Review: Technics SL-1210GAE Limited Edition

Legendary Turntable

If you are going to buy a new turntable, you need to hurry if this is on the wish list.

Technics SL-1210GAE
We think
Solid and elaborate quality turntable with dynamic sound, great authority in the bass and rich sound in a large sound image.
It will soon be sold out.
  • Type: Direct-drive turntable
  • Tone arm: 230 mm aluminum
  • Pickup: Nagaoka JT-1210 MM
  • Plate: 33.2 cm aluminum / brass
  • Connections: Phono output
  • RIAA / DAC: No / No
  • Other: Dust cover, RCA cables
  • Color: Black
  • Dimensions / weight: 45.3 x 17 x 37.2 cm / 18 kg

The new Technics player Technics SL-1210GAE is only made in 1000 copies. About 700 of these are coming to Europe, and judging by the success of the previous Limited Edition version of the SL-1210GAE, it is important to know your visiting hours.
But, and there is one but here that must be mentioned: the SL-1210GAE 55th Anniversary Limited Edition, is not that different from a regular SL-1210G, but this one comes with a pickup included in the price. Full package, in other words, in the Technics player which marks that it is 55 years since the first SL-1210 saw the light of day.

The logo is the only thing that reveals that this is not a regular SL-1210.

It’s black, it’s easy to see, and apart from that, the included pickup and a small plaque showing which number in the row it is among the Limited Edition versions, there’s nothing really new here.

Technically, it is built in the same way as a SL-1210G with direct drive, a coreless motor with two rotors that eliminates cogging, the s-shaped tone arm in magnesium is lacquered black, the same is basically all other details, except the three-part the plate in aluminum, rubber and brass.

Looks like a regular 1210, but does not sound like one.

Large parts of the player are assembled by hand in Japan, and the player is also balanced by hand to eliminate vibrations or noise that may occur during rotation. It also has the same adjustable feet cushioned with soft aGel, which is used in the much more expensive SL-1000R.

The four feet on the underside are taken from the SL-1000R.

The chassis is built with a 10 mm thick black anodised aluminum, with three layers of aluminum, Bulk Molding Compound and a rubber material, to dampen vibrations and resonances.

One more thing: You can turn off the blue strobe light if you want, or are anxious that it will affect the sound.

Unique pickup

If there is one thing that really affects the sound, it is the pickup. The player comes (in Europe) with an MM pickup from Japanese Nagaoka, which is made especially for the Limited Edition version, and is not sold separately.

The included pickup suits the player well.

It is called JT-1210 and has a needle arm in boron with an elliptical (0.4 x 0.7 mm) diamond pin, 3 mV output voltage, 100 pF capacitance and should have between 1.3 and 1.8 gram pin pressure. The weight is stated at 6.7 grams, and it fits nicely with the relatively light Technics arm.

The setup is well explained in the operating instructions, which also show how to adjust the braking of the engine and other things few people will care about. Like all 1210s, it can also adjust the speed steplessly with a sliding potmeter, which can be switched on and off, giving the user pitch control with either ± 8 or ± 16 percent deviation.

Balanced high-end sound

Compared to an SL-1210G, an SL-1210GAE Limited Edition costs around NOK 8000 more, with the pickup included. In the same price range we find the magnificent Rega Planar 10, but if you choose to equip the player with the Apheta 3 pickup, the Rega combination will be over £ 1,000 more expensive.

The blue strobe light can be turned off.

McIntosh MT2 costs almost the same with a Sumiko MM pickup fitted, and you can choose a silver-gray SL-1210G with, for example, a motorcycle pickup like the Sumiko Songbird, and end up in about the same price range as the Limited Edition version and the McIntosh player.

Which one is best is up to the ear that hears, but there is little doubt that the SL-1210GAE Limited Edition is an outstanding turntable for the money. It’s better built and plays with greater authority and transparency than a McIntosh MT2, and although the Nagaoka pickup does not have the same extreme detail resolution as an Apheta 3 on a Planar 10, the Technics player is a real pleasure to listen to music with.

Under the plates you will find some basic settings no one needs to use.

With the Nagaoka pickup, it delivers a large and deep sound image, with a rock solid bass foundation, and plenty of timbre.

The grand piano horn of the Benny Golson Quartet’s I Remember Clifford, sounds full, warm and sonorous, while one of our standard test records, Dire Straits Love Over Gold, retains the sparkling dynamics of percussion and guitar tracks.

A Planar 10 with Apheta 3 is better resolved and will give you more depth and faster dynamics, but not quite the same powerful bass that the direct-drive player has.

Convenient height adjustment and easily accessible anti-skating.

Yamaha’s massive and belt-driven GT-5000 offers more of everything, especially with the Ortofon Cadenza Black. A test with Audio-Technica AT-OC9XSH, showed that there is much more resolution to be found in the Technics player, than you get with the Nagaoka pickup.

Our experience with the SL-1210G and various pickups, shows that there is more to be gained from an even better pickup, but the unique Nagaoka pickup is a good match here and an excellent starting point for a future upgrade of the player.

Nagaoka JT-1210 can be easily replaced if you want to upgrade.

Technics SL-1210GAE Conclusion

The new anniversary edition of Technics SL-1210 GAE in Limited Edition, is a no-brainer for those who are thinking of buying a new turntable in this price range. Together with the Nagaoka pickup, you get a turntable combination without any looting and heft, which the whole family can use and enjoy. It is not better than a regular SL-1210G with a good pickup, but also not any worse. Thus, it is among the best buys at this end of the high-end scale. But buy it before it disappears.

Technics SL-1210GAE Limited Edition and SL-1210G, look almost exactly the same.

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