|Last production year||2010|
Production ceased in late 2010
Technics SL-1200 is a series of turntables manufactured from October 1972 until 2010 by Matsushita under the brand name of Technics. S means "Stereo", L means "Player". Originally released as a high fidelity consumer record player, it quickly became adopted among radio and club disc jockeys, thanks to the direct drive high torque motor design, making it, initially, suitable for pushbutton cueing and starting of tracks on radio. Latterly, when the use of slip-mats for cueing and beat-mixing (and scratching) became popular, the quartz-controlled high torque motor system enabled records to be mixed with consistency and accuracy. A primary design goal was for hi-fidelity, but having good build quality, control over wow and flutter, and minimized resonance led to the equipment being particularly suitable for use in nightclubs and other public-address applications. Since its release in 1978, SL-1200MK2 and its successors have been the most common turntable for DJing and Scratching (also known as Turntablism). Producers, DJs & Rap MCs refer to the Technics turntable as the "Tec 12's", "Wheels of Steel" and the "Ones & Twos". Apart from their iconic status in hip-hop and electronic music culture, Technics 1200s are also commonly used in recording studios and for non-electronic live music performance. Since 1972, more than 3 million units have been sold. It is widely regarded as one of the most durable and reliable turntables ever produced. Many of the models manufactured in the 1970s are still in heavy use. In the autumn of 2010, Panasonic announced that the series was to be discontinued due to marketplace conditions.
Some of the features that set the SL-1200 apart are:
- Magnetic (no wear), direct drive (low slip) mechanism.
- High torque (1.5 kgf·cm or 0.15 N·m), which means the platter will spin at the desired speed almost immediately (0.7 s to reach 33 ¹⁄₃ RPM from standstill), and will very rapidly reacquire the desired speed, without "overshooting", if the platter is dragged or nudged. This aids beatmatching.
- Very low wow and flutter (0.01%), which means that the platter will stay within 1/100 of 1% of the desired speed.
- Heavy base (2.5 kg), and increased isolation of platter from base, reducing the likelihood of feedback or stylus jumping.
- Variable pitch control, allowing the rotational speed to be adjusted from -8% to +8% (for the purpose of beatmatching).
- High reliability: many examples of SL-1200s lasting well over 15 years of heavy use and withstanding physical shock without functional impairment.
- S-shaped Tone Arm: Although no longer popular on high end hi-fi turntables.
- Dimensions: 453(w) x 366(d) x 180mm(h) (mk1), 453(w) x 360(d) x 162mm(h) (mk2)
- Weight: 11kg (Nett, unboxed without lid)
- Voltage: 220v / 110v USA
- Pitch Control: +/- 8%
- Starting Time (MK2): 0.7s
- Rotation Speeds: 33-1/3 & 45 rpm
- Original model
- SL-1200 The SL-1200 was introduced in 1972 as an evolution to the popular SL-1100. It represented a culmination of all Technics innovations to the world of Hi-Fi. It was dubbed as "The Middle Class Player System". It was delivered in 2 different versions: The SL-1200 came complete with a tonearm section. The SL-120 came without a tonearm section. A SME tonearm was the usual choice for the audiophile.
- MK2 models
The SL-1200 Mark 2 was introduced in 1979 . It was an update to the popular SL-1200 series. It again represented a culmination of Technics Turntable Innovations. It was dubbed as "The Middle Class Quartz Direct Drive". It was not released as a professional model, but became popular with pioneering hip-hop DJs. It soon found its way into discos as well as radio stations for airplay because of its vibration dampening ability and resistance to feedback.
The MK2 models were sold in Europe with different model numbers indicating a different colour; the 1200 (silver) and 1210 (matte black). This was the same in the USA (and Japan) initially, however later the 1200 was available in both silver and matte black finishes.
- SL-1200MK2 (released in 1979) comes in both silver and matte black (see above comment). Technics improved the motor and shock resistance, added a ground wire, and changed the rotary pitch control to a slider style. This is now the base model and is the oldest whose production was done until 2010. The older version of this model which was sold in the 1970s and 1980s has a large 4-inch-diameter (100 mm) plate where the RCA and ground wires enter the unit, while the newer version has a smaller 2-inch-diameter (51 mm) hole in the rubber where the RCA and ground enter. International versions of the SL-1200MK2 included switches for line voltage and frequency beneath the platter.
- SL-1210MK2 comes in satin black metallic finish only (see above comment), and is nearly the same in function as the SL-1200MK2, although some of the circuitry inside is updated to use fewer different types of pots and resistors. The Technics 1210 series also had a switch to change between voltages on the underside of the platter. It used to be unavailable from official Panasonic dealers in the United States.
- SL-1200MK2PK has a matte black finish, and was only available in the USA.
- MK3 models
- SL-1200MK3 (released in 1989) has a matte black finish like the MK2, gold RCA plugs, and a small gold-foil Technics label on the back. It was destined only for the Japanese market.
- SL-1200MK3D (available in Japan only, factory gold RCA cables, black finish)
- SL-1200M3D (released in 1997) has a silver finish like the MK2, a detached dust cover (no hinges), and no detent ("click") at the zero point of the pitch adjustment slider, allowing more precise control of pitch near that point. It also has a reset button which sets the pitch adjustment to 0, regardless of the actual position of the pitch adjustment slider. In addition the M3D series have a couple of unique details, the brand and model label is printed in a single line instead of two, and the stroboscopic light is still red but with a slightly orange tone.
- SL-1210M3D is the same as the SL-1200M3D except with a matte black finish like the MK2, except for the voltage switch.
- MK4 models
- SL-1200MK4 The SL-1200 Mark 4 was introduced in 1996. It was an update to the popular SL-1200MK2 series.
Only available in Japan / SE Asia Markets Price for around $650.00. It has a matte black finish like the MK2, This model is aimed at the hi-end audiophile market rather than for DJs. This is the last model made with the detent ("click") in the neutral position (+/- 0%) of the pitch adjustment slider. In addition to the existing 33 RPM and 45 RPM buttons, the MK4 adds a 78 RPM button. It is also designed to be used with regular removable RCA cables (along with a removable ground/earth cable) rather than having hard wired RCA cables like all the other 1200/1210 models.
- MK5 models
- SL-1200MK5 (released in 1 November 2002) has a silver finish like the MK2, increases the range of anti-skate settings from 0–3 grams-force (0–30 mN) to 0–6 grams-force (0–60 mN). Also has a white LED target light (previous versions only had a globe and burnt out over time). Current MK5 models have a removable lid with magnets as opposed to the MK2 and MK3 removable hinged lid.
- SL-1210MK5 has a matte black finish like the MK2, and is exactly the same as the SL-1200MK5, aside from the voltage switch, like the other decks in the 1210 series.
- SL-1200MK5G Similar to the SL-1210M5G.
- SL-1210M5G (released in 1 November 2002) has a glossy piano-black finish with silver speckles, was a special 30th-anniversary edition. It was initially launched in Japan only (together with the MK5) but then became internationally available. The difference from the MK5 model is the ability to switch between ±8% and ±16% ranges for pitch adjustment, and the pitch control in this model is completely digital. It also features blue target lights and blue pitch-number illumination. The brake strength potentiometer, although still located beneath platter, can now be adjusted, unlike previous models, without the need for a screwdriver thanks to the addition of a small plastic knob. Minor improvements over Mk2, Mk3, Mk4, & 1200LTD also include improved tonearm mounting and oxygen-free copper wire being used for the signal, improved vibration damping in the body, improvements to the pitch control accuracy and better LEDs.
- MK6 models
- SL-1200MK6-K & SL-1200MK6-S (released in February 2008 in Japan) with minor improvements including improved tonearm mounting and oxygen-free copper wire being used for the signal, improved vibration damping in the body, improvements to the pitch control accuracy and better LEDs. -S model has a silver finish like the MK2.
- SL-1200MK6K1 is the same as the SL-1200MK6 except with a matte black finish like the MK2. Released in 12 December 2007 (in Japan) as a special 35th-anniversary Limited edition of 1000 units.
- Special models
These were limited edition versions, with 24 karat gold plated metal parts including tonearm and buttons.
- SL-1200LTD The SL-1200 Limited Edition was introduced in 1997 It marks the 25th anniversary of the SL-1200 series.
There were only 10,000 made and sold worldwide. These units sold out in less than a year. Wholly based on the MK3, it has a piano black gloss finish and the tonearm & accessories were gold plated. It was priced at about US$1200.00.
- SL-1200GLD (released in 2004), another limited edition model, with only 3,000 units manufactured. 1,500 of them were sold in the U.S. and the other 1,500 internationally. It is based on the MK5G model, with blue (instead of the regular white) target lights, and a piano black gloss finish.
There are many "non-official" special models of the SL-1200 and SL-1210 that have appeared over the years, mainly given away as prizes for turntablism, most notably the DMC World Championship, who have given away to the winner a pair of 24K gold plated Technics turntables. Due to the customisation trend that has grown in the DJ community, many local events or competitions have given away custom coloured or finished Technics SL turntables.
The SL-1200 design strengths
The SL-1200 series was developed as a special project by Technics parent company Matsushita in an attempt to solve many of the problems related to the difficult task of turntable design. The task included minimizing acoustic feedback, unwanted resonances, wow & flutter and speed errors.
This was achieved by designing a remarkably heavy plinth made of a non-resonant composite sandwiched between a cast alloy top plate and a solid rubber base. In addition, the adjustable rubber-damped feet ensure that the Technics SL-1200 series are well-insulated against acoustic feedback, which can be a serious problem when operating a turntable in close proximity to PA loudspeakers (a common situation for DJs).
The drive system designed by Matsushita is of the direct-drive variety rather than the more commonly found belt-drive type. This design was developed in order to virtually eliminate the problems of wow and flutter and produces a very quiet turntable which, for a direct-drive turntable, has minimal motor and bearing noise, (although the bearing rumble does tend to become characteristic in well-used turntables). This was partially achieved through the fact that the SL1210/1200 was the first (and only) turntable to actually make the platter a part of the motor mechanism as opposed to just being attached to it via screws or magnets as is the case with most direct-drive turntables. On the underside of the platter there is a large magnet which, once placed over the spindle, surrounds the coils and forms the motor drive thus eliminating loss through power transfer. The SL-1200 utilizes a Frequency Generator Servo Control Quartz Lock system that is claimed to produce the most accurate and consistent speed possible. The system is immune to static and dynamic stylus drag which would otherwise cause unwanted speed variances that change the pitch and tempo of the music.[ref: SL1200MK2 Service Manual. Specifications. Speed Change Due To Load Torque: 0% within 1 kg-cm] Due to these strengths the SL-1200 lends itself to both Hi-Fi reproduction and demanding DJ usage.
- Panasonic reactive statement - Production of analogue turntables has ceased
- Panasonic has confirmed that it ceased the production of its Technics-branded analogue turntables this autumn.
- After more than 35 years as a leading manufacturer of analogue turntables, Panasonic has regretfully taken the decision to leave this market. However, Panasonic will continue to sell headphones under the Technics brand.
- We are sure that retailers and consumers will understand that our product range has to reflect the accelerating transformation of the entire audio market from analogue to digital.
- In addition, the number of component suppliers serving the analogue market has dwindled in recent years and we brought forward the decision to leave the market rather than risk being unable to fulfil future orders because of a lack of parts.
- Panasonic employees who have been working on the analogue turntable range have been redeployed elsewhere within Panasonic - many of them continuing to work in Panasonic´s Audio Video Business Unit.
- Toronto Star: A Piece of Music History Winds Down
- Dead spin: Panasonic discontinues Technics analog turntables - Oct 2010
- "The Rise And Fall Of The Technics 1210". TheHipHopRecords.com.
- Technics SL-1200 / Technics SL-1210 Shaped Our World - May 2010
- Pair of quartz synthesiser direct-drive turntables, 1999 - 1999
- SL-1200mk2 and SL-1210mk2 service manuals
- Panasonic (Technics) product page [From Archive.org as link has now been removed from Technics.com website]
- Frequently asked questions on Hyperreal on the Technics SL-1200MK2/SL-1210MK2 Turntables
- Technics SL-1200 MK2 at Vinyl Heaven - a hi-fi perspective
- Technics SL-1200 MK2 at TNT Audio - an audiophile review
- Technics 1210 turntable information - reviews & information on technics 1210 turntables
- Technics SL-1200 History - With timescales and images.