After so many years at CES, there are increasingly few things that make the hairs on our arms stand up these days. But a $20,000, three-armed turntable resurrected from the first-ever direct-drive wax spinner is one of them. This year at CES, Panasonic’s high-end audio branch, Technics, went back to the historical days of vinyl to turn its original SP-10 turntable into a shocking monstrosity of vinyl audiophile awesomeness. And yeah, the results sound as good as they look. Maybe better.
There are technically two new Technics turntables to discuss here: The SP-10R ($10,000), which is simply the platter, plinth, and outboard motor control unit (you select your own tone arm), and the SL-1000R, which comes packing a magnesium tone arm and a massive five-layer cabinet with modular spaces for two more tone arms of your choosing. This allows fanatics to specialize their listening with multiple cartridge types at once — the one we saw even came with a tone arm loaded with an optical-digital cartridge to read the grooves with light instead of a stylus.
At the core of both turntables is Technics’ four-layer Coreless Direct Drive Motor, which is based on the $4,000 SL-1200G turntable we saw in 2016, but takes things to even more ludicrous levels, offering even less flutter and more torque to push the tables’ massive, 17-pound platter.
The platter for both tables comprises a layer of “deadening rubber,” an aluminum die-cast base, a brass top, and 12 tungsten bearings for weight. The separated control unit allows for incredibly finite pitch adjustment between record sizes, as well as a reset key to release directly back to the original speed. As you’d imagine (and hope at this price), the table plays all three standard formats, including 33 1/3 rpm, 45 rpm, and 78 rpm records.
The SL-1000R also offers a five layer cabinet of aluminum and bulk molding compound (BMC), while, for its part, the SP-10R is backward compatible for those vinyl nuts still holding on to their original 1970 SP-10.
All of this adds up to an insane level of solitude for your records, with virtually immeasurable flutter and a signal-to-noise ratio so low, you’d have to be one of the musicians in the studio for the original recording to get any closer to the music.