Technics SL-1200, the ‘King of Turntables’


The iconic Technics SL-1200 turntable (manufactured from 1972-2010), started out life as a consumer record player but immediately became a cult club and radio DJ tool, as the direct drive high torque motor design made it the perfect tool for pushbutton cueing, beat-mixing and scratching. While Panasonic discontinued the Technics line due to declining market conditions in 2010, the SL-1200 has only increased its must-have status.

Sydney DJ, Neil Hume whose roots are in the underground clubs of Oxford St and Kings Cross when dance music was just beginning to capture the Sydney scene, says there is a good reason the Technics SL-1200 enjoys such a slavish following (oh yeah, and he said the cool kids call them the ‘the wheels of steel’; made popular by Grandmaster Flash in the seminal recording of Grandmaster Flash and His Adventures on the Wheels of Steel).

“While many manufacturers have tried to make a reliable turntable for DJ’ing, only Technics have ever made one that is the total package. Things that DJs value in a turntable are the strength of the motor so records can be launched in beat matching time, the smooth and seamless control of pitch (how fast the record turns) with a fader and the ability for the casing to eliminate interference from vibrations coming from speakers (which leads to an awful humming sound),” Hume said.

“You might think that making this project is simple, but no other manufacturer has managed to make a product that equals the Technics SL-1200. As DJs moved to CDs the SL-1200 was sadly discontinued due to a shrinking market, but second-hand 1200s have soared in value, with one in good condition selling for more than new units when they last came off the production line. That value really tells you all you need to know about the true brilliance of the 1200s.”