By Rafe Arnott
AXPONA 2018 is something to behold.
It’s bigger, it’s better, and it’s badder than previous Chicago shows I’ve attended. Arriving on Thursday night I was impressed with the size and space of the new venue at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Centre which exudes a real sense of style, and luxe.
The main layout is a large rectangle around a central open space reaching up several stories for the bulk of the rooms featuring exhibitors which tends to create a circular pattern of traffic for show goers – much better than the usual stilted somnambulist shuffle of traditional dead-end hallways at most shows.
The show was very busy Friday – an excellent sign for the show numbers to come, as Friday’s tend to be soft numbers-wise because most people are otherwise busy with employment.
With more than 150 listening rooms to choose from featuring many hundreds of manufacturers showing here, there was a particular room I wanted to make one of the first to check out personally which was from Technics. The legendary high-fidelity, and turntable manufacturing giant from Japan was featuring the brand-new SL-1000R turntable (rumoured to be in the $20,000 USD price range), along with the previously announced SP-10R deck (expected MSRP of $10,000 USD). The 1000R was announced at CES in January, but this was the first time I could see it in person: It did not disappoint.
The fit and finish of the new ‘table is impeccable, and it looks, and feels like it’s milled from a solid block of alloy. Outfitted with an Ortofon MC Winfield Ti cartridge, and being played through a Technics R1 Reference-Class pre-amp, amp, and speakers, the sound was full, tonally rich, with deep, defined bass, and the rock-steady pitch I’ve come to love, and expect from Technics after spending more than a decade being familiar with, or owning their turntables.
Both the SP-10, and 1000R tout incredibly low specifications for wow and flutter, which according to Technics, comes from a combination of a direct-drive coreless motor, high-mass platter, and separate power supply.
Technics seems to be focused on breaking into the upper echelons of the high-fidelity market with these new decks – breaking ranks with decades of of the DJ-market domination they have enjoyed – and if these initial offerings are indicative of what production models will offer consumers, they just may have cracked into their target market in one fell swoop.