Now here’s a deck that got some attention whilst it was here! For this second #TechnicsMonth article, come with as I repair and service a rare and beautiful Technics SL-M3 linear-tracking turntable.
Do you like awesome turntables, Technics gear and fine furniture? Then you’ll definitely love the Technics SL-M3 linear tracking direct drive turntable! Few have seen a Technics SL-M3 and, as my customers visited to drop off or collect gear, they would see it and go “Oooh” and “Ahhh – what’s that beautiful turntable..?”
Let’s find out more about this elusive deck in my second #TechnicsMonth article. As usual, you can also watch my companion video on the Technics SL-M3, or read on for more.
The Technics SL-M3 linear tracking direct-drive turntable is one of those classic decks that few people have seen or heard of. That’s mostly due to bad timing, the SL-M3 hit the shops right after CD was released and for those of us that remember the furore, that’s all people cared about for a few years.
Decks like this were released and people just wanted to talk about lasers and unmeasurable wow & flutter. Still, the SL-M3 is a really lovely deck, from a legendary brand. Whilst the build quality is not in the real heavyweight division, it’s still a 15kg well-made turntable with a lovely furniture finish.
The SL-M3 has all the stuff people wanted in a turntable just a couple of years before – direct-drive for low wow & flutter, linear tracking for zero tracking distortion and push-button start, stop and track access, just like CD! A nice, heavy platter, great standard cartridge and space-age styling combine to create a pretty compelling package.
In a way, this deck had it all and yet try to find one for sale today and you’ll see the dilemma. This is just one of many little turntable avenues that one can explore and find so much to enjoy. My customer is a linear tracking turntable nut and I’ve also worked on an SL-10 and SL-V5 for him. I think this SL-M3 is his pride and joy though.
Type: fully automatic
Drive: direct drive
Motor: brushless DC motor
Drive control: quartz phase-locked control
Platter: 325mm, 2.5kg, aluminium die-cast
Pitch control: +-6% range
Speeds: 33 and 45rpm
Wow and flutter: 0.022% WRMS
Tonearm: dynamically-balanced linear tracking
Effective length: 238mm
Effective mass: 13g (including cartridge)
Cartridge: moving magnet
Replacement stylus: EPS-33ES
Dimensions: 526 x 205 x 425mm
Made: 1984 – 1988
This particular SL-M3 came to me, like so many decks, not playing records properly. The linear tracking mechanism was playing up and the deck would play the first little bit of a record and then get stuck. It sounded bad, the speed adjustment was out and she just needed some TLC.
Someone had unfortunately been here before me and broken the stylus guard. That might have been OK if they had glued the guard back onto to the pegs, and not then glued the pegs into the deck. That part was stupid because to service the deck, the stylus guard has to be removed. It can’t be removed if the pegs are glued in place!
Once the deck is mechanically working properly, it’s time to take care of the electronics. There are two adjustments here, one for reference oscillator frequency, which gives us our non-quartz locked reference speed and one for platter braking.
Technics SL-M3 Up & Running!
The final part of the service involves cleaning and detailing and the following images show the deck in all its glory, ready to be picked up. In terms of value, these lovely decks vary a lot in price and often don’t work properly, like this one when it came in. I’ve seen them go for between $1000 and $2000 AUD, so choose carefully and be ready to get a comprehensive and expert service on any old deck like this.
As far as being a unique and great sounding deck though, this is right up there. Just look at this beautiful piece of engineering, all designed to extract sound from the groove modulations on a piece of vinyl. Amazing when you think about it.
As always, thanks for stopping by and if you’d like me to shower your Technics SL-M3 or any other Technics linear tracker with some TLC, please get in touch.