Pioneer PLX 1000 vs. Technics SL 1210
Turntables are nothing new to the music industry. In fact, the very first phonograph, the earliest record player, dates back to 1877! Although the turntable has undergone many decades of evolution and technological advancements, it has also become an instrument in its own right.
Often considered the mark of a true disc jockey (DJ), being able to create music from a simple turntable is an achievement of its own. In order to scratch the best beats, though, you need the best equipment. Today, we compare the Pioneer PLX 1000 and Technics SL 1210 to help you find the best turntable for your next DJ gig.
Features Every DJ Needs in a Turntable
DJ turntables and regular record players have several features in common. Drives, motors, plinths, platters and tonearms are features every turntable should have. However, DJ turntables have specific needs that go beyond the basics. To help you understand what features you should be looking for, we outline several of the most important pieces of your DJ turntable.
A drive motor powers your turntable. The majority of all turntables on the market today will use one of two types of motors: direct drive or belt drive.
Direct drive motors are the most recommended type for DJs. In a turntable with a direct drive, the motor is placed immediately below the center of the platter. As the name implies, it is directly connected to the platter. Direct drive motors give a turntable a higher torque, as well as fewer plate speed fluctuations, referred to as “wow and flutter”. These features are essential for any DJ.
A belt drive motor, on the other hand, is located off-center from the platter. In these turntables, the motor is connected to the platter through a rubber belt. While this type of drive motor reduces overall vibrations, it also means the torque is slower and speed fluctuations may occur more often. They are slower to respond to commands, including rotation speeds, pitch controls, and even just pressing “play”. A belt drive motor may be ideal for those who enjoy listening to albums in their living room, but they are unsuitable for the needs of a true DJ. Avoid belt drive motors if you intend to use your turntable like a pro!
Torque is vital to a DJ. The higher the torque, the faster your platter will accelerate to the correct speed you need. It also means the platter will not slow down too much when you hold a record still. Most experts recommend your turntable have a torque of at least 1.5 kgf · cm.
Pitch Control Slider
A pitch control slider is also essential for a DJ’s turntable. (Please note that this feature is not included on all turntable models. This is a defining component when it comes to a DJ turntable.) A pitch control slider allows you to change the tempo of whichever track you are playing. The pitch control slider on your turntable should adjust easily to allow a smooth transition. Your turntable should also respond quickly to the pitch control slider.
Some turntables also include an adjustable pitch range. While this feature is not required for all DJ-ing purposes, it is important should you want to scratch.
Stylus, Cartridge & Tonearm
The stylus, cartridge and tonearm come together to translate the bumps and grooves of your record into a phono output signal. The stylus is the diamond or sapphire tipped needle the glides over your records, dipping in and out of ever crevice of your vinyl. The cartridge, which holds the stylus, then converts these dips and bumps into the actual phono output signal.
Both the stylus and cartridge then connect to the turntable via a tonearm. Not only does the tonearm perfectly balance and position the stylus over the record, it also connects it to the pivot joint, counterweight, and turntable base, known as a plinth. Tonearms come in a variety of shapes, including straight and S-shaped. The merits of the tonearm shape are still up to debate. Some prefer the straight tonearm, as it gives you more room to move your own hand. However, straight tonearms tend to be harder on your albums and do not allow for the use of an elliptical stylus. If you are using DVS records or scratch vinyl, record damage may not be that big a deal. But, if you are use real records, the S-shaped tonearm makes a better, and safer, choice.
Turntables today come with a host of various features. For DJs, however, slipmats, digital outputs, reverse, and braking features are nice additions.
A slipmat is a thin piece of felt that sits between the platter and your record. As the name implies, it allows your record to easily slide, stop, and scratch while you work. Slipmats are not always included with your turntable purchase. However, there are several great brands available separately if your turntable does not include one.
A digital output is great if you want to transfer or control your sound through a computer. Universal serial bus (USB) or S/PDIF ports are not always included with your turntable purchase. (You will also need to download and install software to help you convert your songs into a digital recording.)
As the name implies, reverse makes your platter rotate in reverse. This feature is often desired by DJs who intend to scratch. For all others, it is a neat but unnecessary feature.
A brake is also needed for scratching, but may not be included on all turntables. Most professionals recommend you invest in a turntable with an adjustable brake if you are planning on scratching.
Pioneer PLX 1000
For over 50 years, Pioneer has been making high-end turntables for all your vinyl needs. The Pioneer PLX 1000, however, is designed specifically with DJ use in mind.
The Pioneer PLX 1000 comes with a high-torque, servo-type direct drive and a 3-phase brushless motor. In fact, with a starting torque of 4.5 kgf · cm, the Pioneer PLX 1000 can reach 33 1/3 rotations per minute (RPM) in 0.3 seconds. (It can play 45-RPM albums as well.) To help reduce vibrations, the turntable comes with a die-cast zinc chassis, reinforced by an 8mm thick resin. A 9mm thick dampener is also installed in the base to aid in the vibration prevention. This helps reduce your wow and flutter factor to less than 0.01%.
This turntable utilizes an s-shaped tonearm. The Pioneer PLX 1000 does not include a cartridge or digital output. (Pioneer recommends their handmade PC-X10 cartridge for DJ use.) However, it does come with a slipmat and dust cover to keep your records and turntable safe during and between use. An electronic brake is also included, although you cannot adjust it.
- The Pioneer PLX 1000 also comes with a multi-tempo control, allowing you to adjust the speed instantly. Adjustments include ±8%, ±16% and ±50%. An included reset button allows you to immediately revert back to ±0%.
- Several users have noted that the Pioneer PLX 1000 does not feel as durable as they had hoped, especially given the price.
- While the specifications sound appealing, several users have noted a slightly congested sound with the Pioneer PLX 1000.
- Without the ability to control the bass, highs, lows, and sound definition – advanced professionals may find this turntable a bit lacking.
- The Pioneer PLX 1000 does not play 78-RPM records.
Technics SL 1210
The Technics SL 1210 is considered an industry standard and has been for decades. Making its debut in 1972, the Technics SL 1200 series has undergone decades of evolution geared at keeping it relevant and popular amongst vinyl enthusiasts. The Technics SL 1210 series comes in several makes. However, in 2016, the newest model joined the family as the Technics SL 1210GR.
The Technics SL 1210GR is a coreless direct drive motor. In keeping with several previous designs, the Technics SL 1210GR has a cast aluminum design. Like previous models, it also has a 0.7 second start up time. The aluminum platter includes rubber dampeners helps make the sound quality stand out even when playing in a club. It plays 33 1/3-, 45- and 78-RPM records. The pitch control slide allows for a ±10% adjustment.
The Technics SL 1210GR comes with an aluminum s-shaped tonearm to help reduce resonance that may impact sound quality. Users have noted the high-quality feel of each feature of the Technics SL 1210GR and its durability. It also allows for several upgrades should your skills advanced beyond the scope of the base model. This includes upgraded cartridges, which can help bring out even more delicate tones.
- The powerful sound quality is crystal clear, letting listeners truly hear every nuance of the beat.
- The build quality is durable, functional, and well constructed, giving you years of use.
- Upgrade potential gives you plenty of room to grow and enhance your DJ potential.
- The Technics SL 1210GR plays 33 1/3-, 45- and 78-RPM records, giving you the full range of vinyl usage.
- This is definitely one of the more expensive DJ turntable available today.
The Winner Is…
The Technics SL 1210GR, with its dedicated history and quality DJ equipment, is the clear winner. While the Pioneer PLX 1000 offers quite a bit, for the price, it just does not quite deliver. Price tag aside, however, the Technics SL 1210GR builds on decades of notoriety and enhances capabilities DJs have come to know and trust.
True passion requires all kinds of investments. From time to money, DJ-ing is a skill carefully crafted and honed to perfection. While a turntable cannot give you the natural ability to mix beats and scratch, a quality device can help you find your passion. Between the Pioneer PLX 1000 and the Technics SL 1210GR – the winner is clear. Invest in a Technics SL 1210GR for truly superb sound and playability.