The vinyl comeback couldn’t hit much more of a high note than this: it seems Pioneer, the company that popularized digital DJing and CDJs, is building phonographs.

Pioneer isn’t saying anything about the hardware that’s under plexiglass at Musikmesse, only that it’s a concept prototype. But they hardly need to. The hardware looks like someone took the most popular DJ turntable of all time, the legendary Technics SL-1200, painted it black, and re-lettered it with Pioneer markings. I don’t think they literally did that, though it almost doesn’t matter; the effect is unreal, like entering a bizarro universe where Pioneer invented the 1200.

The most tantalizing sign that Pioneer intends to make this a product is that the lettering is blacked out where the product identifier would be. It’s simply labeled “professional turntable.”

Technics walked away from the 1200 in 2010, just as vinyl records were making a niche resurgence. Vinyl still isn’t a mass market product, but then Pioneer is king of its main audience, DJs and clubs. And in a way, whatever Pioneer is cooking, it might make more sense to just make a turntable than bother people with thinking of it as part of a digital vinyl system.

Now, of course, Pioneer being digital, that may be exactly what they’re doing. But even so, the challenge of finding SL-1200s means that record lovers might pick it up anyway. This one should be interesting to watch.

I’ll say this: if Pioneer is going this route, it’s fantastic news for anyone pressing dance music on vinyl. It could create an entirely new market, just at the time that iPad apps start to stream digital downloads from Spotify. I can’t imagine anyone isn’t rooting for this.

Beatport Wax? Think about it.

  • blahblahblah

    “…But even so, the challenge of finding SL-1200s…”

    There’s nothing challenging about finding a 1200, they’re built like tanks so the second hand market for them is safe ground. Technics didn’t stop manufacturing them due to lack of demand, they stoppedbecause they couldn’t keep up with the existing stock on ebay etc.

    Also, there’s already a black SL1200, the SL1210.

    • Puffer @ digitallofi

      All right, jaded robot. Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt — and why not? seems truthy, They discontinued them in 2010, the last of the stock was out of the stores in, let’s say, 2011. Now, sure they’re an easy find on eBay, craigslist. But the prices vary pretty wildly, and more importantly so do the condition. And the thing is this is going to exaggerate exponentially over the next 5, 7 years. Tone arms aren’t going to get cheaper, and they do break. The benefits of having a ubiquitous piece of performance gear were that replacing, repairing them was no big deal. There are a lot of trashed 1200s out there.

      Anyway, is there a market, need for a 1200 replacement? Yes, I believe there is, if the price hits the sweet spot and the quality is good. I would definitely hope they would leave off any USB, digital conversion MP3 or whatever hot fad they think the kids want. And maybe having an in production 1200-clone will keep the used market from getting just stupidly over-inflated.

      Not only am I pretty interested in this, I think it’s pretty amusing. Maybe Pioneer is trolling Technique, us all?

    • Henry

      Why should they not introduce any sort of digital interface to the turntable? That – in addition to living up to build quality and getting all basic functionality right – would make it even more attractive. I am more than happy with my 1210s, and I have no plans selling or replacing them. But for anyone who would be in for a new set of turntables, any additional functionality connecting to an existing digital setup would be an additional selling point.

      Your comment sounds like the boring analog vs digital discussion in synth land…

    • tosque

      One very good reason for not including any sort of built in digital interface is the complete lack of an open industry standard protocol like midi which you know will be supported by multiple vendors long after its release. If Pioneer were to bundle some digital interface with this it would more than likely be proprietary and not compatible with Serato or any other competitor.
      Think about that for a second, you pick up a 1200 built way back in 1978 and it will offer the exact same functionality as when it left the factory floor. On the other hand if you were to buy some Analog/ Digital hybrid in 2014 you would be lucky if you got five years of solid use out of it and then it’s straight to the landfill with all the other early CDJ crap that hardly anybody is still rockin!

    • Puffer @ digitallofi

      Why does my comment sound like that? Other than something you’re assuming about me.

      Further what tosque says below, a USB connector would mean an AD converter, and chances are it wouldn’t be any better (worse?) than the USB turntables currently on the market. The general population that wants to digitize their vinyl don’t know a 1200 from whatever Stanton is selling at Urban Outfitters. Audiophiles and producers are most certainly running a dedicated amplifier, interface that has pro-specs. It’s one more thing to break, over-complicate or raise the price-point. Or in order to keep the sticker price down they cut costs on some other feature, part.

    • Henry

      I’m not saying it’s a must. All I’m saying is that in my opinion it would make sense to add another value to such a product. And I have neither the random vinyl collection ripping enthusiast nor an audiophile hi-fi listener in mind. For neither customer group a 1210 has ever been an option. But I could imagine all sorts of hybrid DJ setupsin in which it might make sense. And yes, I may be the only one with this opinion, but I’m fine with that.

  • Rossco

    If they make this with a built in DVS system, so you plug in a USB stick, use a timecode vinyl, and out spews some music, this could be a winner.

    • JJ Black

      That is actually a really brilliant idea.

    • Rossco

      Surely it’s not TOO hard to do, given the technology already in the CDJ’s and Rekordbox, just work out how to replace the control input data from a CDJ by the DVS decoding, to the playback control of a CDJ and that would be a good starting point… i mean, obviously there’s ALOT more to it than that, but i think we all know what i’m getting at.

    • Peter Kirn

      If they don’t build that, someone should try. 😉

  • Callum Davenport-Lambton

    IMO, if pioneer made a DVS system that tied into rekordbox and the rest of the nexus line that would be sweet.

    • Peter Kirn

      That may be what they’re working on. It’s pretty bold to make the turntable with it – but that could be a smart business decision for them.

  • wndfrm

    are we sure that this vinyl ‘resurgence’ has anything at all to do with DJ culture?? i think vinyl has never changed as a staple for DJ’s, the increased sales of wax i think are due to other cultural factors, marketing, consumer habits, packaging, retro-ness, hip-ness, etc..

    i personally think vinyl should be a required touchpoint for anyone interested in DJ culture, but the term has far outgrown any one medium these days (or skillset).

    so perhaps this is attempt to cash in on perceived re-growth in this area, but truly there are many, may options out there already, i can’t see how another turntable in the fray will make any difference at all, unless they have literally stolen the schematics for the 1200 and re-birthed it..


    • Henry

      When there are so many alternatives out there, why is it that the 1210 has such a market share and reputation? It *is* the blueprint for pretty much every DJ turntable out there, and they are not available any more other than used.

    • wndfrm

      yes, i think that would be the key, to make something as solid and reliable.. otherwise it’s just another numark/stanton/whatever.. which nobody has ever really regarded as ‘pro’, from my experience.

    • Peter Kirn

      That’s fair. But in answer to your points –
      1. Does DJ culture have anything to do with vinyl sales? Sure as heck does. Not necessarily exclusively, but it’s clearly a big deal – particularly looking at things like dance music sales in Europe. I mean, obviously, this depends on the record.

      2. Will another turntable make a difference? I think so, just because Pioneer has such an extraordinary distribution and club installation apparatus.

      And that’s before we get into some sort of digital angle to this, in the hardware or DVS system… just no idea what they’re doing here, frankly, but I think Pioneer could make waves jumping into the pool with this, because they’re a … gorilla … sorry, too much Messe time and I start speaking in twisted metaphors.

    • wndfrm

      ah, yes, i was just thinking that the viewed uptick in vinyl sales wasn’t really in the DJ realm, that vinyl has always been there, and been a reliable seller within the culture.. if on the decline.. so maybe, yes, your second point holds weight, if there are solid, reliable turntables everywhere again.. certainly not the case these days!

      they are indeed a large primate. :)

  • Gnarly

    From what I’ve read elsewhere this is another OEM from Hanpin, doesn’t mean it can’t be good but I’m not sure it can live up to the Technics legacy

    • Henry

      Oh well, are you sure that all Technics 1200s and 1210s have been manufactured anywhere outside China or Taiwan? It does not matter where they are produced, but how. It is all about quality control in the assembly process. Not all Chinese are idiots.

    • Gnarly

      The fact that they’re made in China or Taiwan is not the issue, the fact that they’re a generic OEM deck is the knock against them.

    • Henry

      So, “generic OEM” implies in your logic that this would just be a device like many others too? So, where are the other decks that come in the same form, with the same features, from the same manufacturer? Do you have evidence – or do you just guess? And even if so, is it a problem that standard components are used? And if yes, why?

  • Bolin

    There is a nice CD in this page.That’s color is black but good design.I like CD.So in a word this is a very good CD. Central Carolina Air

  • real deal HF

    get a clue rossco