First Opinion: The New Technics SL-1200 Mk7 – Too Little, Too Late, And For Too Much

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 4 February, 2019

Oh Technics SL-1200, you were the stuff of legends! You were always there. We never thought anything would change. And for decades, it didn’t.

But like an adored band breaking up, you left us. We found ourselves in a prolonged state of denial, then shock.

Life went on, though. Poor imitations stepped into your big old shoes.

We finally accepted your departure. Sure, you died young (well, not that young), but you stayed beautiful. And your absence only added to your legend.

But hang on, what’s this? A stand at the DJ part of a music show, from Technics? Could it be… it is! It’s a new Technics deck – the SL-1200 Mk7! You’re back, like a loved one, from the dead…

So… why doesn’t this reunion feel like we’ve always dreamed it might?

The Technics SL1200 we all remember: Now there’s a thoroughbred right there. If they’d have just re-released this at a reasonable price, they could have shifted bucketloads.

A closer look at the new Technics SL-1200 Mk7

OK, let’s get down to this. What is this improbable and rather curious Technics SL-1200 Mk7 like?

It’s not as heavy as the original.

The finish is more textured and darker, but somehow doesn’t feel as expensive.

The controls feel cheaper, especially the surface light that has lost the pleasing damped motion when you “pop” it up. It just clicks up. It feels flimsy. The on/off knob is recessed like the later models towards the end, and I for one always preferred the iconic Mk2 on/off knob.

The tonearm and its assembly, while coming in a nice new black colour, appears identical to the one we remember (and, for the lucky few of us, the one we still have, on our hoarded old models). So no innovation.

Sure, there are new(er) bits: There’s a button to make the speed +/-16% instead of +/- 8%, and there’s the hole top right to vertically store a spare cartridge, that appeared towards the end of the last run of these (think: a place to put the house cartridges when you arrive at a club with your own).

Round the back, there’s a big indent protecting the newly added sockets for RCAs, but the earth cable still survives – uniquely to my knowledge among modern DJ turntables. (And dare I suggest, it’s maybe something that could have been engineered away?)

Oh, and if you remove the platter, little switches hidden underneath switch the lights from red to blue, and enable a reverse function, among other small tweaks you can make.

And that’s pretty much it.

The new Technics SL-1200 Mk7: Lighter, more generic, and much more expensive.

Honestly? The new Technics SL-1200 Mk7 feels a bit rushed, a bit cynical, and a bit “meh”. It’s playing on its past. It’s neither the return of the SL1200 we all know or love, or hugely innovative. And the price? Apparently it’ll be US$1200 – something they are championing as a plus point! That’s ridiculous. (Update: It’s been dropped already to US$999.)

Maybe the company will argue there are design changes we can’t see, but my argument is: Can anything really justify that price?

Just across the hall, Reloop has its Serato-enabled digital/analogue hybrid RP-8000Mk2 turntable on show, with a queue of scratch DJs waiting to try its genuinely innovative feature set, including analogue pitch play (which is awesome, by the way) – US$1400 for a pair.

The song’s changed, Technics. Your new turntable is the one that now feels like just a copy – of your old one.

Meanwhile, the new kids on the block have grown up. A whole new generation of turntable DJs who’ve never had the chance to buy Technics are scratching their heads and asking themselves: Why?

What are your thoughts on the SL-1200Mk7? Let us know below.

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