Adrian Weckler Tech Review: Technics SL-1200GR
Technics turntable is cool - but I can't get with vinyl
For me, vinyl is more about art than music. It is a primary option only for those who are genuinely content to forego choice, spontaneity and quality at an affordable price. As such, it is about aesthetics, nostalgia and romanticism more than a pure music ethos.
Still, there's no doubting its revival in recent years. And it has even helped to bring venerable old hi-fi marques out of retirement. One such brand is Technics, which had been festering away until its owner, Panasonic, brought it back to life in 2014. Now, riding a wave of moneyed, middle-aged enthusiasm, it has just unveiled new vinyl turntables, of which the SL-1200GR will probably prove most popular.
It's an updated version of Technics' storied SL-1200 models of old, professional machines used by DJs. There are some modern tweaks to it, including a digitised motor that doesn't rely on a belt drive. One advantage to this is consistency: wear and tear has less of an effect on the turntable's continued operation.
Vibration is kept to an absolute minimum thanks to a two-layer construction that applies deadening rubber to the rear surface of the aluminium die-cast.
It weighs 11kg and comes in either silver or black.
So if you want to get into vinyl, this is probably a very credible, high-quality place to start.
But do you want to do that? Do you want to spend €25 to €30 per disc, the same as three months' subscription to almost all the music in the world?
I get the aesthetic appeal of vinyl. It's beautiful. I also get the appeal of equipment-lust, of researching, building and adding to a rig. There's even a social element, consulting with fellow hi-fi enthusiasts, if you know any. But vinyl is about fashion, not high fidelity. It's a romanticisation of the purpose it was invented for - to consume, enjoy and share music.
Choosing vinyl over other formats is like choosing an Aston Martin over a Porsche. It's not quicker or more responsive. The materials aren't better, not will it last longer. But it's a lot more expensive and gives the owner a different identity.
A New Yorker cartoon from last year made the point nicely. "The two things that really drew me to vinyl were the expense and the inconvenience," says one bearded middle-aged man to another in the sketch.
For many, vinyl is a celebration of something other than digital hegemony. But I'm struggling to get with it. For the price of this turntable, I can get an amazing digital speaker, amp and player. That's Technics' challenge.
Two to Try
Canon Eos M6 (€989)
Canon's new mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera, the Eos M6, has a similar 24-megapixel sensor to the company's new 77D and 800D models. It has a 3-inch semi-flip-out touchscreen and can shoot seven frames per second. It has no viewfinder, unlike the one available on the M6's sister camera, the M5, which is slightly bigger. Compare prices.
Panasonic Lumix GH5 (€1,899)
Panasonic's main weapon in the enthusiast camera market has been in video recording, particularly in its GH range. The newly-arrived GH5 offers unlimited 4K video recording (which almost no other cameras have), as well as 6K photos at 30 frames per second. It also has enhanced, five-axis dual stabilisation. There's a really nice range of lenses available for this, too. The only drawback is price: this costs as a semi-professional tool. Compare prices.