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Technics’ SL-1200GR turntable cuts back in all the right ways to cut the price in half

In October, Technics finally released the SL-1200G turntable the company unveiled at last year’s CES conference. However, with a price point of $4,000, the audiophile-grade turntable was prohibitive for all but discerning vinyl enthusiasts. This year at CES 2017, the storied brand has scaled down its masterpiece to half the price, while still keeping all the most important hallmarks that make the 1200G a classic. Introducing the new Grand Class SL-1200GR.

Technics has made it very clear that — as the model numbers indicate — the SL-1200GR is very similar to the recently released SL-1200G. The changes made have helped the brand cut costs, while also keeping its metallic monster of a direct-drive player operating at a high level.

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First off, the SL-1200GR’s coreless direct-drive motor, has moved from a dual rotor to a single rotor, cutting costs significantly, while still allowing for low distortion to spin your wax, according to the reps we spoke with. When done correctly, direct-drive turntables can have advantages over belt-driven models — namely the improved signal to noise ratio, meaning you’ll hear more music and less hum — and the SL-1200GR’s solid construction is palpable in person. In addition, Technics replaced the SL-1200G’s pricey magnesium tone arm with one made of tubular aluminum.

The turntable still uses a die-cast aluminum platter complete with ribs to improve the rigidity, though the latest one shaves off the brass plate of the SL-1200’s triple-layer design for a dual-layer. The new platter is also heavier than that used on many previous models, which helps to reduce vibration. Cutting down on vibration is important for a turntable, but it isn’t the only crucial characteristic. The SL-1200GR also uses metal shielding inside the case, helping to cut down on external noise.

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While many lower-end and even midrange turntables use a short cable built into the unit, Technics has taken a smarter approach with the SL-1200GR, including phono terminals that allow you to use your own cables. These terminals are gold plated for optimum sound quality, and a ground terminal is included as well. The table also offers a removable power supply, allowing you to upgrade your IEC cable if you so choose.

The final change to the SL-1200GR is a dual-layered plinth rather than the four-layered version of the SL-1200G. All that being said, the two models look virtually identical in person, and while we have no doubt the SL-1200G is the superior model, you’re not giving up much with its sibling, and you’re also keeping a whole lot of extra green in your pocket.

For more information on Technics’ sterling new SL-1200GR, and other products, see the company’s website.

Updated 1/7/2017 by Ryan Waniata: This post has been updated from the CES 2017 conference with newly disclosed information, a first look, and a video.