Review: Stanton STR8.150 Digital DJ Turntable

Stanton STR8.150 Digital Turntable

The Stanton STR8.150: Is it man enough to step into the Technics 1210's shoes?

Review: Stanton STR8.150 Digital DJ Turntable

The world of the turntable moves s-l-o-w-l-y. Turntables regularly outlive DJs. Panasonic has finally discontinued the Technics 1200/1210 series (the DJ standard turntables) after over 30 years of continuous production. Other manufacturers had to wait, get this, 25 years until the patent ran out on the motor design before they could imitate Technics and produce their own versions.

But run out the patent did, and in the mid-2000s Technics challengers began to appear, one of which was the Stanton STR8.150 (US$499 / £459 / €542). Now, with the Technics 1200/1210 range officially defunct, we thought it would be a good idea to look again at what the new breed of digital turntable can offer to the digital DJ, starting with this top-of-the-range Stanton model.

Why would a digital DJ want a turntable?

At the purest level, because they are part of what DJing means. New innovations don't destroy the old, they add to it, and meanwhile the purpose of the old changes. The telephone didn't stop letters, TV didn't stop radio, the internet didn't kill newspapers, Kindle won't stop books being sold, and digital DJing won't stop people using turntables.

While your typical digital controller DJ certainly doesn't DJ on turntables daily, consider these scenarios:

  • If you want to sample, rip or scratch with old records, you need a turntable to do it with
  • If you are a long-time DJ with a big record collection, you may want to play records alongside digital music
  • If you are a Serato Scratch or Traktor Scratch user, you're obviously still going to need turntables
  • If you're pro enough to want to be sure you can use any equipment in any DJ booth, you're going to want to have at least one turntable to practise on in your home studio

However, while a Technics turntable or two would do the job, you're missing a trick in the digital age if you don't look at the alternatives, because there are features here that - while you won't find them in Technics-equipped DJ booths - are certainly worth having.

How do STR8.150 and Technics 1210 differ on first look?

This section is both for the curious, and for DJs who have used Technics turntables in the past. Technics decks are so iconic, you can't help but notice the similarities and differences. The extras we'll get onto later.

Stanton STR8.150 review

The Stanton STR8.150 digital turntable is clearly based on the discontinued Technics 1210.

Both decks are heavy (but STR8.150 is over 16kg compared to 12kg for the Technics), meaning excellent damping of vibrations. The STR8.150's motor is still high torque (higher, in fact, than the Technics) meaning the speed holds truer when you're applying pressure to the platter in mixing. It's different to Technics, so it takes some getting used to, but it's ultimately better.

The STR8.150s look like Technics, too. Sure there are extra features, but the gun-metal finish, the strobe dots round the platter, the general styling - they're all Technics through-and-through. The pitch control (without that loveable 0% click) is as good as the Technics, if not better, and the 4 adjustable feet finish the overall deja vu Technics look.

The main difference is the tone arm - it is straight (hence the name: "STR8"). I'll be completely honest with you - I didn't have a clue why it's not S-shaped, or why the Technics tone arm is. Stanton came back to me with an explanation:

"The straight tonearm is designed to minimize inward/outward force on the needle. The classic S-shaped tonearm was designed to maximise fidelity, however there is a natural pull toward the center of the record (hence the anti-skip to compensate, which can cause even more skipping during back-cue movements).

"The benefit of the straight tonearm design to the DJ is superior tracking, which can also have an added side benefit of being able to use lower tracking force with your stylus.

"For DJs who may want the perceived extra fidelity, familiar cue-sticker 'clock' positioning on their records due to the longer length of the tonearm compared to the straight tonearm, or simply prefer the classic look and feel of an S-Shaped tonearm, we also make the ST.150."

Can't argue with that - although I'd add, every "audiophile" turntable I've ever owned has had a straight tonearm, so the sound quality differences must be pretty academic.

The other differences are mainly cosmetic - the lighting is all Stanton blue, except the record surface light, which is white and has moved around to bottom right (it's also removable and a bit plasticky - the only thing on the whole turntable you could say that about). The holder for the wide spindle adaptor is gone (although one is supplied), replaced by a second start/stop button top left for when the turntable is aligned 90 degrees anti-clockwise from normal for scratch DJing. Finally, there is a proper detachable power adaptor.

Anything missing? Yup, the lid. I would have liked to have seen a hard lid for this - dusting around the pivot area of a tone arm is finicky, and there was not even a cloth cover enclosed. Of course, if it was flight cased it wouldn't matter, and with Technics you had to fully remove the lid when DJing or the look was serious uncool (and potentially you had something to jog by mistake), but still - a cover would be nice.

It's also worth pointing out that this is the second incarnation of the STR8.150, and actually is a little more "Stanton" and a little less "Technics" than the original in styling, which is a good thing - in particular, the rubberised pitch fader knob is no longer a straight copy of the Technics one.

What's been added to the basic Technics design?

This is really the interesting part, and where we welcome back digital DJs who never owned Technics and frankly don't care what's different. After all, the Technics turntable was designed in the 1970s - that's plenty of thinking time for changes. And we're in a digital age nowadays. So what has Stanton included to drag the turntable into the 21st century?

Here's a list of all the new features:

  • Pitch lock - A button above the pitch control digitally locks the pitch to stop the pitch fader working. It's an extra toy for DJing, as the torque of the motor is good enough for almost instant pitch adjustments from wherever the fader is set currently, back to 0%, using this button rather than the fader itself
  • Adjustable pitch range - Just like with digital DJ software, you can change the range the pitch fader works over, in this case from +/-8% (like Technics) to +/-25% (which is still possible to use for beat matching) all the way to +/-50%! Great fun for the creative DJ
    Deck Light STR8.150

    The detachable deck light is the only cheap-feeling part on the whole deck.

  • Key lock - Good not only for mixing in key buy also for cheating when holding beat mixes together, as it is harder to notice the pitch variation when nudging tracks. Sneaky addition
  • Reverse - Again, a great toy for the creative DJ and of course due to the high-torque motor it does its stuff fast - well under a second
  • Start/brake speed controls - You can alter the speed at which the turntable gets up to speed and stops on pressing start/stop with these two adjusters
  • Separate motor and on/off controls - One of the "hacks" with the original Technics was to turn off the whole turntable so the record slows down to zero slowly - to change sets, genres or at the end of the night, for instance. With a digital turntable, that ain't going to work, because you'd turn off the circuitry too. So Stanton has made the main on/off a motor on/off (by the way, it's embedded in a sleeve now to avoid accidentally turning it off while playing), and put the power on/off around the back
  • Switchable line/phono out - Traditionally turntables have a phono (unamplified) output that requires a pre-amp (usually built into the mixer). For Stanton's turntable to do its digital stuff, though (key lock basically), you need to use the line-outs, which deliver the same volume as those from a CD player would. Hence no need for a pre-amp in your mixer, and also it means you can record from the line out
  • A digital out - There is a digital coaxial out for plugging straight into SPDIF digital equipment for recording (eg high-end sound cards, computers)
  • Switchable ground - If your mains grounding is good, the 3-wired plug that comes with the STR8.150 can ground the turntable to prevent buzz, without the need for a separate ground. If for whatever reason it isn't, you can switch to chassis ground - although I couldn't find a chassis ground pin for a ground lead. Whatever, there was no discernible buzz on the audio output for me in either setting. The flimsy ground lead was notorious for snapping off with Technics - can't say I miss it
  • Stanton's 680v3 cartridge

    Stanton's 680v3 cartridge is a welcome inclusion with this deck, showing it means business for scratch/DVS DJs, although of course you can fit any cartridge you choose.

    A new start/stop top left - As previously mentioned, for turntablists who habitually rotate their turntables 90 degrees counter-clockwise to make scratching easier, there's now a second start/stop

  • The ability to play 78 records - If you're looking further and further back for your musical sample inspiration, it's good to know this deck will play 78s just fine (you press 33 and 45 together)
  • A pro cartridge and needle - The Technics didn't come with a cartridge; this does, and with an excellent one too - the Stanton 680v3, one of the most respected cartridges there is. The headshell has a removable 2g weight (saves blu-tacking a half-penny to the top of the deck - hell I'm showing my age here), and so the system is set up for rock-solid scratching out of the box

So what's it like to use?

This is funnily enough going to be the shortest section of this review, because the job of a DJ turntable is actually very simple: high torque, steady pitch and good tracking. Strip away all the frippery and what you want is a motor that holds its speed, a needle that holds the groove no matter what you're doing to the record, and for the pitch you set it at to remain where you put it.

The Stanton excels in all areas, equalling or better all competition. The extra torque actually took a little bit of getting used to, but in a good way. Stanton is known for its cartridges and so it's no surprise that this turntable hugs the vinyl - I can't fault it there. Sound quality is excellent too through all three outputs (line/phono and digital). Apart from that, there's really very little to say. It just works - well.

Conclusion

If you just want a turntable for ripping vinyl with, spending this kind of money makes no sense - get a decent belt-drive (Stanton do a couple of good ones themselves). But if you want to add analogue to your set-up for actual DJing, you need a proper direct-drive turntable. For the digital DJ, who may only be adding one turntable to a home studio set-up for sampling or mixing the odd piece of vinyl rather than full vinyl DJ sets, you're getting the best of both world here.

You're getting a turntable you can practise on (because if you can use one of these you can use a Technics set-up in a DJ booth) but with key lock, digital out and line out controls enabling you to hook it up into your digital set-up in three ways. Add in the non-digital improvements (reverse, start/break adjustment, pitch adjustment up to +/-50%, the ability to play 78s) and it's a no-brainer.

Connections on the Stanton STR8.150

The connections on the Stanton STR8.150 show its modern pedigree.

Likewise if you're going down the Serato or Traktor Scratch DVS route, there's no sense in finding some Technics to buy instead of choosing a more modern turntable like this, as the added flexibility and features are so totally worth having.

The STR8.150 came out in 2005, which as we've learned in turntable years, is just about yesterday. Obviously sensing their opportunity with the announcement that the Technics decks have been discontinued, Stanton has stepped up marketing on this product - and with good reason.

Because in short, with the STR8.150 Stanton has future-proofed the turntable. Whether in DJ booths being used for Serato or Traktor Scratch control, or at home to complete an all-media home DJ studio, this turntable takes up where Technics left off. As far as turntables go, the next 30 years could well turn out to be Stanton's.

Do you own this turntable? Are you looking at buying a digital turntable? Do you think it's important for digital DJs to be able to DJ on turntables? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. So, how much does a pair of these babies set you back? More or less than a pair of sl12s?

  2. Phil Morse says:

    Depends where you buy them, but remember they come with a pro cartridge whereas you'd have to buy cartridges with the Technics.

  3. hmm, you would still need an interface, right? and this works as a regular tt?

    is this a one-off or can we expect to see more turntable reviews? :)

  4. Good thinking...about time many of the vinyl folk stop crying about the 1200 and simply find a new "king".

  5. I love the Technics turntables for its pitch control. I've used Numarks and I prefer the acceleration and deceleration of the Technics pitch slider. The Technics make it easier to ride the pitch. It's a personal thing. I wonder how the pitch slider on these Stanton's feel.

  6. It is comparable to the Technics pitch control, not too stiff, not at all loose though.

  7. I really am starting to think we just naturally think the same boss! I own one Stanton ST 150 with my pair of Numark V7s. Might end up selling the ST 150 for the STR8.159 since scratching is better with straight tone arms. I've been wondering how the Novation Dicer would fit on these yet I am leaning towards getting the Native Instruments X1 Controller for more features.

  8. Seb Forest says:

    S-shaped tone arms put the needle in alignment with the groove of the vinyl record so it wears out slower than with a straight one.

  9. This youtube link shows you the difference between a straight tone arm turntable and an S shaped one. It also shows you how to set-up your turntable for scratching. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rM8q1bWcEbg

  10. This youtube video shows you not only how to set up your turntables but also the difference between a straight arm turntable and an S shaped tone arm turntable... enjoy

  11. Phil Morse says:

    Stanton are on the ball - I got a reply from them re the straight/S-shaped tonearm difference, which I've incorporated into the review.

  12. Nice review, but (and sorry if i missed it) you missed a big point: this is one turntable of a series of brands whom sells the same one, with a different look and/or minor different functionality.

    In a nutshell: these turntables are in general all the same: Synq XTRM1/Omnitronic DD5250/Akiama DJ4000 Acura/AMDJ HTD4.5/Stanton STR8-150/ST150/Citronic PD45/Reloop RP6000MK5.

    If you don't mind I'll post a link to another (dutch) dj website: here you can find the review (english) of the Synq XTRM1: http://www.aboutdj.nl/reviews/draaitafels/232-synq-xtrm1-etc-english-version-of-the-review.html

    The stanton might be the best choice for its looks and digital out and phono/line switch. But is that worth 200 euros extra? I have the Akiyama Acura, which is €279 in a dutch webshop at the moment. I love them, I even think that spinning a view Sl1200's is taking a step back in turntable land. What I like most is the high torque, which gives you a turntable that allows you to be 'rough' with it. Big movements and I don't have to be scared that a pitch correction will be too big or too big or too small, If you understand what I mean. I don't say that it IS better than a SL, but in MY opinion it is 😉

    Oh, one more thing what's important for these turntabels and I'm not sure if it also counts for the Stanton. They come out of the box with a little margin on the tone arm (if I say it correctly, sorry I'm Dutch ;)), which you need to fix in order to say that the tone arm is as good as the SL ones.

  13. DJ Smasherelly says:

    Hi Phil, nice post. I brought the original Stanton STR8 150's around the time the came out. I also have a pair of Technics 1210's which I'm selling at the end of the week. The Technics were what I used when I was touring with artists and had the Stantons when I'd have breaks back home so I could practice. It is a great turntable, I had the digital out connected to my Akai S3000XL and created quite a few blends/mashups using the key lock functions and various pitch ranges (such a great help instead of cutting up the vocals and stretching in Pro Tools!)

    Great turntable all in all!

  14. Steven K says:

    I am interested in getting the STR8's or the ST 150's. How much will an S shaped arm really skip? I mean the best dj's in the world used technics and had no problems.

    • Not very much. If you're a BIG scratch DJ who really knows his beans there may be a case, but otherwise, S will apparently give you better fidelity. It's a small decision.

      • Steven K says:

        Also, I will use them with Traktor Scratch Pro so will the skipping on the timecoded vinyl really affect anything? I guess I really just like the look better of the S arm and would like to put some Ortofon Concorde cartridges on them. These style also only work with S arms right? because they have to line up straight on the groove? Thanks for all your help. I am a DJ who currently uses two Numark V7's and am simply trying to discover what a possibly switch to vinyl may bring me. I am interested in bigger platters, use with Traktor Scratch Pro 2 and overall just a better look and feel.

  15. One of the BEST (to not say, the only one I´ve ever found) about this Turtables!! I had a long time looking for this information to know the differences with the Tehcnics and to could compare them. Technics is definitely the Vinyl standard, but what those babes can do is awesome!

  16. Hi !

    I have a question that apparently nobody asked before :

    how many times these turntables can work without any problem ?
    For example, having a solid pitch is very important when you mix tempo ; is the Stanton pitch still good after a few years of intensive use ?

  17. I recently heard in a Qbert interview that he likes these more than the technics 1200s... :-)

  18. Anyone know where you can get hard plastic (or other material) dust covers for the STR8-150s? I already have flight cases but I am now using the turntables on a custom-made unit at home so have them out of their cases except when I need to bring them to a venue. Thanks.

  19. Hi.
    I am buying a turntable, mostly fos sampling purposes and this STR8-150 seems to be what im looking.

    I have a question about the Stanton 680v3 cartridge.
    How about sound quality for sampling? I planned to buy Shure M97XE but this 680v3 comes with this turntable is it wise to spend my money?

  20. i got a pair of these with a basic mixer off a friend for £300 when i first started djing just over a year ago, thats exceptionally cheap i know but if you look around you might just stumble across a similar deal, but money aside i love these turntables the torque as mentioned in the review is amazing and using other turntables now for me being used to these seems slugish and unresponsive. The one problem i do have is the 45 speed button on mine have broke (both decks) but to work around it as a temp somlution i use the 50% to speed the decks up when using 45 vinyl...... bar that one problem all in all amazing stuff from stanton and i highly recommend these decks to anybody who is looking at taking their kit the the next level.

  21. So I was wondering if you can plug just one str8-150 to your studio monitor system (krk rokit5s) to just listen old records?

  22. Just a note on durability... I bought a pair of these decks when they came out after trying them head to head with Technics. They continue to run true to this day after some pretty hard use. The paint on the earlier version of this deck chips easily and the plastic coating on the pitch slider and other buttons has degraded leaving a tacky residue. However, this has been largely removed with cleaning. I found the sound a wee bit compressed in line mode and have used them pretty much exclusively in phono mode. However, now that I've made the switch to DVS, I'll try using the digital out for ripping purposes.

  23. 100% sick!!

  24. While most audiophile tables use straight arms they have an offset at the end that puts the stylus in the same position as an S shaped arm. The Stanton straight arm lacks this offset.

  25. Detroitologist says:

    Reason for trading up Technics for Stantons? +-25% pitch control, for matching up those electronic/ambient and hip hop type tracks with techno or electro. Powerful motor makes slip-cueing records smoother with less effort, nice for slamming a track into the mix. S/PDIF is great for recording a record straight into the computer’s PCI audio interface card. Reverse is used very little but it is great to have when you want to play Beatles records in the background. Would rather have the Tech style pop-up light though. I first learned on some old Kenwood decks with wood grain finish, lead filled platters, and hardly any pitch control, so you don't need all that fancy crap to learn how to dj. Save your money in the beginning for records, a good pair of headphones and studio monitors, and when you get good buy 3 or 4 of these.

  26. Hulmeman says:

    After a little research, I've settled on the numark TTXUSBs. Anybody own/use these?

  27. Here's a clear hard dust cover for the Stanton ST.150 / STR8.150 turntables. Just something that fits over the top, not really hooked to the turntable. It's better then a cloth cover.

    Audio recording is what I do in my job. So looking at quality players and their reviews the last two months.

    Now i'm finding out about DJ software. I love reseach and learn on youtube too every night.

    I use sony Sound forge, and also from http://www.Tracertek.com their Diamond Cut software. I buy their custom audio computers too. Their company software is all about filtering. They got a lot tech information for records. Their software I use filtering all kinds of problems in old cassettes, reels I play into my computer for my job since i started this in 2004. Their software is what I'm also using to convert reel to reel CD. Diamond Cut can even fix dropouts from old tape. Check out their site. It's worth a look as it caters to recording in Vinyl something I have yet to experience.

    Right now our intentions is only to play records. Not really converting to WAV or MP3. Just yet anyway. But I do see it as maybe another service to add to what I'm already doing down the road.

    I've been looking at covers for Stanton, so hope this helps some of you.

    I still have not found one for the Stanton V92 table. Hmmm.... The ST-150 is only about $300.00 more, gee then I could have a clear hard cover to go with it to take avantage of that better digital into a professional sound card in my computer in stead of just a USB port.
    The ST150 has better quality in just "wow and flutter" then their lower cost tables.

    I just want a good needle that will give me quality of sound. But maybe the ST 150 or V92 Stanton is good enough? I don't know.

    I'm honestly a newbe at buying my first turntable, while my wife knows most all the words to songs in Motown. We get Pandora radio for Motown songs. We stream though our receiver.

    You guys are telling me that a quality player and needle will give better sounds then CD.
    I want to tap into that.

    We got seven Klipsch RF-52 II speakers with our high end Yamaha receiver buring a system over time. So now we want to hear it the best without spending more then maybe $800.00 on a turntable as our next piece of equipment. While she said the Stanton V92 three speed looks like it might be all we need, I still look at features for better recording purposes down the road.

    I'm still reseaching models. Your site has helped me tonight.

    Thank you!
    Kevin King

  28. Well the info I wrote above about my link to the Stanton ST-150 models for a hard plastic dust cover did not show, so here is is again.

    http://www.zzounds.com/item--DECDSPCSTR8ST150

    "It's hard to find good help these days". LOL

    Kevin King

  29. Marcus James says:

    Nice turntables, however... In manufacture the base and buttons of the ST 150 have been coated with a rubberized finish which breaks down over time and forms a nasty sticky, unsightly, and ultimately dusty layer.
    You first notice it on the start/stop buttons as they feel tacky under your fingers. Then you realize it covers the entire base and feet as well as all the other controls. This gluey residue is a nightmare to remove. Some sites recommend using WD 40 and/or Goofoff to remove it but this is no easy task. It is quite heartbreaking to see your expensive turntable in such a sad state. Quite in contrast to the pics above. Stanton should do something about this. It is clearly a fault in manufacture. Be warned!

  30. IF you do some research. the technics is aligned better with the groove for sound quality. they "spent a lot of time and mathematics" to align it. I have owned the plastic version of this table and the digital section sounds like Shiite ! as well as the geometry .If they copied Vestax stairght tone arm to reduce skipping . the cartridge is only in acceptable alignment for 30% of the record as far as sound quality goes. The over hang/ cartridgel geometry of an Audiofool table is similar to the technics. The S of the Technics tone-arm is to reduce vibration transmission and has nothing to do with cartridge location/geometry. ...

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