Stanton ST150 DJ Turntable Review
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The world of turntables tends to move quite slowly, most of the times outliving DJs. The Technics 1200/1210 which had for the longest time been the standard turntables for DJs have finally been discontinued by Panasonic.
This patent lasted for 25 years before other manufacturers could copy Technics in producing their versions of turntables. Once the patent ran out in the mid-2000s, new competitors emerged and one of this is the Stanton ST150. As it now stands, the Technics 1200/1210 range are officially defunct and thus it is quite essential to look at what the new models have to offer beginning with the top-of-the-range Stanton ST150.
Set-up and Usability
When comparing the set-up of the ST-150 with other high-end turntables, this one seems more like a breeze. Firstly, it comes with an already mounted cartridge in the headshell. For those who are familiar with the frustration and time needed in mounting the cartridge this is a much-needed relief.
The process of adjusting the arm height is also quite easy as you only need to release the locking mechanism and turn the arm base. The manual fails to specify what the exact height should be but having used it I would advise setting it at almost the maximum such that it is horizontal with the needle and at the best position. On the rear side of the turntable is a switch that enables you to change between the ADC for raw phono signal and the internal RIAA pre-amp.
Only three steps are needed to start the turntables:
- Turn on the master located at the back.
- Turn on the motor using the switch on the top of the stroboscope case.
- Start the platter spinning. There are two push buttons located on the left and front of the turntable
There are buttons to adjust the speed with a reverse button to return the platter back to the desired speed. A slider helps to fine tune the speed and push buttons help to adjust the speed or lock them at 0% speed referred to as the true speed.
The lift of the tonearm is quite small and placed close to the arm. This could make it difficult to use but does not mean it is impossible to use.
The ST-150 comes fitted with a Stanton 680 cartridge with a conical style. While a stylus of this type is sufficient for DJs and their scratching, it is not ideal for home use especially when one only wants to listen to records. Thus, if you are purchasing this turntable to listen to music, you should consider buying an elliptical or spherical stylus cartridge.
In essence, the sound quality of the ST-150 is amazing. It can produce various ranges of sound at high precision and is one of the best I have had the chance to try out. More impressive is the fact that it lacks any noise – even the low frequency – which one can detect in every other turntable. This can be accredited to an excellent motor which has a great grounding.
Should you not experience superior sound quality with the ST-150 then the problem is with your speakers or vinyl.
Design and Build
The decks is solid, made of steel and weighs roughly 40lbs. The four adjustable feet on which it sits help to absorb vibrations. It is not easily destructible and is not affected by external vibrations.
There is a multitude of push buttons, sliders, and switches which are well placed and spaced and feel that they could be quite durable.
The motor provides a ton of torque up to 4.5 kgfcm. This amount of torque is quite high considering the legendary Technics 1200 had half that amount of torque. The motor is also direct drive. One unique feature is that unlike hi-fi tables, the motor of the ST-150 is grounded via the mains cable which can be replaced with a standard 3-pin socket. You can also use the ground lift switch in the absence of grounded power. This grounding helps to eliminate the low-frequency hum that is so commonly found in electronics.
The tonearm is ultra-stable and S-shaped. Besides being light, it is rigid thus allowing superior sound quality which also contributes to preventing wear and tear of the records and the eventual distortion of sound that comes with it.
The platter is made of heavy steel but is covered with a thick rubber undercoating which helps reduce vibrations and keep the sound clear. A minor but really cool feature is the light on the needle enabling you to see exactly where you are placing it and also check if there is any dust on the needle.
The major disappointment is that you will not be able to play digital copies from your computer since the ST-150 lacks a USB output option.
In my opinion, the Stanton ST150 is on the same level as the Audio Technics 1200 turntable meaning it is one of the greatest turntables. It has perfect sound quality, is well designed and a big pleasure to use. However, its turn-off is its asking price since it costs $600. This is $200 more than its nearest equals. While everything about it is better than its competitors, I am not convinced it warrants an extra $200 of your money.