Saturday, November 28, 2009

End Of An Era For DJs and Turntablists: Technics To Quit Turntable Production

I learned today while catching up on Richard Devines's tweets that Technics' parent company, Panasonic, has announced the end of production of Technics turntables.

For those of you who know how historical this is, go get a drink. Catch your breath. For everybody else, here is the short version.

The Technics SL-1200 series of turntables have been the standard for dance music, hip hop and many other DJs since the 1970's. The 1200's (and their predecessor, the SL-1100 used by DJ Kool Herc) helped define DJing and turntablism in the way the Big Four electric guitars (Telecaster, Stratocaster, Les Paul, SG) have helped define rock music. They aren't a required tool, but they set the initial boundaries around their role in the music and continue to be the chosen tool of many, many professionals.

Until today I never thought about what it would mean for digital technology to take out an analog icon like the SL-1200. That is what killed it, by the way. Analog turntable sales are way down and digital DJ tools continue to proliferate and make converts.

The old standard has fallen. eBay and Google searches for "Technics turntable" and "sl-1200" will go through the roof in coming months, as will the going price for used decks. Vinyl will continue it's move into being a niche product.

I've never felt strongly about analog or digital technology being superior and I have always believed that key analog technologies will stay in use for a long, long time. This event is historic, however. This is the equivalent of learning that Ford would no longer be selling trucks.

If the economy stayed in the tank long enough that could happen. Can you imagine searching eBay for "f-150," not just because you wanted one, but because there would be no more new ones and you knew the price would only ever go up from now on?

For vinyl DJs that is where we are.

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