The SL-1200MK7.
The SL-1200MK7. Technics
This morning during a keynote conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Japanese electronics company Technics announced two new model of turntables: the SL-1200MK7, the first new DJ-oriented turntable the company's made in nine years, and the SL-1500C, which comes with a built-in phono preamp and seems geared towards vinyl newbies. No word on what the sticker prices will be just yet—and recent Technics models have been quite pricey since the company (a subsidiary of Panasonic) reentered the turntable market a couple of years ago. But if these have a good price point, they could revitalize their respective markets—particularly the SL-1200MK7 among DJs.

First, let's look at the SL-1200MK7, which is probably the splashier, more newsworthy one. Technics defined the idea of a DJ turntable with its SL-1200 series, which launched in 1972, using a very durable direct-drive system that had high torque and allowed for trackback via manual reverse spinning. This allowed DJs to precisely cue up the track or excerpt they wanted with pinpoint accuracy; if you've ever heard the term "on the ones and twos," that's a reference to the 1200. The Technics SL-1200MK2 has since become the gold standard for a DJ table, and when Technics exited the market earlier this century, other companies like Audio-Technica filled the void with products that mimicked the Technics line to a T.

In 2015 the Technics brand, after being dormant for a few years, reappeared with a line of high-end direct-drive turntables geared towards audiophiles. Bit by bit they've approached the regular consumer market since then—while their fanciest turntable approaches $20,000 (and good christ, it is a thing of beauty), they've also got an SL-1200G which goes for a mere $4,000, and a SL-1200GR at a more approachable $1,700. Still, I think Technics will need to make this new SL-1200MK7, come in at just under a grand for it to make real waves in the DJ turntable market. (You can still easily get a used SL-1200MK2 for less than half of that.)

For now, Technics is touting their improved, coreless motor system and a bunch of other small details that will excite DJs (detachable cables, adjustable starting torque and brake speed, a two-layer construction that dampens vibration, aluminum tonearm, and so on). There's also a reverse play function and an all-black design. Like all good DJ turntables, it needs to strike a balance between sound quality and durability/portability (including not being prohibitively heavy to carry from gig to gig).

The SL-1500C
The SL-1500C. Technics

Even less is known about the SL-1500C at the moment. But it's got a built in "phono EQ," which I take to mean preamp, which will make it an easy, approachable turntable for vinyl neophytes or those with minimal setups. This is expected to have a (relatively) low cost and, provided the price is right, could be the perfect home turntable for just about anybody coming in beneath the "record nerd" threshold, or 99.9 percent of the world. It comes with an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge—a perfectly serviceable cartridge that should satisfy most people—and even includes a convenient auto-lift function for when the tonearm reaches the end of the side.

I've been a proponent of older Technics tables for everyday use—they sound great and last forever!—although in recent years they've preferred to delve into high-end stuff for audiophiles with money to burn. Now it seems that they're interested in reclaiming their market share with mere mortals, too. And it seems reasonable to expect that the recent developments they've made with their excellent turntable technology will be carried over into these (presumably) less expensive models. If you're a DJ, you have reason to rejoice over today's news about the SL-1200MK7. And if you're still not sure about where to start with this whole vinyl thing, the SL-1500C might just be the ticket.

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