Music History

How the Technics SL-1200 Became the Most Popular Turntable in the World

Back in 2010, I bought one of the last brand new Technics SL-1200s before the company inexplicably decided to get out of the turntable business. It cost me close to a grand, but having used SL-1200s for years in both DJ booth and radio studio environments, I’m convinced that it’s the greatest machine of its sort ever manufactured.

Where did this legend start?  The Vinyl Factory traces the story of the SL-1200.

You’ve probably heard all about it by now. Panasonic has announced that it will reinvest in its Technics turntables series once more. The announcement took place at the recent IFA technology fair in Berlin. The company promises to retain the ‘look’ while updating the technology: what that means in actuality is anyone’s guess. The prototype on view is a piece of metal with a platter stuck on it with Blu-Tack. Will the new turntable receive the all important ‘1200/10’ model tag? If not, what? The 1220 or maybe 1300, perhaps?

But you know what? None of this surprises me. I walked, rather stunned, into the Technics room in last February’s Sound & Vision 2015 hi-fi show in Bristol, and interviewed members of the European office about their new range of 2-channel audio. Everything was there: CD player, digital player, power amp, speakers and more but no turntable, which got tongues wagging even then.

The fact that the media was excited that Technics even had a room and were more excited that a turntable was not there, says everything about this new relaunch which has caused defibrillators, nationwide, to be plugged into handy USB chargers.

All this fuss for a direct drive turntable that’s been knocking around since 1972. Considering its current reputation and iconic status as a DJ tool of choice, it’s ironic that the early 1200 was initially designed and used as a home hi-fi item.

So why was the 1200 adopted in the first place? Probably because it was there. That is, it was the DJ turntable on tap before modern DJ turntables were even invented.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38536 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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