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VINYL HEAVEN 6

More bits and pieces and information
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VINYL HEAVEN PAGES:

Cartridges
Vinyl Heaven 2
.

Cleaning Vinyl
Vinyl Heaven 3
.

More...
Vinyl Heaven 4
.


Your Comments
Vinyl Heaven 6

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Support Real Stereo
Real Stereo


Links
Technics Resources:

Panasonic Technics

Technics SL-1200 MkII

SL-1200 on KABUSA
KAB's Kevin Barrett is one of
the world's SL-1200 authorities

SL-1210 at Superfi

Cartridges:


Cool Gales - suppliers of
cartridges, cleaning equipment & accessories. Very helpful. (UK)


Turntables & Needles (USA)




Vinyl Care & Accessories:

British Audio Products Online -
record sleeves, care, cleaning (UK)

Cool Gales - suppliers of record
care accessories & cartridges

(UK)




Sleeve City- record sleeves (USA)


More Links


Noteworthy Audio -
record care

Analogue Seduction -
record care

Technics SL-1200 on Wakata.cz














Amateur Radio


Vinyl Heaven 6 - Comments and Correspondence

YOUR COMMENTS AND CORRESPONDENCE

Dear Mike and Jules,
 
Just been looking at your info on cartridge alignment, I think that one thing that is not emphasised enough is that the sides or fixing holes in the headshell must be parallel to the alignment lines on the stylus protractor, before  alighning cartridge body/stylus. I am using an OM10 ( Rega Planar 3, RB300) with ESP PO6 and will try  your advice on reducing resistance. I have lately finished a couple of DOZ power amps, P36, and am very happy with the sound, always liked class A, they are also useful for room heating!

Next will be an ESP pre amp. I’ve tried the DOZ with an Audio Synthesis Passion Passive pre amp, and also a NAD 3130, using only the preamp and the NAD sounds better!!! It may be of interest to some vinyl lovers that the ‘Disco Antistat’ made by Knosti
Is reasonable as a record cleaner, and very good at removing static.
 
Regards, Mike.
[February 2013]

Excellent comments and ideas Mike!  I wholly agree. Mike, MDS975.



Dear Mike,

Please check out my website. My main turntable is a highly modified Technics SL-1210 MKII. You are the reason I have my Technics SL-1210.

Regards, Michael Miguest : 
www.audiocognoscenti.com




Hi Mike and Jules!

I wanted to let you know how grateful I am for your website and share some things about my quest for a good record player.

Early 2011 my mom called me telling me she wanted to get rid of my late dad's collection of (mainly jazz) 78's. I gladly went over to pick them up, including his data records on cards, and now had to think of the best way to start playing 'm. I did try to persuade her to throw in the Thorens TD-124, but she still wants to play her own vinyls, so the record player stayed.

Now I did own a Pro-Ject debut III phono SB, with integrated preamp and by manual belt change it can run at 78 rpm., but without a good option to swap cartridges I now had a good incentive to start looking for my dream record player: I bought the Pro-Ject a couple of years back and because I didn't have a pre-amp in my receiver, thought it was great the pre-amp was integrated in the record player. Well, I guess it is a decent value for money, but for me it was a level too poor on the sound quality. It failed to impress me. I did actually stop playing vinyl, no fun anymore. I know this is an entry level record player, and I haven't auditioned their more premium types, so this is solely my personal opinion and then also only on this type.

I started to browse the web for advice,  dreaming about building my own audiophile belt drive player, finding out a lot of interesting stuff on playing 78's, and finding all kinds of off the shelve units for big budgets which looked great on the pictures. Now I have to say something about my hi-fi enthusiasm: I always read massive amounts about audiophile solutions, but I do become kind of skeptical when authors start braiding their own interlinks and putting speaker cables on mini tripods.

My own set is a mid range NAD T742 surround receiver, a good set of Dali Royal speakers, and good but no nonsense cabling. In my quest I kept on landing back on your page, also through other sites and forums, and found your approach to be very close to what I like to see: Practical solutions, advise for good quality products, without the mystery that is so often found on hi-fi pages.

So I decided the Technics SL-1210 was what I wanted, and then customized to play 78's. My timing could have been better, with production ceased end 2010, it was no longer to be found new in The Netherlands and most second hand prices were crazy because it was by then a hyped player. But I found a very good second hand for a fair price, not used for DJ work, and send it over to Kevin at KAB. Basically I would have only needed the 78 modification, but since I wanted to go for my final record player, I went a bit crazy: I added the Cardas tonearm rewire, external power supply, fluid damper, strobe disabler, isonoe footers, basically: the works. A bit overkill maybe and I am not even sure if I would be able to assess the audible differences per mod, but now at least I would have nothing further to wish for. It was a pleasure to work with Kevin, he advised me on all mods, kept me informed along the way, and shipped the unit back well packaged for the long trip. All in all with all the mods and the import tax it became quite an expensive player, but I believe it is money well spent.

Next on the list was the pre-amp. For the 78's I needed something more then just RIAA equalization, and similar to above I found all kinds, often for a high budget. Equalization for 78's a science of its own: Not only did every label use their own settings, they also changed it from time to time, and the cutting engineer just created his own settings for speed and equalization. And then I found that Rod Elliot at ESP has a version of his phono stage with multiple equalization settings http://sound.westhost.com/project91.htm. [The P06 with Multi-Standard Phono Equaliser].

Rod's site is great and he has a created a very pragmatic approach to equalization, limiting the amount of settings, but enough so you can find a good one for almost every 78 ever made. That was a relief, and put my feet back on the ground again: Better to have something simple but good quality than a complex unit with hundreds of settings! I used his explanation and the info on your site to build it, and included the sub sonic filter too. Getting the circuit boards was the easy part and they are perfect quality.

The components was a bit more challenging, but I managed getting all through 3 different stores, and then I soldered it all carefully together. I am not an expert at electronics, but have done bits and pieces decades ago, it took me some time since I triple checked everything before mounting, but: It worked in one go, and sounds wonderful. I made an effort to let it look high end, and am proud of the result.

For cartridges I went for the Audio Technica AT440MLa for vinyl and Grado 78E for the 78's. I could get a good deal on the AT, and the Grado kept on being reviewed positively as a good all-round needle for 78's. I know having one needle for 78's might not be perfect, since the groove shape can differ between labels and time, but decided to keep things limited on this and go for just one good needle. An additional benefit for me was that the weight difference between these two combined with their preferred tracking weight, makes it possible to swap cartridges and only doing a very minor adjustment to the balance weight and tracking force. I like the convenience this adds, even when it should not be the top priority.

To complete things I also bought Kevin's KAB EV-1 vacuum record cleaner (I ran out of budget, and it is as great as you have explained on your site!!!), for the cleaning liquid I make my own mix, using 80% distilled water, 20% isopropyl alcohol and a drop of dishwasher rinse liquid. I noticed there are many opinions on the best cleaning liquid, but this seems to be giving me good results. Of course I use only distilled water and a drop of detergent for my 78's, the alcohol would kill 'm... And then I made the Bearwald protractor, and ordered a mini digital scale at dealextreme for just $13 http://www.dealextreme.com/p/digital-precision-scale-with-leather-case-5g-max-0-01g-resolution-16269?item=4 .

This scale is really a great find, it measures up to 5g, and it can easily be calibrated with a tiny calibration weight which you can order separately. This scale seems to be similar if not the exact same as what can also be found for prices up to $100 elsewhere. I read others have ordered a pair, since it seems that one of the reasons is so cheap, it that there is limited quality control, and for this price it is better to order a spare. But I must say so far the one I ordered has not let me down.

So now I am happily playing my own old vinyl, and my dad's 78's. My vinyl sounds as never before, what a difference! For the 78's I had this impression of slightly fast running play back with a lot of noise and a funny sound profile. Now, with a good stable deck with easy pitch control, a good needle, equalizing preamp and a good cleaner, I do realize 78's can actually play back as true hi-fi, even when it is of course still mono. It is also fun to do, because there are so many variables, every record might need some minor adjustments to make it sound exactly right.

Included are some photographs of the pre-amp. "Farbridges" is the direct translation of my family name, and I found it a suitable name for a hi-fi component..

Your site and your research and information has helped me tremendously on my quest for a record player. Thank you so much for making this all available online!!!

Best Regards,
Helmer Verbruggen
The Netherlands 
(August 2012)

Dear Helmer, Very many thanks for your email - you have had a fascinating and ultimately rewarding journey through sound! Yours is another inspiring tale of finding enjoyment from a large record collection. Thanks again for writing such a detailed account! Mike and Jules.

"Farbridges" multi-standard P06 pre-amp by Helmer Verbruggen

"Farbridges" multi-standard P06 pre-amp by Helmer Verbruggen

"Farbridges" multi-standard P06 pre-amp by Helmer Verbruggen

"Farbridges" multi-standard P06 pre-amp by Helmer  Verbruggen


"Farbridges" multi-standard P06 pre-amp by Helmer  Verbruggen

"Farbridges" multi-standard P06 pre-amp by Helmer  Verbruggen
Above: Photographs of the "Farbridges" multi-standard P06 pre-amp by Helmer Verbruggen
Click to see larger photographs on page 5


Dear Mike,

While I was browsing for a Technics Turntable modification for 78 rpm I came across this nice site and decided to tell something about me.

In the early 90s I collected a considerable number of shellack records. These often contain beautiful music from a time long before the speed and fury of today's life. I said to myself: this is the way music should be listened to and not in the modern ways on CD. Then I gradually extended this listening pleasure to vinyl.

With good fortune I was able to buy an used ELAC turntable over the Internet. It cost about 100…120 Euro. ELAC was a German manufacturer of high-quality turntables as well as home stereo equipment in the Sixties and Seventies. The model I got is the Miracord 770 H. It has some very special features. One is the “floating” stroboscope light which shows a steady figure of the speed 33 or 45 when the platter rotates at the exact speed. It has also a mechanical pitch control and if used the figures start to move across the display. It also rotates at 78 rpm. It uses an automatic mode to lift the tonearm and deposit the stylus onto the surface as gently as possible, unlike earlier models which do it directly and carelessly.  All without any electronics, the lift is fitted with a hydraulic brake.

In order to be able to play both shellacks and vinyl I looked for a magnetic cartridge which accommodate both and found it with Ortofon. I use the OD10 version (no longer produced but very similar to OM10) for vinyl and an OM 75 stylus for the brittle ones. Additionally an OM 25 stylus for the old mono vinyls. As I have good, acceptable and bad records I use in fact three OM 10 styli.

Good (no dot marked on the stylus) means new record or record played on a high-quality turntable. Acceptable (one dot) means record played on medium turntables but still fairly good and Bad (two dots) means really bad, abused records or those “played with a broom stick” as my father once remarked on those heavy tonearms on the early vinyl turntables.

The CD was advertised by Philips and Sony as “The Perfect Sound”. For a long time I believed in this. Someone remarked that a good vinyl sounds better than CD. I first didn’t believe it. Then I started listening to classical music. And during soft passages I could hear the Bits and Bytes out of the music. That person is right. Indeed the analogue record contains infinite resolution whereas the CD “chops up” the music to bits. Additionally on an analogue record the frequency limit is defined at the point where the signal drops to -3 decibels from the reference level, usually at 1000 Hz. This means much higher frequencies are still present. On the CD the signal is radically cut off at the frequency limit.

My future project is to build a DJ deck with two Technics turntables. The speciality is that I plan to equip the entire audio path with tubes. These produce much better sound and if over driven by mistake are much more gentle than semiconductors. And they provide me with the warmth as that of a good old radio from the Fifties.

[Incidentally] I just saw your pictures. Next time in Berlin try Café Horenstein. This café is decorated in the style of the sixties and music is played from REAL vinyls  -  http://www.horenstein.de  -  It contains English.

Best Regards,

Ralf Rafflenbeul  (February 2012)


Ralf, Thank you so much for your fascinating story. You have taken a very meticulous approach to reproducing your collection of shellack and vinyl - a real inspiration to all I think!  Thank you for informing me of the Café Horenstein. If we are lucky enough to be able to travel to Berlin again I will certainly try to visit.  Best wishes, Mike.




Hello Mike,

At last someone one is talking sense about the whole audiophile nonsense. I would not describe myself as an audiophile and am very happy with that. I read your site with some interest. I collect old vinyl and generally need a good robust deck that can handle records that are not always in the best condition. I toyed with buying a 1200 for years but I've always had a soft spot for vintage hi fi. I did briefly play around with a couple of audiophile/HI fi press kit but always found them to be like an overbred pedigree dog, look good but are oh so fussy and need a lot of care.

The phenomena you have exposed is the old 'Emperors new clothes' bandwagon where people for fear of appearing philistines or stupid regurgitate the same old nonsense straight out of the  promotional material  supplied by the manufacturers. What is the best wine ? answer the one that tastes really good. What is the best cheese ?. Answer , the one that tastes really good. What is the best deck ? the one that sounds really  good. Let your ears tell, you not a compromised hack on a magazine. Most people want a solid , reliable good sounding deck that isn't two finicky and picky (taking a platter off to change speeds for gods sake ! I ask you) Whoever puts up with that has never had a few mates around , a few beers and spinning some old favourites for a few hours.
 
On the subject of listening, the old debate about sound quality Vs CD I think there is an important point  here, as ethereal as this subject is. Human beings do not have digital processors for ears, we hear in analogue ! Hence the warmth that people report in listening to vinyl and a sterile harshness to CD recordings. Perhaps a digital recording is just a little too good for our ears , if that makes sense. Bass is particular problem I find. Reggae lovers may know what I mean.  -  !0 minutes on your web site and the SL-1210 MK2 is  on order !
 
Kind Regards,  Darren (London) (January 2011)

Hi Darren,

Thank y
ou very much indeed for your email. Many people have contacted me with report of how pleased they are with the SL-1200.

Obviously it is not a cheap solution, and as I suggest if one really has a limited budget then a Project will have to do and will offer reasonable and basic record reproduction - at least one can hear all those great old records again! I just hope that potential purchasers avoid the plasticky USB style turntables. Vinyl record collections deserve so much better than that!

There are, of course, many variables to be aware of with analogue, electro-acoustic reproduction; the turntable itself, its placement, the cartridge and its installation and adjustment, stylus care and, indeed, record care etc. This can add to the frustration of playing vinyl if one is not careful - which is why CDs and mp3's are so popular for their ease of plug and play I suppose.

The Technics SL-1200 eliminates most of these problematic variables; just choose the cartridge that best suits ones needs.

However my main point is, as you gathered, that so many of the cheap and even not so cheap decks really are mechanically and sonically compromised and much better results can be had for not much more money. I still believe that the SL-1200 offers remarkable value for money compared to the vastly inflated prices of other turntables on the market. It's amazing how baseless trends can become more important that actual performance and real value. It's certainly frustrating to see that some magazines continue to print ludicrous rubbish on their pages to the extent that they seem to have become superficial and quite ridiculous comics. Two or three biassed paragraphs on a 1/4 page just isn't enough. Where are the impartial, scientifically controlled technical test reports and objective blind listening tests? Nowhere in one magazine.

As for CD's then they can sound very good indeed. However there are some that are not produced to the best standards, whether that is due to poor production or mastering or bad pressing I am not sure, but the sound can be thin, brittle and tiring. Having said that the best digital recordings are extremely good and I have no complaints.

The thing about vinyl, I suppose, is that it is very tactile, great to handle, and that adds to the emotional experience - especially when one is playing age old favourite discs. It needs a great turntable though!

Happy Listening, Mike.




Hello again Mike,

I just thought I'd drop you a line to say that after quite a long lay off I fired up the Technics last night and I have to say that even now I am no less impressed. That speed of response and tight base and melody hmmm!

I can vouch for those Sorbothane feet thingies too. I've added some 50mm to replace the standard 4 feet to the deck and it does make a considerable difference through isolation - worth doing I think. I have also added some smaller ones to my Kairn pro pre amp.

Doing up an old LR Defender 90 and it'll be some time before she's on the road. Hope at some time to install a CB in her so I'll have to read your section on CB in your site thoroughly soon - so thanks in advance!!

Anyway hope you are all well and enjoying your Easter break.

Regards, Paul Norris.
(April 2010)




Hello Mike, I am in the process of putting the finishing touches to a website, related to a new microproccessor-based plug-and-play reversing module, developed and designed to be fitted to TECHNICS SL-1200 and SL-1210 turntables and their many variants.
http://4thstateaudio.co.uk/

Best regards, Richard Warwick, Timetec Electronics  (April 2010)




Hi Mike, My KAB EV-1 cleared customs last Thursday and has now been in use for a day or so.  I am really pleased with it; my vinyl sounds very, very different, and the KAB is very simple and easy to use.

No mess.  Excellent.  I have now invested in some isopropyl alcohol and distilled water to mix my own record cleaner.

Customs Info:  The customs end is now handled by Parcelforce, who will send out an invoice once the package clears customs.  You can track your package right the way through to delivery.  You can pay the customs duty and VAT fee (mine was £29.62) online and obtain next day delivery.  Good service too.

I will be emailing Kevin with my 100% praise of this miraculous little machine.  Who needs a built in motor or vacuum when this little thing works so well? 
http://www.kabusa.com

Regards to you and yours and thank you for your friendly advice and support and for publicising KABUSA.

David 
(March 2010)




Hello, I was reading some stories about the troubles some people have had in obtaining a decent turntable. It made me realize that I was very fortunate that back in the year of 1976, my neighbor friend who accompanied me to a store called Highland Appliance recommended that I purchase the Marantz 6300 turntable along with the Sansui 8080 receiver I bought.
 
I've been involved in audio gear all of my life and I was even fitting old style turntables with magnetic cartridges back around the year of 1970. I discovered how much better a MM cartridge sounded verses a ceramic type which was the usual type found on nearly all systems available to most (unaware) consumers. I eventually received an Ampex Micro 87R receiver in 1973 along with a Garrard TT and this, I thought, was the cat's ass at my young age.
 
But, the reason I am mainly writing was to share the fact that I was fortunate to have hooked onto the Marantz 6300 deck which kept me from falling victim to all of the hyped up turntables mentioned in your story section.
 
And now, I've gone through the ownership of a Dual 1229, which has caused me quite a bit of grief and no longer being used. I also have a few other decks, one an older Pioneer that I finagled to run at 78 RPM and fitted with a Shure cart/stylus for that purpose.
 
I got back into vinyl three years ago after talking to a fellow co-worker so the Marantz came back out and it needed a few tweaks. It's a peculiar table in regards to the electronics inside. It's given me its share of issues too but it is again running well. I am using a Shure M97xE cart in it.
 
I also purchased a used Technics SL1200 from Guitar Center and it plays extremely well. Just like it's stated on your web site. What a gem of a machine. I am using an Audio Technica 440mL cart on that machine.
 
I just bought an Audio Technica PL120 last week and I fitted a Stanton cart for 78's onto it and I am currently using a Stanton 681EEE cart but I just ordered an Audio Technica 120 E/T cartridge today for it. Not because I read about it here, but I heard about it on an audio forum once. And being the AT 440mL sounds so sweet, I thought the 120 would too.
 
I once purchased a Thorens TD-190 deck and it was shockingly cheaply made and it howled so bad at minimal volume, I didn't get past the first track on a Neil Young reissue Lp without putting it back in the box and sending it back. That ordeal cost me 45 dollars just in shipping and return charges.
 
I tried a Gemini DJ type of TT once too with the same isolation issues. It went back to Guitar Center the same day. I also have a Satnton straigh-arm deck fitted with a Shure Hi-Track. I don't use it though due to the arm. It also has isolation issues. I packed it with foam and that helped some.
 
The Technic's SL1200 is a great deck though and I really just wanted to add my opinion to the list of others who are using it. For those heading into vinyl, I recommend it highly. It's a solid machine and very well isolated. It's a joy to use too.
 
It's too easy to waste a lot of time and money on other machines so I thought I would add my story in hopes of helping others out.

Gary Pichini
(Feb 2010)




Hi, Terrific article!  I had given up hope that I'd ever again read a proper review of any piece of hi-fi gear again. Good, objective writing on the subject of 2-channel audio seems to be a lost art. Not lost, really. Abandoned is a better way to put it. I'm not an engineer and have little scientific education but I cut my audio teeth on the work of the great audio reviewers of the past and their real-world experience with electronic theory and design. I grow increasingly impatient with people that accept without discrimination the various undisciplined ramblings that issue forth from the "high-end" publications ,especially the ones in my own land (U.S).  I especially appreciated the author's having taken on the modern British manufacturers, that took courage. It's  the same here, really.

You want to take pride in the domestic producers but when you're asked to pay substantially more money for something that's not competitive you tend to dig your heels in. Just for comparison, I own a Revolver Red turntable and an old Garrard (there's no other kind now, sadly) Zero 2000B that has two decades on the Music Hall product and even this relic is light-years ahead of the Revolver in terms of engineering finesse and sophistication. As a non-audiophile friend once quipped about my Revolver, "it looks like a cheese board with a tone arm attached". As much as I love the thing, I had to concur. 
 
By some twisted logic, the high-end press and it's followers seem to be of the opinion that a product designed a major manufacturer with a large R&D budget somehow cannot be "musical" , a bit of absurdity that I cannot wrap my brain around. I hope that the SL-1200 and all other solidly-engineered and sensibly priced audio products remain in production long enough to see out these dark ages we're through living now. One can only hope.
 
I thoroughly enjoyed the humorous products page [link]. The fact that there are far less plausible products actually being manufactured and sold will be lost on many, I'm certain  :-)  
 
P.S. I hear now that certain high-end TT manufacturers are re-inventing the wheel in the form of devices that use idler puck drive. Now I've heard everything. I think it's time leave high-fidelity behind and find a sensible hobby..like swatting hornet's nests with table tennis bats or bungee jumping over dry river beds. 
 
For this relief from all the silliness out there, many thanks.

Ray
(June 2009)




Hi Mike, An update on the redoubtable SL-1200 Mk IIl. I like it better the more I use it. I seldom ever buy Compact Discs anymore in fact. My second hand example I paid US$ 50 for is giving yeoman service daily. I am a broadcast engineer and vinyl mastering engineer (have been for some years). The only thing better in playback is listening to that disc played back on the lathe turntable with a SME 3009.

Very little better as a matter of  fact and that combo costs many times more money. SL-1200, why not? It's reliable and accurate day in and day out. What you hear is what you get! Can't say that about most other options, some of which cost many times more investment. And it don't need endless tweaks every month or so. A sound investment.

Kent Teffeteller
(June 2009)




Hi Mike, Just letting you know that the new SL-1210 is all up and running here - and it's great! (But then you said it would be!).

Thanks to my friend who came over with his protractor 'suite' we did take very special care in setting up cartridge. As far as the sound is concerned the deck is - well, nothing short of fabulous. What an impact and such a controlled sound with an extension of the inter-instrumental depth. The sound stage and individual soundings appear wider and longer. There is another dimension to the musicality from my own old source vinyls and there are also additional sounds on some of my recordings that I have never heard before.

My friend has gone away seriously impressed. He's pretty clever so I hope he doesn't end up feeling too bad (Rega!).

Thank you for keeping me on the straight and narrow - there are soooo many distractions.

Thought you may like to know that I have settled on 1.7 grammes for the cartridge weight as it sounded more complete - there must be a reason for this.

Something that has made a remarkable difference, and for the better, is to have (sadly because they looked quite good) removed the feet that came on the deck and to have replaced them with some 'Sorbothane' ones that fit in the cups that remain. I did the old sceptical with and without several times and the sound is much clearer and much more wholesome with them.

Do you realise that I have not used the Linn CD player for a long while now!!!!

Best wishes,

Paul Norris
(May 2009)




Mike, It is refreshing to hear an honest perspective concerning vinyl playback. Most Rega and Pro-Ject turntables I have heard are completely unable to pass basic requirements for build quality and speed stability. They are afraid to post meaningful specifications concerning their performance.

The Technics SL-1200 is a music maker and makes me smile hearing it play my cherished vinyl. It sounds wonderful with all music. Nothing has as black of a background and is so devoid of rumble. If Rega built it, it would be sold for 80,000 GBP! 

Kent Teffeteller
(April 2009)

Thanks Kent - All so true!




Mike,
 
Thank you for your thorough and well written review of the SL-1200MK2. My experience is somewhat parallel to yours, in that I grew up with vinyl, hopped on the CD bandwagon, yet always knew there was something missing from CD playback (although the last 5-7 years major improvements have been made). Due in no small part to your excellent review, I have purchased a SL-1200MK2 at the low, low price of $395.00 delivered to my door.

As a matter of fact, I got it yesterday and am still waiting for the cartridge to arrive, so I have not yet heard it. For the past few years,always knowing that "someday" I would get back to my vinyl roots, I have dispatched a small army of vinyl finders scouring used book shops and estate sales for the best albums they could find. Armed with info on the best record labels, best vinyl condition and my preferences, they (and I) have amassed about ten lineal feet (about 9 meters) of some of the best wax we could find from the late '50's, the 1960's and early 1970's.

My cartridge cannot arrive soon enough, as I am "chomping at the bit" to start spinning these albums. I tell you this simply to let you know that your review precipitated my SL-1200MK2 purchase and will soon open my ears up again to the vivid pleasures of vinyl playback.
 
Thanks so much,  Rick Falgione
(February 2009)



Mike,

I was overjoyed to read your "SL1200 / Rega" ramblings...  After 1000 years of pro audio (originally as a recording engineer & partly responsible for "Save your kisses for me" !!! ) I've just "re born" my vinyl cutting gear and service.  .... I started replaying cuts, on the lathes own platter (incidentally driven by a huge Quartz locked Technics motor) and a Rega RB300 arm, fitted with a Stanton AL500 cartridge. The idea being, it should represent a DJ deck, and the most important bits of that being :  A hi track weight cartridge with spherical  stylus, &, a bulk standard arm of not too good or "tweaky" quality. That's all fine of course, until you get a "direct to disc" classical music job!  All of a sudden, you need a somewhat better replay facilities. So, I do the decent thing, and look around at "Hi-Fi" decks.

Sure enough...... all your ramblings and even "accusations" are 100% correct. Regas and Pro-Jects run fast. Not only that, but they're awful!  Don't sound at all healthy, naff standards of engineering, and, well, just awful.

For a laugh, I tried a Project Genie - now that you would have loved to have experienced ....

Straight out of the box, the factory set up arm (fitted with a discontinued heap of rubbish from Ortofon) was trying to drag the stylus off the record, back towards it's flimsy arm rest.  So, out came the test disc. The point when I noticed the distinct lack of "anti skate" or "bias" device ! Having re-set the arm's VTA (previously factory set remember) the lack of "anti skate" proved it completely impossible to track any of the 4 bias test tones without distortion, and refused to even sit in the groove on 2 !

It was only when putting it back in it's box I noticed you could both see and feel (by eye/hand) the join in the drive belt ! This, while cheap, IS marketed as an "audiophile" unit, AND, got wonderful things said about it by the likes of  "What Hi-Fi".

Seems to me we are in need of a revolution against "stupidism" and vested interestism !!

I was, in the death, so appalled by the "Hi-Fi" industry's current record deck nonsense, I dug out an old Technics SL1500 (now that IS old!) to use as a playback machine for "DJ" work, and am fitting a SME3009 to the lathe, to become a "better quality" playback. The SL is fitted with the Stanton "disco" cartridge, while the SME on the lathe has a Grado - and, after all that, the ability to run 2 types of cartridge (one spherical, one elliptical) is all I really want.

It does help if it's at the right speed, and the arm can actually support the cartridge though; Two very fundamental requirements of a record deck I would say!

I've lived and worked with the SL1200's for many years. So much so, I've kind of taken them for granted, but, after this recent hoohah, I'm with you - long live the SL1200.

Regards,

Karl.

(December 2008)

Hi Karl,

Thanks for your email.

Unfortunately, as you have found out, we still seem to be in the grip of utter stupidity as far as the Hi-Fi press is concerned and as you have found out, junk is junk - something not recognized or admitted by What Hi-Fi.

Bizzare!




Mike,

Just a quick note to thank you for putting up your site.  I have been toying with the idea of replacing my old 30+ year old and rather sick Mitsubishi LT-20 turntable.  I had spotted the Technics SL-1200 MK II early in my search for replacement, but continued looking for other candidates.  I was rather balking at the $700 CDN plus price tag for a Technics turntable that had no cartridge.  Well, that was until I read your review of it.

I ordered a black SL-1200 MkII yesterday and will shop for a suitable cartridge on Boxing Day.  Thanks so much for your site, it provided some interesting reading on subjects, other than vinyl.

Thanks again and I will drop you a line when I have put the machine through its paces.

Regards
Cornell

Cochrane, Alberta, Canada
(December 2008)

Hi Cornell, Thanks for your email. I am sure that you will be thoroughly delighted with the SL-1200. It's true that it is a little expensive in comparison to more ordinary (and inferior) turntables , but its real value is far exceeds its price tag.

Take care with installing the cartridge. I found that it is worth taking plenty of time carefully fine tuning the cartridge geometry using a good protractor such as one from VinylEngine. This minimizes any possible tracing errors and so maximises your musical enjoyment.
I use an Audio Technica AT120 which is excellent.

Our local BBC Radio station, BBC WM, uses a pair of SL-1200's fitted with Ortofon OM cartridges and they always sound excellent when they are playing vinyl.

Cheers, Mike



Hi Mike , I'm john from Canada. Stumbled on your website, love it .
 
I've been into vinyl for years, have had new cheapie tuntables, or yard-sale finds, with mixed results. Getting ready to indulge in something better, so started researching ,and then found  you... My brand new technics SLl1200 mk2 just arrived today; beautifull!!

I'm waiting for a new Audio Technica cartridge to arrive, then i'm on my way. Just want to say thanks, for your enthusiasm and all the great info !!!
 
Johnny
(October 2008)




Hi Mike,

Your experiences are very close to mine.  I purchased a Rotel RP850 back in 1987 and I still have it.  I also find the CDs better to listen to but hanker for decent vinyl reproduction.  I went and auditioned a very expensive Project and a Rega P3-24 and I found their sound about the same as my old Rotel... I was also unconvinced.  I also had a listen to a Michel Gyrodec and that was impressive... but it also very expensive.  I had decided that it was better to keep my old turntable.

Your views on the Technics SL1200, have me intrigued.  If what you say is correct this turntable should sound better than mid range Regas and even quite expensive Projects. 

I have seen Rega arm conversions for the SL1200 but I'm a bit doubtful that this will have a sonic benefit given the inferior bearings that a most probably used in something like a Rega RB250 arm, the stock arm should work fine I think.

My plan is as follows:

1. Buy an SL1210 (I like the black too).
2. Put on some isolation feet (Isonoes or similar)
3. Get the KAB fluid damper and strobe disabler
4. Get an Audio Technica AT440MLa MM cartridge
5. Get a good quality headshell like a Sumiko HS-12
6. Find an alternative to the slipmat that comes with the Technics... any suggestions on the mat or should I leave it stock?

I am betting that this combo should give better sound than a Rega P3-24, Project or similar turntables and for less money.  I'm betting that it won't be much different to the Gyrodec either. 

As for the other KAB mods like Cardas tonearm re-wires, external PSU, etc I think these mods are probably expensive given their incremental sonic benefits... still nice to know you can take things further.

Thank you for posting this information on the web, as I would have overlooked the Technics thinking that it is a cheap plastic DJ turntable. 

Nicholas Koulbanis.
(October 2008)


Hi Nicholas, Thanks very much for your detailed email.

I am glad that you found my pages interesting. While I have not compared an SL-1200 with turntables in the price range of the Michel Gyrodec, I feel certain that anyone who has experienced other belt drive turntables of a similar or lower price will find the SL-1200 a revelation.

I cannot comment on the tweaks and upgrades that you mention as, personally, I am entirely satisfied with my SL-1210 and AT-120 combination. That's not to say that such tweaks would not make a difference, but I would imagine them to be extremely small differences. I would think that the most significant differences would come from spending time setting up the arm and cartridge - well that's what I found. I would not dismiss the standard arm - it seems very good indeed to me and there is no attractiob whatsoever in removing it and replacing it with anything else. I think that it is a fine piece of engineering.

A cheap plastic DJ turntable it is NOT!!  Thanks again.


In May 2009 Nicholas updated us:

Hi, I have taken the plunge and purchased an SL1210 M5G.  Wow!!! I am blown away with the sound quality I am getting from this turntable, I'm listening to my vinyl as if it was the first time again.

I have taken your advice and have ensured that the cartridge has been aligned correctly (I used a MINT Protractor) and purchased a KAB EV1 to clean my records.  These 2 simple things have had a very noticeable impact on the quality of playback.

In fact I went a bit crazy spening some $$$ on it.  I ended up with the following Vinyl fromt end: KAB Fluid Damper; KAB Strobe Disabler; KAB Thick Rubber Mat; Zupreme Heashell; Audio Techica OC9II Moving Coil Cartridge; A Bob's Devices Cinemag Setup transformer; Project PhonoBox II SE feed with 15V DC power; I use the Disc Doctor record cleaning solution, the KAB EV1, a carbon fibre brush and a Milty Zero Stat gun to keep the records clean and quiet.
 
I get virually no surface noise and the sound is dynamic, impactful and very realistic... I was going to dispose of my vinyl and now I'm glad I did not. Thanks again for bring this great turntable to our attention.

Nicholas Koulbanis - Melbourne, Australia (May 2009)




Hi mike
 
I just thought i would drop you a line to say having looked at your site, 3 days later i have a brand new SL1210 mk2 with a AT120e.
 
And i love it the build and finnish are gobsmakingly good i have only had a quick listen but i know a good deck when i hear it, you see i have owned  a couple of the finest turntables that money can buy in the past ' a LINN LP12 cirkus/lingo/ekos/troika, then a VOYD .5 reference SME 310/gregory music maker cart this was £6,000 front end ,alas i had to sell that as i took out a mortgage , then lastly a roksan radius 5 /goldring 1006 which was very good but fiddly and annoying to use.
 
But for just £320 + the cart i am staggered by this deck i think it betters the roksan and comes close if not beating the linn, certainly the  valhalla one.
 
Anyway thankyou for your site its got me loving vinyl again.
Chris Evans.
(September 2008)

An excellent story. Thanks!!




Servicing A Technics SL-1200

Hi Mike,

I thought I'd drop you a quick note after reading your page on the 1200 turntable. I stumbled across your site while googling for "IBA map"

I have spent a considerable number of years servicing these turntables and other "DJ" turntables. I can tell you with some authority that they are built like no other turntable on the market.

They are a joy to service and every component is available via spare right down to the tiny ball bearings in the arm gimbal.

The brake and quartz timing occasionally need tweaking (easily done with the aid of an oscilloscope) however the speed control linear pot can fail in a number of ways over time, including not being able to "lock on" at centre position. The only solution is to replace which is a 30 minute job at worst.

The cause of most damage (after beer and smoke fluid) is the forceful removal of the platter.

If you don't need to remove the platter, then don't. It wont need removing unless you want access to the service panel beneath, under which there are no user serviceable parts.

Congrats on the [amateur radio] license,

Stuart.
(August 2008)




From Charles Horton...


What a terrific website you have! As a new Technics SL-1200Mk2 owner I was thrilled to read about your adventures with it and about what a great unit it is.

I'd always been vaguely intrigued by vinyl but took a long time to get into it. I had an old (1950s) tube set with a very finicky turntable that required a lot of coaxing to work -- the technology was quite backwards but the glorious old tubes gave it a wonderful sound nonetheless. Telefunken 12AX7!! Thick and rich.

A few years back I was given one of those cheesy USB turntables as a present. Opened the box, found that it was packed such that the cheesy plastic platter had warped on the way across the Pacific, exchanged it for a fresh one which promptly went on a certain internet auction site. Went on Craigslist (local online classifieds) and bought an old Sony turntable for 20 bucks. Nothing fancy, but it worked.

A year or so after that, I found a local audio hobbyist who was selling a bunch of his excess gear. For $120 I got a Thorens TD115Mk2 with a hum problem, a NAD of some flavor or other, a Technics SL-1700 with a bad needle, 4 tape decks, and 2 used cartridges. Installed the Stanton in the Technics, thought it was super...

Along came a real blessing, about a week ago. There was an ad on the same site for a "Technics record player." The picture was not very good but one could clearly see it was an SL-1200Mk2, and the price was excellent. The seller even threw in a bunch of sweet cartridges and styli, and since then I feel like I have a little slice of heaven connected to my system. CD's? Who needs CD's? What a fantastic bit of kit.

Thanks again for your Technics site -- it was very informative and fun to read!

Charles
(August 2008)




Hi Mike,

You want to hear something crazy...

When I first got back into vinyl several years ago, the table I bought was a Rotel RP-955 that looks exactly like the 855 you had. I don't buy into all the Rega / Pro-ject "buzz" either unless you're looking in the $1000.00 price-range. You're absolutely right. How good is a turntable that won't even spin at the right speed?

So... after awhile of noticing there was some speed drift... and stylus drag seemed to have an effect at times due to the Rotel's wimpy DC servo motor... Also wasn't crazy about the arm...  I looked further into what was out there and ended up with a SL-1200MKII. Actually, I tried a used Sony PS-X5 for awhile that made me appreciate direct-drive and decided to go all the way and buy a new Technics 1200 when the Sony developed some problems.

I've tried just about every cartridge in my price-range on it.. AT440ML (too thin), Shure M97xE (too thick, lowish output)... I used a Denon DL-103 for a long time, but after awhile realized the imaging was pretty poor, even though it was reasonably easy on the ears.

What ended up on the tonearm of my Technics? That's right... the AT120E. Sounds quite a bit like the Denon that cost more than 2 times as much, but the imaging is better and the soundstage doesn't fall apart. Still slightly warm and easy to listen to, with just a little more "air" and frequency extension than the Denon had.

So basically... We sort of started out at the same place and ended up at the same place... Pretty wild!!!

Great site. Keep 'em spinnin'!!!
Roy
(April 2008)




Hi Mike,
 
Just a quick "Hello" to let you know folk do stop by and read!  Funny thing though i was looking for record cleaning bits well over an hour ago and ended up on you site till now :-)
so you must have something right ;), Read about your vinyl persuasions( ooerr) and the info on cartridges too along with the off shoot for the phono amp project - reminded me of an old 741 based jobby i built when i was about 14!!  for use with headphones - fab it was too.
 
Briefly before i do shut up, your about me page is scarily familiar, no i don't have one but we do share quite a few habits/hobbies
and near as dammit age - 1964 for me.
 
Thanks for keeping me occupied, in a good way unlike the E.U & Blair.
 
Cheers,  Steve from Norfolk
(April 2008)




Dear Mike, Someone should give you an award for the Technics SL-1200 page. I had already bought one second hand and was delighted with it and came upon your pages on a search and was delighted to see someone had already put into words everything I felt about it.

If only more people 'duped' by all those hi-fi magazines came upon your pages they'd be saved a lot of trouble and heartache (and indigestion!)

Cheers, George

(February 2008)




Buying A Second Hand Technics SL-1200


I mentioned elsewhere on these pages that I would not recommend buying a second hand Technics SL-1200 on ebay, or indeed, any other turntable. Then I received an e-mail from Graham. I have edited the ensuing correspondence as it was quite lengthy, but all the salient points are here:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the amazing website and sharing your expertise.

I just bid on 2 SL1210 MK2's and won. Then I looked at one reply to a letter you wrote where you said you would never buy these units 2nd hand from a DJ. That is exactly what I have done and I feel a little sick now.

Is there any quick way to tell if these units are damaged when I get them? I'm receiving them in 2 days time... I'm using the turntables as playback units in my vinyl record shop that I am opening here in Simon's Town, South Africa. The shop overlooks the little harbour, so that's nice.

Kind regards, Derek.
(February 2008)


Hi Derek, Thanks for your email.

I would look for obvious signs of knocks, bashes, bumps, scrapes and drops that would demonstrate serious abuse. If they have been used for heavy DJ use they will very probably show signs of normal wear and tear, e.g. worn markings worn and scuff marks etc. It is the real damage from knocks and bumps that you need to be careful of. Check for anything that is cracked or broken.

I would think that the really critical parts that you need to pay particular attention to are the main bearing and, of course, the arm. Both of these items can be bought as spares. The arm and particularly the arm bearings are extremely sensitive and fragile, as you will appreciate it is a high precision device. You need to ensure that there are no visual signs of damage or mis-use.  Also ensure that there is no 'play' in the arm and that it works smoothly and balances properly. A new arm (without weight, head-shell, or arm-rest) would probably cost about £60.00 - £70.00 I imagine.

The main bearing needs to be lubricated with the proper Technics bearing oil every 2000 hours of use. Use Technics SFW-010 spindle oil. I would do this before I used the turntables. If required, a new spindle assembly would probably cost about £30.00 - £40.00 I imagine.

It probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: If the turntables came with cartridges and styli fitted, don't even think about using the fitted styli! Get new styli to match the cartridge before you play ANY records! A worn or damaged stylus, or an out of specification arm, could irreparably ruin all your precious records - one by one by one!

I hope all is ok with your new turntables, but if not, it is fortunate that most of the main parts can be bought as spares and replaced. Remember that your record collection is is easily damaged and likely to be worth a lot more than turntables in this price range.

Technics spares should be available from good Technics dealers or services centres, or directly from the Technics head office in your country. If in difficulty Kevin Barrett of KAB USA stocks all main parts as spares (Spindle/bearing; arm and arm parts; lid/dust cover; hinges etc) and will despatch to many parts of the world.

(As it turned out the turntables were to be sold without cartridges and Derek enquired as to whether the Audio Technica AT-95 would be a good choice. I thought that the AT-110E would be a far better alternative since this tracks at a nice light 1.5 grams, whereas the AT-95 would have to be set to track at a rather heavy 2.0 to 2.5 grams. The AT110E is also not much more expensive and considering it's excellent sound quality is a real bargain. However Derek could not obtain an AT110E locally but did find a Grado Prestige Green, which should also be a very good choice.)

Then I got this email from Derek:


Hi Mike,

The turntables arrived yesterday in a shocking state. The sender had packed them loosely in boxes much too big and scattered some newspaper around the units. The boxes were thin cardboard. When they arrived and saw the crushed boxes, I feared the worst. I was right.

The one dust cover is smashed. The tonearm is broken, the arm rest has snapped off. The platter was out of the socket and rolling about. I am concerned due to the "please be careful when you remove the platter for the sake of the magnet" warning.

Neither unit came with headshells so I'll have to order one from Kabusa. Anyway, Just thought I'd let you know. I am kicking myself for not buying a new one. 

Cheers, Derek


This is of course bad news and is the risk that you run when buying from an auction site. I would have to say that wherever you bought them from, you must surely have a right to send them back. A turntable is a high precision electro-mechanical device and must be treated with the utmost care, which is not the case here.

Before you consider throwing any more money at this - please try to send them back for a refund. This is completely unacceptable.

....... Then after some deliberation, Derek decided to grasp the nettle and buy a brand new Technics SL-1200. A very wise choice. The second hand turntables that arrived in thin cardboard boxes were quite obviously trashed. The only course of action would be to pursue the seller for a refund or sell them on as spares or repair. I certainly wouldn't want any of my records to come anywhere near one of these wrecks!

In conclusion, we can all learn a very important lesson from Derek's terrible experiences. While I have bought and sold various hi-fi components on ebay such as loudspeakers and electronic components very successfully, I would never ever risk buying a turntable. It is impossible to be absolutely certain that the turntable has been treated with the necessary respect during its previous ownership. Additionally you just cannot be sure that it will be packaged properly so that it will not be trashed in the post.
(February 2008)


A FURTHER UPDATE:

Derek's brand new SL1200 arrived....

Hi Mike,
I am so happy to tell you that I received my new SL1210 this morning. I carefully set it up ...... then I thoroughly cleaned Crisis What Crisis and put it on.

It sounds so good I am so happy! I haven't listened to that record on vinyl for 30 years. I have frequently listened to the CD version though. Well, It's like a different record completely. The bass.... so clear and funky (I was a pro bass player for 20 years). It really sounds so good I can't tell you.

Cheers Mike, Derek.



Digitizing Vinyl Records using your PC

Hi,

I followed a link to your site from the KAB USA site. Excellent page about the 1200 and vinyl!

Might I just suggest that you list FLAC as an option for people wanting to compress WAV files without loss of detail? FLAC typically gets WAV files down to 50% or less of their size, and can be played back in most music player software (though not all portable devices support it). It is mainly useful for archiving, as it un-compresses back to the original WAV with no loss of information. http://flac.sf.net

Declan Kelly
(February 2008)


Thanks for that advice Declan. For those requiring some compression but with the highest possible digital quality then FLAC would certainly be a very good choice.



Moving Coil Cartridges

A Query from reader Anton from Tallin:

"Hi!

You have GREAT website. Appreciate your efforts.

I am music lover from Estonia, former Soviet republic, now EU member. I am considering buying me Technics 1210MK2 as my first T/T.

My amp (Exposure XV Super) has built in MC phono stage. So I wonder if it is possible to use MC type cartridge (like Denon 160) with Technics 1210MK2. And what it takes to use MC head - just "plug & play" or some complicated work (arm change, soldering etc) is required?

This question can sound silly, but I have zero experience with T/Ts so far. I plan to order the T/T from a local online dj store and I asked  them the question. But seems DJs are using only MM cartridges, so they did not know about MC.

You help will be appreciated.

Best regards,
Anton"
(January 2008)


Hi Anton,

Thanks for your email.

While I don't pretend to be a total expert as far as MC's go, I may be able to offer a few clues.

I have never tried an MC cart in the SL-1200 to I cannot relate any direct experiences. I will say that as a platform for spinning vinyl at a constant, stable and un-erring speed without unnecessary resonances the SL-1200 cannot be beaten at the price.

Hi-Fi nerds seem to largely ignore this amazing hi fi gem, which I think is very unfair indeed. I say "baahh" to their stupid blind ignorance!

If a weak point could be identified with the SL-1200 system it might be the arm. Not because it's an S shaped arm, but that it is made of several components, rather than a one piece unit like some other turntables employ. Although I don't think it is a real issue, I imagine that it may not be as mechanically rigid as a one piece arm or carbon fibre arm. Also the SL-1200's arm would be of slightly higher mass than the low mass arms that can be found on some other turntables. Personally I love the arm!

However, having said all that, I don't think that any of this would be a disadvantage as far as fitting a moving coil cartridge is concerned. The reason I say this is that MC cart's are often better partnered with medium mass arms.

Low mass arms would be classified as being less than 10 grams, medium mass arms would be classified as being between 11 and 25 grams, high mass arms would be classified as being over 25 grams. The SL-1200 arm is a nice low-medium mass of 12 grams, precision made with extremely low bearing friction.

Given a good MC cart and a top quality RIAA pre-amp I think that it could be a good combo.

Short of changing the arm on the SL-1200 (which can certainly be done, although I am uncertain as to whether this would really be huge advantage), the only reasonably cost effective upgrades that  you might consider is an arm and phono cable inter-connect re-wire with higher quality OFC wire and gold connectors and the addition of the KAB KL-1200 Fluid Damper system; http://www.kabusa.com/frameset.htm?/index.htm

Oh, I nearly forgot, no soldering is necessary when fitting a cartridge. In fact the heat from soldering would likely damage the cartridge.

The most important thing is getting the geometry correct, as I describe on my web pages. It's fairly straightforward, but can be a bit fiddly and time consuming, but it does make all the difference!

Hope that helps.

Regards,
Mike


Many thanks, Mike!

You answered my questions completely. I will start saving for an SL-1210.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive such long reply from you. It is getting rare nowadays that people bother to waste their time on helping total strangers, but you took the time!

Best Regards,
Anton



If you have any comments we'd love to hear from you!
Do get in touch
HERE >>


More Reader Comments

Hi Mike,

An excellent website if I may say!

I'm looking to buy an SL1200 and having got fed up with overpriced under cared for examples on Ebay I'm looking further afield.....namely America. What do you know about the power supplies in these? Is it external or internal? if it's internal is it possible to switch to UK voltage? if it's external can you buy a replacement really enough?

Thanks in advance!

Kind regards,

Graham


Hi Graham,

Unfortunately many DJ's turntables get thrown about, dropped and battered with heavy deejay use. It is a testament to the strength and build quality of the SL1200 that they continue to work - but for home hi-fi use I would never buy one second hand!

The power supply is internal and fixed for local voltage as I understand it.  If you bought one from the USA it would be 110 volts 60Hz and would be unsuitable for UK use. You would most likely have to buy a UK 230 volt, 50 Hz power supply locally, strip out the North American power supply and replace it with the UK spare.

I don't think that this process would be economically viable due to the cost of buying a new power supply and having it fitted. Also you'd lose all your warranty by dismantling the SL1200 to retro-fit a UK power supply - not that you would have any warranty anyway if you import from the States - that would go out of the window!

I know it's quite expensive, but the only safe way to get one is from an *authorised* UK dealer.

As a second line, you could look to buying one in from Europe since they also use 230 volts. Compared to the Dollar exchange rate the Euro isn't as favourable, but it may give a slight edge over UK prices. You'd have to carefully look into delivery costs, duties and warranty implications though.

Personally I would not take the risk. I'd save up a few more quid and get the real deal in the UK.

Just my own thoughts.

Mike.


Hi Mike,

Wise advice I feel, thanks very much. I'll get saving!

Very best wishes
Graham




Hi Mike,

Came across your site whilst reading the Transmission1 forum on which I'm a member (Beakster).

Ended up skipping past all the CB stuff when I saw your section on the Technics SL1200mk2.  You certainly have written a lot about it!!! =)

I too am a big fan of this turntable, but from a DJing point of view, and was interested on hearing your views from a audiophile perspective.  I don't do much DJing now, but I still love vinyl!  So I only usually have one deck set up for listening.  I have been toying with the idea of "upgrading" to a belt drive turntable.  I have seen those really expensive ones, mounted on spikes with glass platters and assumed they were they way to go.  Your site is the first one I've seen that says different, so made interesting reading.

The turntables I have are:

*Technics SL1200mk2.  I bought this second hand for £300 in 2000.  I was a student and sold my 2 very cheap crappy Stageline turntables and bought this.  It's in perfect condition and it was amazing how much stronger the motor was on it compared with my old decks.  I had to completely relearn my beat matching techniques as a result, but this was essential as all the clubs used Technics.  I soon customised my turntable by changing the store and 33/45 lights to ultrabright blue, which looks really cool!

*Technics SL1200M3D.  When I had the cash for a second deck, I opted to import my next one.  After reading the Japanese and American Technics sites, I was upset that I couldn't get the M3D in the UK, so imported one.  It was cheaper to buy the deck in the US, but I got hit with ridiculous fees for postage, import duty and VAT!!!  Still though, its a very nice turntable, and having the pitch reset on a button rather than at 0 is very useful for mixing.

So I've had these decks for about 7 years now, and they have been used loads!  They have been moved around the country lots of times, been taken to parties, but always looked after.  They have never given me a single problem.  Money well spent and I will never sell them!

I have them sat next to a Technics SU-Z22 amplifier which looks really cool and matches the turntables nicely.

From an audiophile point of view though, I am interested to know what you think of this:  The phono cables for the Technics are hard wired into the back.  The plugs are not gold plated, and I imagine the cable is not as high quality as what you see for sales these says for £100 per meter.  Do you think this affects the sound quality some what.  I may at some point, when I have a better amp and speakers, buy some high quality cables, and hard wire them in with gold solder, replacing the old ones.

Cheers
-Chris
(December 2007)




Hi Mike,

Technics SL1200  a legend. I amazed they still make them, long may it last.

Moreover, a stand-alone RIAA pre-amp.

This reminds me of a London pirate radio station I had the pleasure to build an on-air studio for in 1983 called Horizon FM.

SL1200's were de-rigeur and we used Stanton 650s (? memory fading) cartridges, I built the RIAA pre-amps using a chip designed for nothing else, as a kit, it was supplied either by Ambit or Maplin, the chips were SIL not DIL and I recall had very high dc + and - rails, could have been ± 24v, as they were differential amps. I mounted them directly beneath the decks. The combination was awesome.

I actually built the mixer by cannibalising an old one using the PCBs but replacing the op-amps with those JFET NE5532 you talk about, adding P+G conductive plastic faders, they were old BBC ones and ran back to front and I added PPMs, I used mic transformers, but I'm drifting off here.

The DJs wanted fader start, so as the faders had the switches, I got inside the SL1200 and found a pin on the control chip which latched logic low/high after the momentary start/stop, I used this with an op-amp set up as a high impedance gate to ensure that the fader start was a one-shot option, as the DJs would often waggle the faders back over the switch.

Ah. Nostalgia, it's lost on the young.

Ian.
(December 2007)




Hi,  I own an old but serviceable Rega Planar 2 turntable and I wish to return to listening to my vinyl collection.  The arm is fitted with the A&R C77 cartridge it came with all those years ago (!). I'm unsure whether it's worn enough to warrant replacing. My questions are:

What wear should I be looking for (with a strong magnifying glass)?
Can I still get a replacement stylus only and how would I go about changing it?
If no is the answer to No 2 what modestly priced cartridge would you recommend? I was looking to spend in the region of £35.00 but that was before I looked at some of the online prices so I'm open to suggestions.

Is getting involved with protractors etc necessary?

Mine is a very 'low-end' 20 years old system (Amplifier:  Arcam Alpha playing through Wharfedale Diamond IV speakers) I'm thinking of upgrading the latter to version 9.1.

Apologies for all the questions, I didn't think it would be so involved when I started! Many thanks in anticipation

Eric Dale. [11th January 2012]



Hi Eric,

Thanks for your email. No problem with all the questions. As far as I am aware there are no more replacement styli available for your A&R cartridge.

A magnifying glass probably isn't strong enough to see visible wear or damage - you'd need a small microscope to see properly. My advice, when resurrecting old equipment is to always fit a new stylus just to be safe - you cannot afford to ruin your record collection for the sake of an old, worn or damaged stylus. One play of a precious LP with a worn stylus will ruin it irreparably. Since a replacement stylus is not available for your A&R, my only advice is to buy a new cartridge.

What about an Ortofon OM5E, or an Audio Technica AT95, or a Goldring Elektra or perhaps the budget Red Ed Elliptical. All good value.

As for the alignment of the cartridge I would say that a protractor is absolutely essential in order to obtain the best sound quality and get the best from your turntable and LP collection. My advice is to refer to the Rega instruction manual for their recommendations for setting up a cartridge in this turntable.You will see links to alignment protractors on my website. Do be careful how you print it though, the scaling needs to be absolutely accurate. It's all explained in the instructions however.

Once I printed mine out and was satisfied that it was of absolutely the correct dimensions, I got it laminated (plastic coated), so that it presented the stylus with a very smooth surface - i.e. the stylus would not 'catch' in bare paper fibres or grain.

While you are studying the Rega manual I would also check what advice there is on lubricating the main bearing - it may dried out after all this time; additionally if it was me I would also change the rubber drive belt immediately - it's probably stretched or may be perished. A replacement should be easy to obtain.

The amplifier is very good, and the speakers should also be fine. If you are looking for replacement loudspeakers in the future then I would definitely recommend going to a dealer to sit down and listen to a range of different models that are within your budget. You may find some new Wharfedales that you like, but there are so many other good loudspeakers to choose from you may very well find something a lot better. Speakers are very personal and absolutely need to be auditioned before buying at an expert Hi Fi dealer such as SuperFi.

Ensure that any speakers that are demonstrated to you are not fresh out of the box, and have been run in for some time. Speakers can take tens of hours use to break in properly. When you listen to some, you might find you do indeed like Wharfedales, Missions or Quads. However listen to some others too. e.g. Acoustic Energy(AE), Tannoy, Boston, Dali and Epos. I think that you'd need to spend at least £200 on speakers today to get something really worthwhile.


Apparently motor oil is recommended by Rega for lubricating the bearing. They say: "If all is well, remove hub from bearing bush then tilt the bearing bush and place two drops of Comma Hypoid EP80, Castrol EPX80w/90 or Shell Spirax EP90, as recommended, in the position as illustrated. Do not use more than two drops."

For full details see these pages on the Rega website:
http://www.rega.co.uk/service/service_html/Turntable/CleaningHubBearing.htm
http://www.rega.co.uk/service/service_html/Turntable/TurntableServicing.htm

All for now - I hope that helps.

Best wishes, Mike



Hi again, 

An impressively quick, comprehensive and generously helpful responseresponse: Thank you!

I haven't a copy of the Rega manual but I guess it could be available as a PDF. I'm currently awaiting delivery of an Audio Technica AT95E and a new drive belt.

I'll keep you posted once all parts are in place, set up and running.

Cheers, Eric.
--


Hello Again, It would seem from the servicing description that two drops of oil after cleaning is all that's required. Since it is possible after 20 years that lubrication is at a low level I'm going to risk adding oil of the prescribed type to the bearing...but not yet! The reason being that I don't want to rock the boat having today successfully changed the cartridge and belt.

And what a fiddly job. I was confused also by the cartridge terminals being the opposite way around from the A&R; i.e. input and earth, so just as well the new cartridge came with a connection diagram otherwise I'd have connected as removed. After setting up the fitted cartridge ( I used the Baerwald Arc Protractor) and adjusting anti-skate and tracking force all appears to be well and playing very nicely. I have already noticed an improvement in clarity of sound.

The speakers aren't that bad actually, apart from some sibilance on speech so I'm holding fire on that score. Time to settle down to enjoy some vinyl!

The cartridge I bought from Bartlett's of Islington through Amazon and the genuine Rega belt came from Synergy of Congleton, Cheshire (cheapest I could find at £12.00 but still a lot of money for what is essentially a rubber band!). Belts on offer on Ebay are a lot cheaper and may be fine but are
square in section. As far as the cartridge is concerned I ended up spending 25 pence less than my budget of £35.00.

Very many thanks once again for all your help and advice....more than enough to restore anyone's faith in the internet.

Best wishes, Eric.
[18th January 2012]




Rega Planar Turntable Servicing Text:

Turntable Servicing

IMPORTANT: Decks must be stored in the correct position to avoid loss of hub/bearing lubricant.

When first setting up turntable

The following is only really necessary for turntables in cold countries with low humidity, or for turntables that have been in stock for a long period.

1. Check arm nut tightness. This should be between 15Nm and 25Nm ( see explanation of torque ) and requires either an adjustable spanner or Rega tool.

2. Check hub/bearing nut tightness. This should be approx. 5Nm ( again refer to exlpanation of torque ) and requires either an adjustable spanner or Rega tool.

After 5 years

1. Check tightness of both arm nut and hub bearing nut as above.

2. Check motor pulley is firmly attached. If loose, replace, (See refitting the turntable motor pulley)

3. Remove any hair, fluff or dirt from around the motor spindle and place one drop of motor oil in both motor bearings, situated at the top and bottom of motor around spindle (see Cleaning and Re-oiling motor)

4. Replace drive belt, if worn. (This is usually indicated by the turntable running fast).

5. Check arm bearings. If faulty, do not attempt to adjust. Return arm to Rega

6. If necessary, clean and re-grease lift/lower. (See Cleaning and replacement of lift/lower)

After 10 Years

Carry out all instructions listed under "After 5 Years" with the addition of the following points;

1. Remove hub/bearing and clean and re-oil. (Cleaning Hub/Bearing)

2. Remove motor cover plate and undo motor mounting screws.

3. Replace motor suspension 'O' ring as described here

4. Refit motor following the instructions Fitting Motor

5. Replace drive belt.

* * * *

Cleaning Hub/Bearing

1. Undo hub nut and remove washer. Remove hub/bearing from turntable. As the brass bearing bush is designed to fit tightly in the plinth, gentle tapping on the base of the bearing bush with a plastic hammer may be necessary. (We advise that this is not done in front of the customer!)

2. Slowly withdraw the hub from the brass bearing bush, (if the hub is pulled out quickly the ball bearing may inadvertently be sucked out and lost). Remove ball bearing by turning the bearing bush upside down and tapping sharply.

3. It is important that both the hub spindle and the inside of the bearing bush are cleaned and degreased thoroughly. This is best done using a solvent cleaner containing 1.1.1. trichloroethane which is available from R.S Components Ltd. A small amount of this can be poured into the bearing bush, and with a finger placed over the hole, shaken thoroughly and poured out. To clean the spindle apply the solvent to a piece of lint-free cloth or kitchen paper. Wipe both spindle and the ball bearing with same and replace.

4. Fit the hub back into the bearing bush and spin to check that it is running freely. If its not, return complete assembly to Rega.

5. If all is well, remove hub from bearing bush then tilt the bearing bush and place two drops of Comma Hypoid EP80, Castrol EPX80w/90 or Shell Spirax EP90, as recommended, in the position as illustrated. Do not use more than two drops.

6. With the bush still tilted, slide hub (without twisting) back into bearing bush. This method should ensure a release passage for trapped air.

7. Spin hub to evenly distribute oil and refit into turntable. Replace washer and tighten nut firmly, using an adjustable spanner or Rega tool, to approximately 5Nm, (a full explanation of this torque can be found on Explanation of torque)

IMPORTANT

It is essential that the recommended oil is used as any other lubricant will break down under pressure, causing wear. It is available from most car accessory shops or from Rega, free of charge.

Degreasing: RS Components stock a solvent cleaner containing 1.1.1. trichloroethane which is suitable for degreasing the hub/bearing assembly and lift lower assembly. Please note warning on solvent tin.

* * * *

Changing motor suspension 'O' ring

On older models beware of capacitor discharge at P.C.B. and mains plug

It is important when working on the underside of the turntable that:

a) It is disconnected from the mains.

b) It is fully supported so that no pressure is placed on the tonearm or hub/bearing. An old Rega turntable lid is ideal for this.

c) The hub is taped to the base.


To remove motor and replace “O” ring

1. Remove motor cover plate.

2. Whilst supporting motor, remove screws either side of motor pulley. Withdraw motor from turntable but do not unsolder wires.

3. Using a small screw driver lever up motor side flaps and, leaving mounting plate in position, remove old “O” ring and replace with new.

4. Clamp down flaps by inserting small screwdriver into flap holes and gently levering downwards.

5. Install motor following the instruction steps 5-11. Installing New Motor (steps 5-11)

* * * *

To Replace Motor (Planar old style)

WARNING! On some older models beware of capacitor discharge at PCB and mains plug. It is important when working on the underside of the turntable that:

a) It is disconnected from the mains.

b) It is fully supported so that no pressure is placed on the tonearm or hub bearing. An old Rega turntable lid is ideal for this.

c) The hub is taped to the base.

Removing Old Motor

1. Remove motor cover plate.

2. Remove screw in centre of PCB.

3. Unsolder the two switch wires and two mains wires from PCB and turn
plinth over.

4. Support motor in one hand and undo both screws either side of motor pulley.

NOTE: When returning a faulty motor to Rega, please leave PCB attached as this will assist us to make a full check.

Installing New Motor

Keep fingers away from motor bearings as this can cause contamination and loss of oil.

5. Position motor as illustrated in motor mounting diagram on page 5. A slight kink in the wires will ensure that they are held clear of the motor thus relieving their tendency to push on motor.

6. Solder switch and mains wires into place on PCB and screw PCB onto mounting block making sure that the PCB does not touch the plinth, (to ensure that no stress is caused to PCB or the laminate). Should the PCB mounting block become detached it can be replaced using hot melt glue or contact adhesive.

7. Whilst supporting the motor with one hand, turn the plinth over and fit both mounting screws so that only a small amount of thread is taken up and the motor mounting plate is still loose.

8. Position pulley slightly to the rear of the hole in the plinth and central in the left right plane as illustrated.

To Replace Motor

9. With one finger, push the pulley down into the hole so that the top of the pulley is just below the surface of the plinth and is leaning slightly towards the rear of the turntable as in diagram A.

IMPORTANT! Hold pulley in this position whilst tightening motor mounting screws.

NOTE: On older motors the pulley has been set lower on the spindle and so may not need to be pushed down quite so far.

10. Whilst holding the pulley in this position, tighten both screws. The motor will then bounce into its correct position when finger pressure is released as in diagram B.

IMPORTANT - DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN! Motor mounting screws are made of plastic to avoid over tightening. Therefore the screws will not reach an "end stop" and so cannot be locked off. Continued tightening after a firm fit has been achieved will cause too much compression of the 'O' Ring, causing the laminate to buckle and the screws to strip or the screw head to break off.

11. The drive belt can now be fitted. This will draw the pulley into its final position as shown in diagram C.

Back to Eric's original email enquiry here^

See the detail on the Rega website here:
http://www.rega.co.uk/service/service_html/Turntable/CleaningHubBearing.htm
http://www.rega.co.uk/service/service_html/Turntable/TurntableServicing.htm


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