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Turning a $100 turntable into a giant killer with the D400
#1
It's always a wonderful event when you find a very inexpensive component whose performance is so much superior to its asking price that it borders on insanity. Thanks to the D400, we can now literally turn "a sow's ear into a silk purse" for vinyl playback. In this case, for all those who are still wary of dipping their toes into vinyl playback, have I got the deal for you! 

Technics is well known as the maker of some of the world's finest turntables, such as the SP-10 Mk1, Mk2, and Mk3, widely used for decades in recording and broadcast studios around the world. These command a stiff price on the used  market, and are not easy to work with, so I am not recommending these. Technics also makes the SL-1200 Mk2, known to DJ's all over the world as the "Wheel of Steell", for its absolute bullet proof reliability and rock solid performance. These sell for around $400 or more, depending on the condition. No, these are not the tables I  am going to crow about. 

In the 1980s, Technics released a revolutionary line of linear tracking automatic turntables, the SL-5, the SL-10, and the SL-15. They were so elegantly designed that the SL-10 is on permanent exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York city, no mean feat. They were fairly expensive at the time, e.g the SL-10 sold for $600. The design of these tables was sheer brilliance. Because a linear tracker was used, the arm was extremely short, barely an inch long. The cartridges were designed to be P-mount (meaning plug and play, no adjustment needed of tracking force or connecting wires etc.). There is no antiskating adjustment involved either, because these are not the usual curved trajectory arms. No, these turntables are about as simple as you can get in terms of vinyl playback. 

I bought the Technics SL-5 for $125 on eBay recently, completely tuned and overhauled by the seller, and fitted with an Audio Technica cartridge. When I played back the first record using the D400 on my Quad 57s (see pictures), I was literally blown away. Here was a bargain basement component, if there was ever one, that would put multi-thousand dollar vinyl systems to shame. One that is so easy to use that a 5 year old child could operate it. Put the record on the table, close the lid, push one button, and it plays the record and stops. 

Of course, one can gild the lily, so to speak. For a  price, one can put in a nicer cartridge. The only cartridges these linear tracking turntables take are P-mount, which are not as widely available as the more standard half inch kind. No matter, there is a huge supply of such cartridges on eBay and also from vendors. Many are extremely good. I got (for $500) the creme' de la creme, the Shure V15-VP cartridge, the best P-mount cartridge ever made, and as scarce as hen's teeth. On the SL-5, it takes the playback to a whole new level. This system would challenge $10,000 vinyl playback systems. 

The advantages of these linear tracking turntables from Technics are many. They are small, just the size of an LP. They are light, about 10-15 pounds. Most amazing of all, they do not have to lie flat to play back an LP, they can play back an LP when placed at an angle, or good heavens, even wall mounted or placed upside down! They are incredibly robust against outside vibration -- if you have wooden floors, you can party away listening to your favorite rock and roll. You can easily operate these tables even if you are drunk! 

Highly recommended in every way! Pictures of my SL-5 and my new setup attached. 


   

   
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#2
Somehow I missed this post until know. Thanks for sharing and I love the room pictures too!
Roon | Intel NUC6i5SYH/AIR3/Ethernet | VPI Avenger | Devialet 440 Pro | Vivid Audio Giya G3 
Synology NAS | DH Labs  D-110 & Q10 Signature Bi-Wire |  Silver Circle Audio Pure Power One 5.0 | Stillpoint Apertures
West of the Rockies, US
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#3
very interesting - thank you.
WTL TT / HP laptop (JRiver) / Devialet 400 / Marten Django / Crystal Cable

Sydney Australia
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#4
(18-Oct-2016, 06:08)Philb Wrote: very interesting - thank you.

Since I posted the original note, I have since bought the matching stand for the SL10 turntable. It's uber cool, because it tilts the turntable at an angle so you can see the display from the listening position. It's very strange to see a turntable operating at an angle, but it works perfectly! Again, unlike 99.99% of the turntable solutions out there, which exemplify bad engineering by working on the wrong design and throwing endlessly money at making them heavier and more complex, the Technics SL-10 is a masterpiece of engineering design. Simple, beautiful to look at, works as well as any high end turntable I've heard or owned. 

   
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#5
(24-Oct-2016, 15:14)srima Wrote:
(18-Oct-2016, 06:08)Philb Wrote: very interesting - thank you.

Since I posted the original note, I have since bought the matching stand for the SL10 turntable. It's uber cool, because it tilts the turntable at an angle so you can see the display from the listening position. It's very strange to see a turntable operating at an angle, but it works perfectly! Again, unlike 99.99% of the turntable solutions out there, which exemplify bad engineering by working on the wrong design and throwing endlessly money at making them heavier and more complex, the Technics SL-10 is a masterpiece of engineering design. Simple, beautiful to look at, works as well as any high end turntable I've heard or owned. 

That looks very cool! Cool
Project Eperience X Pack with Ortofon Rondo Red MC, Oppo BDP 105D, Sonos Connect, QNAP HS251+ NAS running JRiver, Mutec MC-3+USB, Devialet 440 Pro, Denon AH-D5000, Sennheiser HD600 and HD800 with Cardas cable, Rupert Neve Designs headphone amp., Proac Response D20R, Van Den Hul The First Ultimate interconnects, GSP Audio Spatia speaker cable.
South Coast England
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#6
So did you end up with an SL-10 or you have a SL-5 with a SL-10 stand?
Roon | Intel NUC6i5SYH/AIR3/Ethernet | VPI Avenger | Devialet 440 Pro | Vivid Audio Giya G3 
Synology NAS | DH Labs  D-110 & Q10 Signature Bi-Wire |  Silver Circle Audio Pure Power One 5.0 | Stillpoint Apertures
West of the Rockies, US
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#7
I saw the images and found that it was SL-5 then and it is SL-10 turntable with matching stand now.
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#8
Yeah, I was wondering how that sleight of hand occurred over a month...in other words, turntable a $100 turntable into a $500 turntable... Angel
Roon | Intel NUC6i5SYH/AIR3/Ethernet | VPI Avenger | Devialet 440 Pro | Vivid Audio Giya G3 
Synology NAS | DH Labs  D-110 & Q10 Signature Bi-Wire |  Silver Circle Audio Pure Power One 5.0 | Stillpoint Apertures
West of the Rockies, US
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#9
I bought a SL15 new when it came out. It was not very reliable and ended up in a skip. It did sound pretty good but had a better cartridge than the other two in the series. I think the SL10 is the best overall compromise of them all, though they are overpriced on the SH market nowadays IMHO.
The arm is about 5" long, not less than 1". It is a parallel tracker carried by the lid.
Also, whilst it is true that the TT plays at an angle I am not sure about the main bearing working properly if mounted vertically, and it certainly would not upside down, and the oil would end up where it shouldn't.
Devialet Original d'Atelier 44, Goldmund Reference/T3f /Ortofon A90, Goldmund Mimesis 36+ & Chord Blu, iMac/Air, Meridian Control 15, Lynx Theta, Tune Audio Anima, Goldmund Epilog 1&2, REL Studio. Dialog, Silver Phantoms, Branch stands, copper cables (mainly).

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#10
(18-Dec-2016, 01:47)G51 Wrote: I saw the images and found that it was SL-5 then and it is SL-10 turntable with matching stand now.

Sorry, I bought an SL-5, then a SL-15, and an SL-10. The 10 looks the most rugged of the three! 

OK, now, truth be told, the 10 has given me recently a bit of problem with skipping. I'm wondering if it's because the turnable is mounted at an angle. The guy I bought it from repairs and fixes these tables, so I might send it back to him eventually if it gets worse. 

Will post an update as things develop. I still think these things are a great bargain, but as with all used stuff, caveat emptor!
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