Technics SL-150 MK2

Technics SL150IIThe follow-up to the iconic SL-150 of 1975, the mark 2 version launched in 1977 added quartz-locked servo control to the original’s excellent direct drive motor, introduced a redesigned and quieter plinth and incorporated wood into the equation; the armboard and the lower section now got this as both a cosmetic touch and a sonic improvement. It made for a worthwhile revamp of a very nice and capable mid-priced turntable, one that has become surprisingly overlooked in the great classic vinyl scheme of things.

These changes were actually very meaningful; whereas the original SL-150 give an excellent 0.03% WRMS wow and flutter figure, the new model dropped down to a vanishingly low 0.025% thanks to its new quartz-locked servo. Better still, the rumble figure dropped from a good -70dB to a superb -78dB – likely due to the better damping in its new, larger (159 x 384 x 453mm) aluminium and wood plinth. Better, vibration absorbing feet were fitted, too. Weight went up to 10.2kg.

The SL-150MK2 retained that ultra low speed brushless DC motor, although this time it drove a platter without strobe indents machined around the edge, giving a smoother look. Indeed the new deck seemed a lot swisher at the time, with all the controls now touch-sensitive and angled towards the user at the front of the plinth. There was an LED display to show the precise pitch – which was now variable by 20%, not 10% as with the original; 199 different speed settings were now available. As ever, SME arm boards were the most requested, and now an additional wooden tonearm base was supplied with every deck.

Frankly, it didn’t sound as good as the Linn, although with some judicious tweaking was capable of very serious sonics. The new SL-150 sounded quieter, smoother and tighter than the already accomplished original, and that meant a really taut and propulsive sound. By comparison to the British mid-price decks of the day, it was tonally a little brighter and didn’t quite have the left-to-right space of some, but it was never a bad thing to listen to. These days, fitted with a Rega RB250 or suchlike, it gives a very open, clean and stable sound. As per all high quality DDs, bass is rock-solid, and there’s a nice crisp midband and treble too.

Well preserved Technics SL-150MK2s still appear for under £300, less than a well-campaigned example of the inferior SL-1200. Considering its obvious physical, sonic and aesthetic superiority (not to mention its exclusivity), that makes it a bargain. Oh, and with the aforementioned Technics direct drive motor, it should run forever!

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