Technics SL-1200GAE or VPI HW-40 or …?

Hello all!

I’m looking for my “reference” direct-drive turntable and am looking at these two usual suspects:  the Technics SL-1200GAE or the VPI HW-40.  However, I was wondering if the VPI is “worth” the more than triple the price of the GAE?  Also, is the new motor Delta Sigma Drive technology Technics introduced in the new GR2 models worth waiting for should it (hopefully) trickle up to a G-model?

I’m happy to pay for performance should it be difference making, but as I’ve not auditioned the VPI (I have listened to it at several Capital Audio Fests numerous times), I wonder if the substantial price difference is warranted in real-world listening.

Thanks for any insights…Enjoy the music!



I've seen used HW's for  $10k, but you'll have to be 

on  high alert for those deals.

HW40 would be my choice as an overall package-performance/aesthetic. 

Technics better value?

I use a VPI Classic and I like traditional look of the HW.


Of your two choices I'd choose a third one: Technics SL1200G.
Following that, I might spend a bit extra money on upgrading the arm cable (maybe...).

I own the below turntable and it is much more affordable than the above discussion options and have not heard any of the above.  I only compared it to the Mofi Ultra Deck and preferred the Stealth.  The part time audiophile reviewer below owned the Technics 1200G for several years previously and basically stated in this review that the Music Hall Stealth sounded essentially the same as the much more expensive Technics.  

Anyway it's another good option for much less money that could be put toward other items such as cartridge and phono stage, etc which probably have even more impact on the sound.

Music Hall Stealth Turntable | REVIEW - Part-Time Audiophile (


A familiar Audiogon motif: OP asks should I buy A or B. Responders say buy C instead. I would only say to disregard a reviewer who says there’s no difference between the Technics and the Stealth. Sorry I can’t help with your choice as I’ve not heard either TT. I advise you to take a careful look at the features of both as regards tonearm and TA mounting, platter construction, ability to dissipate extraneous energy, etc., and use those factors in your decision making. Their both going to keep near perfect speed stability.

Technics have removable headshells, allowing a collection of cartridges, MC/MM/Mono

regarding Technics specs, here’s the database




My recommendation is to get a TT that has/allows two tonearms, 1 with removable headshell (1st one), eventually 2nd arm if you get into Mono for instance, ready to play stereo/mono in a listening session within seconds

From my experience with current VPI I'd go the technics. I found the VPI prime 21 i bought two years ago rather lacking in fit and finish. I had issues to the point i sold it back to the dealer and bought another brand. My tone arm was not straight, the tone arm lift didn't work out of the box, the motor made noises.  regardless my experience with current VPI was disappointing at best. 

Technics has basically perfected the direct drive motor that everyone else copies. I doubt VPI even makes their own direct drive motors, and even if they did, they do not have the resources that technics have for development.

I believe I can help you with your query.  My two principle TTs are an HW40 and an SL1200GAE.  They sit side by side in my principle system and are in daily use when I am in my primary residence in South Florida.  Both TTs have been with me for several years now.  Nominally the HW40 is my stereo TT and the GAE is my mono TT, although as this is written I am listening to the GAE in stereo, so nothing is locked in stone around here.  My HW40 is normally set up with a SoundSmith Hyperion, but at this time that cartridge is in Peekskill getting a new diamond tip.  So at this time I have a VAS MC cartridge mounted which is not my favorite for jazz.  So the GAE is getting used in a dual role because I have a 2M Black and a 2M Mono SE set up for it, which are interchangeable without changing set up.  This is ideal with two identical headshells.  The 2M Mono SE is a 2M Black in mono and is my preferred choice for most hard bop mono records.  Anyway, I explain all this because it illustrates the principle difference between these two excellent TTs:  The HW40 is more audiophile-centric.  It is not as easy to set up, principally because of the one piece arm, although it is not as difficult as many.  It does sound sublime.  The GAE, is easier to set up and with it's detachable headshell it is more versatile for the record collector.  Speedwise it is a match for the HW40.  They are both equally quiet.  To both I fitted Iso-Accoutics feet to immprove isolation, although neither really needed it.   I can strongly recommend both TTs.  Choose the one that fits you best.  Are you a record collector or an audiophile?  If you are both like I am, you can't go wrong with one of each.  Naturally if I can answer questions feel free to ask.

The OP just got the THE BEST reference (billstevenson)for his query with the above response.


Thanks everyone...especially @billstevenson ...for the very informative feedback!  I'm pretty much leaning towards getting the several have pointed out, the swappable headshell capability is something I will find immensely useful as I tend to swap cartridges when the mood strikes. 

On a side-note, I have emailed Technics re any plans on if/when they will be introducing to the rest of their line the new Delta Sigma Drive technology that they just launched with the SL-1200GR2 models. Will post here if they get back to me.

Thanks again...Hope you all have a great weekend!


@billstevenson As you are quite familiar with the models and the Technics can be purchased without a Tonearm.

Do you feel either TT's would be as equal to each other as you describe, if the Technics had a much more expensive Tonearm mounted to push the overall cost more towards the cost f the VPI ?    

It seems to me that Technics makes a model much more expensive and perhaps competitive with the VPI in their 1000 series.  Truthfully there is not as much difference in performance between these TTs as you would think. 

I had an original VPI Prime and traded it in for a Technics SL1200G. If you want to constantly fuss with the turntable, get a VPI. If you want to enjoy your music with a fantastic turntable that is not fussy but pretty much a set and forget table, get the Technics. I love mine and now I have both a MM & MC cartridges set up on 2 headshell. It is so easy to swap and reset the tracking. In less than 2 minutes you can swap cartridges and enjoy your vinyl.

I agree that the VPI Prime was more fussy than the Technics because I had a Prime before I traded it for the HW40.  The HW40 is not fussy at all, however, and is just as set it and forget it as the Technics. 

I owned the HW 40 and the sound quality was dynamite. It is huge and barely fits on a normal rack. I own a Technics 1200g now and believe the engineering is tighter if that makes sense. Nothing is left to chance.  I would recommend the HW 40 but highly recommend the Technics. I can only assume the more expensive Technics TT are even better.

I Myself have become an advocate of Lighter Plinths where materials selected have effective dissipation properties along with attractive measurements for damping properties.

Mass Plinths are in general as a design quite able to add a colour to the end sound. For some loke myself, the colour can be easily homed in on, and can become a detractor and even a cause of early onset listening fatigue, hence my preference has evolved to lightweight Plinths that are not able to create the colour being referred to.

I myself have for many many years been an advocate of overhauling Platter Spindle Bearing Assemblies, these are very noisy when not optimised as a design.  

Bearing Assemblies are also able to add a colouration to the end sound, it depends on what proportion of a rotation is Metal on Metal, and how much weight is applied as a result of a Off Axis Spindle rotation.

A Journal Bearing depends on lubricant to fill a very tight tolerance void, to stop the contact of metals. The Hydrodynamic Design for a Journal Bearing is dependent on a different operation to that of the TT Platter Spindle Bearing to be successfully Hydrodynamic and be able to keep the tight tolerance space filled with lubrication, where the oil is the contact surface for the Spindle and not the other metal parts. 

A TT's bearing will create a Boundary lubrication when using a typical design commonly offered. Boundary lubrication is basically Metal on Metal as a proportion of the rotation or as for a TT Spindle set up in a typical Bearing Design, metal on metal will be occurring throughout most of the rotation.

How does one avoid the Vibration and Noise Transferred through the Boundary effect?

One method, is to swap out Metal Parts for Thermoplastic with engineering qualities such as Acetal, this is commonly seen today as a upgrade for a bearing.  .

Alternatively, create a Bearing Housing that can retain Oil and produce a Housing that can function as a Oil Bath, with the parts submerged in oil, boundary effect id highly unlikely, with the correct viscosity of oil selected to use for the fill.

A oil bath is not an option on a Inverted Bearing, and typical lubrication methods is also another challenge.

There are to relatively easy finds, historical info, to show how not too old TT models using the inverted bearing design, have shown catastrophic break down of the most important interfaces, as a result of metal on metal and applied force to the surfaces.         

The OP will be best served if they find a way to have a demo' of each TT, and learn how the TT's Structure and Bearing Assembly is able to impact on their sensitivity to colouration that is able to be produced.    

Hello, all! Once again, I truly thank everyone for their comments and sharing of knowledge…this is what really makes this forum great.

As an update, I have purchased…and am awaiting the arrival of…a new-in-box Technics SL-1210GAE. I was lucky enough to track one down from a high-end audio retailer in CA. Pricing wasn’t too bad, either…especially considering all but one of the used GAE listings on the auction and classified sites were priced at or more than what the GAE initially launched at, and the few new in box private listings were way more than what I purchased mine at.

I plan on keeping my current belt drive ‘table (the limited edition Ortofon Century LE, which was a souped-up version of the Pro-Ject EVO with a integrated speed control, updated tonearm and the very limited Concorde Century cartridge) to “switch it up” every once in a while…but I suspect this will be extremely infrequent. Maybe it’ll be used in a second system?

Anyway…will report back once I get it up and running. Will the GAE truly give me that “this is all the turntable I’d ever really need” vibe? I’m anxious to see.

Thanks again for all the responses…Enjoy the music!


Great choice!  I've had two VPIs (Scoutmaster and Classic) and they ultimately left me wanting for more.  I now have a Pure Fidelity Harmony and a Technics SL-1210G and both are much, much better than either VPI.  Hopefully, you didn't pay much more than $4K for the GAE--outside of the nameplate it's the same table as the G version.  You are going to enjoy the Technics!

@arvincastro Good choice. 

We used to make a turntable we called the Atma-Sphere 208. IMO it was better than the VPI in every way. More neutral, more speed stable and so on.

But I think the Technics is a better machine than our 208 so that is what I have at home. I replaced the platter pad, as that is far more important to the sound than most people realize.

You might consider doing the same- the best I've heard so far is made by Oracle. If you get it you'll have to raise the arm which is a matter of a second or two; the pad is meant to be permanently applied so you don't want to use the bolts that affix the platter to the motor else you'll never get it apart without a chisel to remove the platter pad. But it really helps the 'table to be more neutral and its easy to hear and measure.

Congrats on the choice of TT there are numerous very contented users of DD TT's that come this Production Pedigree.

 As for Mat's it is impossible to recommend a Mat for your set up, and listening environment that will work.

Clean Records are key to maintaining enjoyment, a Sticky Surface Mat will attract dust and other airborne contamination that is not as easy to keep clean as other materials, 

As regards the idea that a mat should be of the same durometer (hardness) as an LP, one ought to keep in mind that that strategy is a two way street. Rumble or any other noise that can emanate from the bearing or motor can be transmitted into the LP by the same route. So, if you adopt the principle that the mat ought to transmit energy into the platter (I don't disagree), you then have to worry about isolating the bearing and any other sources of noise, like even that which can be transmitted by the belt from the outboard motor pulley of a BD, from the platter and mat. Denon paid some attention to this issue in their higher end DD turntables, back in the 80s.

So, if you adopt the principle that the mat ought to transmit energy into the platter (I don't disagree), you then have to worry about isolating the bearing and any other sources of noise, like even that which can be transmitted by the belt from the outboard motor pulley of a BD, from the platter and mat. Denon paid some attention to this issue in their higher end DD turntables, back in the 80s.

Damping between the motor bearing and the platter will allow the tonearm to pick up vibration that might exist in the plinth; the platter surface must be as rigidly coupled to the plinth as possible. To that end the bearing (which is usually low noise anyway) should not be isolated from the platter.

 As for Mat's it is impossible to recommend a Mat for your set up, and listening environment that will work.

This statement is false. The job of the platter pad is to absorb vibration from the LP at all frequencies and to that effect isn't a tone control. If this is being done correctly it will benefit any system.

If you can hear the stylus tracing the groove in a complex passage with the volume all the way down from only a foot away from the cartridge, you know you have a problem with the mat. It should be dead silent even if you are only a few inches from the cartridge as it tracks.



The Denon Split platter design @lewm refers to is very effective…. but i have a spare or two from Peter at and of PbN audio, so i may just glue that Oracle mat to it….

For those who might be interested, Lyra use 4 PbN highly modified Denon split platter decks in their various production / development process…

Finally - kudos to @billstevenson …. except for hard bop… just kidding 

@atmasphere  Ralph - would you mind PM me the part # and adhesive type…. please and thank you !


 True or False, a Platter Mat has an impact on the Tone being produced.

Even the designs that successfully dissipates the excess energy from within the Groove have their own unique sound signature. 

It not using a Mat as a Tone Control, it is knowing from use, a Mat that functions to meets ones needs and knowing the effect the selected mat can have on the sonic being produced.  

With a selection of mats that are quite capable to meets ones needs, why be a in mat individual if a variant of the sonic is known as being available.  

@tomic601 The best platter pad we've head so far (most don't work at all) is made by Oracle. It has its own self-adhesive backing.

Thanks Ralph…. I think to @pindac point, some do work…. and listening and experiment is how you reached your conclusions….. 

Wow…super impressed by the wealth of knowledge being shared here!  Thanks to everyone for contributing.

Now…opening another Pandora’s Box:  Record/Table weights/clamps?  My experience has been clamping devices:  KAB’s record clamp which used friction to hold tight onto the spindle (used on my SL-1200 MKII and Denon VL-12), and most recently, the Pro-Ject clamp that came with my Ortofon Century ‘table.  However, reading here and elsewhere, there is thinking that Technics never meant for the SL-1200’s to use a weight or clamp.  What say you all?  None, get a weighted device or use a clamp?


Referencing weights / Clamps, I have used all Three Turntable Motor Drives and found BD the most reactive to weight, so can see how a Clamp may prove to be a decent method.

I have not used a Clamp it has always been weight, used at differing grams, materials and composite materials on ID and DD Motor Drives.

Weights have been used regularly as a differing configuration with Platter Mats.

All my Platter Mat Trials have been carried out using different materials / weights to see how the permutation impacts on sound being produced from using the entire assembly of Mat - Vinyl - Spindle Weight.

Today I view using a weight, from my own personal perspective, as the weight  having an impact on the finest of details from the recording being enabled to be presented. 

The weight can have a subtle effect on the removal of smearing and when correctly chosen with the correct platter mat, will eke out the detail to be a little more resolved.

The weight I am most impressed by on my system in my listening environment is a 1Kg Composite design. I am soon to take this composite design little further and substitute one material with Panzerholz.

A Panzerholz only weight not at 1Kg, will also be available to compare.

The design I have in mind, which seemingly works already, as a result of one material in the composite being under load, will be to have P'holz under load.

Nothing Ventured - Nothing Gained


@arvincastro get G/GAE 1200 Technics TT, and you’ll be free to move to “main dish” such as records and cartridges!

At the  very least for any setup-a clamp with rubber washer to dish the LP flat to the platter. 

Nothing more disturbing than seeing arm moving up/down on a warped LP.  



I think to @pindac point, some do work…. and listening and experiment is how you reached your conclusions….. 

@tomic601 A friend of mine (who now works at ARC and has been there 25 years or so) worked for about 10 years on a platter pad project. His ultimate product was excellent, but not cheap- the last one I saw for sale about 10 years ago went for about $1200.00. But it was the most effective platter pad out there, years before anyone else seemed to pay attention to the product.  He told me many times that the platter pad had to be the same durometer and the vinyl in order for it to damp vibration properly at all frequencies.

The difference is very easy to hear. But that pad hasn't been made since sometime in the 1990s. So we went on a quest for a platter pad to support our model 208 turntable. I have LPs i recorded and so have the master tapes- very useful as a reference. The Oracle is the best we've seen so far and in most cases by a wide margin.

@atmasphere Ralph…. suspect that same guy listened to both my ARC line and phono before it left the factory. A good dude ! i will try the Oracle on the Denon split platter.

Best to all in music

If you are still looking at weights and mats, I tried a bunch of weights on my 1210G and somewhat surprisingly came away most impressed with the Origin Live Gravity One--which weighs the least of any that I tried.  It's really impressive, everything was positive with no negative side effects--which I find is unusual in this hobby.  My least favorite by far, was the MoFi Superheavyweight, which took the 1210s natural dynamics and stole away with them like a thief in the night. 

My Mat is the Stein Music Perfect Interface, which I also really like (but it's not cheap).  Origin Live also has a new one that I have not heard that has gotten some raves.