Soundlab DLP32 - Direct Drive Turntables
I remember clearly when these decks were launched as I was thinking how similar the design was alike with the Technics 1210 range, however although looking similar visually these decks had nothing to offer in comparison to the industry leaders, however not all is bad.. They are direct drive units so it could be worse, direct-drive uses a magnet mechanism rather than using a traditional belt driven motor.
As you can see from the image above the like for like is incredibly like Technics, not quite sure how they got away with it in terms of patents, copyrights etc but they did a pretty good job, in a low lit area an amateur could possibly be convinced that were actually technics rather than a cheaper budget solution produced by soundlab.
I didn't actually own a set of these exclusively, however was working for a DJ company based in Birmingham who for a period of 2 years used about 20 of them on the showroom floor so as staff I had regular use with the units and here's what Ive found;
When lifting and carrying Technics decks you will realise after a while your arms begin to ache this due to the units weighing in at 12.5KG each so the first thing I noticed is the difference in weight with these soundlab replicars, a pair is equivalent to one technics unit which indicates straight away that the motor and drivers in the unit are cheap which again is reflected in the price. They are and should be classed as beginner / basic turntables aimed at people on low budget or just after the basics.
The general operations of the decks are fine in the sense that you can turn the power on/off from the bottom left twist knob, the speed again adjusted by pressing the appropriate rpm button.
The Tone-Arm doesn't really have any weight or quality to it and can jump around quite easily, its almost a must to have the old 2p coin attached to weight it down a bit more.
Setup is generic and straight forward with just Power Connection and Audio Output via RCA Phone cables. My main advice about these decks is don't expect to much, they play the records, the sound quality is pretty average although acceptable, if using a decent mixer, amp and speakers then they work well for the budget DJ. Although being direct-drive the torque is not of the highest standard and with some records you may be able to get away with scratching techniques and spin backs and others may just fail miserably due the needle skating across the platter.
These units are now discontinued however if there is a set lying around at your local car boot or market then you shouldn't consider spending more than £10-£20. But other than that not bad on a budget.
Thanks for reading
A model that takes me back a few years, but is still knocking around on the buyer's market is the Soundlab DLP32. Ignoring the odd name, what we have here is a direct drive record deck, meaning the start up time is quicker and smoother than a belt drive. This is handy for deejays who need to work quickly and efficiently and you will probably find the deck will offer you a better mix too.
Available now for around the hundred pound mark, this likeable model has a built in lid which keeps the system under wraps and a smooth and stylish interface. The retro look of the deck gives it a classic appeal without it looking to eighties. The best features on this model are the antiskating bar, which will ensure for a slicker mix, this means you won't be sliding all over the place and also makes it a good choice for beginners who might have come from a belt drive deck to a direct drive.
What I look for is a good pitch variation and the ten percent bend here is generous enough to work with different genres and will allow for a more diverse and creative live mix set. The lever for this can be accessed with ease to the right of the desk and has a smooth sliding mechanism. With an arm that rests neatly in the bay, you can move it and store it compactly when the deck is not in use.
Although I only got to use this a handful of times, it did offer a stable and reliable performance. If I could alter anything I might have introduced some lights to aid working in the dark, but overall it ticks most of the boxes that I look for in a deck. Perhaps not as sleek as a Technics, but all the basic features you would want and a good price too.
Despite what people say, DLP-32's are actually quite good. Especially @ £160 each. They have a pitch bend, adjustable pitch control, target light, very strong strobe light powered by 4 LEDs, tonearm height adjust, 1.8kg/cm2 torque, startup speed of 0.4 sec (Technics are 0.7 [i think])and the anti-skate goes up to 7. If you use a Stanton Groovemaster cart on the provided headshell you can scratch to your hearts content. SoundLab got a bad name some years ago with the old DLP-3 which wasnt very useful at all and since that people have stopped looking to them for a good deck. Lets face it, if Panasonic made a deck exactly the same as the DLP-32, people would buy it. An excellent turntable for the bedroom DJ, but when you start playing professionally you really need Technics because chances are thats what the club will be using and you will need to be used to them. In comparason, there is no questioning which is a better deck between a DLP-32 and an SL1200. Techs are very very well built, to a degree that no other deck can really match them. But for the money, the DLP-32 is your best bet.
Well - where shall i start?? You see the thing about these decks are that they where obviously not meant for dj - ing. My mate has a set of them and i near collapsed when i saw he had got them after my opposement (some one get me a dictionnairy). Anway i have never seen any decks with as many pitch slips - and torque problems, for a start. As they start to play up on you durin long mixes, and this starts to get real anoying. I have gemini pt - 2400's and im well pleased on their performance in comparison!! You see the thing that is mostly needed in decks is: a lot of power to the deck plate, and a steady pitch regulation. And these decks to say the least, have none of it!! To go into detail, they have just about 1kg/cm2 as aposed to the 2.2kg/cm2 on the gemini's. They also have a week tone arm which is prone to feed - back, so if you are thinking of doin any scratchin, stay well clear o these!! On the whole, i would forget about these decks if you have any ambition what so ever in you!!!!
Soundlab. Hmmm. Mostly found in either a) A beginner Bedroom Dj's house, or at a listening post in a lot of HMV's. These decks are really the entry level for the beginner Dj, and as such have been very successful in the time they've been among us. Why? Two reason I think. 1) They're cheap, and 2) People don't know any better. See, as a beginner turntable for learning how to be a DJ, these things can be quite useful. Mostly becasue at only £160 a deck, and coming in some good packages, they are a good choice for people with little money, who want to get decks to see if they will enjoy the Dj'ing side of life or not. As far as this thought goes, they are almost the perfect deck. If (again) for the reason that people think Soundlab when they think cheap decks, so if you look in any second hand papers, you'll see a lot of these floating around. Thing is, as far as use as a Dj deck, they actually suck - a lot! Why? Well, let's go through it all, shall we? 1) To have control over your mixes, you really need a deck that has a lot of torque in the motor. Sound lab decks just don't have enough. Cue up a record, hold it stopped ready to set off the mix, and watch in horror as the deck grinds to a halt under your hand. Ok, when you let go of the tune, the deck WILL start up again, but no-where near as fast as you need. You want a deck that will keep turning under your record so that when you let go, it gets to its set speed immediately. 2) The pich accuracy on Soundlabs sucks. If you're thinking of getting into some serious, long, Sashaesque style mixes, then you need to know that when you match the beats on your decks, once you have it, it'll stay that way. Unfortunately, the pitch accuracy isn't very god at all on Soundlabs, so you set the record to run in time with the other one, start the mix, then listen (in horror again) as the beatss drift out of time again. O
k, it's simple enough to just adjust itr back again, but sometimes, you've got to much stuff to do in the mix that you don't want to have to worry about the pitch drifting, and having to fix that problem too. 3) The tone-arm sucks. Not only does it not give you much counterweight, but the actual arm itself is really prone to vibrations. Vibrations on the tone-arm cause feedback, and that makes you cry in shame! But, all that said, if you just want to get started, want to learn how to beat-match, learn where you should be mixing tunes, and how to, and know that if you want to take it to the next level, you'll need decks that will handle the stresses and rigours you put on your decks during a mix sessions, then these decks ARE perfect for the lack of money beginner. Just remember that you might think you suck, and can't beat-match, but it's probably more likely that it's problems with the pitch accuracy of the deck rather than your Dj'ing skills. Oh, and don't even think about scratching on them!! If you're looking at budget decks, and you have a little more money, try to steer clear of these, and look at something like the Citronic PD-1's instead. C.ya Recess