LP120 vs SL1200 Tested

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angryBits
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LP120 vs SL1200 Tested

Post by angryBits » 13 Nov 2018 05:39

I got my SL1200 Mk6 today, I checked everything out, it appears to be well taken care of and in good working order.

I prefer to listen full-analog-end-to-end, but for the sake of sharing, I recorded on both turntables directly (line-out to line-in) pre-amp to my computer and played them both side by side. I'll let you be the judge.

You can download them here. Yes they're MP3 :( ... I recorded in 300kbps so it's about the best shareable format I can get aside from sharing enormous .wav files.

Google Drive, TIP: listen to the whole song or fast forward to 1:55
here

For fun, compare them to the MP3 on Spotify. It's always shocking to me to hear how much difference there is between vinyl and Spotify.

Spotify, fast forward to 2:25 (Spotify has 30s of "other" prepended to this version of the song).
here

In terms of non-audio factors:
LP120 looks shinier and newer.
LP120 has 78 speed
LP120 has reverse and a better pitch adjust slider
SL1200 has the pretty blue light.
SL1200 is clearly better build quality by leaps and bounds
SL1200 is more stable and likely less susceptible to slight bumps
SL1200 is more pleasurable to dial in tone-arm adjustments
Last edited by angryBits on 13 Nov 2018 05:45, edited 1 time in total.

angryBits
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Re: LP120 vs SL1200 Tested

Post by angryBits » 13 Nov 2018 05:42

Spoiler... The results are surprising.

I know there is some loss in translation from analog to digital + my recording equipment is probably sub-par, but to my ears even when listening full-analog... LP120 is 99% of an SL1200Mk6 in terms of sound only when using the same cart,mat,damper,etc.

plyscds
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Re: LP120 vs SL1200 Tested

Post by plyscds » 13 Nov 2018 08:16

Both the SL1200 and the LP120 have a tonearm base height adjustment capability. If information on how to use this capability is not in your manual, the older manuals for the SL1200 models in VE's library have a section which explains how to use this function.

Basically, finding a setting between zero and six, depending on the height of your platter mat along with the height of your cartridge and stylus will give you a record tracking angle which will align the sides of your stylus with the angle at which the music was cut into the record's master disc and placed into your copy of the record. At this optimum angle the stylus sides will be most exactly reading the small vibrations which are most responsible for making your recording sound real.

These small groove vibrations contain a lot of subtle lower amplitude quieter sounds which add more to music than melody and bass. These additional supporting instrumental contributions and overtones that add reality to all sounds present in the groove are not brought out without an agreeable tracking angle for your stylus to work with. With the Technics, start at a height setting at zero and play a selection, then replay with tonearm height set at 0.5, and keep working up until you hear an improvement in overall presentation. Eventually, after your best setting, some of the detail will begin to fade, so return to your best setting. You can do the same thing to your Audio-Technica, but you will have to raise the playing surface on the platter to get these results as the A-T tonearm is designed tail-end-high to accommodate disc jockey priorities.

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Re: LP120 vs SL1200 Tested

Post by Vinylfreak86 » 13 Nov 2018 16:33

Comparing these two turntables is like comparing carrots with apples in that case carrot wants to look like an apple. :) Engineering of Technics turntables was serious with a japanese precision also in a production line. LP120 is just a bad copy of it, where quality control in manufacturing doesn`t exist. You can get flawless example or just the opposite. Japanese hifi don`t get older through decades if handled properly.

angryBits
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Re: LP120 vs SL1200 Tested

Post by angryBits » 13 Nov 2018 20:13

plyscds wrote:
13 Nov 2018 08:16
Both the SL1200 and the LP120 have a tonearm base height adjustment capability. If information on how to use this capability is not in your manual, the older manuals for the SL1200 models in VE's library have a section which explains how to use this function.

Basically, finding a setting between zero and six, depending on the height of your platter mat along with the height of your cartridge and stylus will give you a record tracking angle which will align the sides of your stylus with the angle at which the music was cut into the record's master disc and placed into your copy of the record. At this optimum angle the stylus sides will be most exactly reading the small vibrations which are most responsible for making your recording sound real.

These small groove vibrations contain a lot of subtle lower amplitude quieter sounds which add more to music than melody and bass. These additional supporting instrumental contributions and overtones that add reality to all sounds present in the groove are not brought out without an agreeable tracking angle for your stylus to work with. With the Technics, start at a height setting at zero and play a selection, then replay with tonearm height set at 0.5, and keep working up until you hear an improvement in overall presentation. Eventually, after your best setting, some of the detail will begin to fade, so return to your best setting. You can do the same thing to your Audio-Technica, but you will have to raise the playing surface on the platter to get these results as the A-T tonearm is designed tail-end-high to accommodate disc jockey priorities.
Yes I did my best to fine tune the height for both the LP120 and the SL1200. I'm not a pro -- I don't even claim to be "good" but I did my best. Certainly some of the sound-quality gap between the LP120 and SL1200 is narrowed due to my lack of fine-tuning abilities. But IMO its that much more relevant as most people interested in this comparison will likely be early in their journey like me and have similarly poor skills. :)

EDIT: Also I should point out -- my LP120 is not stock (pre-amp desoldiered and removed). It's been upgraded about as much as reasonable aside from going above and beyond on the cartridge -- I'm content with the bang for buck on my Ortofon 2M Blue.
Last edited by angryBits on 13 Nov 2018 20:25, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: LP120 vs SL1200 Tested

Post by angryBits » 13 Nov 2018 20:22

Vinylfreak86 wrote:
13 Nov 2018 16:33
Comparing these two turntables is like comparing carrots with apples in that case carrot wants to look like an apple. :) Engineering of Technics turntables was serious with a japanese precision also in a production line. LP120 is just a bad copy of it, where quality control in manufacturing doesn`t exist. You can get flawless example or just the opposite. Japanese hifi don`t get older through decades if handled properly.
From what I can see, much more care was given to the construction of the SL1200, so I can imagine a looser tolerance of quality control on the LP120. I can't say whether I got a good copy or a bad one, but if I got a good one then this too may narrow the sound-quality gap.

Unfortunately I think with the SL1200's you also may be subjected to some used-market quality control. I think I got lucky with my ebay purchase. It was well taken care of and packed really well -- the previous owner was meticulous for sure.

If quality feel and sturdiness are important qualities, it's no contest.
If your turntable will never be moved (like me) then the LP120 may be a worthy choice if you just want to pick something up *new*. The caveat is that the LP120 definitely needs updated cartridge, mat, pre-amp removed and replaced, etc.

Pros and Cons to each. I like them both. I'll probably keep them both ;)

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Re: LP120 vs SL1200 Tested

Post by BMRR » 15 Nov 2018 15:03

I agree with all of the above. It's just unfortunate that getting a "good" LP120 is such a crap shoot. The one I bought had a laundry list of problems.

It's possible to get a used 1200 that has a laundry list of problems, too. You never know what the previous owner(s) did to it. The upside is that they can take a lot of abuse and often come out unscathed.

The LP1240 and the Pioneer PLX1000 get you a little bit closer to the tank-like construction of the 1200, and quality control is apparently a bit better, but reports of loose tonearm bearings and wobbly platters still arise from time to time.

Still, if I was shopping for a brand new turntable and my budget was $300, I would choose the LP120 over similar-priced competitors such as the AT LP3, TEAC TN-300/TN-350/TN-400, Denon DP-300F, Pioneer PL-30, Fluance RT81, etc.

The only new turntable in that price range that I would choose over the LP120 is the U-Turn Orbit.

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Re: LP120 vs SL1200 Tested

Post by akimmet » 15 Nov 2018 16:11

I have both as well, and I agree it is possible to make the LP120 a good turntable. It just needs quite a bit of luck and work to get there.

Mine had no cue-arm dampening.
Anti-skate was way off.
Tone-arm bearings were sloppy.
The awful internal preamp that has too much capacitance even while off.
No provision for a grounding wire.
Microphonic plinth, easily picks up room vibrations.

All of these problems are fixable, but require disassembly and modification of the turntable.

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Re: LP120 vs SL1200 Tested

Post by Vinylfreak86 » 23 Nov 2018 13:13

akimmet wrote:
15 Nov 2018 16:11
I have both as well, and I agree it is possible to make the LP120 a good turntable. It just needs quite a bit of luck and work to get there.

Mine had no cue-arm dampening.
Anti-skate was way off.
Tone-arm bearings were sloppy.
The awful internal preamp that has too much capacitance even while off.
No provision for a grounding wire.
Microphonic plinth, easily picks up room vibrations.

All of these problems are fixable, but require disassembly and modification of the turntable.
But for that price it is questionable if it is worth?! Because for much less money you can find a vintage DD in mint condition, which specs are way above this new product. And you don`t need to take it apart. Maybe just to replace feet.
The same when I had an idea to buy a new DSLR. At the end I went on a second-hand market and grabbed a quality film SLR camera for cheap and putting a quality film inside I get the same results, but saved a lot of money. :)

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Re: LP120 vs SL1200 Tested

Post by Sterling1 » 23 Nov 2018 13:58

OP, what a fun thread. I too have both AudioTechnica 120usb and Technics SL-1210GR turntables. The A-T is not modified. It's anti-skate device does not seem to function but I think that's because the tonearm bearings are not free from friction. At any rate, running the A-T95 cart/headshell with stylus to headshell distance set at 53 mm installed in A-T tonearm, and at 52mm installed in Technics tonearm, for the most part, I just could not distinguish that performance was better in some manner from either turntable. Maybe, a higher grade cart would reveal something. So, in spite of all the faults, and QC matters that plague the A-T, it seems to get the job done, that's to say, it pretty much gets all there is in the groove to get. Now, the Technics is built better, and it shows: better QC, better materials, better design, and better cosmetics; yet, it does it sound $1400 better than the A-T? Maybe, the Technics will last longer, which could make it a better value, but who really knows? I think over all, the A-T gives folks on a tight budget for vinyl pleasure, a compelling solution.

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