Technics SL-10 Direct-Drive Turntable Review

Technics SL-10 Direct-Drive Turntable Review

The Technics SL-10 direct-drive turntable continues Technics’ tradition of innovation and beautiful design. Find out why the SL-10 is one of the best vintage turntable buys today.

The Technics SL-10 direct-drive turntable represented the pinnacle of design, engineering and product marketing when it arrived to market in 1979. It truly re-defined what could be done and therefore what the consumer expected in the vinyl replay space. In this article, I take a good look at what makes the SL-10 so special.

Technics SL-10

Ground-Breaking Design

The SL-10 was the first linear-tracking turntable to feature direct-drive and was a radical departure from conventional design. The SL-10 has the same width and depth dimensions as an LP record jacket, tiny for a fully-featured turntable.

Yet within this compact package are a computer and precision tonearm drive system. It was part of a luxury range of micro-hi-fi equipment, all built to the same high standards. A typical Technics system of the time, including an SL-10, looked like this:

Technics SL-10
Typical ‘high-end chic’ Technics system of the day. You know you want this system.

The deck features a gimbal-suspended linear-tracking tonearm, and originally included a high-grade moving coil cartridge. Computer control systems allow foolproof operation of the deck, without ever having to touch the tonearm. In practice, this means less “Oops, I broke the cantilever again” moments!

Technics SL-10
An LP jacket fits perfectly over the SL-10, it really is this small!
Technics SL-10
Opened up and you get just a glimpse of the inner workings of this lovely deck. Here you can see the underside of the lid and the linear tracking tonearm in the ‘parked’ position.

The heavy die-cast aluminium chassis, dynamically balanced aluminium platter and sealed design, combine to produce an excellent user and record playing experience. The SL-10 also came standard with Technics excellent EPC-310MC moving coil cartridge. The EPC-310MC is an excellent cartridge, featuring ultra-low moving mass and boron cantilever, but is sadly long since out of production.

If you can find an EPS-310MC in good condition, just buy it.


Think about the turntable market in 1979. The SL-10 looks space-age now, so how do you imagine it looked then..?! The Brits and Yanks were busy churning out cookie-cutter belt-drive decks, which compared to the SL-10 were like a Timex is to a Rolex.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some innovative products at the time. The original Rega Planar 3 springs to mind as one excellent example. Even the Planar 3 was considered radical at that time though and if that deck was radical, the SL-10 was from a different universe!

Seriously, can you imagine the classical British designers, having just churned out their latest belt drive deck featuring a ‘special new wood’, seeing the Technics SL-10 for the first time? A die-cast turntable, controlled by computer, with a linear tracking tonearm. That’s how far ahead the Japanese were at this time. It’s almost laughable looking back.

This stunningly compact, high-performance turntable was an engineering world apart from the wobbly, home-made decks common at the time. I can only imagine engineers working at the smaller European and North American hi-fi manufacturers at the time getting hold of an SL-10 for the first time. They must have truly wondered, after having their minds blown, how they would ever compete.

The Revox B-790 / B795 series of linear tracking turntables from the great Swiss manufacturer was one attempt to compete. I owned a Revox B795, it’s not as good as the SL-10.

The SL-10 was at home in the most expensive systems, whilst not out of place in modest ones. Heck, the SL-10 was and still is considered such an extraordinary piece of engineering ‘art’ that the wonderful Museum of Modern Art or MoMA in Manhattan, NYC, a place I’ve spent many hours, even has a special SL-10 exhibit!

SL-10 Specifications (courtesy, Vinyl Engine)

Platter: 300mm aluminium die-cast
Speed accuracy: within +-0.002%
Wow and flutter: 0.025% WRMS
Rumble: -78dB
Tonearm type: Dynamic balanced linear tracking gimbal suspension
Effective length: 105mm
Cartridge type: EPC-310MC moving coil stereo
Frequency response: 10 to 60,000Hz
Dimensions: 315 x 88 x 315mm
Weight: 6.5kg

Technics, of course, has some more great info about the SL-10 at their dedicated SL-10 museum page. The Vinyl Engine also has their page with more info, and the always awesome Vintage Knob has another excellent SL-10 page. You can also watch a short video I made of the SL-10 playing vinyl.


These decks are relatively straight forward in terms of servicing and of course, Liquid Audio is here to help. They are very reliable, but regular servicing is a sensible plan. Standard servicing includes lubricating the motor and linear tracking mechanisms, checking and adjusting the arm and carriage and replacing the belt that drives the arm. Everything else is bulletproof, as expected of Technics.

Look out for perished rubber feet under the unit. I regularly repair these. Also, check the cartridge, what type is it? Is the stylus still OK? Try to check out any potential SL-10 playing a record. Check that the arm traverses its full range of motion smoothly and that all commands receive swift responses. I’ll do all of this if you book it in with me.

Technics SL-10
Here we see the SL-10 main-board, with the platter removed. The aluminium platter is bolted to the motor. With the dynamically balanced arm, you could actually play the SL-10 standing in a vertical position. Anyway, this mainboard is very well laid out and engineered with excellent components.

Sound & Cartridge Options

There are no surprises here, though the results vary somewhat according to the cartridge used. The sound is warm, with plenty of punch, extension and drive. Mids and highs are excellent if you have a good example of the Technics EPS-310MC moving coil cartridge installed. Bass performance is excellent of course and given that this is a direct-drive deck, pitch accuracy is extraordinary, far better than most belt-drive machines can muster.

Other cartridge options include the now-discontinued Shure Me94P moving magnet cartridge. These are rich and full-bodied, perhaps a little warmer overall. Audio Technica also has some options including the AT-301P, Grado has several including the RED1P and LP Gear have their own very nice Reference Series VML, perhaps the best option here.

As long as you have a good example of a quality cartridge fitted, you won’t go wrong. The SL-10 is rock solid in terms of pitch and reasonably good at isolating environmental vibrations. The deck has its limits here though, mostly due to the rudimentary sprung feet and low-ish 6.5kg mass.

Bottom Line

Should you buy an SL-10? What do you want in a turntable? Push-button ease of use like playing a CD? No risk of trying to maneuver a tonearm and boron rod after multiple alcoholic drinks? Sony Walkman-like build quality and superb sound quality to boot? If yes, there are few decks I could recommend more highly than the legendary Technics SL-10. At the prices they are currently selling for, the SL-10 represents a real bargain.

Technics SL-10

$300 - $600AUD

Build / Finish




Sound Quality







  • Precision build
  • Linear-tracking tonearm
  • Excellent pitch stability
  • Incredible features
  • Excellent bang-per-buck


  • Very limited cartridge choices
  • Not upgradeable

Liquid Mike

At 10 I was pulling apart electronics and by 13 I'd have Dad's hi-fi in pieces when my parents went out! Later, I started Liquid Audio, a specialist electronics repairer known for detail-focused service, repair and restoration of hi-fi electronics & turntables. Keeping classic hi-fi gear alive and well is what we do. Our mission: to deliver TLC for classic Japanese, American and European hi-fi stereo equipment. In my spare time, I ride motorcycles, travel, listen to music and research interesting topics.

This Post Has 52 Comments

  1. desmond wright

    my sl-10 is dead , well almost. It powers on , spins up , but none of the buttons work and none of the button lights work , also the arm does not move. Now Im pretty handy with electronics and technical things. Ive done all the usual things like clean , degrease/re grease , change the motor arm belt. I’m almost 100 % sure its the pc board in the lid , but from here on Im not too sure what to do.

    1. Liquid Mike

      Hi Desmond, thanks for your comment. Sounds like you’ve done some useful work on her thus far, though this mechanical service work is unrelated to the functionality issues you’ve described. This electronic problem will need to be traced and resolved so, at this point, you should consider taking your SL-10 to a specialist for further diagnosis and hopefully a repair.

  2. danny janssens

    i have 3 or 4 linear turntables that have the same problem a blinking repeat indicator and the platter isnt spinning anymore. One of them just started doing this today and was still working yesterday. What could be the reason and how to fix it?

    1. Liquid Mike

      Hi Danny, sounds like they all need some TLC. It’s not possible to say what’s wrong without properly inspecting and testing them, there are various possible causes for the symptoms you’ve described, but if you live in or near Perth, I’m happy to look at them for you.

  3. hlov

    Thank you Sir

  4. Hlov

    Thanks Mike,
    Is there an easy way to differentiate them?

    1. Liquid Mike

      Yes, the linear type is transformer-based and heavy as a result, the switching types are super-lightweight. It’s hard to find small linear supplies these days, they tend to be older or more expensive. You could use a linear lab or bench power supply if you have access to one.

  5. hlov

    My SL 10 has both an AC 220 and DC 12v inputs, does this mean I can use it with a 12v adapter?



    1. Liquid Mike

      Hi, yes that is correct, but make sure the adapter is a linear power supply for best performance (not a switching power supply or SMPS), that it supplies DC and that the pinout is correct, ie that the orientation of positive and negative on the deck socket matches that of the PSU connector.

  6. Brad

    Hello, do you happen to know the model numbers of the “luxury range of micro-hi-fi equipment” that you mention in the article?

    1. Hi Brad, no I don’t but I think if you do some searching you’ll find brochures and pictures, with model numbers. Very cool gear indeed!

  7. drjohnny

    Will do. Thanks for your help.

  8. drjohnny

    Anyone with any ideas on where to find the switch that is at the back right of the Technics SL-BL3 Linear Tracker that engages and disengages the motor and sends the tonearm back to start position when the lid is up or down? Sheared it off in a repair. Table operates, but as a semi-auto now. Would like to get it going full auto again. It’s a great table. Any help is appreciated!

    1. Hi, thanks for your query and it’s most unfortunate that you broke that switch! The best plan is to remove it, note the specifications and then check the standard commercial parts vendors to see if there are replacements available. I reckon there will be if it’s the type of switch I’m thinking of. Try Digikey, Mouser, Element14/Farnell etc. Check switch manufacturer websites and catalogues too.

  9. Tomasz Włodarczyk

    What is the difference between SL-10 and SL-10 XA?

    1. Hi Tomasz, I haven’t worked on an XA, but it appears to have a different colour scheme, a black piano finish, as compared with satin silver for the regular SL-10.

      1. Tomasz Włodarczyk

        Thanks, at first glance (photos) look similar.

      2. Tomasz Włodarczyk

        I found. 10-SL-XA has a built-in pream.

      3. Tomasz Włodarczyk

        However, these are the same turntables. The SL-10-XA version is simply SL-10 sold in Asia, Africa and South America 😀


  10. Wesley Dijkstra

    Great article. I’ve been trying to find a way into linear tracking. I upgraded to a Pro-Ject 1Xpression a couple years back, after owning a Pro-Ject Debut Esprit for over 10 years. The thing is that I am apparently very sensitive to Wow & Flutter. And it annoys the crap out of me. The specs and the 1Xpression isn’t the best, but not that bad either with 0.14%. The thing that causes most problems I think, is that there are a lot of records that are pressed just slightly off center. Do you think/know if a linear tracking turntable like the SL-10 would do better with that? Since the arm is not attached from one pivot point?

    1. Mike

      Hi Wesley, thanks for your message. The linear tracking arm won’t help with wow and flutter, which I agree is most irritating. What will help is a deck with low wow and flutter, so most direct drive decks will be way better in this regard. The SL-10 is a very good deck though, I work on lots of them and I’m always impressed when doing a listening test at the end of a service or repair. Regarding the out of center record pressing issue, yes this is a big problem. It’s easily resolved by reaming the center hole slightly, and then manually positioning the record so that it is as close to perfectly centered as possible. This will certainly reduce wow, along with a precision direct drive arrangement.

      1. Wesley

        Thank you Mike!

        1. Mike

          My pleasure!

  11. Richard Jones

    I just recently purchased an SL-10 from a older gentleman who services & sells these units all the time, so needless to say everything was up to fine operating condition. He also tossed in a original Technics MC-310 cartridge. When it arrived I was truly blown away by the superb sound. But I had my doubts about the condition of the 310 stylus. I sent the cartridge in to Sound Smith for a evaluation, they recommended a re-tip, so I chose the solid boron cantilever with the nude fine line stylus. I tell you what this unit plays vinyl like nobody’s business, absolutely beautiful sound. So like mike sez if you run across one of these TT’s that is in decent condition definitely go for it, with a little tweaking, they are truly amazing.

    1. Mark Saunders

      Hi Richard,

      do you mind telling me where said elderly gentleman resides? I am in England and looking for someone to fix mine. Unfortunately, Mike is too far away (he could barely be further from me without being an alien).

  12. Mark Saunders

    Thanks again Mike – I’ll let you know if I get it fixed.

    1. Mike

      Not a problem Mark, I really hope you do.

    2. Mark Saunders

      Hi Mike,

      A couple of years on and I thought you might like to know that I finally got the SL-10 going. I had put it away pending an opportunity to pick one up for repair, or one being broken for pats on Ebay. As a temporary measure, I picked up a cheap belt-drive Technics linear for repair from Ebay, which I was able to get going pretty easily. It worked, but wasn’t great and a few months ago I started looking for something better. I found an SL-5 for £50 that needed an arm belt, stylus and (the lister didn’t mention this) three feet. Again, I was able to fix it up fairly easily and it wasn’t at all bad for the cost.

      About three weeks after buying the SL5, along came the long awaited SL-10 being broken for parts on Ebay; I bought the arm logic board for £25. This didn’t cure the problem fully, but with it fitted everything worked except the arm not moving – it now dropped onto the disc every time, which was intermittent before. I figured it unlikely that the two boards had the same fault and I knew that the motor and mechanical side were fine, so I turned my attention to the connector between the motor and the board and, sure enough, found that this small, inexpensive item was the root of my problem. I think I had actually caused the problem right at the start, as I was testing the arm mechanism with a 9V battery and now think that the wires I poked in the plug to do this opened out the terminals, so they no longer made contact with the pins on the board. So, with about 10 minutes of fettling, the plug works and the SL10 is up and running. It’s not the tidiest example, and i could still use a pair of lid clips, but it sounds great – I reckon it’s a match for the Linn Axis in my main system, something I’ll try out one day.

      Thanks for your advice back in 2018 – happy new year!

      1. Liquid Mike

        Hi Mark, thanks for this and my apologies for not recalling the details of this conversation. I’m glad you got her running again, these machines are usually very repairable in all but extreme cases. Happy New Year!

  13. Mark Saunders

    Thanks again Mike. I tried that this afternoon and it’s nice and smooth all the way along. The start and end switches are working fine when the arm reaches them.

    I tried to fool the turntable into thinking it was closed when it was open, to see if a little jiggle of the arm might get it moving. I put tape over the three light sensors and held the lid position switch in, but it didn’t fall for it. I got the flashing “repeat” led, which is also what I get if I try to start it with the arm away from the start location.

    I probably need a friendly SL-10 owner willing to test my board for me by swapping it into a good turntable.

    Thanks for all your help – if I wasn’t at the other side of the World I’d send it to you to fix.

    1. Mike

      No problem Mark, yes it sounds like it needs a repair, best of luck getting it sorted!

  14. Mark Saunders

    Thanks again Mike.

    When you say operated by hand, do you mean by manually turning the wheel that the belt runs on? Like I said it moves, but maybe the battery is too blunt an instrument to tell if it is sticking.

    It is the lid catch/lock devices that are broken. The lid does sit closed under its own weight, certainly closed enough to operate the lid position switch.

    1. Mike

      Yes it should be manually turned, unless it’s the deck doing the turning!

  15. Mark Saunders

    That’s a shame – I’d love to get it going. Can I just ask a couple of questions:

    Do you think I can rule out jammed mechanism as it runs with the 9V battery?

    Both of the lid locking hinges are broken – do you know if replacements are available?



    1. Mike

      Yes it really needs to be in front of me for me to able to offer much help. You can only rule out a jammed mechanism if the carriage makes the full traverse when operated by hand, from microswitch to microswitch. You can then feel for any sticking. I’m not sure if you are referring to the hinges or the lid catch/lock mechanism, but either way, these parts are no longer available.

  16. Mark Saunders

    I couldn’t be much further away without being an extraterrestrial – Essex, England!

    I would have thought sending the turntable to you would be prohibitively expensive, but maybe you could look at the board if I sent it? I’d want to be pretty sure the fault is on there though.

    Or do you know someone over here that could look at it?

    1. Mike

      Hi Mark, that’s a bummer, unfortunately I really need the whole unit, there are many interacting adjustments that require the unit to be intact to successfully complete. I would also need the entire unit for troubleshooting purposes. I’m not aware of repairers in your area, so that’s not much help either, my apologies!

    1. Mike

      No worries Mark, it’s on my home and contact pages – I’m in Carine, Perth, Western Australia. Very happy to assist if you are anywhere in this vicinity!

  17. Mark Saunders

    Hi Mike,

    I was given a faulty SL-10 a few years ago by a friend who thought I could repair it (arm was stuck and “repeat” led flashing). I replaced the belt and lubricated the arm mechanism. The arm moves smoothly backwards and forwards under power of a 9V battery connected to the motor, but it won’t move under its own power. The platter spins and the arm drops onto the record (if it’s a 12″), but will only play as far as the pivot allows. This is frustrating, as it plays for long enough to give an idea of how good the deck can sound.

    I suspect a circuit fault on the drive board – it all looks sound and there are no obviously swollen capacitors. The only thing I can see wrong is that the red led identified as PL1 appears to have failed, but I don’t think this is important. Any ideas?

    1. Mike

      Hi Mark and thanks for your inquiry. It definitely sounds like your deck needs to come in for a careful inspection. I have a few ideas, but with anything like this, I really need to physically inspect the equipment, assess any previous mechanical and electrical work and go from there. There are quite a few mechanical and electronic adjustments that need to be made as well. If you are local, give me a call and we can arrange for me to have a proper look at her! Regards, Mike

  18. Christian

    Could not afford the SL-10, but found a SL DL1 at a minimal price. Cleaned, re- lubricated, changed tonearm belt, and re-adjusted all aspects of operation. It’s lovely, heavy, and operates flawlessly. I truly appreciate the dynamically balanced arm on these wonderful mechanisms! Thanks for your review!

    1. Mike

      Hi Christian, great work there and thanks for visiting!

  19. Nate

    Yes, I meant the stay, thank you. Mine seems semi-stuck so a bit nervous about just yanking it. Had another question since mine suffers from this a bit: you mention repairing the feet. Any advice on this? I’ve read that perhaps using printer roller cleaner/rejuvenator? Any other advice?

    1. Mike

      Hi Nate, no problem. I typically repair feet like this with epoxy. I’m not sure what issues you have with the feet on your deck but if you were local I’d say bring her in for a proper overhaul! Good luck getting her sorted.

  20. nate

    How did you pop the lid rest out? Do you just pull it? Mine is currently on the shop bench for routine maintenance but I’m worried about breaking the lid rest.

    1. Mike

      Hi Nate, I’m not sure what part you are referring to but I suspect you may be talking about the stay that supports the lid? If so, it pulls out, but be careful, there are lots of things to break on an SL-10 if you are careless or don’t have the right tools. The service manual is also very helpful. Regards, Mike

  21. atoxique

    This turntable is certainly legendary! I wish I could own one. I had a chance for the similar Technics SL-7 linear tracker on eBay for under $300 here in Australia but I missed the bid by 15 minutes!

    1. Mike

      Yeah the SL-7 is also a nice deck, but not as nicely built as the SL-10. I work on a lot of these, keep an eye out for them, they come up still for very sensible money.

Feel free to leave a comment, technical questions should be asked via our Contact page