the silly money BD's take and run with their respective strength traits - and essentially it is about application.

Yep, nothing like a bellend for a platter attached directly to a motor to kill those pesky Belt drive tables ..

Not to worry i do have a couple DD myself so do understand the love hate between them all...


:)
 

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