Just six short years after announcing the end of production for Technics turntables, Panasonic brought a brief smile to vinyl-spinning DJ wannabes by announcing the return of the iconic SL-1200. A brief smile because the relaunched deck turned out to be eye-wateringly expensive. Regardless, Technics has continued to add to its vinyl vault and has now announced two new direct drive turntable additions – the SP-10R and the SL-1000R.
Technics priced the standard version of the renewed Technics turntables announced in 2016 – the SL-1200G – at a rather exclusive US$4,000, a dramatic increase on the Mk2's still available to buy in 2010. Though the subsequent release of the GR variant came in at almost a third of the G's ticket price, the new Reference Class SP unit is expected to retail for even more, with What Hi-Fi reporting a (northern) spring launch for $10,000.
For that sort of silly money, vinyl lovers plumping for the SP-10R will be treated to a "twin rotor-type coreless direct-drive motor with coils on both sides for 12-pole, 18-coil drive" that's based on the motor developed for 2016's SL-1200G, and turns the platter at 33.3, 45 or 78 rpm with speed irregularities of 0.015 percent or less. That platter is something of a heavyweight at 7.9 kg (17.5 lb), with a 10 mm-thick brass weight containing 12 tungsten weights on the outer edge and vibration-damping rubber attached to the underside.
Technics says that the thrust bearings that support the platter use a "special engineering plastic to provide both high rigidity and reliability" and to further reduce unwanted noise, the control unit comes separate to the main turntable, supplying power to the main unit by something Technics is calling an "unwanted noise reduction circuit." That all adds up to a signal to noise ratio of 92 dB, which Technics says is the world's highest S/N figure.
The SP-10R doesn't come with a tonearm unit or a cabinet, but is backward compatible with previous SP-10 series models, the first of which was released in 1970.
Rumored to come in at twice the price of the SP-10R, the SL-1000R turntable system has the same direct drive unit and platter, and separate control/power unit setup, but gains a base and static balance S-type tonearm with a magnesium alloy pipe already mounted to the right, though it won't come supplied a cartridge. The tonearm setup makes use of oxygen-free copper wiring for the internals and is assembled by hand by Japanese craftsmen. An optional tonearm base is also available to allow music lovers to mount third party tonearms around the cabinet (to a maximum of three).
The cabinet itself is made from bulk molding compound topped by a 30 mm-thick aluminum panel, while the turntable component is made up of bulk molding compound, die-case aluminum and a 25 mm aluminum top panel – giving the system five layers of materials to ensure rigidity. As you might expect, the cabinet supports have also been given some vibration-damping treatment, coming in the shape of silicon rubber, microcell polymer and die-cast zinc.
Though there are much more expensive turntables on the high-end consumer radar, the new Technics additions would still cause the wallets of many modern audiophiles to go into lock down. And yet, recent models have sold well. Still, maybe picking up a working SL-1200 MK2 online for a few hundred bucks while you scrimp and save for the SP-10R or SP-1000R is the way to go.
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