A Vocal Recording Comparison of the Technics SL-1200G and Continuum Caliburn (AIFF Links Now Included and now IDENTIFIED)

The outstanding and thoughtful responses to the SL-1200G/Continuum Caliburn comparison both here and on the YouTube channel prompted a second one using, as requested, a female vocal track. 96/24 links now provided below YouTube widget.

I chose an original Vanguard Stereolab pressing of Songs of the Auvergne (VSD 2090) sung by Netania Davrath with orchestra conducted by Pierre de la Roche. There's a very fine reissue from Analogue Productions, cut by Doug Sax during that reissue label's early days.

While the camera was on I chose to tell a short story about my encounter with the late RCA producer Max Wilcox who passed away at age eighty eight on January 20th. Wilcox is best known for producing sixty Artur Rubinstein recordings for RCA.

File "A"

File "B"

File "A" is the Continuum Caliburn/SAT arm

File "B" is the Technics SL-1200G

RR's picture

It seems that 15.75KHz brick wall low pass filter is automatically applied on every uploaded video?

Michael Fremer's picture
I'm not applying anything and I have no idea from where comes a brick wall filter. Did you hear (or see) it on the 96/24 files in the other story?
RR's picture

NOT (hearing impression: open highs as I accustomed to) hearing any brickwall on 96/24 :
1. S&MCAL.aif
2. S&MTECH.aif.
another find:
YES Hearing high frequency pilot tone* on S&MCAL.aif when (played back at ¼ speed, high gain).
NO Hearing high frequency pilot tone* on S&MTECH.aif. when (played back at ¼ speed, high gain).

*pilot tone : similar to that high pitched tone coming from 80's - 90's CRT Television

YES (hearing impression: closed highs but not open sounding) hearing brickwall on:
1. A Vocal Track to Compare the Technics SL-1200G and the Continuum Caliburn With SAT Arm
2. Technics SL 1200G Vs Continuum Caliburn
(Why GUESSED 15.75Khz? 32Khz/2=16Khz. What's lower than 16KHz? 15.75KHz. 15KHz brickwall is also possible...)

Not going to listen to every video for that brickwall, Michael. -_-
But I stumbled upon a very COOL "have mercy" video. HAHAHAHAHAHA Not sure if hearing brickwall or not on that "have mercy" video.

Love your stories, reviews, videos, and radio talks.
Especially ads in the radio talks.

What's with that treble noise* on background from the radio talks?
*treble Noise : similar to that high frequency noise produced when cutting lacquer is in progress...

Michael Fremer's picture
Not sure why you played file at 1/4 speed or why there would be such a tone or where it came from
RR's picture

Naaahh Michael, got a hunch to check if ultrasonic content is there somewhere, or not. Nothing else but a pure hunch.
Gotta be creative with no fancy audio analysis tools and no frequency response of bat tympanic membrane available in hand. HAHAHAHAHA
Maggies (MR/TWTR turned on, BASS turned off in this case) too, only goes to 40KHz. Not too shabby for a pair of speakers' frequency response.
Other limiting factors as well from the rest of the audio chain to room temperature and humidity.
¼ speed brings down certain-frequency-range of ultrasonic content into the lower frequency-range. Making it possible to tap into those normally-unheard-frequency-range.

Will there be tone or not, personally it makes no difference on how enjoyable(or not) both the .aif files are.



Wimbo's picture

Technics first.

Hats Domino's picture

Are there links for these files?

tronds's picture

I also hope Michael publishes the AIF links. It's much easier doing a proper comparison when you have the files, compared to just watching a YT video.

Michael Fremer's picture
Now there are
alucas's picture

10 seconds into the vpi and i knew the technics was better.
great lp! i wish i had your knowledge when approaching a dollar bin!

Michael Fremer's picture
What VPI?
Deamo's picture

I think that both recordings/videos represent the actual turntable playing.
The Caliburn setup has a more natural presentation, offering more subtle details and no harshness.

MrGneiss's picture

I liked the second one better today..

hi-fivinyljunkie's picture

Prefer the Calliburn. More natural presentation. I wonder what the difference would be if using a stiffer head shell in the Technics plus alternative mats? I think some of the difference is typical of good belt drive v good direct drive.

Halcro's picture

Regardless of the differentials due to the turntables (which we can't really isolate on these tests)....the SAT tonearm must make a positive contribution.
But more significantly.....I have found with dozens of headshells of differing designs and materials....the Yamamoto carbon-fiber headshell (which resembles uncannily that of the SAT)....improves virtually every cartridge I mate it with.

zimmer74's picture

Of course, an official review should be of the stock Technics deck. Nevertheless, I agree that a headshell upgrade makes a major difference. I am using the Ortofon LH-9000 (magnesium and carbon fiber hybrid) on my 1200GAE, with outstanding results.

highendman's picture

Right off the bat, the Caliburn was more spacious and natural. The dynamics at the end sounded harder and more shocking with the Tecnics, more natural with the Caliburn.

volvic's picture

and indeed the tracks were mixed with the percussion and my initial findings were correct, notwithstanding my second guessing. The first track was cleaner on the previous and that must have been the Caliburn. Still, would be happy with the Technics.

jimwilson993's picture

How about a comparison between the BB512 and the Rambler!

Rudy's picture

The samples here are not switched (Mikey says this right in the video).

The Continuum sounds less "canned" and a little more open than the Technics here.

drdarkfish's picture

I listened to the video twice without watching and took notes. (so I didn't know which turntable was first),

I preferred the Continuum hands down... There was no aspect of the Technics which bettered the Continuum..


There was greater body to both the vocals and the strings.

Stereo separation was greater - giving a wider sound-stage.

The vocal on the Technics sometimes sounded a little shrill - smoother on the Continuum

The timbre of the instruments had greater realism.

atomlow's picture

The Technics started playing the music and my eye brows went up and down and I thought oh that's nice. I did note while listening that I was really focused on the vocals and didn't hear the instruments as much as I wanted. I've found when A/Bing it really helps to focus on one instrument or part of the music as I go back and forth between the two things.

I started spacing off and was completely lost in thought when the Continuum started playing this piece of music. I listened twice and I completely got lost in the performance. So I thought the Continuum was better. But to hang with a 160,000 turntable isn't bad at all. We'll see how that first test ended up. I thought the audio was switched in the first video.

PAR's picture

Way back I bought this disc ( the AP version mastered by Doug Sax). I played it once, could not stand the vocalist's voice (especially that fast beat) so I filed it. After this experience I may revive it tomorrow ( it's the middle of the night here right now).

On came the Technics and I still didn't like this performance. However I also thought how good the turntable sounded and that anybody who bought one will be very happy.

Then the Caliburn/SAT. Well the rest of the orchestra did make the session after all. Far more natural sounding and the singer appeared not just to be a singing head but had the possibilty of having a body too. Most of all she didn't annoy me as much as my previous experience of her. In short, far more enjoyable. Where's my chequebook :-)?

BTW - I still think that the Technics sounded good irrespective - just not as good as spending How Much??

Kam's picture

What are those headshell leads?

isaacrivera's picture

More detail and nuance, on the music. More emphasis and natural balance between soloist and orchestra, giving a more realistic sense of depth. Voice has more natural texture too. All obvious on a cheap pair of earbuds via my Macbook Pro, can't imagine how impressive difference would be in person.

M3 lover's picture

your face. The record sounded clean.

But this time it really did look like you came away with egg on your face! ;^)

Michael Fremer's picture
you are seeing a reflection!
M3 lover's picture

What I noticed was yellowish and just to the right, above your jaw. It remained in the same position no matter how you moved your head which would rule out a reflection I think.

Anyway, it was fun to tease about it. ;^)

RR's picture

yes two for that's an egg or Michael's face.

RR's picture


yoss's picture

Any word on which file is which? Also, were the cartridges same age/hours?

saronian's picture

Without hearing "A" I would have been content listening to "B." Side by side the difference is clear and "A" sounds best to me.

sagakatt's picture

'A' definitely for me. Seems a bit more neutral and cleaner. B seems a bit pronounced at lower mids.

AnalogJ's picture

There is an ease to the vocal on the 2nd one. The first one seems, at times, to come off as a bit forced. There is also more of a unity with the recording regarding the vocal on the 2nd one, whereas on the first one, the vocal seems spotlighted.

RR's picture

1. Impressions: Straight forward and almost-distilled-water-plain (might be because of the way how the speed control works?).
2. Lesser upper harmonics (might be because of the tonearm-headshell-mat-body of the turntable?)
compared to 01117davrathB.

1. A bit more "vibe" on the vocal (not sure why?).
2. More relaxed presentation.
3. A bit more detail on the upper harmonics (might because of the arm and t'table?).
4. Blacker background especially on the micro harmonics (might be because of the arm and t'table?).

Personally it is hard to decide because highs are not really open up on 0117davrathA.aiff and 01117davrathB.aif .

Might just be too personal, this vocal recording is not really my cup of tea, but it's ok.
Try another test with more highs recorded of personally choosen song known as "Habanera" (not sure about the song and album title)... Go decide (if trouble arises because of doing so).

Sound wise (for this type of recording), preferred the 01117davrathB.aif table.

S&MCAL.aif have a lasting after-taste compared to S&MTECH.aif after days not hearing on it.
Personally got that feeling of longing to have more listen to S&MCAL.aif but still preferred S&MTECH.aif on any day.

Will 1200G 'jerk and hunt' if this table is not mounted on an-almost-rock-solid-concrete-based-floor?

yoss's picture

Have you tried the manual torque gain adjustment on the 1200g? I've read that turning it to about 1/5th of full improves note decay, sustain, and overtones... which are the primary differences I'm hearing here.

RR's picture

the gain of the somethingsomethingsomething =P in the motor control of the 1200 M5G(turntable on hand). not digitally but ANALOG ly because it's an ANALOG computer inside the 1200 M5G.
Never thought of 20% as a starting point. Gotta check it for myself...

Thank you soo much yoss

yoss's picture

Hi RR,
I saw the brake and pitch adjustments inside my 1200 MK2, however, I did not see a torque adjustment. Is the M5G different in this regard?

RR's picture

comes with no "torque adjustment".
I did figure how to do so on M5G, which involves "playing" around the ANALOG computer inside the 1210 M5G table.

Fun facts about the 1210 M5G:
1. Primary clock is digital (from quartz oscillator)
2. Computer is ... drum roll ... ANALOG... yes ANALOG!
3. Clock is digital on the mother board. (not sure about the other clock on the M5G pitch board.
4. M5G has TWO quartz for TWO CLOCKS, YES TWO, which is user selectable via the "quartz lock" button, which in fact is a selector system for user to choose which clock to use from (mother board/pitch control board).
5. The power supply for the pitch control board (M5G) is I think better regulated than the mother board with no modification whatsoever. *Don't have fancy equipment to measure the difference on clock stability coming off the M5G speed control board vs clock from mother board.
6. Some DJ swears by the "feel" of the older 1200 speed control except the M5G. I ain't really gonna be normally scratchin', fidlin', and pitchin' while listin' to some Miles Davis Kind of Blue on first generation pressing LP, etc...

BUT, I might want to SPEND ON the NEW 1200G because:
1. "Turntable response to force against it turning on speed" is adjustable via the under-the-hood torque trimmer. It's a more elegant way to achieve the same outcome.
2. It plays 78 (but I don't normally play 78)
3. To "feel" how much money worth nowadays on one of my favorite things.
4. Rumor said that it is a digital control system. Want to have two similar but different tables: one is analog M5G, one is digital 1200G.
5. 1200G pitch control might "feel" as the same as some DJ swears only by the pitch similar to that of Mk2 you have. Another plus point but not very relevant to me because I ain't fiddling' with those pitchin' stuffs mentioned earlier.
6. Lesser money spent than on the 1200GAE.

Well, gotta wait for more "sign" if it's a GO for the new 1200G.
A lot or not, $2000 is very subjective. But normally, $2000 will help to add to my LP collection.
Sure, $2000 normally buys personally more than enough of ice cold half and half refreshment on a hot summer day... and that sounds like a lot. HAHAHA

Please oh Mr. Michael Fremer put on the brightest spotlight on this 1200G matter inside of the smoke filled curtain-walled room in the outmost professional way possible and please guide us lost sheep and me to come into a better place.


turntable_life's picture

I think you're a little mixed up. The 1200G and GAE are the same price. $4000 US. The upcoming 1200GR is the "budget" version of the GAE/G that will be more focused on DJ's. It will not have the heavy brass platter and some other features.
The 1200G costs approx $4k US. Hope this helps clear some confusion up for you.

RR's picture

Thank you for making this clear, turntable_life.
My understanding was: this is the "budget" 1200 due to the personally inaccurate "first impression glance" of this turntable.
Wrong, was my understanding.

Back to the sound, whatever the turntable or the setting*, personally S&MTECH.aif is OBVIOUSLY more stable than S&MCAL.aif.
setting* = different torque settings for each files, recorded from the same 1200G table.
Got a strong hunch that no Caliburn is involved in the making of S&MTECH.aif and S&MCAL.aif. It was mentioned in the video that "the S&MTECH.aif vs S&MCAL.aif test" might be a trick, or no. Who knows what kind of trick was done... HUHAHAHA


Maury's picture

I have the Devrath record in both US black label as well as UK Pye. Maybe that's the problem as both files sound deader than dead on my Windows 10 computer (Juliet@/Cayin amp/Senn 600) compared to what I hear on my decent but not mega main system. I suppose File A was marginally cleaner. I am sure I would hear it clearer at the site but that is always true.

As for Max sorry to hear of his passing but I wouldn't put his RCA Rubinstein recordings in any audio HOF. Sounded like a nice guy though.

Rodan's picture

Definitely preferred the Caliburn--even on my less-than-state-of-the-art headphones. I have both the original black label and AP reissue and know this record pretty well. It almost sounded as if the VTA on the Technics was slightly off; however, I know Michael--who wrote the book and recorded the DVD on cartridge setup--is meticulous, so it's clear (to me, anyway) that the Technics turntable/arm is responsible for the sonic difference. Whether that difference is worth a house (or condominium) is, of course, the question.

RR's picture

There's a mention about "this could be your living room".
Not sure to the price tag on that particular living room would be the same as the Kaliburnnt.


juenh77's picture

I prefer the Caliburn's version. But what a nice choice is Songs of the Auvergne!! Thanks Michael!!
Next comparison should be with the "Bachianas Brasileras" by Villa-Lobos.

vinyl listener's picture

... than teh unidentified from a few days ago ?

Michael Fremer's picture
Nothing was touched
Michael Fremer's picture
Nothing was touched
vinyl listener's picture

they are different files

kozakjj's picture

I listen to the files several times and I have to tell you I hear no difference between them.

1listener's picture

Like kozakjj and others, I listened several times using both headphones and speakers and heard no difference.

I understand purchasing an expensive component for aesthetic and other enjoyment factors. I do that too. But the sound quality differences seem to be questionable.

Paynesgrey's picture

. . . on my Mac laptop! Not a huge difference, but absolutely there, which I think is kind of remarkable. "A" wins, BTW. Will endeavor to listen through my system next.

Still, you have to credit the Technics with sounding pretty darned good for a fraction of the money.

Now I have to buy this LP and listen on my table.

MrGneiss's picture

Well, looks like I picked the 1200 both times!! :-D

rosiemax's picture

The main difference seemed to be wavering in the voice,which makes me think the speed of the Technics wasn't right,or stable. Keep on truckin' vinyl guy.

John G's picture

I certainly appreciate the effort to compare the turntables, especially using the same cartridge on each turntable. I would have been more interested in hearing how something like a Rega RP6, at half the price of the Technics stacked up. Keep up the great work Michael!

cdlp4578's picture

Aren't the RP6 and the 1200G roughly the same price?

John G's picture

I think the 1200G is $4K.

cdlp4578's picture

I got confused with 1200GR

Anton D's picture

I predict the full review will conclude that the Technics with the 30,000 dollar arm would compete with the Continuum.

I am looking forward to seeing how Mike achieved his cartridge mounting in the Technics, the arm seems to follow its own alignment objectives.

If he can find two 'zero points' his cartridge, I will be gobsmacked! (I mean that thinking it's the arm, not Mike, that will fail here.)

Ortofan's picture

... until the "GR" version becomes available?
Then you could do a comparison between those two 'tables - this time, perhaps, with a higher end fixed-coil cartridge. Possibly either an Ortofon 2M Black (which is what Technics was using to demo the "GAE"), maybe in the PNP version, or the new VM760SLC from Audio-Technica.

Wimbo's picture

many times in Real life and I can tell you, it blows away any other turntable I've heard over the last 37 years in all aspects.
Makes me wonder if these A?B comparisons are worthwhile.

RR's picture

online radio session featuring "a night in Tunisia" jazz recording sure was ear blowing.
Even thru online-radio-audio-quality.

Was that the same Caliburn used?

Manos_Bits's picture

Dear Michael
Can you please give us some more details about recording procedure and how the files were created? Many people ask for this, me too, so please give us some more details about:

- How the files were created? with ripping? live recording?
- What ADC and what software was used?
- If recorded live(!!) what microphone?

thanks a lot.. those info will be very usefull for evaluating the files and achive some real conclusions..

Michael Fremer's picture
Not "live" of course! Was through phono preamp to darTZeel preamp, out darTZeel "tape out" into Lynx HiLo A/D converter, then via Thunderbolt cable into MacBook Air recorded using Vinyl Studio. File then exported to Audacity for editing, then posting. That's all...
Manos_Bits's picture

Thank you much Michael.. Just wanted to know some more details, having done some waveform analysis on both waves with Sony Sound Forge Pro on www.aca.gr (Audiophile Club Of Athens Site).. there are some interesting results but its still in Greek.. I will soon translate it.. Best Regards..

otaku2's picture

Hi Manos. Can we get a direct link to the waveform analysis?

Manos_Bits's picture

Hi.. of course I can send you the Soundforge screenshots..
Just drop me you mail in 'Contact ACA' form down right on our site www.aca.gr
I will send you via wetransfer because as you know Photobucket has drop down every linked photo on foroums..