As far as street and club culture is concerned, there is nothing more iconic than the SL1200 turntable which has featured in countless music videos, artwork, photos and merchandise since it literally revolutionised the way we listen to, and interact with music. The Technics SL1200 did for turntables what Che Guevara did for revolutionary rebels and made them both iconic and popular. In fact the SL1200 is arguably the most important musical instrument of the last two-and-a-half decades.
While there were several variations on the theme the SL1200 stayed in the same format as the MKII model that was first released in 1978, a testament to how amazingly well this turntable was designed from the beginning. While many may mourn the passing of the legend, in some ways it is more fitting for Technics to go out with a bang rather than a whimper and stop producing these turntables while they are still popular.
Of course the fact that Technics have stop producing SL1200s doesn't mean that people have stopped playing vinyl, which is why Reloop have released their RP8000, a turntable built for the 21st century and a contender for the throne left empty by the SL1200, thanks to some very tasty digital inclusions and other refinements.
One of the biggest reasons that the SL1200 wore the crown for so long was because many of the features — such as the magnetic direct drive turntable mechanism — were patented so completely off-limits to all but Technics. These patents have lapsed in recent years and as a result are fair game to all. This is something that has not escaped Reloop's attention and the RP8000 bears many similarities to the SL1200, along with some fantastic improvements. The most obvious of these improvements over the original SL1200 design is MIDI control via a bank of buttons on the left hand side of the platter, but there are many more such improvements to be found on the RP8000, with some being more obvious than others.
When it comes to looks, the Technics turntable has stood the test of time and still looks classically professional, more so than some of the more recent offerings from other big name manufacturers. Reloop’s RP8000 has gone for the same sharp square design complete with square metallic stop/start buttons.
The finish of the RP8000 is a slightly shiny metallic black paint on metal that looks very slick but may not last, and could be prone to chipping and scratching especially with heavy use. The build quality of this turntable is top-notch — every component has been carefully selected to combine into a deck that feels just right to use, with fantastically good sound reproduction.
When lifting the RP8000 from its box the first thing one notices is the weight, which is a pretty hefty nine-and-a-half kilos, but is still lighter than the original Technics and nearly seven kilos lighter than the Stanton STR-8. Thankfully the relative lightness of the RP8000 has no detrimental effects on the performance or sound reproduction, and will be a blessing when carting these turntables around, especially for mobile DJs.
The base of the RP8000 is a solid plastic affair which gives this turntable most of its weight, and is supported by four custom designed feet that have a remarkable amount of shock absorption and will sit comfortably on relatively uneven surfaces. The feet and base are actually incredibly important features of any turntable and often overlooked. Without a good design here, feedback and skipping becomes a problem as the bass reverberates around the stage and the booth — so good sound damping/absorption is essential.
The control surface layout follows the familiar classic SL1200 design and will be instantly familiar to DJs everywhere. The stop/start button looks as if it has been taken directly from the Technics factory and can be found at the bottom left of the control surface, which is mirrored by another at the top left hand side for handy access when the decks are rotated to be used in battle style. 45 and 33 rpm speed selector buttons are located next to the stop/start button along with a reverse button.
Reloop have opted to use rubberised buttons on all but the stop/start buttons which, although being perfectly functional, lack the slick look and feel of the metallic buttons. A round on/off switch is located above the reverse button and is caged to stop accidental operation when cuing records, along with a strobe light which works nicely with the raised metallic dots on the platter. The platter is identical to an SL1200 and looks and feels exactly right — another example of Technics getting it right first time and Reloop knowing when not to tamper with perfection.
MIDI control is where the RP8000 really sets itself apart from the competition and this turntable has a bank of eight pad-style buttons, four function control buttons and a nicely sized encoder knob with push button operation, making it the perfect companion to DVS systems such as Serato and Traktor.
Given Reloop and Serato's previous partnerships it is no surprise that this turntable supports Serato DJ and the layout of the buttons is clearly designed with Serato in mind. However because the RP8000 is MIDI compatible via the USB connector at the rear, any digital DJing software like Traktor or Mixvibes can be controlled with this turntable.
Crucially the RP8000's MIDI buttons work flawlessly alongside vinyl playback, and add to making the RP8000 feel like a modern turntable.
Another feature worthy of note is the tone arm design, which is an S arm design complete with height adjustment, anti-skating and a lifter which keeps all the best bits of the you-know-who design but improves the performance with little touches, such as rounded adjustment rings.
Adjustments can be made to the platter's torque and the stop/start time via two small knobs located under the tone arm, below which sits the pitch fader section and a digital display of the current pitch setting, along with buttons to select between +/-8 or +/-16 pitch fader settings.
All things considered, the RP8000 is a fantastic turntable that not only looks slick and professional but also delivers on performance and features. Given the amount of features and the lovely build quality it is perhaps not surprising that the RP8000 is one of, if not the, most expensive DJ turntable on the market, so potential owners would be wise to ensure that they will make use of all of its features — or they may be better off looking at a non-MIDI alternative like Reloop’s RP7000 which is nearly £250 cheaper.
BUILD QUALITY 9
EASE OF USE 9
VALUE FOR MONEY 7
SOUND QUALITY 9
A turntable that benefits from top-notch build quality and components, MIDI controls and a digital pitch setting display.
This turntable is very hard on the wallet and those rubberised buttons do not reflect the otherwise great build quality.
Reloop are gunning to be the top dog of the turntable market with the RP8000, a beautiful turntable complete with some rather lovely touches and unique MIDI control features.