Plan view of a Technics SL-1210Mk5 turntable with an LP playing on it.

Pictured above is my Technics SL-1210Mk5 turntable. The blue LP spinning on it is a 2020 re-issue of Ahmad Jamal At The Pershing. I bought the turntable some eighteen or nineteen years ago, since when it has provided me with nothing but trouble-free listening pleasure. It was expensive, but in value-for-money terms it has proven to be a bargain.

Coming of age in the heyday of the Walkman, I began buying music on cassette – out of practicality (and for reasons of economy) rather than due to any attraction inherent in the medium. A decade later I made the leap from cassettes to CDs. I didn’t obtain my first record-player until 2001. That was a second-hand late-70s/early-’80s Ferguson unit picked up at a junkshop. While it wasn’t exactly a high-quality item, at that point the attraction was all about the novelty of getting any old crackly sound out of the dirt-cheap vinyl I was buying.

When the Ferguson gave up the ghost, I sought out something that would be easier to connect up to my PC’s sound-card, my focus having shifted to the desire to digitise some of my newly-accumulated analogue music. I settled on an inexpensive Kenwood-brand player which, alas, proved to be a poor choice. The build quality left much to be desired, and nor was the sound quality anything to shout about. My frustration with it led me to consider shelling out rather more for a model with a reputation for solid reliability: the SL-1210.

It took a while to get a Mk. 5 on order as this was a time (2005 or ‘06) when demand was at something of a low ebb. Come the end of the decade the SL-1210 would fall out of production altogether – until the vinyl revival belatedly summoned it back from the dead. Having used it first in digitising music, or for listening through headphones, I eventually did the decent thing and hooked it up to an amp and some speakers, in which configuration it’s done a round decade’s sterling service. The worst thing I can think to say about the thing is that the dust-cover seems to have been something of an afterthought: I ended up badly damaging my original one and had to get an aftermarket replacement.