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More torque, lower wow and flutter: From SL 1200 mk2 to SP10 mk2

At the end of 2023, we decided to finally do the switch of the turntable for our vinyl lathe cut. So new year new gear in our studio! Cutting vinyl records is our passion and just with constant upgrades to our studio equipment, we can achieve the best results when recording vinyl records. There are so many different factors to achieve the best sound quality and one of them is also turntable torque. Technics SP10 mk2 has a much lower wow and flutter compared to SL 1200 mk2.

Why Technincs SP10?

The characteristics of this legendary turntable speak for themselves. The Technics SP-10 is a legendary direct-drive turntable that has left an indelible mark on the audiophile world since its introduction in the late 1970s. Renowned for its precision and engineering excellence, the SP-10 boasts a heavy, well-damped chassis to minimize vibrations and resonance, ensuring optimal playback performance. Its direct-drive system, a departure from traditional belt-driven mechanisms, provides precise speed control and low wow and flutter for accurate reproduction of audio signals. The SP-10 features a high-torque motor, offering swift start-up times and stable rotation. Additionally, its advanced design minimizes cogging effects, enhancing the overall smoothness of rotation.

Wow and flutter

Wow and flutter are deviations in the speed of a turntable’s rotation, and high percentages of these parameters can negatively impact the sound quality. Wow refers to slow speed variations, while flutter refers to faster variations. When a turntable exhibits a high percentage of wow and flutter the audio playback can experience pitch variations and instability. The sound may exhibit a warbling or wavering effect as if the pitch is constantly shifting up and down. This is most commonly heard on piano and its long sustains which result in the “wawing” effect.

Why the switch

The answer is simple. Technics SL 1200 mk2 is a great turntable but comparing the key characteristics with SP10 mk2 looks like this:

Tecnhincs SP10 mk2:

Starting Torque: 6 kg/cm
Wow and Flutter: 0.025% WRMS

Technics SL1200 mk2:

Starting Torque 1.5 kg/cm
Wow and flutter: 0.01%WRMS*

Better sound on lathe cut

As it was said in the beginning several things are affecting the result of vinyl record cuts, so we are constantly working on upgrades. With this upgrade, we are ready to produce even better custom vinyl records. We are ready for 2024 and already looking forward to new projects!

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Vinyl records cut

This is written with keeping in mind that some of you are experienced and enthusiastic vinyl record lovers, while others may be complete beginners or just curious about the whole industry.

The younger readers of this probably owe the turntable, and the older ones have at least owed one in the past. Those from the 70s will always remember the times they were purchasing vinyl records with a smile on their face but crying inside for spending a fortune just to get some music to share with their friends at the party for the weekend (it was worth it anyway). Nowadays, turntables and vinyl records are growing in popularity, and more of the younger population is building their vinyl collections, but one thing has stayed the same – they are still spending a fortune.

The thing is that maybe some of you don’t know how vinyl records are made. There are not lots of techniques, but one of them—and the most popular one—is vinyl pressing. Vinyl pressing surely deserves not one but a series of short reads in the future, but today we will briefly present the other technique: vinyl cut!

Vinyl cut? Yeah, you heard right

Indeed. The vinyl records can also be cut one by one, and every master disk for a vinyl pressing is cut (a little bit differently, but still). It’s a much longer and more complex procedure, and this is also why the quantities are usually much more limited.

You should be aware that cutting one vinyl takes as much time (without other preparations) as the recordings that are being cut. For example, one hour of music takes one hour of cutting – compared to pressed vinyl, which is made in just a few seconds.

Vinyl lathe cut

Vinyl record pressing vs. Lathe cut vinyl

Why would you cut a vinyl?

There are of course more reasons why vinyl cutting is still popular. Here are some:

  1. Financially pressing the small quantities is not a good option. For example, a local band that plans to sell/give away 50 vinyl records won’t be going to press them as companies pressing vinyl records will demand at least 300-500 copies (which means costs of producing would significantly increase). What would they do with 450 extra copies?
  2. The equipment to start vinyl cutting is much more affordable. This doesn’t mean you don’t need the knowledge of how to make them as the process is not simple, but the entry-level to start is much cheaper compared to the vinyl pressing.
  3. As mentioned in the first point, being a local band or artist and wanting a few copies for your fans won’t take you a long time to get them. The whole procedure when ordering small quantities is much faster. To get in line for pressing would take you at least 8 months (the market is insane at the moment) and as already mentioned you need to order larger quantities.
  4. It’s unique. For example, cutting vinyl is like homemade crafted beer or a handmade wooden piece of interior that has a different value.

But the sound is bad!

Well, this is not true. The sound quality can be poor with both techniques pressing or cutting. The key is in the procedure of making it. 

Three key points on sound quality:

  • Sound quality can be the same as with pressed vinyl or even better with the right approach to preparing the recordings for cutting.
  • Not every cut record is the same but this also stands for pressed vinyl. Experience in producing cut records is one of the critical factors in getting high-quality sound.
  • Cut records lifetime is in lots of cases even longer.

Wanna learn more?

We will discuss this topic in detail in our short reads series, so subscribe to Twlinch newsletter and stay tuned!