- One of the best turntables for DJs on a budget.
- It's common knowledge in the turntable world that many supposedly new decks being released today are so-called Super OEMs. They're built by the Taiwanese company Hanpin and often derive from the company's DJ-5500 model. The story goes that Hanpin was among the first to copy the patent behind the Technics SL-1200 after it expired. Brands like Pioneer, Stanton and Audio Technica licence the design and modify it to taste, often introducing digital components.
As SL-1200s steadily increase in price, the search for the best replacement becomes more competitive. Although many derive from the same Super OEM template, each turntable can vary wildly in quality. From internal isolation to tonearm design, the variables at play are often hard to discern for the enthusiast looking for an affordable pair of decks to use at home. It doesn't help that contradictory opinions abound. For instance, some commentators are sure the Stanton ST-150 is total garbage, while many media outlets recommend them as a top option. Other times, a new offering will be warmly received upon release, only to be shot down a year later by accusations of failing or broken components.
Part of the problem is that different users have different expectations. This isn't to say that some products aren't more reliable than others, but those who know how to interpret an unweighted rumble spectrum graph are looking at things differently than someone who simply wants to reliably beatmatch records with reasonable sound quality in their bedroom. For the latter group—namely, most of us—you just want things to work.
While time will be the true judge, Reloop's RP7000 MK2 appears to fit the bill. Costing around €420, it's significantly cheaper than what is perhaps its direct competitor, the Pioneer PLX-1000 (like other Super OEMs, its reputation has taken a battering in comparison to the SL-1200). As with the PLX-1000, the RP7000 MK2 feeds back much more easily than the SL-1210 MK2 I tested it against. Using Shure Whitelabel cartridges, a MasterSounds Linear 4V mixer with the master set to maximum and a pair of ADAM A8Xs, the SL-1210 could push the channel gain trim to +8db before feeding back. The RP7000 MK2 could hit +1db, which was the same as the PLX-1000 I had at hand, although the latter emitted a mid-range howl rather than a low drone.
These (admittedly unscientific) tests might not fill you with confidence, but they're replicating extreme conditions only achievable in clubs and festivals. The SL-1200 series is almost like a laboratory grade design, but those standards are not exactly necessary for home use, especially given the second hand prices. It's important to point out that home users shouldn't be turned off by the RP7000 MK2 on these grounds. I was surprised how happy I was mixing with them at home for a few weeks. For the bare necessities of what's required for a pleasurable mixing experience, they do the job well.
Taking it out of the box, the RP7000 MK2 is a cinch to assemble. It doesn't come with a cartridge or headshell, but that's probably a good thing considering the price point. A dust cover, however, would've been a welcome addition. The On/Off switch is recessed in a metal cover, guarding against accidentally turning off the deck while handling the platter. Unlike the PLX-1000 and the Technics, the isolation feet aren't adjustable, although they do have a good amount of cushioning. Scratch DJs will welcome the inclusion of a second Start/Stop switch, but it comes at the expense of a slot for 7-inch weights. There's a switch for reverse and controls for torque and break adjust. After a bit of testing, I kept the torque setting on the weakest, so-called "Classic" setting, finding it best matched with my SL-1210. Like the PLX-1000, the pitch fader can be boosted to +/-16% and 50%. While you'd rightly assume the 16% setting to be handy for mixing different genres, the 50% option is a great feature if you like ripping records at drastically altered speeds, offering more natural sound results than repitching in software.
Having spent the vast majority of my time playing on SL-1200 series decks, I was concerned about getting used to the RP7000 MK2's digital pitch control. In practice, the difference is insignificant. Within a few mixes, I was able to ride the pitch fader with confidence. The platter also isn't recessed into the body of the turntable. This too had me skeptical initially, but it's no problem acclimatising to the slightly different feel. The wow and flutter is also very manageable. I've played on plenty of badly kept Technics that've been harder to mix on. My Technics haven't had the click at the centre of the pitch fader removed so I appreciated the fact that the Reloop's offer this feature from the factory. Needless to say, it makes mixing around the 0% mark much easier.
In some ways, it's unfair that every DJ compares a new turntable to Technics, which were produced and refined over a period of decades. New products are almost inevitably a compromise, unless you're dropping considerable sums. The RP7000 MK2 isn't better than a Technics, but it is a strong contender in the crowded Super OEM market. Even if the PLX-1000 were in the same price bracket, I'd have no qualms recommending the Reloop. With a thick slipmat, decent cartridges and proper setup, beginners and the more experienced alike will feel comfortable, especially at this price point.
Ease of use: 4.0