Technics Returns To DJing With Multitrack Turntable

Phil Morse | Read time: 3 mins
Multitrack turntables SL1200MT
Last updated 3 April, 2015

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three arms
The new Technics SL1200MT can play up to six tracks of audio across three stereo channels at once, two more than the new Stems format announced by Native Instruments yesterday… quite something for analogue technology!

Update: Hope you enjoyed our 1 April joke post! Stick with Digital DJ tips the other 364 days of the year for the real deal! ๐Ÿ™‚

Hot on the heels of Native Instruments’ announcement of Stems, its new multitrack audio file format yesterday, rumour has reached us that Technics is planning a triumphant return to the DJ scene with a new turntable, the 1200MT, that can play up to six tracks of audio at once using a special new record format.

The ingenious solution to fitting six individual tracks of concurrent audio on a single record (a pair of tracks per cartridge, i.e. left/right stereo, for a total of six mono multitracks) involves three sets of grooves “spiralling” towards the centre of the record but never actually touching each other.

By utilising the original 33.3RPM “LP” format, which traditionally could fit about 23 minutes of high-quality stereo audio per side of a piece of vinyl, the new format can hold nearly eight minutes of audio per side, enough to fit a modern dance release.

“Turntablism isn’t going away, and we were wrong to,” said a spokesman who declined to be named yesterday in this exclusive Digital DJ Tips reveal. “But we acknowledge the huge leaps in technology that digital DJing brought. The 1200MT takes the ‘Remix Decks’ idea and through a suitable mixer, allows a DJ to perform live remixes while still preserving the ‘two decks and a mixer’ approach that audiences love.”

By using only one of the tonearms, a DJ can choose to play just the vocals, bass or drum tracks or other combinations from the special release vinyl, meaning instant acapellas and instrumentals without the need for separate vinyl copies of such – always a big bugbear for vinyl DJs. Even better, with two copies of the same multitrack vinyl release, or even three, DJs can do instant remixes of the same track.

The records will play on usual record decks too, because the “B” side is planned to be the “full” mix of what’s on the multitrack side, and also, it is possible for a “normal” record deck to play a single part, be it the vocals, drums or music, simply by dropping the needle at the start in the correct third of the record, meaning it will align with the right groove.

“Carl Cox mastered three deck mixing back in the day, he’s going to have a field day with this!” said the source. “What’s more, as the technology is totally transparent, there’s nothing to patent or license, and so anyone is free to make turntables that utilise the format, and we have made our mastering software, Easy Wax Pro, available open source to any vinyl pressing plant that wants to press the new format.”

Is multitrack vinyl a new dawn for analogue DJing?

It’s an ingenious idea, and indeed we remember the same technology being used on board games in the 70s, where several commentaries of imaginary horse races were recorded on one piece of vinyl that you had to bet on as part of the game, the idea being you’ve never know which “commentary” you’d get when you dropped the needle to play.

As with the Native Instruments Stems announcement yesterday, uptake will depend upon the best new releases being pressed in the new format, and on DJs forking out for the new decks, although it will be possible to start with just one deck as a “third deck” alongside an existing set-up, be that a pair of turntables, CDJs or even a controller.

djm-1000
Pioneer’s DJM-1000 can handle a pair of 1200MTs, and an update is rumoured to work with the new format.

Mixers will require a minimum of six channels to be able to work with a pair of these, and it is rumoured that Pioneer is to introduce a new version of the DJM-1000 DJ mixer in order to handle the task, harking back to the days of two battered old SL-1210s and a DJM-600 in pretty much every DJ booth anywhere. If the new mixer has filters on each channel and routable FX channel-by-channel, it will offer awesome hands-on remixing potential that will have a tactility we suspect no digital system will be able to match. Interesting times!

โ€ข We also got word of another new product the “DJ2015-AF”, but no more details on what it could be at this stage.

Would you buy a pair of SL-1200MTs? Do you see multitrack vinyl as being the saviour of the analogue DJing work? Or is this going to be just another nail in vinyl’s coffin? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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