If you’ve been saving up for a Technics direct-drive turntable like the SL-1500C or perhaps the legendary, DJ-oriented SL-1200, you now have a more affordable option. Technics has introduced the $1,000 SL-100C, a new vinyl spinner that is based on the $1,200 SL-1500C, but with a few modifications that have brought the price down by $200. You can find the SL-100C on technics.com or starting August 15.
Like the SL-1500C, the SL-100C is aimed at the home hi-fi crowd, not the DJ community, and its design reflects that intent. In fact, at first glance, the SL-1500C and SL-100C look nearly identical, save for the tone arm — on the 1500C, it’s black, whereas the 100C adopts the silver finish from the silver version of the 1500C.
But look a little closer and you’ll see one of the areas where Technics has saved some money. Instead of the included Ortofon 2M Red phono cartridge that the company ships with the SL-1500C, the 100C is equipped with an Audio-Technica AT-VM95C cartridge. Both use moving magnet construction, but the Ortofon version uses an elliptical stylus, whereas the Audio-Technica cart uses a conical stylus. The Ortofon is more expensive, and some enthusiasts find that the elliptical stylus produces better precision, with less distortion.
The good news is that the A-T cartridge could prove more versatile than the Ortofon for folks who are planning to upgrade later, as Audio-Technica offers several higher-quality cartridges in the same family as the VM95C.
It looks like Technics has also simplified the selection of output jacks on the rear of the SL-100C’s chassis. Unlike the SL-1200C, which is equipped with both a phono and a line set of outputs, the SL-100C only has a phono output, which means you’ll need a phone pre-amp to use it, or a receiver/amp that has a dedicated phono input.
But other than these two small changes, the SL-100C looks to satisfy the same vinyl itch as the SL-1500C — the two products share a multitude of identical components, including a coreless direct drive motor with motor control, a solid two-layer chassis, the S-shaped aluminum tonearm, and an automatic tonearm lift that is activated at the end of the vinyl’s groove. This function helps to prevent unnecessary needle wear-out after finishing each side of an LP, but it can also be defeated if you decide you don’t want to use it.