In Barn for Review: Technics SL-1210GR and Ortofon SPU Mono CG 65 Di MkII

The first Ortofon SPU dates from 1959 and the first Technics SL-1200 direct drive turntables rolled off the production line hitting the market in 1972. HiFi history.

The SL-1200 was the Technics’ 3rd direct drive ‘table, following on from the SP-10, the world’s first direct drive, in 1970 and the SL-1100 released in 1971. Championed by DJs and an integral part of the new Black Music scene, the SL-1200 is one of the cornerstones of hifi history.

The SL-1210GR (black) and SL-1200GR (silver) are the current models and offer a number of key advances.

From Technics:

  • Newly developed coreless direct-drive motor with no iron core eliminates cogging
  • Advanced motor control technology for high starting torque and high-speed stability.
  • Three-layer turntable construction with deadening rubber to eliminate unnecessary resonance
  • The balance of the turntable is adjusted at the factory using specialized high-precision equipment
  • High-sensitivity aluminum tonearm for a high damping effect

The SL-1210GR offers a pair of RCA outputs and ground terminal (RCA cables and ground wire are included), and a number of tonearm adjustments including arm height to lock in your cart of choice. Sticking to its DJ/turntable as instrument heritage, there’s a pitch slider for modulating pitch and those four rows of strobe mirrors act as visual pitch guidance system.

There are two additional features that lured me into this review—the 1210GR’s ability to play at 78rpm, and the magnesium tonearm’s headshell mount. In addition to the ease of swap, the headshell mount accommodates the Ortofon SPU Mono CG 65 Di MkII, a cartridge designed specifically for properly playing 78s which will be the focus of this system story—playing 78s.

Ortofon’s first SPU (Stereo Pick Up) was launched in 1959 and was designed for professional use.

my hifi c.2005

I had the great pleasure of living with a Shindo-modified Ortofon SPU-A that lived on a Shindo Mersault RF-773 12-inch tonearm on board a prototype Auditorium 23 Nouvelle Verdier turntable so I have warm memories of the SPU’s deep knowledge of reading records.

In order to accommodate the SPU’s 35 gram weight, Technics provided the heavier counterweight that comes standard with the more expensive “G” series SL-1200s which I paired with the smaller, lighter stock counterweight to achieve the Ortofon SPU’s recommended 4.5G tracking force

The Ortofon SPU Mono CG 65 Di MkII sports a spherical stylus profile for expertly riding the grooves of 78s and early mono records and offers a 1.5mV output.

that’s John DeVore’s restored Garrard 401 with a Shindo platter/mat/bearing in a DeVore-designed suspended plinth sporting a Dynavector 507 MkII tonearm mounted with the Ortofon Mono CG 65 Di MkII cartridge

I admit I kinda cheated, having spent the better part of a day at John DeVore’s place listening to his Ortofon SPU Mono CG 65 spin some 78s for my follow up review of the HiFi Bargain Aurorasound HFSA-01.

The Technics and Ortofon combo are already spinning at 78rpms, filling the Barn with the sounds of Sonny Terry ‘s “All Alone Blues” and “Whoopin’ The Blues” on Capital from 1947 among others with more 78s heading the Barn’s way.

The Gold Note PH-10 Phono Stage is already here, and there’s one more EQ Curve-endowed phono stage on the way. Stay tuned!

Technics Direct Drive Turntable System SL-1210GR
Price: $1,799.95
Company Website: Technics

Ortofon SPU Mono CG 65 Di MkII
Price: $1,057
Company Website: Ortofon