What is Technics thinking?

Lots has been said, both pro and con, about the new Technics turntable.  Description here -


Some are excited about the potential, given the upgrades since their last production table/arm, the venerable SL-12XX series.  Others see it simply as an excuse to raise the price significantly of the 1200s.

In my view they shot themselves in the foot.  They copied the model number of their best selling table (I can only imagine in the hope the familiarity will carry over) and also ended up with a very similar appearance.  Given the information on all the upgrades over their prior model, the similarities make it appear like something less than what it might be.

Technics had a room at THE Show Newport and that was my first chance to see a SL-1200GAE.  The fit and finish appeared to be very good but it did look like a "polished up" SL-12XX.  I ask the Technics rep why they didn't do more to distinguish this as a new model, given their efforts with engineer upgrades.  He said he could understand my question but then really didn't offer a reasonable explanation.  After describing all the components which had been redesigned/upgraded from the prior model he offered a demo.  However the room was crowded and the remainder of the system was completely unfamiliar, so no fair impression could be made.

I believe it should have had a more unique model designation and more might have been done to the physical package so it didn't look so much like the prior model.

I am currently using a SL-1210 M5G with an Ortophon 2m Black MM and it sound amazing with no mods.  I am picking up my SL-1200 GAE this Friday and pairing it with a Lyra Delos MC.  Hope to set it up and do some listening on Saturday.  Excited to finally try it out.
Got to see an SL1200G "in the flesh" this weekend at the CAF in Rockville, MD.  Visual inspection suggests that it is much better built than the original SL1200; it has an almost jewel-like quality, even though the basic shapes are entirely borrowed from the SL1200.  Technics had its own room at the show, and the SL1200G headed up an all-Technics system.  Unfortunately, IMO, the speakers were tiny single driver "small box" units mounted on stands, the kind of speaker one might choose for a small apartment or home office.  Not the kind of speaker that can show off the excellence (or lack thereof) of upstream components.  However, I was favorably impressed with the 1200G.  Knowing that it uses a coreless motor is also a big plus, in my mind.

The Technics speakers aren’t single-driver; they’re 2-way coaxial. They also make a much larger and more expensive floorstander that uses the same driver. Kind of like KEF with the LS50 and Blade models, though the Technics floorstander is more like $10K instead of 30K. I agree, though, that the floorstander would have been more appropriate to demo the new SL1200G--assuming any of the floorstanders are available yet.

Also, the August issue of Stereophile has Herb Reichert’s column which features hands-on impressions of the GAE. He ranks it as equal or better to any other Stereophile Class B turntable. One thing he went on about is that where the original SL12x0 series didn’t have a particularly good spatial (soundstage and imaging) presentation, the new 1200GAE has it in spades--throws a big, precise 3D image. That’s a big change.
I got a good listen to the both the small coax SB-C700 and the SB-R1 towers. Both are impressive at their price points, $1700 & $13,500 respectively. One could add a REL sub to the SB-C700 speakers & SL1200G turntable and no doubt live happily ever after. 

I said it before and I will say it again, rewire the tone arms with solid silver wire & any of the SL1200 series turntables will preset an enormous soundstage. That is the achilles heel of the the 1200 series.

That said, I've been listening to my new 1200GAE all week with the Ortofon Vienna (Cadenza Blue). Comparing directly to my SL1200 "Limited" (Audio Note silver wired arm) does reveal some interesting differences. The soundstage is actually "smaller" on the GAE using the exact same cartridge. However I agree with Herb the GAE throws a more precise 3D image. For now I still prefer my 1600Mk2, interestingly it sounds closer to my 1200 Limited than to the new 1200GAE. Here I suspect the new DD motor & plinth in the GAE is doing something most excellent. 

While there's something new and right going on with the GAE, at the same time there's something a bit off! The initial "hotness" I described is mellowing after 30 LP's, but I can't seem to shake it completely. I'm starting to suspect silver plated copper tone arm wiring. Yuck!  Perhaps this bright overtone will work perfectly in your system ... wrong tone in mine. 

More break-in time will tell, but I am prepared to rewire the GAE arm.