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Technics 1200mk7 - Initial Impressions + Set Up

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    Posted: 21 May 2020 at 3:19pm
Here are my initial impressions and comments:

First off, I am not a DJ and use this deck for home listening only.

Out of the box, the turntable is fairly easy to set up but is packed very tightly in the factory box with styrofoam, so my advice is to be careful unpacking everything so you don't lose any of the accessories or tear up the packing foam. You'll probably want to save all the packaging in case you need it later for moving or something.

Inside the box you get the following:

-Technics slipmat + slipsheet
-dustcover
-45 adaptor
-headshell
-screw set for cartridge
-RCA cable
-grounding cable
-power cord
-manual

Mine also came with a DJ breaks/scratch record called "Visual Vinyl" which appears to be a one sided picture disc with markings for the various tracks. I may end up giving this to a friend of mine who is a DJ as he'll get more use out of it than I will.

Since I am using the deck for home listening, I decided not to use the included slipmat. If you want to use it, I'm sure it's fine but I prefer a thick rubber mat. So, I bought an Oyaide BR-12 mat which is 5mm thick and made of mixed butyl rubber and tungsten. I should mention the mat has an intentional 1 degree tilt from center to outer edge by design, which some folks may not like. Supposedly this is meant to help with records that are slightly warped, especially when used in conjunction with a record clamp or weight. If you want the OEM 3mm rubber mat that Technics makes, you should be able to get one from an authorized Panasonic parts dealer or KABUSA.

To hook up the power cord, ground wire, and RCA cables you will need to turn the deck at least 90 degrees. Not a dealbreaker but a bit of a pain if you are not used to these types of recessed connections. I did not use the stock RCA cables but they appear to be decent quality.

I have some other headshells here but I decided to give the stock Technics headshell a try for mounting up my retipped Stanton 680. The headshell looks very similar to old Technics headshells (light, thin metal, holes in the top) but there is a set screw underneath the connector to adjust azimuth. I recommend checking to make sure that's properly adjusted to be straight out of the box. Mine was not, so I loosened the screw and adjusted it. Now, I will say I don't particularly care for the Technics headshell mainly because the top is curved and not straight. Often I will put a bubble level on top of the headshell when installing or changing carts to make sure I am not tilting it one way or another before locking the arm connector down. You can't really do that with this headshell because it is curved.

Another thing to mention is that there is no overhang gauge included. If you want one you'll have to buy it separately. I have an old one here but it is basically unusable because it is warped. If you buy one and want to use it, make sure it is not warped. Instead I used a ruler to dial in overhang and double checked everything with an arc protractor. The gauge + a straight edge or razor blade is definitely an easier method for most people, so that is what I would recommend unless you really want to use an arc protractor.

Setting the VTA is very easy with the adjustable arm base. The mechanism is smooth and feels solid. Note that if you use an aftermarket mat, the recommendations based on cartridge height may not apply anymore. I have an acrylic VTA block that I used to set VTA.

For VTF, I will say that the counterweight is fairly accurate if you know how to use it properly. I checked mine against a digital scale. The anti-skate mechanism also appears to work very well and I have no complaints there.

The torque, braking, and LEDs are adjustable via tiny dip switches under the platter. I left all the adjustments stock except for the LED which I switched to blue. I'd imagine cranking up the torque is of primary interest to DJs, though I do have some questions about speed accuracy at the different torque settings. I emailed Panasonic about that and I am waiting to hear back.

Now, I've heard some complaints about the plastic buttons on this turntable. To me they are a non-issue. Yes I realize that metal buttons look prettier but I can't find any fault with the buttons on the turntable. They work fine and that is all I really care about.

Another common complaint is feedback resistance on this turntable. I should mention that I don't set my turntable on top of massive PA speakers, nor do I put it directly in front of studio monitors, nor do listen to records at ear-splitting volumes. I did crank the volume a bit but could not detect any feedback whatsoever. If feedback resistance is a concern, you may want to look at isolation solutions, whether DIY or commercial. I did consider getting a set of Isonoe feet for the turntable but I am not sure I really need them. For now the deck sits on cheap industrial anti-vibration pads.

Now let's talk about the cueing mechanism. If you've never used this type of Technics cueing mechanism, or haven't used one in a long time, you're going to have to get used to it. There is a narrow range of motion where the lever actually raises and lowers the tonearm, but the lever itself moves in a greater range. Once you get used to it the stylus lowers on the record very gently - just don't smack it down in one abrupt motion.

In terms of actually playing records, I can find no fault with the 1200mk7. It is a fully manual deck, which I'm adjusting to as I've mostly used semi-auto and full-auto decks the past several years.

Lastly, the dust cover is a set on style cover. I don't have a problem with this because I think turntables work better with the cover fully removed most of the time. If you have small children or cats you want to keep away from spinning records, then this is not the turntable for you. I simply remove the cover and set it aside until I am done with my listening session.

Here is a picture of the deck with the cover on:

Reflex M + PSU-1 used with AT VM95ML, Stanton 680mkII + Ogura, and Shure M35X cartridges.
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