Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: mid-atlantic region of US
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The Technics is, imho, a superior table in terms of engineering and buld-quality. ..It's speed accuracy/ stability is better and so too, in all likelihood, is it's rumble (motor noise). But that doesn't mean the Technics will sound better to you. ..It's quite possible that with either table the limiting factor isn't speed stability or rumble, but rather the needle/groove noise.
On your system I suggest listening to an album w/ quiet piano music, particularly a piece w/ sustained notes. ..Better yet, a piece that you have on both CD and LP. ..Do the notes drift on the LP?? ..If you can hear this on your Music Hall, and NOT on the CD, there's a good chance you won't on the Technics either. ..It's speed accuracy is that good!. ..Belt-drive TT's are notorious for this sort of drift, and the excellent direct-drive SL1200 does not. ..Yet, as with so many things related to high-end audio, the companies that make belt-drive table would have you believe that belt-drive in nonetheless a better drive system. ..This is nonsense. There's nothing in the measurements to support this. ...Not that that will stop them from making the claim.
Belt-drive tables predominate because it's far easier for a small company like Music Hall, Pro-Ject, etc.. to design. ..So these companies will then gin up all sorts of nonsensical reasons why belt-drive sounds better, but it's just hollow rationalizing. But again, this doesn't mean the improved speed accuracy and lower rumble of the Technics will be audible to you and worthy of the price to upgrade! You have to hear for yourself.
In terms of durability, there's no comparing. ..To me, the Music Halls, Thorens, Pro-Jects, and Regas all felt very lightweight, and under-engineered to me. By contrast, the mostly-metal, exquisitely crafted Technics has a longggg track record of providing years and years of trouble-free service. ..Parts are still widely available for iterations built in the 70's. ..I bought a new one (though no longer in production, they're still a few left-overs in stock at B&H Photo) a year ago and feel it is more deserving of the $1200 I paid than any other $1200 component I've ever bought. ..It's that well made. Why would this be, you might ask? ..Because Technics made MILLIONS of SL1200's whereas Music Halls has made maybe a few thousand 5.1's hence Technics enjoys volume-driven price advantage that Music Hall (and all the others) couldn't come close to touching.
My hunch is that if Music Hall were to try to design their own SL1200 and stood to sell only a few thousand - which is about all they could given analogs waning popularity - they would have to charge $5-$10K each to recover their engineering/development and tooling costs plus expected profit. ..So instead, they go with a plank and rubber-band design like the 5.1.