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The turntable. The industry champion for well over 40 years. The undisputed king was the legendary Technics SL1200 mk2 (or 1210, which is the same unit just in black rather than silver), which in one guise or another was in constant production from 1972 until 2010. It was so heavily engineered at its first design that it remained the same until the last few years of its life when it received some minor tweaks, but the core design remained.
The biggest market change came in 1997. The reason ? Technics patents on its motor and platter design reached their 25 year end, and opened up the designs to the chinese factories to build what are known in the industry as ‘super OEM turntables’, utilizing the ultra strong torque and quartz accurate timing of the matsushita design.
The turntables available now are heavily influenced by the 1200, from its platter and ‘S’ shaped tonearm design to its slider style pitch control. The biggest problem with the Technics for many aspiring Dj’s was its prohibitively high price, which these new breed of players have addressed significantly.
Though they may not be quite as heavily engineered (plastic rather than metal bodies) they are fantastic for the average daily use in the home and mobile market, with cartridges being interchangeable between all manufacturers, and many decks having new features not available to the old Technics, such as direct USB connection for recording purposes, and on some higher spec models the inclusion of MIDI based triggers and control for integration into your digital mixing system.
Companies like Serato and Traktor both offer special ‘time code’ vinyl, which will allow you to use your turntable as a controller for your digital music library.
For the format that never dies, there has never been so much choice as now when it comes to players and features.
The functionality and hands on feel of the turntable has bled into every area of the digital and media based devices that have followed it.
Dj’s have accepted the benefits of not having to carry heavy vinyl, and the fact that digital media does not degrade through repeated use like vinyl and even cd’s, but they quickly voiced their opinions on pushing buttons to play music, which is why so many of the newest players and devices prominently feature large platter shape control wheels, actually making them far larger than they need to be, purely to retain that hands on relationship that makes mixing music fun rather than function.