Over To You: What DJ Record Decks Should I Buy?


Good old Technics. But in 2014, is there a better choice for someone buying their first turntables? That's our reader question today...

Our forum member Koengsv117 writes: "My question is, which of the following options would you recommend to get familiar with a vinyl set-up? First one, to buy a set of Technics. Second, to buy a set of Technics replicas like the Audio Technica LP-120. Third, buying turntables which are equal or maybe even better according to some than the venerable Technics like say a Stanton ST-150. What do you think?"

Digital DJ Tips says:

Big question for anyone who wants to try turntables. It's not cheap either, so your decision is going to be swayed by expense too. Technics, if you can find a good used pair, are great ("nobody ever got fired for buying Technics", to bastardise IBM's advertising slogan of old), but so are many of the better current turntables from Reloop, Stanton and so on. The cat has really been thrown among the pigeons this week, however, with the arrival of the Pioneer turntable.

So rather than offer my opinion (I still have my Technics, so my opinion is probably going to be biased), I'm going to throw this one over to the readers.

So, if you had to go out tomorrow and buy a pair of record decks for DJing on, what would you buy? And what would you avoid? Let us know your thoughts in the comments...

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  1. I have the Stanton STR8-150's and i have to say they are an amazing deck. Good for turntablists or mixers, mad torque and are built to last.(they weigh 17kg each!)

  2. Buy The New Pioneer PLX-1000 $699.00

    • Garrett says:

      Pricey and don't have key lock/master tempo. Besides that though, I will agree they look very temping.

    • Ok, I am not the most experienced industry dude, but, I recently had my 1210's serviced by one of the best in the business,( he services and mantains the decks for Fabric) I discussed the new Pioneer decks with him as he serviced my decks,,,,,,,,,,, he was very precise in his assessment of "said" new product, basically what I am saying to the readers of this page that may be thinking of purchasing new decks is that "some manufacturers" !!!! are putting out products that seem attractive to the market,but they are aware of faults that will need servicing by means of sending back to the factory to get fixed,,,,, be warned,,, "DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE',,,, I second what Ross says,,,,, a good pair of second hand Technics is the way----- I have had mine since "96, first service two days ago !!!! ;0))

  3. rossmc40@gmail.com says:

    If you're just dipping your toes into vinyl for the first time I would try and pick up a second hand set of 1210's. They are the industry standard for a reason, had mine for about 10 years and never had a problem with them (although they mostly gather dust these days!). The new Pioneer deck looks the part but for the moment they are untested and expensive.

  4. Bahstid says:

    Without much information to go on, Reloop RP-8000's are likely the best on offer at the moment in terms of offering a wide range of options, with the bonus that they're likely to come with some kind of warranty. If I didn't own 3x1200s, they'd be a strong contender.

    Depends on a lot of factors... Are you wanting to play actual vinyl or go DVS? Are you wanting to scratch/juggle? Do you have a mixer or are you using a controller, and if so, does your controller have phono inputs or are you going to have to factor in an external pre-amp box too? Are you a bedroom DJ - ie these are only going to be used by you, or are you likely to take them along with you / try to organise events with them? How important is the cost factor? Do you actually need a pair at this stage, or will one do as most of your collection is presumably not on vinyl anyway?

    Another thought is something like the Denon SC3900's - will get you pretty close to a vinyl feel, without the hassle as well as covering a few other bases like letting you use your existing music without needing to build up a vinyl collection and even function as controllers. Only real problem with them is that they aren't "standard" meaning you are unlikely to find them at a gig, and also others often won't want to play on them. (My 1200s have been boxed since I got some)

    Sometimes "best" is not always so... Learning to mix using a banged up belt-driven table (can you still get those?) was actually quite good experience! If you can do it on that, you can do it on anything!

  5. The dirty secret when it comes to turntables, is all the current tables available are made by the same company including the new Pioneer. The Audio Technica and Stanton ones mentioned are essentially the same table with slightly different styling. For my money the best one available would be the Numark TTX as it has more features, you get both types of tone arms, and it prices out a little less here than others. The only thing I don't like about the Numark is it doesn't have the spot for Dicers.

    The most important thing about about buying new decks is to make sure you get direct drive ones. I have an old set of belt drive ones I used years ago. I get on them nowadays and I wonder how I ever played out with them.

    Like every tired DJ discussion (Mac vs. PC, Traktor vs Serato, Sync or Not) it doesn't really matter. Try and get your hands on as many different pieces of equipment as possible. Don't worry about the brand so much, and get mixing.

    • I had the TTX and i would disagree with this table as a viable option, particularly to learn to beat match on. I found this out when i went to DVS. The motor or pitch fader is stepped, its not true analog. You can see this in traktor as the finest of adjustments do nothing, until suddenly the bpms jump .08-.09 bpms. Thats fine, i spose, if you are a turntablist, or do the new electro-house style jump-kick mixes, but if you like to ride a mix out, or mix more than two tables at a time, forget it.

  6. TTXUSB by Numark hands down.

  7. I haven't had a chance to try many of the newer additions to the turntable market, my Numark TT200s are just ok. They track relatively well, but could do with a bit more torque. They're fine for practicing and home use, and I picked up a set 2nd hand for less than the prices I was finding 1 x Technic 1200.

    That being said, the 1200s are much better and unless the previous owner was extremely harsh on them, they seem to play beautifully.

    • DJ Vintage says:

      I would say that rather than "unless previous owner was extremely harsh" this should really read "if the previous owner took very good care". Technics required some TLC and regular overhaul/cleaning/maintenance/checkup. If that was done, then yeah, you can still find some decent SL1200s. Not sure in other parts of the world, but here I'd be hard pressed to find SL1200s for a price low enough to justify not spending relatively little extra money to get something new like the Reloop RP-8000s.

  8. DJ Vintage says:

    Over at the forum many discussions and threads have come and gone on what to get for a vinyl (mostly DVS) setup.

    As you can get any 2- or 4-channel mixer, we usually leave that one out of the discussion. Leaving the turntables. The common census seems to be that a set of Reloop RP8000s are the best value for money option. All kinds of features that come in handy on any TT, like dual start/stop buttons. A couple of extra's like torque adjustment and start/brake times. And of course an additional row of mappable buttons for things like cues, loops and such, making it ultimately suitable to function in a Digital DJ environment. Switchable phono/line output and USB link, so you can hook up to 4 of them having to use only one USB port on your PC.
    And all that extra stuff comes at 100 euro a piece less than that really basic Pioneer (oh, heck let's just call it the Pioneer SL1200).

    I'd like to stress Phil's point that running a vinyl/DVS setup is pricey, not just in purchase (even though that will run you north of 1500 euro at least) but also in maintenance. Actual vinyl or DVS records to purchase and loads of replacement needles. It's a lot of money to just "get the feel" of vinyl. Especially if you add the fact that any vinyl setup will have less features than relatively simple controller setups. And if you ever plan on playing out and taking your own gear, a vinyl setup is gonna be HEAVY! LOL

    Really my advice would be to call your local DJ school, ask if they teach spinning on vinyl and just book a couple of hours with them. A) you get instruction specifically for using a vinyl setup correctly and B) you don't have to go out and spend a ton of money to find out if vinyl is THE thing for you and perhaps be stuck with hard to sell gear when you decide it's not for you.

    Just my two cents obviously.

  9. paolo sutter says:

    With the new Pioneer just arrived it's tricky. I just had the chance to play around with two Reloop RP-7000. Robust, good looking and do an excellent job. Technics 1200s are great and you'll find good ones on the popular auction sites. However, i would rather go with a new one - you then also have a couple of years warranty which is good. from the Reloop there's also the 7000 in white - an eye catcher.....

    • DJ Vintage says:

      Noooooo not white !!! ROFLMAO.

      I can still not get used to all these fashion colors floating around (silver, white, platinum). The original SL1200s were silver. Then they came out with the SL1210s in black and I have never looked back. I even mind Denon putting silver jog wheel tops on the MC6000 mk2, what was wrong with the black? πŸ˜›

      Black is also good because you see very little by way of wear, dirt, smudges and damages (small scratches). If you ever tried to keep a white piece of kit truly white while using it on the road you will know what I mean.

  10. paolo sutter says:

    And i share DJ Vintages idea of booking a few sessions at a local DJ school, maybe you realize it's a waste of time. I was on big gigs where the DJ's only used digital music without turntables and guess what - they made the crowd dancing like hell....its about the tracks the good combination and the perfect mix with samples etc. etc.

  11. paolo sutter says:

    correct. White very quick gets - let's say - light black - my equipment is also all black - exception my iPad :-)

  12. Option 1: Buy some technics? You'll be paying over the odds for some second hand decks. I wouldn't bother personally. Option 3: Buy the Pioneers? You'll be paying over the odds for the Pioneer brand name and the cachet of having the latest and greatest decks.

    I would definitely suggest going for one of the Super OEM models. They are based on established technology which should last a long time. Many of them have improved specifications (such as sockets for phono leads rather than built in cables which are a pain). You'll also have the option of USB or digital outputs should you want them. Furthermore, there is more competition among these models so you'll get a better price. To cap it all off, compared to the Technics, you'll get a warranty as they are new decks as opposed to a second hand pair. For me - its a no brainer.

  13. A used set of 1200s would work perfect depending on condition. But if you just want new the Stanton work just as good for a small percentage less and they work with digital cords or the phono plugs. Not as powerful as the technic but the diffrence is so slight who cares.

  14. godztearz says:

    Hands down technics.

  15. Got a pair of Reloop Rp 6000 Mk6 B and 1 Technics 1200 Mk2, sure i love the Technics but indeed the Reloop is a good and reliable turntable, with a better torq and brake, lets see how about their longevity but till now 4 years and still fresh out the box πŸ˜‰
    Greetings from Portugal πŸ˜‰

  16. Garrett Cox says:

    I was excited about the pioneer decks, but they don't have master tempo (key lock). But I guess it's based on the fundimentals.

  17. I recently traded my Technics 1200 M3D's to a friend for a set of brand new Audio Technica AT-LP1240 USB turntables and I could not be happier! These super OEM models are awesome bang for the buck, about half the price of the Reloop 8000's and have wonderful features I always dreamed my Technics had such as:

    1. Over 3 times the torque of Technics (4.5 Kg/cm vs 1.5 for Technics) with adjustable start/stop speed. These things can start and stop on a dime, it is amazing! Motor is extremely powerful 16 pole tri-phase and these tables are still 2 lbs lighter than Technics.

    2. Truly precise pitch faders with wide range of selectable +/- 10, 20, and 50% at 33/45/78 RPM speeds. It even has a reverse button. This blows Technics +/- 8% out of the water!

    3. Internally grounded with removable inset RCA connections and a switch for phono/line. No more annoying grounding wire! Also has removable power cable.

    4. USB output – connects directly to your computer, includes Audacity software to digitize your old vinyl collection. Very cool feature.

    5. The S shaped tone arm, height adjustment, anti-skate and pneumatic lever arm are basically identical to Technics. They also came with a bright removable stylus target light, 45-RPM adapter, head shell, RCA cables and very nice dust covers all for $350 each. Do some research and you'll see that the super OEM models are way more feature packed and likely a better buy, especially for a beginner. My 2 cents :)

  18. I'm a DVS user all because I started playing on vinyl first and then switched to digital over the years. If you've never played on vinyl before, I wouldn't advise going this route as it could end up being costly.

    If you've made up your mind, as the others say, take a few classes and see if you still want to go forward with it, but think carefully.

    I have always trusted the Technics SL1200/1210 and can't encourage you to buy any other. I've had them all, starting from the Numark belt drives when I was 15 to Gemini's, Stanton's and then finally the Technics, and there is only one deck for me. I've played on many other decks too but they just don't feel right, I also like the Vestax range but they aren't easy on the wallet so I wouldn't recommend them.

    One of the pair of SL's I have cost me around 400 euro (R4000 in SA) second hand and they are perfect, so if you can find a decent second hand pair they will look after you for a long time. Find someone who knows SL's well and take them with you when looking at pairs to buy, they will know what to look for when it comes to wear and tear. The pitch control slide is a big one, make sure both work 100% and don't settle for anything less. Check that the RCA cables are all working, if the TT's were used in a club, walk away. Be anal about it, wait to find the perfect pair.

    Having owned a few different TT's over the years, go for the SL's, you will be sorry if you by anything else and wished you had gone for the Technics instead. Thats how I felt with every other pair I bought.

    Having said that, Turntablism is an art and you'll have to put in a lot of effort from your side as it's not easy if you want to stand out. Simply playing on vinyl isn't enough to impress anymore, so if you just want it to look cool, don't bother.

    Good luck.

  19. Absolutely loving my Reloop RP-7000s - cheaper than the new Pio's and with a reverse and can plug into a line (no need to use a ground wire). Limited edition in White too which :) well worth a look

  20. djgerard@aol.com says:

    I am a die hard 1200 fan but I must say it just doesn't seem right paying that much for something 25 years old. Maintained or not It's 25 years old!

  21. If you are new to the game and want to see if Vinyl is definitely for you I'd buy a set of used Technics SL1210s. Then if you like the feel but want something more a bit further down the line you could sell the Technics for almost the same as what you bought them for and add some extra cash and get something like the Reloop or Stanton turntables the lads have been talking about here.

  22. Technics 1200's and above no if's and buts about it period!!

  23. Abel Quisno says:

    I had a pair of the European SL1210 black edition turntables for years. Yes, they are built like a Sherman tank. Very good quality, good life span as long as you maintain them. Easily accessible parts and mods. I moved on to a Traktor S4 and Maschine combination setup. I love my controller and the options it gives me for remixing on the fly. That being said I am going back to vinyl simply because I really miss the tactile nature of placing a record on a turntable, digging through crates, and the fact that I have a vast collection of vinyl records that would fill the average home top to bottom. I am likely going with the Pioneer DJM 900srt mixer with the Seratto DVS option and Pioneer PLX-1000s for shear brand compatibility although I love the Reloop RP-8000s and the Vestax PDX 3000s as viable options. Hope that helps.

  24. I have been product testing the rp-8000s for about 4 months and i have to say they have not impressed me. The midi buttons are total crap. they dont consistently send the proper midi channel commands. as your mapping them... you will get a multiple midi values pressing the same button. and the buttons SUCK!. i also hate the way they decided to do the "Dual" mode with pressing two buttons at once. If you do any mapping beyond Reloops ideas ... you are just limited two 4 pages. so stupid. Also if you put any weight at all on the the plastic casing of the table... the table changes speed like its flexing. I was so excited to get these 8000s but im getting rid of them as soon as possible. try out these pioneers i guess.

  25. Saffaboy says:

    ebay: Technics 1200. Think about how many years these models have been battered in clubs around the globe and still managed to do the job. You don't remain an industry standard for twenty odd years without having any substance. Even second hand models will go on forever.

  26. Hulmeman says:

    I'm around 12 months off getting a set of TTs, and the numark TTXUSBs are the current winners. However, that could change over time? I currently own the NS7 II, which a fantastic piece of kit, but I yearn for the authentic vinyl setup. Albeit DVS.

  27. DJ Vintage says:

    It's really funny to see a lot of younger DJs yearning for the "old-skool" vinyl feeling (but in DVS form, so they can still use all the benefits of digital music). As Hulmeman says "authentic vinyl setup". It's funny because many of us who started on vinyl when there wasn't an alternative, embraced new technologies when they came available and never looked back because it was cheaper, easier and with more functionality. I, for one, have played many years (sometimes 6 days a week) on vinyl. But when CD's came out and serious DJ CD-players became available I never looked back. I'll do one or two vinyl gigs a year, for oldtime's sake, but I wouldn't contemplate going back to vinyl (DVS or otherwise) for any reason. Granted, I never was a turntablist, I don't scratch, so perhaps there it really IS better to have TTs. Having seen many controller DJs scratch on everything and the kitchen table I can't help but think that for scratching too it isn't the gear making the man, it's the skills. When skilled, just about any tools will allow you to do the job.

    I am curious how are famous scratch course tutor Steve feels about this subject. Another guy who grew up on vinyl. What would his pick of gear be, all other things being equal?

    To each his/her own of course and I applaud people who follow their own path.

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