Technics SL-1500C Review – This turntable offers a great sound. Rhythmic, lively and open, with a handful of details. A great choice for the ~ $1400 price.
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About five years ago, Panasonic, determined to reinvigorate its Technics brand, finally found a recipe for how to achieve it, combining innovation and long-standing neglected knowledge from classic hi-fi into new devices, which is offered to its old audience as well as to new ones, which Technics knew by word of mouth and seeing their legendary DJ turntable in clubs, where it simply refused to stop spinning. And it mostly revolved around variations on that turntable.
It has never been easy for me to accept the SL-1200 as a hi-fi component, despite its tonal qualities and with all audiophile, mechanical and electronic refinements and accessories. And the reason lay in the appearance and especially the variable speed, which always made that turntable look like it was borrowed from a club or from there it escaped from poor treatment, smoke and cocktails. If you belong to that negligible minority, the good news came in the form of a new SL-1500C-branded Technics model, which has a well-known SL appearance, but without the aforementioned lid, without a strobe with dots on the platter, which is now smooth and without the light that pops out.
The Appearance Can Be Deceiving
Let’s clarify right away: The SL-1500C is not a simplified home version of the SL-1200 but also contains some innovations applied not only to later iterations of this turntable but also to the SL-1000R. Let’s get it right: the turntable chassis is made of a compact sandwich made of aluminum and ABS plastic, mixed with fiberglass for added deadening and mass, which Technics has applied before.
The engine is the same as in the 1200Mk7, so we learn to live with nine instead of 12 poles and no core, but with new electronics for speed regulation and linearity, taken from Panasonic transports for BD players. On the axle, which has not undergone any changes, lies an aluminum plate, dampened on the underside and aggravated by rubber, which together with the rubber mat makes about two kilograms of weight. Although the lever looks identical, its assembly now looks even tighter, and it has one special function: at the end of the plate, when the lever reaches the inside diameter, it is possible to activate an auto lifter, which raises the needle from the plate, thus avoiding repetitive noise, but also preserve the needle and the plate, of course without returning the tonearm to the beginning in a semi-automatic manner. So far, there is virtually no conceptual difference from the SL-1500, which previously existed with servo and later with quartz speed control, from 1975 to 1978. However, the new C-rated 1500 (which also determines the premium class in the Technics new hierarchy) also has a very good integrated phono section, which can be switched off at the back of the device, which houses two pairs of cinch outputs and a socket for a detachable power cord, as well as a screw to connect the grounding to the amplifier.
Contrary to the impression of the seventh generation SL-1200, the new 1500 acts very massively and solid, along with its overall size, which was always larger than many other turntables.
Technics SL-1500C Sound Test
The SL-1500C comes with the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, which not only fits in well with the turntable in terms of parameters but is also a fair compromise, as any cheaper speaker would be an obvious saving on sound. When adjusting and checking the geometry initially, we noticed a different adjustment of the VTA: instead of turning the threaded ring at the root of the crank, the crank is now pulled linearly up or down by hand, with a millimeter scale on the front, although fine-tuning is still possible.
On the turntable linked through our own phono section, we put the album “My One And Only Thrill” by Melody Gardot, whose performance at the Parisian Bouffes du Nord theater in mid-November is still in the memory of your reporter. On the track “Baby saying a Fool,” the SL-1500 evokes the gentle and slightly smoky voice of Melody Gardot and her careful articulation of words, in excellent focus over the widespread background of the accompanying strings. There is also a lack of detail in the form of picking on the muted strings of the double bass. On the track Over the Rainbow, the rhythm was conveyed while maintaining the subtlety of double bass and vocals, turning it into a fine dynamic. The depth of the deepest piano touches and bass contours are audibly better than some other turntables of a similar price.
There is no doubt that a big part of this tonal color belongs to Ortofon’s cartridge itself. However, this is not the first Technics we listen to with the aforementioned Ortofon 2M Red, and due recognition must be given to the enumerated technical features of the whole system: the background silence and good microdynamics are a credit to both the electronics and the sandwich chassis and the dumped plate; good detail is due to the precise suspension of the lever, while the overall picture is also contributed by the new electronics for the drive and speed control. No doubt, the 2M Red Ortophone couldn’t do it all by itself. Could it be better? The built-in turntable could certainly fit in with the high-output MC heads, and then the whole turntable with a better turntable preamp – there is room for improvement here.
Technics SL-1500C Features
The Latest Coreless Direct Drive Motor Achieves High-precision Stable Rotation
The technologies acquired through the development of the SL-1200 Series and the high-end SL-1000R model were lavishly inserted into the motor drive unit, a key part of the turntable. The motor exclusively tunes the single-rotor, coreless direct-drive motor adopted by the SL-1200GR in order to read the high rotation accuracy and high-precision signals of the record. Optimal motor control is conducted for the inertial mass of the two-layer structure platter on which the vinyl record is placed with deadening rubber on the entire back surface to eliminate unwanted resonance in the aluminum die-cast platter to eliminate the rotation irregularity called cogging. The aluminum die-cast chassis is rigidly integrated with a special material consisting of ABS mixed with glass fiber to achieve a two-layer construction. The insulator is comprised of a spring and rubber to provide optimal vibration-damping characteristics. The tonearm is a static-balance universal S-shape tonearm, another Technics tradition. By adopting a high-precision bearing using the same gimbal suspension construction and machined housing as the SL-1200 Series, high initial sensitivity is achieved. In addition, reliability has been improved by incorporating a removable power cable and gold-plated terminals, which have less sound quality degradation, for the PHONO and LINE terminals.
Complete Turntable with a Built-in Phono Equalizer and Cartridge
Complete Turntable with a Built-in Phono Equalizer and Cartridge In order to enjoy playing analog records more comfortably, the SL-1500C features a built-in phono equalizer and bundled cartridge. There is no need to separately prepare either one, making it easy to link with a wide range of audio equipment. The shield structure of the built-in phono equalizer suppresses the effects of external noise and noise from the power supply. It is also equipped with a switch to turn the LINE output off when it is not being used. The turntable has been designed to thoroughly shut-out adverse effects to the PHONO output. The dedicated power supply for the PHONO output terminal is isolated from the power supply for the LINE output terminal and has been designed to prioritize sound quality by minimizing the wiring of the PHONO signal. The isolated terminals also prevent wiring mistakes. An Ortofon 2M RED cartridge, which is highly acclaimed as an MM cartridge, has been selected for the bundled cartridge. Combining this high-quality cartridge with the performance of the SL-1500C will maximize the sound quality of vinyl records.
Equipped with an Auto Lifter Function That Allows You to Enjoy Playing Records More Comfortably
When the tonearm reaches the end of the record, the Auto Lifter function automatically raises the cartridge. This prevents unnecessary wear on your valuable vinyl records and stylus. By embedding the Auto Lifter function in the base portion of the tonearm, it eliminates impacts to the tonearm. Due to a simple design that doesn’t use motor power, there is no electrical or vibrational impact and it will not prevent the movement of the tonearm. In response to requests from many users regarding the Auto Lifter function, a design that prioritizes sound quality was adopted. The functions required to playback records were kept to a bare minimum, achieving simple and easy-to-use operability.
Simple Design with Functional Beauty
The SL-1500C sports a simple design without unnecessary frills, while retaining the superb operating feel that is a Technics tradition. The attractive appearance lets you enjoy playing records to your heart’s content.
The SL-1500C at a much lower price than other top-of-the-range Technics models, thanks to fewer technical simplifications and more production in Malaysia, is one of the best turntables in its price range. When considering both the Ortofon cartridge and the RIAA preamplifier, which is very solid (which is often not the case), it becomes very difficult to achieve this kind of sound within the same budget. In addition to solid workmanship, the SL-1500C also boasts highly competent sound. Rhythmic, lively and open, with a handful of details, perhaps with a slight lack of subtlety and nuance. However, this could hardly be a disadvantage, but rather a tonal difference that falls within the domain of personal taste. Choosing a $ 2,000 turntable offers several very good options, and the SL-1500C is definitely one to consider.
The user manual can be found here: Technics Sl-1500C User Manual
- Robust, full-fat sound
- Bank-vault build quality
- Plug’n’play simplicity
- Capable alternatives available
Technics SL-1500C Specifications
- Type: Direct Drive Manual Turntable
- Turntable Speeds: 33-1/3, 45 and 78 r/min
- Starting Torque: 0.18 N・m / 1.8 kg・cm (1.56 lbs-in)
- Build-up Characteristics: 0.7 s. from standstill to 33 1/3 rpm
- Wow And Flutter: 0.025 % W.R.M.S.
- Turntable Platter: Aluminium diecast
- Diameter: 332 mm (13-5/64 inch)
- Weight: Approx. 2.0 kg (4.5 lbs) (Including Turntable Sheet)
- Type: Universal Static Balance
- Effective Length: 230 mm (9-1/16″)
- Overhang: 15 mm (19/32″)
- Tracking Error Angle: Within 2° 32’ (at the outer groove of 30 cm (12″) record), Within 0° 32’ (at the inner groove of 30 cm (12″) record)
- Offset Angle: 22°
- Arm-height Adjustment Range: 0 – 6 mm
- Stylus Pressure Adjustment Range: 0 – 4 g (Direct Reading)
- Head Shell Weight: Approx. 7.6 g
- Applicable Cartridge Weight Range:
(without auxiliary weight): 5.6 – 12.0 g / 14.3 – 20.7 g (including headshell)
(with auxiliary weight): 10.0 – 16.4 g / 18.7 – 25.1 g (including headshell)
- Head Shell Terminal Lug: 1.2 mmφ 4-pin terminal lug
- Audio Output: PHONO (Pin Jack) x 1
EARTH TERMINAL x 1
LINE (Pin Jack) x 1
- Power Supply: AC 120 V, 60 Hz
- Power Consumption: 8 W (0.2W Standby)
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 453 x 169 x 372 mm
17-27/32 × 6-21/32 × 14-21/32 inch
- Weight: Approx. 9.9 kg
Approx. 21.2 lbs
- Turntable sheet
- Dust cover
- EP record adaptor
- Balance weight
- Auxiliary weight
- Cartridge(Ortofon 2M Red)
- PHONO cable
- PHONO earth lead
- AC power supply cord
- Owner’s Manual
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