Welcome Back, Technics SL-1200

Back in 2010, I bought one of the last Technics SL-1200 turntables before production ceased. A couple of years later, Technics, having woken up to the fact that vinyl was back, started making 1200s again (Yay!) but selling them at a price more than three times what I paid for mine (Boo!).

Still, it’s good to have it back. The New York Times takes a look at its resurrection.

The turntable, the Technics SL-1200, may not enjoy the name recognition of, say, Fender electric guitars or Steinway pianos. But if you have watched a D.J. scratching furiously behind a rapper in the last few decades, you have almost certainly seen one, or, more likely, a deftly manipulated pair.

“It’s the go-to,” said Darby Wheeler, a documentary filmmaker whose recent series for Netflix, “Hip-Hop Evolution,” keeps avid SL-1200 spotters busy. The turntables pop up everywhere — on concert stages and album covers and in the studios of genre legends like Grandmaster Flash.

“At the after-party for ‘Hip-Hop Evolution,’ the club had another brand,” Mr. Wheeler recalled during a phone interview, in a tone that suggested both mystification and embarrassment. “The D.J. looked at me and said, ‘What the hell, Darby, no 1200s?’”

That legacy seems like an easy sales hook for the Panasonic Corporation of Japan, which has reintroduced the turntable to great fanfare.

Panasonic has chosen mostly to ignore it.

“Our concept is analog records for hi-fi listening,” said Hiro Morishita, a creative director at Technics. “D.J.s are fine, too, but as a marketing target it’s problematic. We don’t want to sell the 1200 as the best tool for D.J.ing. The 1200 is the 1200.”

Keep reading.

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.

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