Like every year, the vinyl industry was celebrated during the 7th edition of the Sound Days show. The leading turntable manufacturers were gathered that weekend at the Carreau du Temple to present their finest turntables and newest products. Here is a review of all of the different brands and models present at the show.
Technics had a lot on display in this year’s Sound Days, in particular its new Technics SL-1210 MK7 turntable, the proud successor of the SL-1200 range for DJs which have sold more than 3 million units worldwide. This new model incorporates a direct drive system which uses a stator without a ferrite core to improve the rotation stability and torque (1.8kg per cm). Its platter benefits from a Reverse Play function to reverse the direction of the deck and a design combining aluminum and rubber to reduce vibrations.
Alongside the SL-1210 MK7, Technics introduced the SL-1500 C, a variation designed for hi-fi audiophile listening, supplementing the SL-1200G and SL-1200GR decks. This new semi-automatic turntable incorporates the SL-1200 MK7’s main features, but without the specific mixing elements such as the variable pitch, microgroove lighting and rotation speed strobe lighting. Some modifications have also been made to make the SL-1500 C turntable perfectly suited for hi-fi use, including a new Ortofon 2M Red cartridge and a high-quality RIAA phono preamp.
Technics isn’t the only brand to have chosen a direct drive design for a hi-fi turntable: Thorens also presented the brand new TD 402 DD, a semi-automatic direct drive turntable that completely revolutionizes the brand’s M.O. Heavily inspired by the Thorens TD-202, this new turntable features a robust MDF chassis, a black lacquer or walnut finish and a premium aluminum platter. It includes a TP 72 type carbon tonearm mounted with an Audio-Technica VM95E cartridge. A switchable phono preamp is also integrated, allowing the deck to be easily associated with any amp or hi-fi system.
The Swedish manufacturer Mag-Lev Audio also attended the show with their famous Mag-Lev Audio ML1 turntable, the first ever magnetic levitation turntable that we had the honor of reviewing for our blog. The brand also introduced the limited edition version of this deck with a chassis entirely covered in Swarovski crystals and an Ortofon 2M Black cartridge.
The Austrian brand Pro-Ject showcased their new Pro-Ject T1 turntable, a very affordable belt-driven model fitted with an aluminum tonearm mounted with an Ortofon OM 5E cartridge. This turntable designed for beginners and enthusiasts boasts an elegant platter in sanded glass which sits on a heavy CNC-machined metal chassis fitted with vibration-absorbing feet. Three finishes are available: walnut, white lacquer and black lacquer.
The famous French hi-fi brand Elipson had several of its turntables on display, including the Elipson Omega 100 RIAA BT, a high-end model featuring a RIAA preamp, a USB audio output, a Bluetooth aptX emitter and an Ortofon OM 10 moving magnet cartridge. Elipson’s latest addition created as a limited edition to celebrate the brand’s 80th anniversary, the Alpha 100 RIAA BT 80e Anniversaire, was also present, paired with the Elipson Planet L80e Anniversaire compact speakers.
Naturally, the unsurpassable hi-fi brand McIntosh was present at the Sound Days with their new MTI100 turntable, an all-in-one solution incorporating an 80W amplifier, a tube preamp, a Bluetooth receiver to stream music from a portable device or computer, as well as numerous analog and digital inputs. This comprehensive McIntosh system simply needs to be connected to a pair of speakers to be functional.
Amongst the major players in the vinyl business, the manufacturer Rega is worth a mention with its iconic Rega Planar 2, Rega Planar 3 and Rega Planar 6 turntables. This British company continues to make a name for itself thanks to its in-house, handmade products that are always at the forefront of the latest innovations. Rega also provides phono cartridges and hi-fi amplifiers, the most famous of which, the Rega Brio, was also on display. The brand Watson also demonstrated its Watson’s Record Cleaning Machine, which makes it easy to clean and dry your vinyl records.
At the heart of the venue, the manufacturer Clearaudio stole the show with their Volkswagen Kombi T1 into which they had integrated a Concept Active turntable mounted onto a mechanical stabilizer to compensate for vibrations and bumps on the road. The system proved to be particularly effective, because even shaking the van didn’t disrupt the record being played. This type of installation, surprising in a van, is used in on-board hi-fi systems in yachts. This extraordinary turntable was paired with the KEF LS50 Wireless active speakers.
Clearaudio also had many other turntables on display, including the Clearaudio Concept MM, Clearaudio Concept MC, Clearaudio Performance DC and Clearaudio Emotion SE, along with their Clearaudio Smart Matrix Pro record cleaner.
Many other turntables were on display at the Vinyl Expo stand where it was also possible to browse through thousands of records representing all genres.