Technics SL-1200GR2 Turntable Review

Posted on 8th February, 2024

Technics SL-1200GR2 Turntable Review

Simon Lucas takes this new mid-price record player for a spin and reckons it's so much more than just a disco deck…


SL-1200GR2 Turntable

£1,799 RRP

Technics SL-1200GR2 Review

Ubiquity is rare in the world of consumer electronics in general and hi-fi equipment in particular. Yet there's no denying that Technics' SL-1200 range of turntables has achieved precisely this in the fifty or so years since the original model was launched. When did you ever enjoy a big night out, with dancing, that didn't involve a pair of Technics turntables at some point?

Lately, the company has been busy where its turntable offerings are concerned. From the relatively affordable SL-1500C to the cost-no-object SL-1000R, the range has expanded in all directions. Yet the SL-1200 remains the sweet spot in all its various guises. And now, 2017's SL-1200GR has just become the SL-1200GR2 you see here – and surprisingly, perhaps, the changes are more than skin-deep.


First things first, Technics says that this is not a DJ turntable. Ignore for a moment, if you will, the pitch control, bank-vault build quality, stroboscope, joggle-resistant silicone rubber feet, and all the other accoutrements that make it perfect for this role. Instead, if you want such a product, the company can sell you the SL-1200MK7. The SL-1200GR2 is designed primarily for domestic use.

Technics SL-1200GR2 Review

If that is indeed the case, then the first descriptor I'm going to use is 'over-engineered'. The top portion of its 173x453x372mm (HxWxD) chassis is built from cast aluminium, and the bottom section is from a bulk moulding compound material designed to offer optimal vibration damping. On top of this sits an aluminium platter with significant rubber damping on its underside, and the whole thing stands on four adjustable feet that offer both a degree of adjustment to ensure the deck is level and a lot of resistance to external vibrations. Add a clear Perspex dust cover, and the entire thing weighs in at just shy of 12kg.

Viewed from above, the layout is as you'd expect. On the right is a 230mm S-shaped tonearm with an aluminium armtube and gimbal bearings. It requires a counterweight to be fitted and adjusted, some anti-skate to be dialled in, and an appropriate cartridge to be installed into its detachable headshell. Ideally, you're looking at anything from a budget Audio-Technica AT-VM95 moving magnet to a modest moving coil such as an AT-33 PTGII in this role or something in between. I used an Ortofon Quintet Bronze for most of my testing.

Technics SL-1200GR2 Review

Just to the right of the tonearm is a defeatable pitch-slider, offering up plus or minus eight percent adjustment. At the front left edge of the platter is a blue LED-lit stroboscope, while at the front right is a white target light. At the bottom right of the plinth, there's an on/off control and a stop/start control – would you be staggered to learn that the deck responds to this with real zeal? – and buttons to select 33.3 or 45rpm; press them together and 78rpm is yours.

So far, it's business as usual. However, there's a small but effective design feature on the GR2 though – this new SL-1200 is all-silver, and the new SL-1210 is all-black. Previously, you've been looking at mostly silver and mostly black, but a more robust approach to colour coding means the GR2 looks cleaner and more coherent than any previous SL-1200 variant.

Technics SL-1200GR2 Review

Regarding technical operations, the deck uses a coreless direct drive motor; however, the latest SL-1200GR2 adds a new 'delta sigma drive' system that Technics says further suppresses motor-derived vibrations for smoother and more accurate rotation. It's claimed to banish any possibility of 'cogging', which is subtle speed instability found on lesser direct drive motors. Technics says that rotational instability should be eliminated as rotor magnets have been placed on both sides of the motor. In addition to this, a new multi-stage switching power supply is fitted. This is said to be much quieter and less prey to electrical noise than the earlier analogue alternative.

Technics SL-1200GR2 Review

These are meaningful improvements with better corresponding measured performance. StereoNET's editor-in-chief, David Price, had the chance to directly compare old and new GR models and clearly heard a difference. Yet it's interesting that Technics has focused its attention on an already very strong aspect of the SL-1200. You've got to wonder if the SL-1200GR2 is simply the advance party for the new tech being rolled out across the company's entire turntable range at some point.


What's most immediately apparent about how the Technics performs is how direct and positive its sound is. There's none of this 'revealing its talents over time' nonsense here - the SL-1200GR2 is unambiguous right from the get-go. For example, cue up The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street, and you're fast aware that this deck is a clean and precise-sounding performer. Its tonality is beautifully judged and balanced – no artificial colourings are used in the way that this deck delivers the sound. Although this recording is a smidge on the warm side, it doesn't sound artificially so. Instead, it is even, coherent and convincing from bottom to top.

Technics SL-1200GR2 Review

The deck sounds great with my Chord Electronics phono stage and Naim integrated amplifier, connected to a pair of Bowers & Wilkins standmount loudspeakers. Bass sounds are varied in texture and tone and controlled sufficiently so rhythms are expressed convincingly and momentum is good. There's no wallowing or ponderousness about the bottom end here. Treble is similarly informative and balances attack against substance with consummate expertise. Hi-hat cymbals are snappy and fast yet never edgy or hard. The midrange integrates smoothly and seamlessly; vocals sound characterful, idiosyncratic and expressive.

A grinding gear-change to the classic techno of Kraftwerk's Computerwelt allows the Technics to demonstrate its clarity, openness and prodigious powers of detail retrieval even better. The same tonal balance is in evidence, despite this recording being pretty much the opposite of the previous where tonality is concerned, and the SL-1200GR2 proves adept at locating and revealing the over- and undertones around the fundamental. The spaces between the notes are a key part of this recording, and this deck delivers them deftly; its very low noise levels make them all the more dark and quiet, too. This iconic German band's four-square, mechanistic rhythms are handled with assurance, solidity and muscularity; the effect is to make this forty-three year old analogue recording sound absolutely box-fresh.

Technics SL-1200GR2 Review

Soundstaging is very impressive for a mid-priced turntable, too. With Phoebe Bridgers' Stranger in the Alps, there's a spacious and highly organised feel. There's appreciable front/back and left/right distance available for this complex arrangement to get the elbow room it requires. Moreover, when playing the simplicity of a voice/guitar/harmony recording, the Technics produces a tightly unified sound with a proper sense of performance.

The only area where this deck is less than highly capable is dynamic potency. This turntable has no problem revealing the harmonic variations and low-level dynamic discrepancies in Planetary Assault Systems' The Messenger, but when it comes to putting significant distance between the quieter moments on the album and the many moments of contrasting volume and intensity, the Technics is ever-so-slightly diffident. Either it doesn't breathe deeply enough to give significant dynamic shifts proper expression, or it finds that kind of quiet-loud variation uncouth. Either way, it only stands out as a shortcoming because the SL-1200GR2 is so accomplished in all other respects.


Thanks to its iconic status, handsome looks and superb build quality at the price, this deck could find many new owners even if it was a less proficient turntable than it actually is. But happily, it also justifies its position in the market thanks to its fine sound quality. As you would expect, it can't match the excellence of its pricer SL-1200G bigger brother, yet it still delivers much of the magic for far less money. Highly recommended, then – just don't go confusing it with a DJ deck.

Visit Technics for more information


      Simon Lucas's avatar

      Simon Lucas

      Simon was editor of What Hi-Fi? magazine and website and has since written for Wired, Metro, the Guardian and Stuff, among many others. Should he find himself with a spare moment, Simon likes publishing and then quickly deleting tweets about the state of the nation (in general), the state of Aston Villa (in particular) and the state of his partner’s cat.

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      Tags: technics 


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