Technics introduced the SL-23 turntable around 1976 as one of their entry level models. It is a belt drive, semi-automatic table with a sophisticated, minimalist look. It performs very well for an entry level turntable and will easily rival the performance of modern turntables with twice the price tag. The standard SL-23 has a gray ‘simulated metal’ plinth while a variant, the SL-23K, has a black plinth.
Technics took belt drive turntables to a new level with the SL-23 while still keeping the turntable affordable and simple to operate for new users. The SL-23 retailed for $84.95 in 1976 just above the $62.95 price tag for the SL-20. At the high end of the Technics lineup was the SP-10 MKII which had a hefty price tag of $499.95. So, you can see why Technics sold so many SL-23’s.
The SL-23 utilizes a robust static balanced, S-shaped tonearm that originally came with a combined moving magnet cartridge and head-shell. I believe the original factory cartridge was an EPC-270C. The headshell/cartridge combination eliminates some of the adjustments that would normally be necessary but also results in a lack of flexibility with regard to cartridge selection.
One of the strengths of the SL-23 out of the box was its speed accuracy. However, over the years the speed adjustment controls can become dirty resulting in poor performance. It has both 33 and 45 speeds as well as vernier speed controls for both. An unserviced SL-23 will almost always have dirty speed/pitch controls which will need cleaned with contact cleaner. The speed select switch can also degrade over the years and may require disassembly and cleaning. There a many very small parts in that switch and is not an easy undertaking for anyone unfamiliar with servicing TT’s. The strobe is another useful feature of the SL-23 and, combined with the speed adjust controls, allows the user to fine tune the speed.
As mentioned above the Technics SL-23 is a semi-automatic turntable which requires initial placement of the tonearm manually but at the end of a record the tonearm will return to its holder and the table will power down.
An interesting note is that it appears the MCS 6503 turntable is basically a re-badged SL-23 and even has some Technics markings on it (like the underside of the platter). So, while MCS doesn’t have the greatest reputation it’s possible some of their gear may not be that bad.
The SL-23’s motor is a Frequency Generator, servo controlled, DC unit that, while small in size, is a high quality motor. This results in the SL-23 having low power consumption as well as very low rumble, wow, and flutter ratings. Apparently there are two different belt sizes for the SL-23 and the correct size is determined by the serial number on the table. Most of them are 23.6 but you will find some that use a 22.4 belt.
Here are some of the other specs on the SL-23:
- Type: frequency generator servo turntable
- Drive method: belt drive
- Motor: DC motor
- Turntable platter: aluminum diecast 300mm
- Speeds: 33 and 45rpm
- Speed change: electronic
- Pitch control: 6%
- Wow and flutter: 0.05% WRMS
- Rumble: -65dB
- Tonearm: universal s-shaped tubular arm
- Effective length: 220mm
- Overhang: 14mm
- Offset angle: 22 degrees
- Stylus pressure range: 0 to 4g
- Cartridge weight range: 3 to 8.5g
- Dimensions: 135 x 428 x 348mm (5.32 x 16.85 x 13.70 inches)
- Weight: 6.5kg (14.33 lbs)
Overall the Technics SL-23 is a great entry level turntable. It’s quiet and precise and the semi auto operation makes it easy to use. Prices aren’t crazy like some other models and it’s easy to work on so repair costs should be minimal. Speed issues are common on this model however so keep an eye out for that. They are, for the most part, easily fixable though. For the money it’s a great choice for a belt drive turntable.