Technics SL-1200GR2 Turntable: audiophile delight



Technics SL-1200GR2 Turntable

Don’t let anyone tell you that this turntable is not for audiophiles, writes ANDREW BAKER, who gives the SL-1200GR2 our highest award.


The SL-1200GR2 is the latest iteration in Technics’ long line of popular, instantly recognisable direct drive turntables. The original SL-1200Mk1 turntable began production way back in 1972 and the Mk2 version followed seven years later.

Despite these being released for the hi-fi consumer market they became the go-to for DJ and studio use, due to their reliability, durability and, I imagine, their availability. Several versions and updates were released over the subsequent years before the line was discontinued in 2010. Six years later there was a brand revival, and the SL-1200G appeared on the market to high acclaim, with the 1200GR coming along not long after.

While popular with professionals, audiophiles too have for many years revered the SL-1200 line. To me, it always looked a little too much like, well, a DJ turntable – that is to say, a tool or instrument, to appeal to me in a hi-fi kind of way. While this new version still looks like the archetypal DJ deck, seeing and using the 1200GR2 in real life has largely assuaged that stereotype for me.

Build and Features

While it may not look that much different from the original, the SL-1200GR2 has had some nifty modern engineering updates which we’ll get to shortly. Aesthetically it differs from the 1200GR in that on the silver versions anything that had black on it is now all silver (excluding the platter mat which is still black) and the black version of the 1200GR2 is all black where the 1200GR was silver.

The twin-layer chassis is beautifully constructed from die-cast aluminium and coated internally with a special damping compound. The platter (with its customary rubber platter mat) is rubber-damped aluminium and uses an electronic brake for smooth and instant stopping.

An in-house S-shaped 9+ inch gimbal tonearm is supplied and factory-fitted along with a detachable headshell and cartridge mounting hardware. A 3mm cartridge spacer helps ensure cartridge compatibility and a handy little cartridge overhang gauge is also included. Dust cover, EP record adapter, basic RCA cables and an AC power cable are supplied – all you need to buy is a cartridge of your choice. The feet (Technics calls them Insulators) can be adjusted in order to level the turntable on your rack.

Along with that iconic defeatable pitch control slider, we have a power On/Off switch, platter Start/Stop button and speed selection buttons – 33, 45 and 78rpm, initiated by pressing the former two at the same time. And of course, there’s the white LED pop-up cueing lamp (stylus light) and blue LED strobe light for checking platter speed accuracy. The tonearm can be height adjusted using the “arm-height control ring” for accommodating most cartridges. Having a detachable headshell means owners can potentially purchase multiple headshells and cartridges and easily switch them around when desired.

The SL-1200GR2 is a direct-drive turntable, which is to say the platter is driven directly from the motor without the use of either a belt (Rega, Project, The Wand) or idler wheel (Lenco, Garrard, Thorens). What sets this version apart from its predecessors is the new Delta Sigma drive system. Using a digital control circuit implementing pulse-width modulation (PWM) borrowed from Technics’ proprietary JENO Engine (Jitter Elimination and Noise-shaping Optimization) – the technology found in their current lineup of amps and digital players – the aim is to drive the coreless DC motor with as little distortion and vibration as possible from making its way to the tonearm and, ultimately, that sensitive stylus. The power supply is a low noise switching circuit which uses reversed-phase current to eliminate noise. So, we basically have an analogue turntable with a digitally controlled power supply and motor. Technics have promised that this technology will be utilised in future products.

A nice touch is the reduction of plastic in the packaging by using more cardboard padding instead of the usual polystyrene and plastic cushioning. I’d love to see more companies do this because, damn, so many products still have so much packaging these days.

Operation and Listening

I had three cartridges on hand to test the SL-1200GR2, namely an EMT TSD15n low-output moving coil, Hana EH high-output MC and a more budget-friendly Nagaoka MP-110 moving magnet. These all fed into my Wand EQ phono stage (which I purchased) and comparisons were made with my Wand 14/4 Turntable with 12” Master Tonearm (also purchased by me).

Thanks in no small part to the excellent user manual, I found the 1200GR2 very easy to set up and mount the cartridges – much easier than The Wand, I have to say, which requires a great deal more patience, time and experience, though one is justly rewarded for persevering. Once set up, I have to admit I liked the look of the Technics deck sitting on my rack a lot more than I thought I was going to. I’m not a great fan of the raised “bubble” on the rear right of the dust cover as it kind of detracts from the clean lines. But of course it serves a purpose, allowing the lid to be properly closed even if the tonearm is adjusted to its highest point. Aside from that, I have absolutely no quibbles with any part of the turntable’s build or operation. The tonearm operates smoothly and confidently – not being a unipivot design like The Wand or my other favourite tonearm the Apparition 12, it perhaps has a more solid, fully attached feel. The buttons all feel beautiful to press and the platter starts and stops smoothly. It just has a lovely tactility and is an absolute pleasure to operate.

In terms of the cartridges used, while the two moving coils – Hana and EMT – displayed better clarity, detail retrieval, dynamics, tonal colour and timbre, there was something special going on between the Nagaoka and the SL-1200GR2 that I thoroughly enjoyed. While technically speaking not the best cartridge pairing, there was a certain inexplicable no-frills synergy that kept me happy and wanting more.

Starting off with the album Ipsum (2021, Public Possession) by Melbourne-based New Zealand electronic artist Nice Girl, the Technics delivered a satisfyingly club-like thumping bottom end accompanied by sharp crisp hi-hats. The distinctive Nice Girl/Public Possession techno/house sound came across as dynamic and energetic with good image clarity, focus and separation. This, and the distinct lack of background noise, are to me all signs of good isolation and vibration control; something with which the Wand 14/4 turntable is also highly proficient. While that kick drum packed a punch it remained concise and clear throughout, not muddy and never overpowering the other elements of the composition. The 14/4 gives perhaps more definition and even better note separation in that department but not by too long a shot. I would say that the soundstage, while decent by most measures, was a little narrower than what I experienced with the 14/4. Not a bad thing at all, the Technics simply gave the impression of a slightly more intimate performance.

With ‘Pyramid Song’ from Radiohead’s Amnesiac (2001, EMI), Thom Yorke’s vocals had a breathtaking degree of presence, similar to that which the 14/4 brings, and the accompanying piano notes were solid and unwavering. The drums kicked in with good dynamic contrast and timbre and the overall experience was clean with a nice even tonality. Although things got comparatively just a little congested when the busy string section (courtesy of the Orchestra of St John’s) came in, it didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the track. I guess it simply added to the darkish atmosphere the album conveys as a whole.

The SL-1200GR2 proved equally proficient at delicacy and finesse, demonstrated when I gave Agnes Obel’s album Aventine (2013, Play It Again Sam) a spin. If memory serves, it was a rainy day for which this music is perfect, in a Scandinavian Netflix television drama kind of way. (I know, that’s a predictable thing to say, Obel being from Denmark.) The centre image, here being the voice of Obel, was beautifully solid and present. The background was dead silent, so all the intricacies of her voice were sharp and clearly presented. Piano notes were solid and percussive and the range of dynamic subtleties between the instruments provided the ears with plenty of interest. Despite the slightly more intimate presentation of the Technics (again, when compared to the naturally spacious presentation of the Wand), the sparseness and delicacy from within the recording itself allowed for a good sense of space and layering.

On Odetta’s ‘Hit Or Miss’ from her delightful and underrated album Odetta Sings (1970, Polydor) the Technics gave a vibrant and lively performance. Odetta’s voice was powerful and present and the bass, deep and precise, really drove the song along. The drums were particularly full of life with cracking snares and natural kick-drum resonance. As predicted, changing up cartridges provided more clarity, detail and timbral accuracy but the fact that I couldn’t really bring myself to particularly favour one over another showed me how well the 1200GR2 revels in the simple task of producing music, at any cartridge budget level.

The overall display of solid, well-defined notes, focused images, sense of depth and lack of noise floor, is clearly a result of Technics’ attention to detail in the engineering department. That vibration control and precision operation all contribute to a stable and immersive musical performance. In my experience dealing with vibration can make a huge difference to the performance of a turntable. Having owned various Rega, Pro-Ject and Well-Tempered turntables in the past, even something as simple as placing a granite slab or a sand-filled platform beneath a deck can have benefits similar to that which a cartridge upgrade can bring. So, to have such measures already carefully engineered into the SL-1200GR2 is a real gift.

The Wand 14/4 has the bigger soundstage and tends to be slightly more forthcoming when rendering the finer details. It’s overall a bit more refined sounding, more expansive and textured than the Technics deck but not to a level where owners of more expensive turntables should feel too smug – unless we’re talking big bucks. I don’t quite know what the cut-off point will be, but the 1200GR2 will likely accommodate a decent range of quality cartridges.

The Technics SL-1200GR2 was a delight to operate and listen to music with. I relished every occasion where I had to get up and get my hands on it. As Don McGlashan of the Mutton Birds sang: “When a man holds a thing well-made/There’s connection/There’s completeness” and that was certainly the sentiment I couldn’t help feeling here.

For many this will be an endgame turntable and I can imagine a collection of detachable headshells all pre-mounted with different flavoured cartridges awaiting their time for a turn in the grooves.

Build and engineering is top notch and without a doubt the sound performance is high-end – you certainly get your money’s worth. I suggest you get over to your nearest dealer and give one an audition without delay. Oh, and don’t let anyone tell you the 1200GR2 is merely a DJ turntable: because it ain’t.




Having begun collecting music and attending concerts from the age of 10, Mr Baker became a full-blown audiophile in his mid-twenties. He loves discovering new music and despite an undying love for vinyl, enjoys all formats. He divides his spare time between raising his kids, laughing at his cat and writing about hi-fi. When he grows up, he wants to be a rock star.

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