Good to see the SL1200 back on the shelves – but that’s where it might stay

Vinyl is making its way back into the lives of music lovers the world over.

It was a few years back that my jaw dropped at seeing some (new) classic vinyl albums for sale in the music section of my local department store.

Fresh pressings of albums from across the decades were on display and it was so great to pick them up, read the sleeve notes, look at the artwork, feel the weight of the album, look at the price and put it back in the rack.

Prices have started coming down though, the range of available vinyl is growing wider and turntables are re-appearing with silly headlines such as “Play dad’s old records”. How stupid! Young people are buying vinyl.

Of course, being of a certain age I have a collection of original vinyl albums and singles dating back more than 40 years. Oh, the surface noise, the crackle, the depth, the warmth, the bass response…Somebody clean my stylus.

Love to Love You Baby, Donna Summer.
Love to Love You Baby, Donna Summer.

My prized collection includes such forgettable classics as Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Pilot’s debut Album of The Same Name, and Donna Summer’s raunchy first album *Love to Love You Baby (which would likely still be banned from the radio if it were released today, as it was in 1975).

Then there are some notable 45s; Dance with The Devil, Billy Jean, I Feel Love and the classic London Town by Light of the World (jazz funk rules OK).

The first single I remember buying was Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die in June 1973 (45 pence at Golden Disc Records). That was followed by Suzi Quatro’s Can the Can.

Suzi Quatro's Can the Can from 1973.
Suzi Quatro’s Can the Can from 1973 – we bought the music because it looked so good.

Look mum I’ve bought this – proudly showing her a record sleeve featuring Suzi dressed in black leather.

“Didn’t you buy one of those last week dear?”

Yes, but this one sounds different; I’ll play it and you tell me if you can hear the difference between a former Beatle and an American bass player screaming “Can the Can”.

Shall I make it louder?

Pardon! No, it’s as loud as it will go!

Why is the neighbour walking up our path?

Of course I remember the introduction of CDs in the 80s, and I can clearly recall my heart sinking as I played my first silver disk (Alexander O’Neal, Fake) and hearing how the sound was flat, cold and lifeless – no soul at all. Such a huge disappointment.

“This is supposed to be better?” I asked out loud. A reciprocal question, I didn’t expect anyone to answer.

Technics SL1200

But with the welcome return of vinyl I was lamenting the demise of the Technics SL1200 / 1210 turntable in 2010 – the year Technics stopped making them.

Yes there are some wannabe upstarts producing record decks that look like the classic DJ favourite, but there is nothing to match the genuine article.

The direct drive motor the Technics 1200 turntable features means that when you press the start button, the turntable  spins up to speed instantaneously – something belt drive turntables do not (they take half a turn to reach 45RPM).

And belt drive turntables are useless for scratching (been there, done that).

The new Technics SL1200G costs a king's ransom.
The new Technics SL1200G costs a king’s ransom, but is probably worth every penny.

And yes, you can pick up second-hand SL1200s, their prices seem to be rising. They are OK if you don’t mind that the pop up light doesn’t work, that the plastic lid and metal disc centre are long gone, that the sliding speed control is for decorative purposes only, or that its appearance is well past its best.

However, Technics/Panasonic is soon to offer a new version of the SL1200, the SL1200G will be released any day, priced at £2,799 ($4,000) ouch!.

So while it is great we can buy a new SL1200 again, the price will put them out of reach of your bedroom DJ looking to beat mix and scratch their way to fame and fortune.

Back to eBay then…

*Donna Summer went on to regret lying in a darkened studio to record Love to Love You Baby.


See if you can spot the difference between these two 70s hit singles.