Technics SL-DZ1200 Review
Overview: Technics entry into the Digital Turntable market, the SL-DZ1200 is definitely making a big splash into the CD turntable market! Equipped with a variety of great features and the same trusted direct drive motor as Technics vinyl turntables, the SL-DZ1200 is a great piece of equipment. Click below to find out more!
Review by: DJ BLAZE
The Technics SL-DZ1200 is the first Technics DJ CD player, and it took them an extra long time to release it. However, it was definitely worth the wait! The SL-DZ1200 is a very pleasing digital Tabletop CD-DJ deck to look at: it's very individual, and provides one of the best vinyl turntable-simulation CD experience of all the leading single CD-DJ tabletop players. The main reason for this statement is that the motor and platter have been built around the original analog Technics SL-1200 motor.
This feature also gives the SL-DZ1200 an instant familiarity. It allows DJs that are still hesitant to picking up CDs over vinyl to surely change their mind (or at least give it a try). In addition to the original SL-1200 motor, the spinning platter is one of the largest available on a single tabletop CD-DJ player at 10 inches. The platter on this table is the second largest platter available and the biggest being on the Numark CDX and HDX. The Slip disc surface that is used for scratching is very similar to a vinyl record. You can also head over to ebay or another online retailer and get real 10" vinyl slip discs that won't void your warranty and gives it a true vinyl feel.
The look of the SL-DZ1200 is simply amazing! As everyone might have guessed, the player is very similar to that of the original silver SL-1200 turntable. It also has those classic start/stop buttons, power tower and strobe strip.
These players have many, many features crammed onto its top panel along with the display and slip disc surface. Despite being a relatively small machine (smaller than the Pioneer CDJ-1000Mk2, but bigger than the Denon DN-S5000), It still delivers all of the features DJ's want.
The display screen in the center of the Slip Disc surface is able to rotate 360 degrees, so you can have a variety of set-up positions to suit the DJ's individual preference. It's unlikely that anyone would actually use this feature, but if you were using these decks for scratching, you might want to rotate one of them so that both start/stop buttons are as close as possible to the mixer's crossfader.
There are two playback modes on the Technics SL-DZ1200: CD or turntable. A DJ might need to flip between the two settings in order to take full advantage of everything the SL-DZ1200 has to offer. You will use the unit's turntable-simulation feature when you want to scratch and DJ on the fly, but to operate the platter controlled effects you need to select 'CD' mode (possibly for mixing).
In turntable mode a DJ will have to adjust further settings like the brake speed (there is a back panel control knob). There is also a top panel control labelled 'instant change' near the reverse switch. The instant change button directly affects the reverse switch and start/stop functions. Meaning if the instant change button is pushed…as soon as you press the start button, the source will start instantly from its current location. If you hit the reverse switch with instant change on then you will instantly change the direction of the source sound. With the instant change button off, the SL-DZ1200 is just like a Technics SL-1200 analog deck, such that when you press the start button there is a very slight drag before the deck reaches the required speed.
The SL-DZ1200 also has seamless loop function positioned on the central panel near the display. In addition to the loop function; there is also a real-time record feature linked to the (4) cue pads and (4) sample pads. This is an excellent, easy-to-use tool, with the cue function allowing DJs to do extremely fast mixing and remixing, while the sampling function (four 10-second pads) allows the DJ to record and replay samples to create an original mix!
The Technics SL-DZ1200 also has 'vinyl simulation' and 'dynamic FX'. Vinyl Simulation simulates various analog systems, like the output of an SL1200 turntable, a range of different cartridge types as well as radio and telephone settings. DJ's will most likely set it on Analog SL-1200 and leave it there.
The Dynamic FX function provides nice selection of effects; some can be used in turntable mode, BUT some of them are platter-controlled which means you will need to switch the unit into CD mode to use them. It just so happens that these are the best effects, such as TT Pan, which pans the sound depending on the platter movements.
The pitch controls gives the DJ all the control they could ever need, with an adjustable range of +/-8, 16, 33 and 50%, plus there's a reset button (like the SL1200's quartz lock) and a pitch lock control.
Issues with the DZ1200:
The biggest issue on this player is the fact that you cannot scratch with the unit while in Pitch Lock mode. If you try to do so, you will hear some serious distortion and reverb.
Another issue with the machine is that on "some" of the original units actually have slip discs that don't exactly fit 100% on the surface. It will feel like a vinyl record that has a center hole that is slightly too big. In order to fix this issue; you can order a new slip disc from Technics or the vinyl slip disc online. Or you can just slip a piece of paper in there to accommodate for the big size.
The final issue comes from MP3 CD's that are less than 128 bit-rate. If the bit-rate of an MP3 CD is less than 128 then you may experience some slight digital distortion while scratching or during playback. This is more of a problem on DZ1200's with 2.1 firmware or lower. (The new firmware version of 2.3 clears up 90% of the digital distortion on these low bit-rate CD's).
The Technics SL-DZ1200 suites its name and reputation well, with rock-solid build and reliable, accurate performance. The fact that it feels and responds very similar to the industry standard SL1200 turntables and with a user-friendly feature-set, should be enough to make this a serious competitor in the CD DJ game. The only 2 faults that were a little hard for me to overlook was the fact that it took 8 seconds to load a CD (same as numark CDX by the way), and the fact that you could not scratch with pitch lock on. If you can get past these two problems (and burn your MP3's higher than 128-bit); then you will be in love with some great decks.
Features & Specs
- Direct Drive 8" Platter
- Reads CD, MP3, CDR, AAC, and SD audio
- Scratch and mix from SD media
- Record Scratches
- Sound Effects
- Manual Cue Point - set the start of a sample to a specific point on the platter
- Pitch Lock
- Instant reverse/forward
- Customizable brake speeds
- Digital Out
- Tempo and Range Control
- +/- 8/16/33/50 pitch control
- Dimensions: 4.5" X 12.5" X 13"
- Weight: 12.8 lbs
- "Freewheel" - Turns off motor
- 4 cue points can be stored in memory, and activated by cue pads
- 4 audio segments can be stored in memory, and activated by sample pads
- BPM Counter
- Headphone Output with volume control
- 2 RCA Outputs
- "control" output allows connection to other Technics SL-DZ1200s or mixers with CD controls
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