Technics Turntable History

Written by alexander grouch
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Technics Turntable History
(Photo courtesy of a Creative Commons license (Flickr/b E k))

Although many people may not know it by name, nearly everyone who has ever danced in a club or bought a hip-hop track in the past 30 years has experienced a Technics turntable. While other turntables have their place, the Technics 1200-series was/is the crown jewel of hip-hop and disco. When Beck says, "two turntables and a microphone" in his '90s hit "Where It's At," it's the Technics turntable that he has in mind. Moreover, the now familiar sound of DJs scratching and mixing is thanks to the unique features of Technics. This guide will give you a closer look into some of the most revolutionary Technics models throughout the years. In addition, you'll have some resources in case you want to purchase your own Technics turntable.

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Early History

In 1969, Panasonic launched the Technics line with the SP-10, the first direct-drive professional model turntable. Marketed in the United States by Matsushita, Technics entered the regular consumer space with the SL-1100. The SL-1100 is historically linked to the birth of hip-hop. It was with this sound system that DJ Kool Herc rocked Bronx block parties and by most popular accounts "invented" hip-hop. Soon after the launch of the SL-1100, the SL-1200 was introduced. The 1200 would go on to be the preeminent DJ turntable. From disco to hip-hop and beyond, almost every DJ seemed to rely on the 1200, specifically the SL-1200 MK2 model. The SL-1200 MK2 had a built-in pitch control function that helped keep the speed of the turntable both consistent and adjustable. The pitch control also aided in the development of many scratching techniques.

Modern History

Among DJs and turntablists, Technics is still one of the most widely used turntables. In recent years, the 1200 line has received various vital upgrades. For instance , the SL-1210M5G introduced all-digital pitch control, a pitch reset button and a state-of-the-art braking mechanism for quick stop-and-go turntable control. Another major innovation was the Technics SL-DZ1200, which was the world's first direct-drive digital turntable. The DZ1200 combined the classic 1200 feel with an all-digital set-up that allowed DJs to "spin" CDs, MP3s, AAC files and more.

Types

Currently Technics manufactures the SL-1200MK2, the SL-1200MK2PK, the SL-1210M5G, the SL-1200MK5, the SL-1210MK5 and the SL-DZ1200. Historically, Matsushita used the Technics name for everything from digital audio recorders to receivers to keyboards. Currently, "Technics" as brand is reserved for the above-mentioned 1200-line turntables and associated accessories, plus some electric pianos and micro hi-fi systems.

Throughout the '70s and '80s, Technics released other direct-drive turntables, such as the SL-1350 and the SL-M1, but these lines are no longer manufactured. Technics also produced several belt-drive turntables such as SL-B100 and the SL-BD20.

Parts

Like most other turntables, Technics has many basic parts such as the turntable plate and tonearm. Because many of Technics' turntables have special functions such as pitch control, there are also many unique parts found on Technics turntables, especially the 1200 line. Some of these parts include pitch control boards, pitch control reset buttons and specialised lift assemblies. There are many websites that sell spare Technics parts.

Accessories

While a standalone Technics turntable is quite an impressive machine, the addition of certain accessories can make the 1200 an unstoppable musical force. Because most DJ's use at least two Technics turntables, a quality mixer is needed to control which turntable produces the most sound at any given time. In addition, Technics manufactures specialised DJ cartridges, headphones and recording kits (for the SZ series).

Buying Technics

If you're in the market for a newer Technics model, you can visit the Panasonic shop or Amazon. For vintage Technics turntables, your best bet is eBay.

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