Vinyl is on the rise these days, and so Technics is getting back into the the turntable game. The venerable brand showed off an aluminium prototype of a new model set to be released in 2016. Here's what I know: I'm really excited.
Technics, which is owned by Panasonic, discontinued its legendary SL-1200 turntable back in 2010. The model was originally released in 1972, and for decades was considered the industry standard deck. That it lasted in production all the way to 2010 despite the fact that vinyl sales started tapering off in the '80s is a testament to just how popular and how good that old Technics was. They weren't the cheapest turntables, but you got an indomitable machine for $US700-$US800 (if I'm remembering correctly).
The legendary SL-1200.
It's hard to believe how far vinyl has come in the five years since Panasonic killed the SL-1200. The industry moved more than nine million units in 2014, up 52 per cent year-over-year. And that's up from a nadir of just about 1 million units sold back in 2007. What a turnaround! I've written a few times about why it makes sense that people are buying into physical media in a digital age. It's more accessible and easier than you would think to get into spinning 12-inchers.
・ Coreless stator design that eliminates cogging
・ Twin rotors that reduce bearing load and minimise tiny rotational fluctuations (wow & flutter), while maintaining high torque
・ Oil impregnated high-precision bearings that minimise unwanted vibrations during rotation
The redesigned direct drive motor control technology involves the following:
・ Spindle motor control technology that switches the stator winding drive mode according to operating conditions to provide both high starting torque and high rotational stability
・ Adaptive rotational control technology that achieves optimised compensation according to precision rotational position detection and load fluctuation factors
Man. That's beautiful audiophile gobbledygook. I have no idea what that means. It's pretty weird that there's not even a tone arm on that prototype. We know nothing really! Will this be another entry in the storied SL-1200 line? Will it even be a DJ turntable? Or will it be something else entirely?
My concern would be that Technics would abandon its workhorse roots and make some obscenely expensive audiophile product no one can afford. This is not without precedent. Panasonic relaunched the brand with high-end luxury products back in 2014. Some of the stuff was priced in the low-thousands and maybe conceivably affordable — you know if you wanted to spend a mortgage payment on gear, but the top stuff was way out of range. We're talking $US18,000 stereo amplifier and $US28,000 speakers. (In fairness, all of this gear was beautifully designed.) Here's hoping Technics makes something people can actually use to DJ a gross sweaty party.