Picture of the Technics SL-1200 MK5 direct drive turntable system, top front view.

Technics SL-1200 MK5 Turntable Review

The Technics SL-1200 MK5 turntable system is quite versatile.  Why?  Because not only does it work well as a mobile disc jockey (DJ) record player. But it’s also gives likely the best audio possible from LP discs. Great plus for the audiophile man cave.





You can’t do much better than this machine for that; not without spending a ton more money.  And even if you spent with abandon, the improvements to the sound that you’d get, would be at best marginal.

Picture of the Technics SL-1200 MK5 Turntable System, with power applied and featuring blue LED upgrades.
Technics SL-1200 MK5 Turntable System

The entire SL-1200 line serves readily as a medium to high end audiophile turntable. This version of the 1200, the Mark V, is the same.  It’s been around for years. Plus, it gets many accolades for its low noise, military tank-like build and craftsmanship.  It offers ease of use, many settings for both the novice and audiophile record listeners. Its overall performance is (should we say it?) second to none! .  We’ve owned this model for over five years and have digitized many records on it.  Yet we find no major problems in the Mark 5.  Indeed nothing about it kept us from fully enjoying our vinyl recordings.

Now anyone can easily nit pick and find valid gripes about any piece of technology. But even the most grumpy would struggle to come up with any complaints about this turntable.





Technics SL-1200 MK5 Turntable, Notable Specifications

  • Takes less than 3/4 of a second to spin up from a complete stop to 33 and 1/3 RPM. Great for those record-cuing DJs.
  • Wow and flutter less than 0.01%.  Audiophiles love hearing no jitters or speed changes in their music.
  • 13.5 watt power draw MAX.
  • The unit weights 26.4 pounds.  HEAVY.

Key Features of the Technics SL-1200 MK5

  • A plastic, clear dust cover lid.
  • A 45 RPM or EP adapter and built-in holder for it.
  • Removable high grade S-shaped tone arm.  But you can get straight tone arms to satisfy the most picky audiophile.
  • Replaceable pitch slider control.
  • Thick metal die cast platter.  Very well balanced, for enhanced speed accuracy and low rumble.
  • Platter slip sheets.
  • Black rubber turntable mat.
  • Head shell with all hardware for mounting cartridges that weigh from 3 to 13 grams.
  • Low resonance cabinet for reduced feedback when operating this unit close to the speakers.

Benefits. Advantages, and Pros of the Technics SL-1200 MK5 Direct Drive Turntable System 

Popular Acclaim

Receives wide-spread, rave reviews, as this review is going to be as well.

Solid Construction

The Technics SL-1200 MK5 has a thick metal console and platter, and a thick plastic bottom along with shock-absorbing feet.

The Technics SL-1200 MK5 Turntable Has Large, Easy to Work Controls

The buttons, knobs, and sliders are as follows:

  • Two buttons set the speed of the platter (33 or 45 RPM).
  • A large, square start-stop button (simple to find in the dark).
  • A power on-off knob.  They designed this to be a little hard to get at. So it prevents accidental shutdowns.
  • There’s also a LONG variable pitch slider reset button. Pressing this locks the platter speed to a quartz frequency, no matter the pitch slider position.
  • Plus, they made the platter light as a button too.  You press this and it locks down, to turn it off and retract it into the table body.
  • Another much smaller button close by releases the spring-loaded table light.  When you press this one, that lamp pops up and turns on.

Complete Set of Tonearm Adjustments

The tonearm specific controls, though a bit more intricate than the others, are still quite use able.  They include the following:

  • A counter balance type stylus pressure setting.
  • A cue lever (for raising and lowering the 1200 tonearm from and to the record).
  • An anti-skating control,
  • A tone arm height setting.




Cartridge Position Adjustment

You can adjust about every setting affecting how the tone arm and stylus play the record.  Adjust cartridge positioning by loosening the screws that secure the cartridge to the shell. Then, slide the cartridge to the correct position within the shell. Then, tighten those screws again to lock the cartridge into position.

Tonearm Upgrades Available

You can replace the included tone arm.

Removable Head Shell on the Technics SL-1200 MK5 Turntable

Swap able head shell, for quickly switching out pickup cartridges.

Braking Setting

Under the platter, we have a braking setting. This controls how quickly the platter slows down to a stop when you press the halt button.  Round holes in the platter give access to this control.

Quartz Controlled Direct Drive System

This means that the motor never spins faster than the platter spins, for lowest mechanical vibration.  In fact, the platter is itself, part of the drive motor.  So it’s speed is about as stable as you can get.

Direct drive almost guarantees no hum, rumble, or any other mechanical noises. So you won’t hear them in the audio output.  This is perhaps the first audiophile level DJ table we know that does not add its own “noise print.”

Virtually Silent

Unless you hear the music playing, you won’t hear this device running.  It employs neither fast-turning fans or drive motors, nor loudly humming transformers.





The Technics SL-1200 MK5 Turntable Draws Very Little Power

Low power consumption at just 13.5 watts; the cost of a couple night lights running.

Shielded Connections

The Technics SL-1200 MK5 features top grade internal wiring. Well-shielded hi-fidelity cables connect the audio pickup cartridge to the outside world.  These cords have two RCA-style male plugs (stereo). A separate ground wire connects this table to your amp’s chassis.

Lots of Lights

Well, four to be exact.  All of them LED, including

  • Platter speed strobe.
  • Record surface light for seeing the silence band between songs on a record.
  • Pilot lamp on the pitch slider control.
  • Speed setting lamps.  The button corresponding to the current speed setting (33 or 45 RPM) lights up.

None of the lamps in ours has ever burned out, and we’ve owned this unit for over a decade.

Dual Speed

Plays 33 and 1/3 as well as 45 RPM vinyl LP discs.

The Technics SL-1200 MK5 Turntable Features Silent, Smooth Torque  

Even at the 45 RPM speed setting, the platter spins up to full speed in well under a second.

Adjustable Electronic Braking

Pressing the start / stop button quickly halts the platter. And though this halt is quite abrupt, the playing record never skips. Starting up is the same.  Rapid acceleration without noise or jerking.

Speed Strobe Markings on Platter

The platter has strobe mirrors for correct speed setting.  There are four rows of them on the angled outer edge of the platter. While rotating, adjust speed so that one of these bands appears to stand still.  The user’s guide, referenced below fully explains how to use the strobe.





Thick Rubber Platter Mat Included

Other record beds, such as slip discs for scratching work are available too.

Easy to Find Parts for the Technics SL-1200 MK5 Turntable

Technics built many of these units over the decades.  So you can often find them at great prices in the used audio market.  They cost from $500 on up to over $2000.

Very Rugged

When cased the right way, you can operate the MK5 in a mobile disc jockey environment for years without failures.  That said, it also functions well as a top-of-the-line audiophile turntable too.  It seems that Panasonic made no trade-offs between durability and performance in the MK5, for this table does both quite well.

Level Adjustment

Adjust these for platter leveling.

Disadvantages, Problems, Limitations, and Cons of the Technics SL-1200 MK5 Direct Drive Turntable System 

It’s Heavy

Definitely has some solid mass; especially in the metal platter.

High Purchase Price

Depending on the time of year, pricing for the MK5 can rise well into the thousands of dollars.  But often you’ll find them on eBay for less than a grand.

Inconvenient Access to Braking Adjustment

Other tables have this setting as a knob.  It’s not a small screw setting that you must remove the mat from the platter to get at.





Non Removable Audio Cables

We like using top notch cables for this purpose that we select ourselves.  Some tables feature RCA jacks at the rear that allow you to plug in your own patch cords.  However, the cable quality used herein seems plenty good for our sensitive ears.  We hear no loss of frequency response or music distortion on our records.

Must Disassemble the Technics SL-1200 MK5 Turntable Partly when Moving It

The manual recommends that you remove the weights as well as the platter.  Lock the tone arm too, into its retracted position.  For added safety, apply tape to help hold it more securely.

Delicate

As mentioned, Technics built this record playing system to last a very long time.   Still, keep in mind that this is a delicate piece of electronics. It has many settings that can go awry with too much rough handling.  So avoid shocks and bumping the unit. Further, be sure to take apart according to the operations manual if you wish to transport it.  This helps preserve the platter’s spindle bearing life.

Our Rating for the Technics SL-1200 MK5 Turntable

Our rating for this fine record player is 97 out of 100.  You’ve found a top notch turntable in the Technics SL-1200 MK5. It produces near CD quality audio from your well-maintained record collection.  We highly recommend it for this, as well as for everyday play of your vinyl.  True. Panasonic stopped building the SL-1200 line in 2010.  But they again making a similar table due to vinyl record comeback.

Where to Buy the Technics SL-1200 MK5 Direct Drive Turntable System

The MK5 turntable by Technics (a Panasonic brand) is widely available for sale on eBay and Amazon.  But we’ve not seen this product sold at any brick-and-mortar shops in our travels in recent years.





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References for this Technics SL-1200 MK5 Turntable Review

  1. SL1200 Mk5 Operating Instructions and Owners Manual
  2. Technics SL-1200 Line   on Wikipedia
  3. Where to Buy the   Technics SL-1200 MK5 Turntable

Revision History

  • 2019-02-25: Added key phrase targeting, tags, and subheadings.
  • 2017-02-23: Revised the tags list.  Changed post name to: Technics SL-1200 MK5 Direct Drive Turntable System Review.
  • 2015-11-27: Added appropriate tags.
  • 2014-11-24: Adjusted ad placement and fixed some content issues.
  • 2014-09-19: Originally published.
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