Technics Sp10 Mk2 vs SL-1200G - I finally did an A/B

Guys, it is payback time. I have asked so many questions here to improve my knowledge or make a good purchase. I should give back now.

This is a topic that is HOT these days. Are the new generation Technics 1200G/GAE and Sp10-R better than the vintage Sp10 Mk2 and Mk3 ? 

I have myself asked this question multiple times here. The most common reply was a resounding "Yes" in favour of the new 1200G/GAE. The 10R is still too new and not many have a direct opinion. But in general, even those who have commented on the 1200G vs Sp10 mk2, almost no one has compared them side by side. Some have written based on aural memory, some based on specs and design, and some have written based on pure subjective opinion.

In any case, most of us are very happy that Technics has done it. A very few business oriented minds might be disappointed that their business around vintage Technics DDs would take some hit due to these modern machines.

Since I was in the market for a good high resolution TT to replace my modded Loricraft Garrard 301, I took active interest in the Technics DDs. Overall I was convinced that the 1200G is the machine to look out for. It was clearly favored over the smaller sp10 and more or less compared to the bigger sp10 mk3. I got a brand new 1200G and sent it to Time-Step audio for their Evoke PSU mod. It is a very well accepted mod in the UK markets. In general the Switch-Mode PSU of the 1200G is considered its Achilles heel so this mod was a necessity.

I finally had the 1200G at my home. I won't go into the process of setting up as it was a simple and straight forward one. I used its own Technics tonearm to start with. I tried couple of platter mats but its own default mat sounded fine so it remained. I have 2 cartridges to play, the Denon 103r and Ortofon Cadenza blue. None of them are esoteric stuff, but I find them very neutral and musically "right" sounding carts.

Straightaway the 1200G revealed that it was a more transparent and higher resolution player than the Garrard. The noise floor was lower, inner details more easily heard. Soundstage more precise and layered. Great! There was an extra sparkle to the sound which was quite thrilling. More like going from HD to UHD. What felt a bit lacking was overall dynamics and scale. The 1200G sounded "Compact". The Garrard was like a full blown full scale sound. I let the 1200G run at 78rpm for many hours so that the burn-in process is expedited. I also tried both the auto and manual servo settings to vary the torque and balance of the sound. As I listened more I also realized that the 1200G does not have the fluidity that I am used to with the Garrard or other belt drive TTs I have heard. Notes bloom but die out instantly, followed by a silence before the next note. Something that joins the notes so that it all sounds related was missing a bit. In terms of dynamics, the intensity of an "explosion or a shout" was kind of controlled. That takes away a bit of that startle factor which allows us to get awestruck with our systems. Bass on the 1200G sounded a bit chopped. It did not feel very deep and powerful. I rather felt I am listening to mid-upper bass with average impact. But when it came to details it sounded like a super Cd player in a good way.

I decided to play with the tonearm at this point. I have a 47 Labs RS-A1 tonearm which has its own standing mount. One can just lift it and place it at the right distance so that the under-hang is correct and you are good to go. It is a musical tonearm. Once installed, this tonearm gave the Technics a significant jump on the performance. Especially it made the Technics sound less hifi and more musical, more fluid, more jump factor. Just plain more realistic. But then it brought the same kind of improvements to the Garrard too. I did a lot of comparison shifting this tonearm between the 2 TTs. All my above comments about their differences holds true. 

After about 2 weeks and multiple hours of comparison on all kinds of music, I decided that while there are areas where the Garrard lacks and Technics clearly shines, musically Garrard is more realistic whereas Technics is more cerebral. I knew I was going to miss that hi-rez sparkle from Technics but I could only keep one so it has to go. I sold the 1200G. But the curiosity still remained so I bought a Sp10 Mk2.

After there 1200G left my place, the Sp10 Mk2 arrived. I did not have a plinth but I had read on Audiogon that it can be used in the naked form with a suitable isolation like the Audio Technica AT-636 Pneumatic footers. I have those footers so I installed the Sp10 on those footers and used the 47 Labs tonearm with Denon 103r for listening.

In the first 10 secs it was clear the Sp10 Mk2 is a more dynamic player than the 1200G. It sounded more like a Garrard in terms of scale, dynamics and drive. At the same time it was more transparent than Garrard. I had read couple of opinions that the vintage Sp10 DDs has more torquey motor drive. Here I was clearly hearing that. If I enter the room, I would not know which player is playing simply because of the similarity in slam, dynamics and tonality. My Garrard has the audiosilente idler wheel, woodsong audio brake disc and kokomo bearings. It is also driven by a dedicated AC regenerator for a clean AC input. In effect it is a much cleaner and neutral TT than typical Garrards. The Sp10 Mk2 is a less romantic sounding TT overall but it does not feel "compact", "thin" or "bright". It sounds natural, which is a very important trait to enjoy music. It sounds big and punchy without sounding colored or veiled. I have not even installed the plinth yet. My Garrard is still the king in the system but the Sp10 is a good contender with higher resolution and lower noise floor overall.

Guys, I don't know how to put it. I am not here to spoil the party of the 1200G/GAE owners. It is definitely a very complete package. You get warranty, company support, spares and all the peace of mind with the new Technics DDs. But if you are one of those adventurous types deciding between the old school and new gen Technics TT, the old Sp10 mk2/mk3 wins it for me, purely from the sound quality perspective. New technology probably has given the new Technics a bit more refinement but the drive, excitement and immediacy of real instruments still is conveyed best by the grand old boys.

My system:
. Loricraft Garrard 301 (mods: Kokomo mk2 bearing, Audiosilente idler wheel, Woodsong audio brake disc, Funkfirm Achromat, Monarcy Audio AC regenerator)
. 47 Labs RS-A1 tonearm
. Ortofon Cadenza Blue, Denon 103r carts
. Trilogy 907 phonostage
. Berning MicroZOTL 2.0 preamp
. Audio Note Conquest Silver Signature SET monoblock amps
. Tannoy Turnberry SE speakers

P.S: I did not compare the 2 Technics side by side but it was almost back to back as the Sp10 arrived after 3-4 days of the departure of 1200G. Since it was all in my own system, I had a good hang of what they felt like.

SP-10R can not be used with SH-10B3 Obsidian Plinth made for SP-10 mkII simply because the shape of the SP-10r is different.

So i think it can be used ONLY with SH-10B5 Obsidian Plinth made for SP-10 mk III
Pryso, Sorry I apparently missed your previous post regarding cross compatibility of plinths.  However, the information is unlikely to be correct, simply because the Mk2 and Mk3 per se are not cross compatible with regard to plinth, unless Technics leaves a gaping hole that can accommodate both the square shape of the Mk2 chassis and the smaller diameter round shape of the Mk3.  Plus the placement of the threaded inserts for mounting the two tables is slightly different, if I recall correctly.  Most of the best aftermarket Mk2 and Mk3 plinths are custom fitted to either one or the other chassis, but not both.  Now I am writing this, I think perhaps the factory obsidian plinths might be cross compatible by virtue of the use of inserts at the corners, so as to convert the square hole for the Mk2 into a round hole for the Mk3.  I know I saw that somewhere, long ago.  Anyway, I think Chakster has the details above.
In your above post, are you suggesting that Technics ought to offer the option of SP10R + plinth but no tonearm?

HI Lew.  yes, Technics should offer the SP10R, new plinth and tonearm as separate items.
  Many of us have different/better tonearms we would like to use on the plinth, but not be stuck with having to use the back left slot on the outside of the new plinth.

   I would like to try the plinth with my SP10mk3 and Thales tonearm  - then at some stage compare vs putting the SP10R motor into the plinth.

  or I might just buy one of the ACOUSTAND TECHNICS SP-10R PLINTH's that look very similar to the new Technics plinth.

There is, in my opinion, this division among us regarding our

love for our ''components'': essentialist and holistic.

Love has to do with selection and selection with intensity

of our feelings for whatever. I am in love, so to speak, with

speakers, tonearms and carts. I don't care in the same way

for TT's, amps and other components.

I realized this by reading bluewolf post about Acoustical Systems.

His story is actually the story about ''our'' Dertonarm (tonearm in

German). He is obviously a holist. The whole system and all

the parts of the system are equal important and presuppose

love for each separates. That is to say love needed for design

and production of each ''part''. I regard myself as a friend of

Dertonarm and as belonging to the so called ''German group''

or '''German maffia'' depending from personal sympathy.

Buit I had no idea about Dertonarm's amps, speakers , TT's

and other possible designs. To my knowledge only Syntax

would be able to tell the ''whole story'' about Dertonarm holisme

because he is involved in this, say, ''Dertonarm's adventure''

for a long time. Writing about friends is scary business

because of our doubt about our own objectivity.

As an additional argument: Lew was and is my ''orientation

point'' in this forum since I become member. I noticed his

love for, in particular , turntables so he may function as

an  example of an essentialist (grin). 


Actually, I am very much a “whole-ist”, Nandric. I have reached a state of satisfaction with each of two audio systems and feel no real need to radically change either one. This perhaps is one reason why I feel no compulsion to purchase an SP10R, even though I am in the land of Technics for one more week. I have room in my thinking for trying different cartridges and headshells and maybe a few electronic mods to equipment I already own, but that’s about it. I do have a weakness for old things that were beautifully made by craftsmen. So I “love” my Leica M3 as much as I love my L07D and the other DDs. I could be tempted to purchase a Yamaha GT2000X and/or a Pioneer Exclusive P3, but it would take a lot of tempting, and it would really only be to appease my other muse for good old stuff.

The Apolyt must be extraordinary, but at that cost, it may as well not even exist for me. However, I am interested to see how DT will eventuallly create a little brother to the Apolyt which he can sell for perhaps 10% of its cost. THAT would be interesting.