New Technics SL-1200GAE Is Not Your Father's Old Technics SL-1200Mk2

So much nonsense and bitching posted on the Internet about this new turntable, with people claiming it's an SL-1200 Mk2 re-introduction but at a much higher price.

It is no such thing. Rather, The Grand Class SL-1200GAE is a completely new turntable, much upgraded from the SL-1200 Mk2 (which cultists foolishly claimed was just about “perfect” and better than what they said were “so-called audiophile turntables).

With help from Lyra cartridge designer Jonathan Carr, Koichi Miura, Technics Chief Engineer and the man responsible for the new turntable’s design, walked me through the limited edition design.

The Technics SL-1200 GMAE (“G” model, “Anniversary Edution”) costs $4000, which is considerably more than was the cost of the older Sl-1200 Mk2, but when you see what’s been done to seriously upgrade the original design, you’ll understand why the price had to go up. Has the performance? That would seem to be a logical conclusion that analogplanet hopes soon to find out!

Innovations include a coreless, non-cogging direct drive motor claimed to rival or surpass that of the legendary SP-10, and magnesium arm tube.

I also got to meet Michiko Ogawa who is Director, Home Entertainment. She is also an engineer who is overseeing the Technics audio rebirth. And she’s a well-regarded jazz pianist. Wow!

Watch the video.

teachscience's picture

you need to get a HD camera. Having a HD monitor doesn't help when the resolution of the camera is so low.

Michael Fremer's picture
I am working on it. Extracting corporate resources is difficult and I simply refuse to pay for it out of my own pocket. A more honest answer I cannot give you.
teachscience's picture

I get the resistance of the "Bosses" to pony up more (any) money. I'm lucky in that my boss (principal) understands that sometimes, money must be spent!

JC1957's picture

maybe it's time for an upgrade. Technics made 'em like tanks in the old days which is a good thing. Going strong after 36 years with my old SL-D2.

Eskisi's picture looks as plasticky and cheap as the original... Furthermore (here it goes!...) direct drive is a 70s faddish technology as prone to noise as the ancient idler drive. Direct drive makes sense in instances where SUDDEN changes of speed are imperative. Like in a car. Or a fighter jet. It is nimble -- things like belts get in the way. So if going 33 RPM => 45 => back to 33 in the shortest possible time were important then may be one could overlook the shortcomings of direct drive. In the event, it is not. Audiophiles are a patient bunch.

In fact what matters most in vinyl replay is a very stable, UNCHANGING speed. Belt drive with a heavy platter does that in spades. Yes, it will not let you to shift gears quickly -- that heavy platter has to gain or lose its momentum, which of course is what makes it so stable -- but do we care?

Michael Fremer's picture
It weighs 40 pounds. There's no plastic at all. It has a thick aluminum top plate and the twelve point platter has a thick brass top plate. The arm tube is TITANIUM! I own an expensive belt drive turntable that I love but I've reviewed many good direct drive 'tables like the Brinkmann Bardo and the VPI Classic Direct, which is a fantastic 'table. This appears to me to be a superbly engineered product that offers great value for $4000 as best as I can see and feel. I hope to hear if it is as good as it looks. Honest!
AZ's picture

I know you probably don't think so, but the MK2 and its successors are also a great value even in the $4000 range. The new version seems to be great, but it's only a slight upgrade. IMO of course.

Michael Fremer's picture
Can it be only a "slight" upgrade when it is completely new other than what it looks like???? It has a true cogless motor that's far bigger than the original and a platter with a brass top layer that brings the platter total weight above 10 pounds and a magnesium arm tube and a thick aluminum top plate on the plinth etc.?
Michael T's picture

Michael is right! The motor is truly state of the art direct drive technology. Aside from the VPI Classic Direct, no one else has attempted a truly cogless motor. While I have great admiration for VPI and use their tonearm (and love their tables), it is so refreshing that a giant company like Matsushita spent money/R&D on developing this motor.
I am also fed up with people on forums saying they bought their 1200 at the pawnshop for $100 and it's just as good/good enough compared to the new 1200. Panasonic should have named it the 2400 just to keep these idiots at bay! The motor technology and platter alone are in a completely different league!

mraudioguru's picture

...the literature from Technics, the arm is MAGNESIUM not TITANIUM?

From the lit:

High Sensitive Tonearm

The tonearm employs lightweight magnesium which has a high damping effect, with cold drawing improving the characteristics of the material and achieving the high-precision required. In addition, high initial-motion sensitivity is attained by employing the traditional Technics gimbal suspension construction with horizontal rotation axis and the vertical rotation axis intersecting at a single central point, as well as high-precision bearings using a cut-processed housing.

Neverenough's picture

That just about describes any number of turntables and some that are pretty expensive. As far as I can tell, the look of 1200 tables is pretty classy. A direct drive table can have a heavy platter too. Belt drive has nothing to do with that equation. Belts in general are just a lot cheaper to engineer and manufacture and the motors that go with them can be made separately from the rest of the table.

creekyfin's picture

What you and most other people on this page keep failing to mention is that Technics are the industry standard turntables preferred by DJ's...hence the fact that it's got a pitch fader with a range of +-16...why would any audiophile need that? Which brings me back to your point about the direct drive motor.
Having a direct drive motor is essential for any DJ, with the Technics having the best response out of any turntable to date. They always had the perfect amount of torque to give that classic feeling of riding the decks (unlinke the high end Stantons and Vestax which have got an unnecessary amount of torque. I can't comment on the new Pioneer but my loyalty to Technics and my hate for the new digital age of DJ'ing means that I will never buy them) and respond exactly as you would want them to for any form of scratching or mixing.
So if you really want a stable deck with a belt drive motor, there must be hundreds of different turntables for you on the market...Please don't whinge about the 'plasticky looking cheap' Technics when you don't even use them for them the purposes that they were invented for.

Toptip's picture

Despite the unfortunate "whinging" dig, I have to admit I learned something new today: but of course DD must have been invented for DJs! Makes perfect sense -- only they may need a platter that can accelerate or decelerate on a dime, like a bi-turbo race car! How this feature ended up in home stereos must be yet another example of make-believe borrowing from the professional world into everyday life, like, does a 80hp Toyota Varis really benefit from its flimsy spoiler? Well they say win on Sunday, sell on Monday. Must be the same thing for discos as for racetracks...

Eskisi's picture just LOOKS like the zillions of tacky turntables from my childhood. If it is all heavy, aluminum, titanium, etc., but looks plastic...well that would be like the ending of that old Steve Martin movie, The Jerk, where, when they get rich, they build a new shack, just like the crappy old one, except bigger and more expensive!

JohnVF's picture

I'll be honest, when I first heard of this table, I was quite skeptical. But I have to say that I'm greatly impressed by what I see. What a company with the engineering resources and production scale of Panasonic/Technics can do when they want to make a point is clearly evident here. I trust that it will be a great table. As for how audiophiles will accept it with the decades of absurd tribalism embedded in the simple act of how we spin records, well that is unfortunately a question who's cliche-ridden answer is cropping up across forums everywhere.

I hope that it's not a case of too-expensive for the fanboys and too "Well it's obviously a table for DJs" in look for the audiophile crowd, because I want it to find a market. The economies of scale would suggest that this should be a good deal even at the price that has so many up in arms. Thanks for the additional details.

Ian's picture

I have been waiting for this to see how it looks from a view from yourself... or someone else that I trust to report what they see, and more importantly, what they hear. Looks very promising by the description. Listening tests will be very cool! I'll wait patiently for this :)

volvic's picture

I have to admit I was very disappointed to hear about the price, was hoping for $2,500. But I hadn't heard about the titanium arm, only that it was internally damped which had me guessing where aside from the motor upgrade and the thicker aluminium top plate was the $4,000 asking price going towards? Now I know, titanium is a big upgrade to the original so I can begin to understand. The problem here is taking a name that was known for mass gear to most of the masses, and trying to make it upscale with an iconic table that was once affordable. Other industries have tried and failed. I think of Seiko going upscale with their Grand Seiko line, a great watch but at $4,000 and above, in tough competition with other established brands. Like watches the name on the brand of established hi-fi brands represents half the value, to see $4,000 for a SL-1200 no matter what the internal changes represents a great challenge for Technics; changing perceptions will be quite the obstacle. Having said all that I am prepared to take the plunge if it offers what other great direct drive brands like Brinkmann & VPI offer.

Michael Fremer's picture
Not Titanium
volvic's picture


John G's picture

My 1200mk2 was outperformed by my Rega Planar 2 when I compared the two last year using the same cartridge on each turntable. I still have the needledrops. This new deck appears to be quite different and will hopefully perform much better.

Consoleman's picture

I wonder what the 1200MKII sold for originally and how close to $4K that is with inflation?

Toptip's picture

Well prices have roughly quadrupled during the past 40 years. That would call for the SL-1200 to sell for $1000 in the 70s. I very much doubt any mass market turntable back than sold for more than $250.

But prices move in funny ways. At the end of the 70s I was in college in the US, going back to my family over holidays in Europe. My tuition cost $4000 and the round trip economy flight was $1100. 35 years on, the college tuition is now $45,000 (11X) but the same flight can be had for $700 (0.6X!). Go figure and neither airlines nor colleges are exactly big money makers.

Ortofan's picture

...the Empire 598, the Thorens TD-125, the Technics SL-1100 and the SP-10 (without a tonearm) all had list prices of $300+.

Michael Fremer's picture
I had a beautiful garden apartment in Brookline,MA for $178 a month. And i bought a new car for $2738 and your point is?
tube dog's picture

I can think of a lot of turntables in this price range that will probably slaughter this one. I hope they know what they're doing.

Catcher10's picture

All turntables are noisy in some way, even a $100K Clearaudio. But let's face it, TT today are about eye candy, this one just has that old mid 70's look and that gold tone....Like walking into a house with gold tone fixtures and wall paneling, the Brady Bunch house.

For $4K there are many updated looking TT to be had. I'm glad I had a SL1200 back in the day, but I am over the "ting-ting" of those platters, the decay lasts forever..LOL

Anton D's picture

Were there any visual cues as to the adjustability of the arm? Height, azimuth, etc? That will give us some idea as to the level of their seriousness.

Neverenough's picture

Tone arm has a nice vertical height adjustment mechanism built in. All other DOF's are manual shim and align.

Ortofan's picture being worth 5-6x the price of a Pioneer PLX-1000?

Rudy's picture

This reminds me of the furor over that turntable Pioneer introduced a year or two ago (can't recall the model)--the Interwebz were hammering on it before even laying eyes or ears on one in person. That good old "trial by social media" mentality, hard at work.

This TT isn't exactly my cup of tea but it still impressed me that Technics found ways to improve on it, rather than just stamp out the previous 1200 design. Technics itself is in the midst of a reboot, with new components that are certainly not mass market. I would not expect anything less from their flagship model either.

Neverenough's picture

So many companies made turntable to look like the 1200 but made them much cheaper that folks associate the 1200 with plasticky and cheap. Yes, they were mass produced (any tt mfr would love those numbers and reputation) but they were also very robust and consistent.

ArthurZenithTransoceanic's picture

This represents, to me, serious overkill, and proof that PT Barnum was right. I am not going to get into the direct drive vs. belt drive debate. I have one of each. What I will say is that direct drive tables were marketed in such a way during the 1970's that made people think they were superior. No belt changing, ever! As if people were snapping belts in a daily basis.

I am thinking that the "consumer" version of this table will also be overpriced. Yet, they will sell a ton of them. And, it will also get people looking at tables such as the AT120USB, a much lower cost, viable, and reasonable alternative.

Michael Fremer's picture
What does PT Barnum have to do with this attempt to build a new 'table much superior to the old 1200? Is it "overkill"? That depends on how it sounds and performs. This is not "overpriced" in my opinion, but really it has nothing whatsoever to do with the AT120USB. That is fine for its price point and a reasonable turntable for the price but in no way a "reasonable" alternative!
avanti1960's picture

no doubt this is an awesome turntable but what we really want is a new production technics turntable that is price competitive with current affordable audiophile turntables- e.g. priced around $1500. if they fail to offer a model in this range then it seems reasonable to assume nostalgic exploitation on those longing for turntables in the vintage tradition.
the technics turntable follows a similar move by yamaha, who recently introduced the NS5000 loudspeakers in the tradition of the classic NS1000. unfortunately the NS5000 lists for $11,000 per pair.
kind of sad actually.

moog_man's picture

This "GAE" model is a limited edition of just 1200 - essentially to re-introduce the deck to a captive audience and commemorate Technics' 50th anniversary. There are also plans to manufacture a more standard SL-1200-G unit later in the year.

John Gilmour's picture

I was shocked by the sonic improvement. To me there isn't a single turntable that can be bought new or used for $15000 that can beat the 1200GAE and bear in mind that I own and don't particularly care for the sound of any of the 3 1200MKII that I owns no matter what cartridge was used. I DJed with them but did not beat mix.

The 1200GAE bears no short comings of the older turntables , in fact, not to be disrespectful to Technics , it bears no shortcomings like any oth technics products. It does not have the f2D and uninvolving - detached emotially bombastic sound. Nor does it have a single hint of Mid-FI.

I heard this one to different occasions - both through technics systems, and the system came to life when it was connected to the 1200GAE even with just an Ortophon Black 2M through a likely much lesser technics phono pre-amp.

JoeESP9's picture

I didn't like the way they looked back then. I still don't. They still have that slider for speed control! Talk about aimed at the DJ market! I want a TT to rotate at 33 1/3 RPM and 45 RPM. Variable speed is for DJ's and scratchers.

Michael Fremer's picture
for correcting speed on 1) an original copy of "Kind of Blue" and "Beggar's Banquet" to name two incorrectly mastered albums!
Martin's picture

Blood on the tracks for a third...
though that one is really tough because the different tracks vary in speed error, from around 0.5% fast up to 2.78% for the fastest...

Then to get really weird, apparently the intstruments on Highway to Hell, just that track are slowed down 2% because the band were playing a lot of high energy live gigs and really winding up... So Mutt Lange slowed things down in mixing. But Bon Scotts vocals were dubbed on ar the correct speed....
The weirdness continues...

DanaHolmes's picture

I am intrigued and looking quite forward to this turntable upon its release. It looks solid and that is important to me. Maybe there might even be a few changes to its design/ look before its official release? Not that I am unhappy with how it appears now. I just retired a newer turntable from Clearaudio that I spent over $2K on because it just was not a performer to me, and not worth the money that I paid for it IMO. So I will utilize my 30-year old DENON DP-51F "Direct Drive" turntable until I can sample the new Technics. Fun stuff!

Keen Observer's picture

The magnesium arm is only on the limited edition SL-1200GAE, the standard model SL-1200G has an aluminum arm. But apparently they are priced the same. Other differences affect the finish, the feet, and the platter (numbered for the GAE).

M3 lover's picture

Michael, did they utilize a record mat or play the disk directly on the brass top of platter?

Packgrog's picture

What will be the cost of the later version with the aluminum arm instead of magnesium? Will there be any sound difference? How will the sound compare with comparable belt-driven decks? If they can get this thing under $2000, it would be more competitive. I know that R&D and material costs are an issue, but it's still just too pricey for most people. Even at $2k a pop (if they can get them down to that price), it would still be well out of the reasonable price range for DJ use, so the old Tech 12's won't be in danger.

I do like that some of the old SL-1200 MK2+ mods will still be useable, given the largely unchanged form factor. The KAB fluid damper was surprisingly nice addition to my old MK2 that helped considerably with tracking issues, and should work on this new arm as well, unless my eyes deceive me. And having the glorious utility of the old Technics arm without the resonance flaws that came with it would be magnificent. I often miss my old MK2 due to it's reliability and general utility, even though I ditched it years ago due to inferior sound quality.

Here's hoping that the can really knock down that price for the general release...

Ortofan's picture

...Toptip, who was doubting that there were turntables selling for $250+ in the '70s.
Beyond the "mass-market", EMT had one model back then that went for close to $2K.

creekyfin's picture

The title of this article throws everything else that gets mentioned in to question and generally makes me think that you are chatting bollocks.
You say at various points that this is an upgrade of the MK2 but at a highly inflated price...please get your facts straight before writing an article on such an important piece of news that affects DJ's all over the world.
The 1200 GAE is an upgrade of the MK5G (notice the letter G and the fact that Technics have not released anything mentiong the MK2's while talking about these new decks. Really not rocket science) which is the best turntable on the planet for DJ'ing. If anyone disagrees with that I am afraid you are wrong.
It had the double pitch range on the fader and an improved motor among other things which meant that it would always set you back at least £1000 per deck, unlike the MK2 which you could've picked up for less than half that price. So comparing the GAE to a MK2 is basically like compaing two completely different turntables which come in a similar box.
Whoever made those videos doesn't have a clue what he's talking about, the fact that he looks at the pitch fader (which is what I'm really interested in, if anyone knows of any info on this please let me know) and doesn't even know what it is called means he hasn't even considered that this deck might be used by DJ's and not Audiophiles.
Sorry for getting so worked up but mixing on turntables is something I hold very close to my heart as I refuse to buy in to all this digital mixing CDJ traktor crap as it just aint the same. But turning up for gigs in clubs these days is always risky business as a lot of promoters and clubs have let their decks go in to horrible states of repairs or don't even bring them out! So this news of Technics coming back to life I find very exciting, but am finding it very difficult to find any good information off people who actually know what they're talking about...saying this I need a new pair of decks and I'm probably just gunna but a pair of MK2's cos thats all I can afford and I love them. But I really do need that fader with the double pitch range for my style of mixing.

Michael Fremer's picture
That you cannot read with comprehension. I did NOT write that this turntable is an upgraded 1200! I derided those who did. Please calm down and read again! Also I do not think Technics is aiming this at the DJ market. Not with the Titanium arm tube. I think the lesser edition that will cost less and not include the Titanium arm tube will be more suitable for that use and at less cost...
Michael Fremer's picture
That you cannot read with comprehension. I did NOT write that this turntable is an upgraded 1200! I derided those who did. Please calm down and read again! Also I do not think Technics is aiming this at the DJ market. Not with the Titanium arm tube. I think the lesser edition that will cost less and not include the Titanium arm tube will be more suitable for that use and at less cost...
Neverenough's picture

Every platter will have a resonant frequency based on material properties and geometry. That brass platter they have added (if it is a separate piece and not tied to the aluminum other than with a damped material) will have a separate resonant frequency from the cast aluminum one. Given they are in contact with each other will prevent either from resonating due to the coulomb friction damping that occurs at their interface. So they get more mass (more accurately, rotational inertia) and damping with the brass platter. This could be done on any platter on most TTs if the bearing were up to handling it and VTA adjustment had the range.

chriscarcinogen's picture

You bought a 100k turntable, but won't buy a 2k camera?

Do a Kickstarter for a camera. I'm good for $10!

gbougard's picture

Those who claim they just bought a 1200 for $100 and that it works just fine are liars 99% of the time.

gbougard's picture

Personally, I loathe the price


I want one nonetheless!!!