Out of the groove: Digital age silences DJ turntable of choice

Just weeks after Sony quietly pressed stop on the Walkman, its Japanese rival Panasonic has announced the end of another chapter of music history. It will no longer produce its Technics line of analogue turntables, including the pioneering 1200 series, originally a humble record player, that almost by accident sparked the birth of a musical and cultural movement.

When they were first brought to the consumer market in 1972, the Technics SL 1200 quickly became the standard among radio and club DJs as, when combined in a pair, the turntables made it possible to synchronise different recordings, giving rise to the disco (and house and techno) style of continuous beat matching. Since then, rappers have continuously name checked the "1200s", "Tee 12s", "Tec 12s", "wheels of steel" and "the one and twos" that helped to found their art.

According to the 2002 movie Scratch, made at the height of the DJ boom, for several years at the turn of the 20th century, turntables were outselling guitars across the UK. But though they have sustained the romance of vinyl far longer than was reasonable to expect, they are nonetheless an analogue device in a digital world. According to the manufacturers: "Panasonic decided to end production mainly due to a decline in demand for these analogue products and also the growing difficulty of procuring key analogue components necessary to sustain production. Our product range has to reflect the transformation of the entire audio market from analogue to digital."

While it will likely be some time before the turntables disappear altogether, the final suspension of their production has prompted no lack of nostalgia from their proponents – even those who have moved on themselves.

"They were never the best sounding but they're the most durable," said Rory Phillips, a leading figure on the London and European superclub scene. "They can stand the rigours of being in a smoky sweaty nightclub night after night. They weren't built for scratching, but they gave birth to scratching. You just couldn't do it on other turntables; I ruined quite a few home hi-fis trying it."

"It's very sad," said Dextrous, 28, a DJ from Manchester who acquired his set of SL 1200 as a 15-year-old. "I still think they're unbeatable. But in recent years we've seen the march of the digital DJ. The trouble with turntables is it leaves you locked into buying records. You can't play songs before they've been released, which everyone wants to now, and lots of DJs want to promote their own music, and not many of them have got it on vinyl. I've still got my Technics at home, but next to them I've got MP3 turntables."

Thirty-eight years after its initial release, the SL 1200 had barely changed and had seen off competitors' attempts to ape it. The latest iPod, a similarly revolutionary product, is scarcely comparable to its first chunky incarnation in 2001. But where the iPod all but obliterated its rivals, this announcement perhaps doesn't mean the end of the SL-1200. Some products that have purportedly replaced the analogue turntable still need the turntables in order to function, including the Serato Scratch program for DJs.

"It's sad news," said Mr Phillips. "But they're durable. There's still hundreds of thousands in circulation, and I'm sure they'll be around for years."

ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power