Why The New Technics SL-1200G/GAE Turntable Costs $4,000

January’s revelation that the new Technics SL-12000G and GAE models (coming later this year) would have a price tag of $4,000 was met with serious alarm from DJs around the world. Now new information has been released in an interview with Technics CTO Tetsuya Itani – keep reading to find out what made the price so dramatically high – and learn about how that might change with a future product in the roadmap.

Why The Pricey Technics SL-1200G?

It made sense that the special limited edition Technics SL-1200GAE would be pricey, but when word came out that the SL-1200G would also be $4000, there was widespread shock in the DJ community. DMC World Champion Vekked even wrote a long editorial on the state of the DJ turntable market, used and new, identifying reasonable, smart buys for DJs.

In a new interview originally published on What Hi-Fi?, a British publication that focuses on high-end consumer electronics, the CTO of Technics, Tetsuya Itani, offered some explanation for the substantial price increase. Despite physical appearances indicating that it was a similar design to SL-1200s in the past, the new SL-1200G apparently is a complete ground-up redesign that required new manufacturing tooling. This can be an expensive process, and is often reflected in the price of the gear. Says Itani:

“The cost was the biggest problem for us, from the start of the project. […] Because the original 1210 turntables were manufactured for so many years, the manufacturing process had got to a very low cost. Now we need to invest in all the tools again, and the price now is much higher than the 1970s.”

That part of the interview makes a lot of sense – specifically with the SL-1200MK2 (released in 1979), which wasn’t updated for ten years and likely makes up a large percentage of the turntables that Technics has sold. But the SL-1200MK2 wasn’t the last 1200 to be released…

Did Technics Lose The Tools From 1979, or 2008?

The SL-1200MK6, pictured above, was last manufactured just six years ago

Before moving on in the interview, let’s reflect on the other turntables that Technics released to the market since the SL-1200MK2:

  • 1989: SL-1200MK3
  • 1996: SL-1200MK4
  • 2002: SL-1200MK5
  • 2008: SL-1200MK6

There’s also loads of submodels, including the 1210 lines for each generation, as well as alternate colors and finishes.

Picking up with the interview, Tetsuya Itani claims that the design process for the new SL-1200G and GAE was going to be more complicated because the original tools for manufacturing no longer existed:

“We began to study just a few months prior to IFA, maybe summer 2014, for the new SL-1200. We learned that it was impossible [to make the same deck], as almost all the tools for manufacturing were gone or heavily damaged – only one “die” remained, and that was for the dust cover. 

All the documents were kept, all the drafts… but it was not the Technics way. If we have a chance to start from scratch, we should. With new technology, new theory – that is this guy [the SL-1200G]. So it’s a new model from scratch. 

It’s believable that the original SL-1200 and SL-1200MK2 tooling was lost – but what about the MK6, developed less than ten years ago, and in manufactured until October 2010. Did those manufacturing tools go straight into the dumpster?

Is A More Affordable SL-1200 Coming?

One other fascinating element that came out of the discussion on What Hi-Fi? was about a potential third turntable that Technics could potentially produce. When asked about a lower-cost version:

“following some nervous laughter, Itani replied: “Right now, we start thinking [about a more affordable model]. But not definitely right now. We need to study,” said Itani with a smile.”

We’re not certain what needs studying – the market is clearly there for Technics turntable that doesn’t cost $4,000, as the average price of DJ turntables sold in 2015 was around $250 according to MI SalesTrak data. But perhaps that’s the point – that Technics wants to make a high-end turntable, not a product for DJs:

“Every part is designed for better sound quality. We are thinking of course it is a 1210…. but performance wise it’s SP10 MKII level.” The Technics SP10 MK II was an expensive, heavy duty hi-fi turntable that launched in the mid-1970s.

And while that might not be what the DJ market desires, maybe it’s what these 27,000 signees on a petition to “Bring Back Technics!” will be buying when the SL-1200GAE comes out in June, and the SL-1200G launches in Winter 2016.

Editor’s Note: We’ve reached out to Technics for additional comments and clarification, but have not yet received a response. 

Learn how many other turntables you could buy for $4,000 in this article.

technicstechnics SL-1200Gtechnics SL-1200GAE
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  • klubjunk

    Every now and then, a company makes the best of class, best utilitarian, best quality for price product for a particular market and it becomes the ‘standard’.
    Leave it to up to whoever is running things (idiots) to lose their 30 year hold on ‘the standard’ of dj turntables by simply NOT giving people what they want.
    They created the best DJ turntable ever, and I still have mine from 20 years ago.
    Working perfectly. Sounding as good as the cartridges I put on.
    Anyone who buys this $4000 turntable has more money than dick size.

  • StephenNawlins

    Well let me make my own Interpretation of his nervous laughter…here what he was thinking: “Sure we could make it cheaper, but why should we if there are enough Hipsters around which are ready to pay 4K for it. It allready worked with Pioneers CDJ Nexus Generation so why not with our product”
    The costs are more expensive to make the Tools than in the 70’s??? That must be the reason why everything got more affodable for the large masse of People than back then.
    That’s also the reason why the Computer Project that supported the Appollo Mission to the moon did cost Billions and had a CPU Capacity that Looks ridiculous in comparison to what a 200 USD cellphone provides nowadays.

    Really? How stupid do those guys thinkk we are???

  • DD

    This is just a marketing scheme (look at me) shock value catching the attention of you who need to have the new gear! and in my opinion is always a rip off… go on eBay get a technics for $400 which will do the same thing as a band new $4000 turntable when 90% of the dj’s use a DVS (digital vinyl system).

  • Eric Day

    Using a standard 5 to 1 pricing model, they would of needed to spend $800 a unit to justify selling them for $4k full retail ( +/- $2k wholesale).

    I bet they spent like $300 a piece, if that. This would put them in the $1500 range, could maybe get away with $2k because they’re “limited edition”.

  • synapticflow

    Why $4000? Because “real DJs” this. “Real DJs” that.

  • baju-baju

    They are just jumping on the bandwagon (or is it a DJ cart) of vinyl revival fuelled by plastic film cameras, checkered shirts and beards. Oops, I forgot the beautiful hiss and crackle of vinyl!
    They will sell, no doubt.
    But how do you wear one on a raw leather strap around your neck?

  • Spaker

    Ridiculous. Tool and die? Next they’ll tell us the steamliner ran out of coal halfway across the ocean and they got stranded when the trans-Atlantic cable snapped again, and their radio operator couldn’t use the ship-to-shore to telegraph an SOS.

  • methmonster

    Panasonic made an Edsel. Ha Ha!

  • Professorbx

    Ok, here is the thing-the tooling already broken at the end. Tooling is like ANYTHING industrial-it wears out. Technics had re-done the tooling a ton of times over the history of the 1200, and the last time it was coming time to re-do it, they said screw it, not worth it. Back in the day, you could always tell when they were doing a change, because there would be a brief shortage of new tables. So, yea, the tooling was “lost”, but to be fair the tooling would have been worthless anyway had it been saved. The last run was made with the idea that they would manufacture to the limits of what they had could support, and, why would you keep tooling that would need to be re-done anyway? You scrap/re-work/salvage things, and move other machines on to products that are currently viable.

    Not trying to be a know-it-all, but the article should be corrected to reflect this, as a little info in the wrong context (like this, as in, things that could lead to even more conspiracy theory fun) and without all the facts can be a dangerous thing.

  • Scott Frost

    A CD Player should not cost $2200US but it does. Especially since most of it is software driven… Funny thing is – remove the cd mechanism and the cost goes down $1000? something is odd there…

    However, look at all the parts that makes up the unit. The R&D, the factory, the tools, the labor, the advertising, the power bill to run the factory., the shipping…etc…. they aren’t pumping out millions a month in volume in order to bring costs down. Even fi they are making a 10% markup, that means it still costing them $3600 to manufacture. Everything in the world has gone up. If the unit is successful, then i’m sure over time the cost may come down. Look at the Rane MP2016 – $3000, or the new Dave Smith Prophet 6 – $2500 — prices are on par for high end equipment.

    I guess the moral of the story is, don’t judge unless you have all the facts and numbers. I don’t think Panasonic is going to get super rich by making a high end turntable for a niche market.

  • mikefunk

    Yet, Denon Managed to bring new turntable for 700 bucks. Magic.
    (same with Pioneer).

    • AuralCandy.Net

      However, Pioneer is based on the Hanpin Super OEM turntable. In other words, they are not manufacturing about 95% of the parts themselves.

      • MQParty

        But what about the Denon? From what I understand, all done by Denon and not a Hanpin OEM. Still looking to be $699 when its released in May

        • AuralCandy.Net

          I’m also under the same impression. According to the press release, the Denon deck is designed from scratch (non pun intended).

  • EZE999

    Apart from the fact that this story reeks of utter BS, I am just happy it doesn’t apply to me at all since I still got my SL1200s (silver) from 1998 running perfectly.

  • bkbikenerd

    This is a PR stunt. Damage control and what not. I have worked in PR for 14 years now and i smell the BS. Technics was feeling themselves when they priced this at $4000 and they know this didn’t sit well with their core market – DJs. Nobody believes that Technics discarded all of their casting die. Stop it, we don’t believe it. Shoot, you can make a die mold out of a positive casting (real 1200). So, stop it Technics just stop it.

    I get it they want to make something new, bigger, better, something that other companies will be dying to copy when the copyright expires but, don’t lie to us. Be bold and hold true to your target audience – Audiophiles.

    • bkbikenerd

      Dear Technics – You can shear a sheep many times but, skin it only once.

  • kebzer

    I call this interview absolute BS and this dude a sureshot PR amateur.

    Admitting in public that the production cost of the original MK2 had reached really low levels, because of the tooling, while at the same time your parent company had shut it down not long ago, because of “low margins” is a paradox. Industrial tooling is not only diecasts, it is also the know-how and SOPs developed throughout the years of production, which should be still there. Unless those dudes have lost them somewhere, which wouldn’t be a surprise, judging from how amateurish they are handling the relaunch up to now.

  • Dirty Steve

    They could charge $10k for one and Technics fanboys would pay it, strictly because of the name. Like Vekked said, there are plenty of other options for TT’s that are just as good without dropping thousands of dollars.
    “But nothing is as good as a 1200!”
    It’s a poor craftsman that blames his tools.

    • HighTopFade

      I agree. People will spend the 4k, because they can.

    • Stephen Nawlins

      The same Hype than with Apple products…german Journalist calculated the producing Price of an iPhone 4 (when it was the “one to have”) and came out with a Price around 90€ it was sold in Shops for around 650€

      • Serkan Kocak

        The producing price is nothing. The phone has to be designed by engineers and designers. The software has to be programmed. The phones need to be advertised and transported all over the world. Employees must be paid, resellers need to have a margin. Support must be given for years…

        I read those stupid stories as well… it’s not journalism it’s just a poor try to get attention by people who think they can get a decent smart phone for 200 bucks.

  • Linz

    $4,000… I call B.S.
    The GAE could be a plan to pave the way to release an overpriced ($1,000?) “dj orientated” 1200, with a high price point that dj’s are relieved about after seeing the $4,000 GAE.
    I’d follow Vekked’s 2nd hand TT buying advice regardless. Technics are getting greedy.

  • guest100

    “almost all the tools for manufacturing were gone or heavily damaged ”
    You don’t say. Gone where? How they still produce spare parts?
    If GAE is the new SP10, then there’s room for simpler model offering i.e. the MK2, just as it was in the original era. Also the MK2 was present in parallel with all the other incarnations that were temporal (MK3-MK6). Give it back!

  • Dubby Labby

    Technics was never released for djs (mk2 maybe…) and they keep the prices at Hifi segment over a decade without sense, only due old school grow up with them and rejected the other brands as “poor” even when these were best in any front. It become a Myth driven by “the fear to new” and perpetuated by “wanabees little brothers” (whose never could paid them but defend them as dogma).
    Then time goes and Pioneer pushed (like Pete and the wolf) until sldz1200 (the first attempt to make a real unit towards djs) making a big fail and point to the road end…
    Finally the Myth fall down and people claim for the heaven to bring back to life… But reality strickes once again: 4000$
    Now you ask Technics about the “miss true technics” and they have a “nervous smile” and diplomatic statment (we are considering it) :/

    Vinyl maybe is returning a bit but there are still out there tons of good turntables in second hand market to have the necessity for new “analog turntable” (Plx sure? C’mon!) and the room for turntable controllers hasn’t grow in relative terms (maybe there is more djs interested in turntables than few years ago because World population grows but the topic has becoming thin and thin over the last ten years) so instead ask Technics for… Better ask the guy who made these sldz mods and make him gow to become a startup or so.

    27000 backers seems a good startpoint.

  • ksandvik

    Just get a Reloop RP-7000 instead.

    • BreakNek

      Or a used 1200…those things are tanks and you can easily grab one for under $700.