Top: DJ Panna / Courtesy
The phonograph – or turntable, as it’s commonly known – has come a long way since its invention in the late 1800s. One in particular, the Technics SL-1200 MK2, is considered an icon that DJs wouldn’t be able to play music, mix beats or scratch without.
The MK2 was first manufactured in 1979 and unlike other turntables – which used belt-driven motors – had a direct-drive motor which produced high torque, meaning DJs were able to perform scratches and beat mixes with ease.
Another of its functions – the pitch control – made beat-mixing possible, as it enabled DJs to change the tempo of a record to match that of the record playing.
Unfortunately, Technics announced it would discontinue the SL-1200 series along with numerous other products in 2010 due to dwindling sales and high production costs, just a few years before a resurgence of vinyl records would send next-gen DJs scrambling to find hardware to use. Today Technics is back but finds its position challenged by the likes of Pioneer – purists please don’t roll your eyes at me.
Six years after the demise of the SL-1200, Technics announced that the brand was back in business and launched the SL-1200G in 2016. In a surprising turn of events, Technics even resumed support for the DMC Japan DJ championship, a DJ competition that was synonymous with Technics until its closure in 2010.
But the excitement was short-lived.
The SL-1200G’s USD$4,000 price tag was a far cry from the Technics MK2 series, which had cost $400 to $500 per unit. The SL-1200G was also intended for the audiophile market and not DJs. For loyal fans of the SL-1200 series – mostly DJs – this was a slap to the face.
World class turntablists such as DJ Jazzy Jeff were critical of Technics’ move, and in a 2016 tweet wrote “they never really gave any support to the DJ community.”
That was all academic in Thailand. Even if you could afford the 1200G or the slightly cheaper 1210GR, Technics parent company Panasonic doesn’t distribute it in the kingdom.
It may appear that with Technics gone, DJs would have stopped wanting to use turntables. But with the resurgence of vinyl records, there are more DJs going strictly analog.
“I love ‘60s soul music so much, and vinyl was the only format back then,” “[Technics] are the most reliable” next gen DJ Panna, or Panna Uttaburanont said. She, like many upcoming DJs, are hunting down restored second-hand Technics. They were built to last and always had a reputation as workhorses. I’ve had twin MK5Gs since 2010. But in most cases, it’s rare to find a fully functioning pair of Technics in the booth at da club.
Now there are numerous brands manufacturing turntables for the DJ market. One of them is Pioneer, regarded by many DJs as an industry leader when it comes to mixers and CDJs.
Pioneer’s earlier attempts to manufacture a turntable that could compete with Technics may have failed, but its latest turntable – the PLX-1000 – seems to be the best effort yet, earning positive reviews. It feels and even resembles a Technics SL-1200 MK5G – and that’s not a bad thing. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
And at just under 21,000 sheckles, it’s a fraction of the price you’d pay for the SL-1200 (which you’d also have to pay to get from Japan).
“Most people are still buying [second-hand] Technics more than Pioneer because of the price,” said Dave Thanuthamcharean, a salesperson at Pioneer’s DJ showroom at Siam Paragon.
He says that even with all the advancements Pioneer made in their latest turntable, it has yet to earn the trust of DJs. But he says they should not be written off:
“The PLX-1000 are new and still need time to prove themselves.”