Retro Review: Technics SL-J300R Linear Tracking Turntable 53


Here’s the first in the Retro Review series. The component in question is a Technics SL-J300R fully automatic linear tracking turntable system. One of Technics’ last consumer turntables, offered as part of their 360 series of components, the J300R was a turntable that offered the vinyl lover a simple, close-and-play turntable with many of the convenience features found in CD players, such as automatic track detection, track programming and repeat. It’s small, too – at just 360MM wide, the J300r is little larger than a vinyl jacket – and remains one of the smallest turntables Technics ever manufactured.

As part of the package, you got a Technics P-30 moving magnet cartridge. This is one of Technics’ T4P P-Mount cartridges. The T4P system was a standard devised by Technics and offered on their turntables for many years as a way to offer user-replaceable cartridges without the hassle of cartridge alignment. Tracking force and anti-skate are preset, usually at 1.25G – so all one needs to do is install the cartridge into the end of the arm, secure the single locking screw, and you’re ready to go. Many other brands offered this system on their turntables – and today, though there are no P-Mount turntables on the market, cartridges are readily available from various manufacturers such as Audio-Technica and Ortofon.

The J300R also benefits from their legendary Quartz direct drive system, and a brushless DC motor featuring a magnet that is directly affixed to the platter. Making the platter itself a part of the motor allows the motor to spin at real-time speed (33.3 or 45 RPM), which results in excellent speed accuracy, silent operation, and incredibly long lifespan.

But that’s not all. The J300r is a linear tracking turntable – meaning that the arm, and hence the cartridge and stylus, travels in a straight line across the surface of the record. This results in greater tracking accuracy, and less inner groove distortion – a problem that is inherent with pivotal tonearms as their cartridges must be aligned so that a compromise is met between the inner and outer grooves of the record. The mechanism itself is fixed to the lid – meaning the turntable can only run with the lid closed – and can be seen in the picture below.

Technics SL-J300R Linear Tracking Mechanism

Technics SL-J300R Linear Tracking Mechanism

As you can see, the arm slides along a rail (held in place with rubber supports to minimise resonance). It’s pulled by a guide rope, much like that found on the dial of an analogue tuner. The entire mechanism is driven by a small DC motor, which drives a gear assembly back and forth to move the arm to where it needs to be.

The use of a linear tracking mechanism is essential for this turntable to operate. Next to the tonearm itself is an optical sensor, which is used to scan the record to determine the record size, the number of tracks and the location of those tracks. Upon inserting a record, the player will first check that a record has indeed been inserted, to prevent the stylus being dropped on the rubber slipmat. If a 12” record is detected, the arm will traverse across the record, searching out the tracks and illuminating the track LEDs on the front of the turntable.

Technics SL-J300R front panel showing 5 tracks present on a record.

Pressing start causes the turntable to begin playback. Pressing one of the illuminated track numbers followed by start causes the player to seek too and begin playing that track. If you select a track in this way, the player enters program mode – meaning that once the track in question has finished, assuming no other track has been selected, the arm will return and playback will stop. If you simply want to skip tracks, holding the search control on the front causes the turntable to skip to the next track.

If a 7” record is detected, it cannot immediately be seen by the turntable. pressing start will cause the arm to traverse the record, at which point it will locate the 7” record and drop the stylus in the right place to begin playback.

This system does have its disadvantages. Firstly, it doesn’t work particularly well with coloured vinyl – and it won’t work at all with transparent or white vinyl. For those records, you’ll have to put the table in manual mode – at which point you can use the search controls on the front panel to move the arm to the correct spot.

Track detection doesn’t always work as planned – for it to work properly, the vinyl must be clean, flat, and undamaged. There are some user-accessible adjustments to adjust the position at which the stylus drops – so you get some control over the track detection system. The optical sensor also offers selectable sensitivity, which sometimes helps with difficult records.

So, how does it sound. Before we get onto that, it’s important to note that this particular example has been serviced and restored to full working condition. The tonearm mechanism has been relubricated, the tonearm belt replaced, and the main bearing oil replaced. This general maintenance should be carried out on all of these turntables, many of which are approaching 30 years old. It’s not a costly process if you’re handy with a screwdriver – the necessary materials can be had for under £15, and carrying out the work itself takes a few hours at most.

That said – once running, the results are surprisingly good. Many audiophiles claim that direct-drive turntables suffer from excessive rumble and surface noise – but in truth, that’s mainly due to lack of maintenance. Here, surface noise is incredibly low – better, in fact, than many modern belt drive turntables.

The speed is also very accurate – with no discernible wow and flutter, even during sustained piano notes. This rock steady speed allows instruments to really shine – emotional wavering guitar notes sound simply stunning.

I installed an Ortofon OMP-20 cartridge and got straight to some listening tests. Status Quo’s ‘Don’t Drive My Car’ offered up a beautifully rendered 3-dimensional sound stage, and a rhythmic, powerful, well-defined bass line. Sure, it’s not the most detailed sound – but what it lacks in detail, it makes up for in excitement. It’s a turntable that gets you up and out of your seat – a turntable that bring the life and soul to the party.

And it’s just as happy with emotional ballads as it is rocking out. Freddie Mercury’s ‘In My Defence’ is possibly one of my favourite rock ballads, and it’s delivered with power and precision here. There’s clear instrument separation, particularly between the instruments and vocals. The various layers of the track hang in the sound stage, painting quite the sonic picture in the process.

And it’s the same story with the Beatles ‘She’s Leaving Home’ from the 2009 pressing of SGT Pepper. The performance is smooth with no hint of distortion, and the rasp of the violins is beautifully portrayed.

For its time, this turntable is hard to fault. Not only did it offer the vinyl lover the same conveniences as their CD-Touting friends, it also offered surprisingly good sound to boot. It’s certainly unique – nothing like this is manufactured today – and, I can’t help thinking that with the resurgence of vinyl, it would be a hit.

So, should you run out and buy one? Well, sure. If you want a simple and convenient turntable, it’s a great option, and readily available on the second-hand market. Technics offered many similar turntables, dating back to the beginning of the 80s – so there are plenty to choose from. And with a little TLC, you can have one running, and sounding, like new.

That’s all for this Retro review – hopefully this has been of interest. Be sure to post in the comments below your thoughts on this machine – perhaps you own or have owned one (or a similar model) in the past?

Huge thanks to Alberto, who kindly shared the service manual for the J300R below. I’ve uploaded it to our library for use by anyone wishing to repair their own unit. Technics slj300r Service Manual


About Ashley

I founded Audio Appraisal a few years ago and continue to regularly update it with fresh content. An avid vinyl collector and coffee addict, I can often be found at a workbench tinkering with a faulty electronic device, tweaking a turntable to extract the last bit of detail from those tiny grooves in the plastic stuff, or relaxing in front of the hi-fi with a good album. A musician, occasional producer and sound engineer, other hobbies include software programming, web development, long walks and occasional DIY. Follow @ashleycox2

Share Your Thoughts

53 thoughts on “Retro Review: Technics SL-J300R Linear Tracking Turntable

  • Orsi Balázs

    Hello. Did anyone successfully managed the sibillance issu?. I just bought this unit from eBAY (not arrived yet) and I am wondering if I will face the same issue whether I can fix it. I also ordered a Shure M92E cartridge (I hope it will be a good choice as there are not much choices for p-mounts these days). Since I can see 5.9g and 7g as well on the spec sheet I am bit confused whether this Shure cartridge is within the specs required for this turntable…

    • Ashley Post author

      Any P Mount cartridge should be within the specs for the turntable as this was the premise of the P Mount design. I’m sure the M92E will be fine as it is a highly rated P Mount cartridge.

  • Pedro

    Hi Ashley,
    l have a SL-300R which i bought 30 years ago.l love this player and never had any problems.But l think it’s neccessary to re-lubricate the tonearm rail .
    Would appreciate if could give me your recommendation concerning what kind of lubricant to apply. And what do l use to clean the rail to remove the old lubricant?
    l couldn’t find any information concerning this topic in the service manual
    Thanx.Cheers

  • Ismael Neto

    Hey Ashley, how are you doing? I have one just like this one over here, and a friend of mine is interested in buying it from me. Do you have an idea of a price I could ask for it?
    Thanx a lot. Cheers

    • Ashley Post author

      Hard to say. In the UK they go for anywhere from about £30 (not working) to £50 (terrible condition but working) to £170 (immaculate condition, serviced and working). The price you ask really depends on the condition and whether or not it’s been serviced, whether it has a new stylus, and what you both think is fair.

  • Phil

    I swopped a Marantz TT440 for this Technics deck as my mate liked the gold of the Marantz and as it was starting to play up I was happy to swop. I moved my Ortofon OMP 30 onto the arm with no problems and both have done well with intermittent use for the past 30 years. I use it now with a litlle pre-amp plugged into a pair of Sonos 5 speakers and it sound great. Really good review and looking around now, it seems the deck and cartridge are both a good combination hard to beat.

  • Tim

    Hi, I have one of these, my son saw a complete Technics System and thought I might like it, it didn’t work, but he knew I could probably get it going, all the was wrong was the main Power Amplifier which I got through Ebay in the USA. The whole system is a delight, especially the turntable, I dug out all my old Vinyl, it was great to hear some of that older stuff again. Only one fault on the Turntable that I’ve posted here before, if I connect the remote cable from the Tuner unit, the turntable will not work, no response from the remote control and it won’t cue onto a record. Wierd faule, but works fine if I just use the buttons.

  • Wolfgang Benn

    Hello and thank for the informationfull Text.

    I’ve this fine player but it lacks the power-button. Have You one and to ship it to Germany and can I by it?
    sencerely,
    Wolfgang Benn

  • Alberto

    Hi, I managed to succesfully repair my unit with Ashley’s inputs and… the service manual. I shared on below link for anyone in the need for repairing an unit. All information on adjustments is there. The only issue is that for a specific one you need a “calibration record” which I imagine impossible to get.

    But most of the stuff can be done with the information there:

    Technics SL-J300R Service Manual

    • Ashley Post author

      Thank you for sharing, that’s a great help. I’ve uploaded it to the media library hear so that it’ll remain available in the event that it should disappear from Google Drive for any reason. You’re right in that it does reference a specific test record, though personally I’ve never needed the test record for servicing. I did consider having a few made as one off pressings can be produced for very little money.

  • CHRIS GARDNER

    Yes its all a bit of a mine field. Re the cart i fitted to my second j300r i have now tried it with my shure m92e with a after market n104e stylus from an ultra reliable dealer. Still the same results. I am about to get inside the table. What is this internal tracking adjustment you refer
    to ?How do you think the tracking will be effected by this. Actually despite my moaning about this i am enjoying these tables. I buy many lps from house auctions. Three years ago i picked up B&O TX2 with a mmc 2 cart + about 60 lps for under £20. So i expect distortions but i do have mint lps. The B&O did pack up but i did get a lot money for the mmc2 cart. I will let yo know how thej300r goes. I am slightly confused. You gave the j300r a lot of praise with your review of it. Many folk would buy one from the review.Yet i am picking that you do not rate to highly?

    • Ashley Post author

      Oh i do rate it highly, I didn’t experience any excessive IGD with my J300R fitted with an Ortofon OMP20. I do think the older tables are the better tables, but you pay the price for them and the J300R is a good table. At the end of the day with a lower end table and a lower end cart there will probably always be some distortion, though it shouldn’t be excessive. The tracking adjustment I refer too will raise the tracking for of the cart slightly. The P mount specification requires that all carts track at 1.25 grams, but sadly not all cart makers followed that spec. The cart and stylus should also be of the correct weight (6 grams) to meet the spec. That said some carts, such as the Ortofon, track best at around 1.5 grams and the adjustment on these technics tables usually allows for an adjustment of +/-0.25 grams. It’s hard to set the tracking weight accurately, but providing you’re within the recommended range you won’t do any damage, and you may just find that tracking the cart a little higher will help to cure your IGD problem. See the service manual that Alberto kindly posted above, it contains all the info you need to find the tracking adjustments and to disassemble and reassemble the table. Definitely worth a read before you start.

      • CHRIS GARDNER

        DEAR ASHLEY, Thanks fo r the reply. I have just ordered a belt for the 300r. I have just printed off the service manual. Thank you ALBERTO for that. Rather surprised there is no mention of belt replacement or any words on tracking or even where this adjustment is to be found. I guess we are not meant play with this. I hope i can find this when i get under the cover. All the carts i use are new. At 92e. SHURE M92 n104e stylus from the best recommended supplier. I am totally sure the noises i hear are not from the stylus. I see on ebay there was another sl-j300r being sold with sibilance issues. Will see what i find when i get in side the sl-j300r. Hope someone finds all of this hlpful , regards CHRIS

    • Ashley Post author

      What other carts have you tried? Have you changed their styli for new replacements and if so which replacements are you using? Are the records themselves worn? Is the issue worse in a particular area or across the entire record?

      • CHRIS GARDNER

        Hi Ashley, Sorry for the late reply. Sorting a sons wedding, I have a new shure m92e ( not good) .A new at 92 e ( better ) and three other new AT carts. A friend has a large no of new p mounts – most from the past. He let me use a new ( not unpacked ) V15 with stylus. All these carts have the same problem – sibilance. I /we are confident its not a cart/stylus issue. I am trying to see away of checking the tracking weight, but can not see my way round this. The sl-j300 is not an easy table to work on and i feel i may make things worse. My lps are a mixture worn/scratched, others in excellent condition. I even have a boxed set i purchased in the 60’s that i never played. I use different carts for the grades of lp. Even with the sibilance i no longer use my high end set up any more. I am hooked on linear trackers. I feel the problem gets worse towards the middle ans beyond. Any advice is really welcome, regards CHRIS

        • Ashley Post author

          Very strange. I’ve only ever had this issue on 1 Technics table, an old SL-L1. That said, the tracking force on these decks is calibrated. If you find the tracking force adjustment screw, it will allow you to adjust only between 1 and 1.5 grams (don’t turn it past the stops). I’m afraid I forget where it is on these models, but I’m sure it’s marked somewhere. Most P mounts were designed to track at 1.5 grams, and some (the Ortofon OM series and some AT carts in particular) track better at higher forces. if the issue still persists, I feel you may have a calibration issue with your turntable.

          • CHRIS GARDNER

            I will live with this table for now. I think i will buy another technics linear tracker. The sl 5 , 6 & 7 models seem well respected by their owners. Will try and listen before i buy. It will be interesting to hear if any differences. I got involved in this quite often frustrating & costly ‘hobby’ when i was 17 and working for Oxford university. I listened to a well off studends set up and i was hooked. My first set up was a mullard
            33 ( kit built by me) garrard 210 changer and ditton 25’s. I moved on to quad amps & electrostatics. To me even today i really think the hi fi equiptment from the 60’s 70’s & 80’s were the best. Looking back to those days i think i must have been ‘close to going mad’. Hours of frustration, lost of money with so little reward.
            I have not used my high end gear since the linear sl-j300 with its faults

            • Ashley Post author

              Be aware that the SL-5 and SL-6 are vastly different to the SL-7. The SL-7, SL-10, SL-15, SL-DL1 and SL-QL1 all share a similar mechanism which is IMO the superior mechanism. It features an aluminium tonearm and a slightly better guide system. The SL-5, SL-6, and most of the other turntables aside from the SL-J series use a later mechanism which is also very good, albeit with a plastic tonearm. The SL-J series all share the mechanism of your J300R and are probably the technically inferior turntables, though they do sound very good when they’re working properly.

              I certainly agree with you, there was some very good hi-fi being produced back then. There are some very good components being made today, especially those coming out of Japan and even China, but I do largely prefer the components of yesteryear. If you want the ultimate linear tracker, find yourself something like a Pioneer PL-L1000 which does away with the P mount arm in favour of a standard half inch mount to which you can mount just about any cartridge on the market. Or get yourself a Technics SL-10, preferably with the original MC310 cart which you can then have re-tipped.

              The problem with linear trackers is that many of them are getting on a bit now, and they do need a bit of maintenance to get them to perform to spec. There are very few people, if any, here in the UK who will refurbish them. I’ve always serviced my own and it’s relatively easy with a bit of trial and error. Generally the older they are, the easier they are to service.

              • CHRIS GARDNER

                Thanks for the reply. I did not know the sl 5 ,6 7 differences. Good to know. I have noticed on the forums that owners do seem to highly rate their sl 5 & 6 tables. Whats your feelings slj300r or sl5/6. Your review of the 300r was rather good. As you say these tables are all 30 + years old and yet we expect them to still perform ‘as new’. I am not happy with my self. I think i am getting pulled back in to the bad old days. The 300r was supposed to end all the fiddling /upgrading and simply enjoy the music. I’m 71 yrs now and dont want the messing about. For me the problem with usual tone arms is the setting up. You are never really sure the arm is truely correctly set. Interesting point . I have protractors from sme,hi fi news,shure and others. One can set up with say sme protractor and then check with another and its not quite the same. This is noticable with two point protractors. I used to set arms using several protractors and try and balance it out. Of course this is the crazy world of hi -fi that i am trying to ditch. The problem with linear trackers is their age – you can never be sure.The price for linears now seems to be the price you would have paid 18 months ago for a good regular set up. Madness again. I think i will end it all now !

                • CHRIS GARDNER

                  Just to mention i have picked up another sl-j300R from a local auction. Its marked ‘tracking probs’ on the cover. I shall play around with this one , hoping in due course i can get my ‘mint’ condition 300r up to scratch,
                  CHRIS

                • Ashley Post author

                  I prefer the earlier tables, the earlier the better. I’d probably avoid the SL-5 as it lacks quartz control. You’re better off looking for something like an SL-10 or SL-7 though IMO, or maybe something like an SL-QL5 as there’s really very little to go wrong in one of those, as all the record sensing is done using mechanical switches rather than lights that burn out with age. It still might need the arm servicing, but that’s really very easy.

                  Re your protractor comments. The point of a protractor is to align the cartridge for minimal tracking error as it traces the record in an arc. They use a set of inner and outer null points, I.E the points on the record where the the stylus will be perfectly aligned with the record groove, and optimise the cartridge for minimal tracking error in between these 2 points. Not all protractors use the same null points, and there are also 3 different alignment standards, Lofgren A (more commonly known as baerwald), Lofgren B and Stevenson. A given protractor can align to any one of these standards, and to any given set of null points, so using 2 protractors may not necessarily result in an alignment that will match another protractor.

                  Which arm are you using? Usually I simply use the protractor that came with the arm (assuming one was supplied), or go with a universal Baerwald protractor with IEC null points of 66 and 120.9MM. Most universal protractors follow this standard and it’s perfectly adequate for most setups. In reality there is little difference between the commonly accepted alignments.

                  • CHRIS GARDNER

                    Thanks. Not quite shure what i am going to do. I have been doing this stuff since i was 17 (now 71) 64 ago. I’m guessing longer than your good self. So i do know what i am doing.I have several arms but always come back to the sme s2 imp det. I have always rated and enjoyed the Adc xlm series . I have had them all 1 – to- 4. Favorite is the integra with the sme. I have a new integra 111 unopened.Am using another. Generally i use the sme protractor. If checked after with the HI- FI NEWS & RECORD REVIEW protractor there is a difference . As you say -only small. As say i love the xlm’s. I think one of the best all rounders ever made. They still stand up today. I am using a kenwood/trio kd 600 table. Super engineered unit. no rumble or wow /flutter. Rock steady. I have kenwood kd 500 and Garrard 301 . I remember in the 80’s -ish when the hi fi press killed dead the direct drives made by technics /kenwood sony etc. They tried to tell us the Linn Sondek , linn basik arm and even more basik cartridge was best for us. Some of the reviewers then must have had SUPERMAN hearing. Different to most of us. I remember when some of these clowns started talking about musical resistors /capacitors. Fortunately i new they were talking crap. Looking back i think my best hi fi days were Quad 22 valve amps/control unit. Quad electrostatics, 301 table & adc xlm cart. I like all music but classical on this set up was a dream. Any way i am going to play around with this second sl-j300r i have just picked up cheap, regards CHRIS

                    • Ashley Post author

                      That’s a nice setup. Personally I’d probably use the SME protractor, get the tracking force and bias right and leave it at that. I believe Avid make an optimised protractor for SME arms that several readers have used with very good results. You can’t beat a 70s / 80s direct-drive turntable, though they certainly peaked in the early 80s, the KD-600 is one of the best. I use a Technics 1210 personally which has never given me any trouble. Although I will undoubtedly still review them, and can certainly appreciate them for what they are, never again will may primary turntable be a belt drive “audiophile” deck.

                      Sadly many “clowns” (your words not mine but I think very, appropriate) still put down the direct drive decks. I’d imagine it has a lot to do with the higher sale margins of the typical British and US-made “audiophile” gear. I also find that many set the Japanese decks up incorrectly; for example, setting up a Technics S-shaped arm with a typical audiophile-approved alignment gauge will usually give worse results than a custom template or even the stock Technics tool. Once you take the time to not only understand the engineering behind the decks, but also to configure them correctly, the results are extremely rewarding.

                      Sadly many of those who have influence in this field don’t take that time, and what with the internet being what it is today their writings will undoubtedly result in many others missing out too. While I encourage the sharing of personal opinion, I’d rather that opinion was based on personal experience rather than something someone read in a magazine and subsequently decided to state as fact. Anyway that’s a ramble for another day, probably in a soon to be released piece concerning the aforementioned 1210. I look forward to hearing how the J300R repair goes.

                    • CHRIS GARDNER

                      Its nice to know we have some common ground. I have not heard of the AVID protractor for sme. I will get one. As i have said i am trying to get away from standard tables. I prefer the idea of a nice linear tracker that sound good. ( maybe not perfect) Stick the lp on and enjoy it. I will see how the j300r goes, regards CHRIS

                    • CHRIS GARDNER

                      Well i have been looking at my second technics sl-j300r. I picked this up from a local house auction. Paid £5 for it. Its not in as good condition as my first 300r which is mint – looking almost un-used . The cover is scratched and a crack as well. From turntable down its all good. Electronically it all works as it should. I have fitted a AT3472 cart with an after market stylus. It sounds ok but has the same slight sibilance as my other 300r. I cant really tell the two table apart. I do not have the shure v15 L T that a friend let me use. I dont really know where to look for sibilance issues. At some point i wIll get inside this table , clean it all and fit a new belt. Any advice on sibilance please do let me know , CHRIS

                    • Ashley Post author

                      Without actually hearing the distortion you describe it’s hard to determine whether it’s excessive or normal, especially given the fact that you’re experiencing the issue across 2 turntables. There are so many influencing factors. It could depend on the age of the cart, even new old stock carts can go bad with age. The aftermarket styli are not always of sufficient quality, I’ve seen many instances where aftermarket elliptical styli were in fact nothing more than the standard conical variety, and badly produced ones at that. It could be the phono stage, though that’s unlikely. It could of course be to do with the records themselves, depending on their age and condition. Or it could be that an elliptical stylus, which isn’t a particularly advanced shape by today’s standards, doesn’t compare to other carts you’ve used. That said I’d probably give the table a clean internally and find the tracking adjustment while you’re in there. Otherwise I’d probably look for a different table (maybe an SL7 / SL-10 / SL-QL1), or focus on getting your other table to track as well as possible, perhaps using a custom protractor.

  • Tim

    Hi, I recently had a full Technics system given to me, the Amplifier was duff, so had to replace the power amp IC, got that working, but now I have a strange issue with the SL-J300R, if I don’t have the Remote cable connected, I can use the turntable just fine, searches tracks etc. etc. however if I plug in the remote cable, it scans the record normally, but when it tries to play the record, the head moves slightly down, clicks and goes back up, it keeps repeating this, no changes of any settings will fix this, remove the remote lead and all is well again, any ideas.
    btw, with the remote cable in, there is no response from the unit and it is connected to the correct remote port on the amplifier unit.

    • Ashley Post author

      That’s a very strange issue. Out of interest, does it still happen if you cover the remote sensor on the amp, or remove the batteries from the remote itself? If so, I’d first try cleaning the remote sockets on both the turntable and amp with contact cleaner, put the jack in the socket and spin it back and forth to work the cleaner in. If that doesn’t solve the problem, I’d think it’s more likely an amp issue than one with the turntable. Check the soldering on the amp’s remote jack (and the same on the turntable), and if not I’m afraid it’ll be a case of looking at the service manuals if you have them, or tracing the remote circuit first in the amp and then in the turntable to search for faulty components or poor soldering. I’m afraid I never had a compatible Technics amp, so I have no experience with either circuit. You could of course also replace the remote cable, which I believe is just a standard 3.5″ jack lead.

  • Cecil

    Ashley,
    I just purchased a Technics SL-J33 with an Audio Technica AT 216EP cartridge. Everything seems to work fine except the search control does not seem to work. The only thing that happens when I hold it down is the track that is playing blinks. It does not skip to the next track. Do you know what is wrong or am I doing something wrong?

    • Ashley Post author

      I did fix one of those a while back. From memory you have to program the tracks while the turntable is not playing. Pressing the track number when the turntable is stationary and then pressing start should place the stylus on that track. Pressing the track while the turntable is playing and then pressing play may do the same thing but I’m afraid I can’t remember off the top of my head. there’s an instruction manual here: http://www.vinylengine.com/library/technics/sl-j33.shtml

      • Cecil

        WOW Ashley,
        That was a really prompt reply. I already downloaded that manual and thought I was following it when the search control did not work. But, you have got me thinking that perhaps you have to pre-program the tracks before the search control works. I will try that. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

            • Ashley Post author

              I love the AT P mount range. I haven’t heard the 216, though its specifications are close to that of the rest of their range so I’d imagine it’s a fine cartridge. If yours is used, I’d obtain a replacement stylus regardless of the condition of the one you’re using as you can never be sure, and a new stylus is cheaper than a new record collection. Either way, it’s a perfect match for the Technics arm.

  • Alberto

    Hi Ashley, great review which I agree to it’s positivenes, I’ve been a proud owner of this marvelous device for years. But I have a problem since yesterday… the tonearm is stuck towards the center of the plate and never goes back to its starting place altough motor noise can be heard… I’m so frustrated 🙁 I’m a littlle techie myself so tried to repair but I’m very frustrated as I cannot unveil the servo mechanism, basically I cannot find the way for having the mechanism reachable like the picture you have for checking if it’s something mechanical or electrical. It would be great if you can help me with the trick to “open” the mechanism. Looks like a silly thing but I spent 1h trying to find the screw or lever that does the trick unsuccesfully. Thanks!!!!!!

    • Ashley Post author

      The J300R is a little hard to disassemble, but it can be done. Look on either side of the lid, at the back of the turntable, for 2 small plastic pins (one on either side). These pins need to be removed with the aid of a tiny flat-bladed screwdriver. Once the pins are removed, you’ll see a small plastic insert – this needs to be removed in the same way, though be careful – the plastic is soft and will break easily. Once removed, the lid lifts up at the back and slides forwards. I’d recommend removing the stylus before attempting this. You can also sometimes remove the pins from the inside by pressing on the back of each pin with a flat-bladed screwdriver.

      Once inside, to fix your problem, replace the small tonearm belt located on the left-hand side, and lubricate the mechanism in accordance with my linear tracking maintenance post and you should be good to go. To replace the cover, slot the 2 plastic pins that are attached to the cover into their holes on the mechanism (you’ll see what I mean when the cover is open) and with the cover in place, replace the plastic inserts and their retaining pins and you’re good to go.

      • Alberto

        Hi Ashley thanks A LOT for your explanation, I have managed to access the mechanism and manipulate inside. The tonearm belt is in good condition and lubrication doesn’t seem to be the problem. What I can observe is if I put in auto (track detection mode), arm moves left, identifies the tracks, stop where grooves end, but doesn’t go back. If I put in manual, record is played OK but when arm reaches same place again it doesn’t go back. I thought it was something related with moving right wise capability on the motor, but in manual, both right and left search moves the arm OK. I’m quite puzzled as circuitry seems to know when the arm has reached end of the record, but somehow failing to activate return. Any clue would be much appreciated!!!!!

        • Ashley Post author

          There’s a small microswitch that the arm hits, though I can’t for the life of me remember at which end of its travel. I think when the arm is parked in the home position (I.E at the outer edge of the record) the switch is supposed to be engaged. You’ll know the switch I’m referring too as there’s a plastic lever attached to it, and the clicking sound that the switch makes is very pronounced when the arm engages it. Maybe look for that switch and clean the contacts with contact spray to see if that solves the problem. I’m confident the issue is purely mechanical, so it shouldn’t be too hard to solve; it’s just a matter of tracing the mechanism to determine the cause of the problem. Let me know if that helps.

          • Alberto

            Ashley, thanks your advice I have a success story! It’s up and running …. Actually the microswitch is on the right edge activating when arm reaches outer edge of record. My problem was actually that the microswitch was not fully released when the arm was moving. The issue was due to a screw located towards right center of the back panel, when you move that screw what you do is actually adjusting lightly the position of the microswitch (it’s intended for fine adjustment of record start play position). I moved that screw thinking it was part of the cover unassembly procedure, causing me all the trouble. Thanks to your advice and a service manual that I found online I managed to re-build the unit and re-adjust the mechanism, which by the way once you see how it works, it’s amazing, the needle drives slightly towards center of record and that activates the servo for a light move so there’s always a perfect alignment and you can understand how it’s almost impossible having a needle jump on this marvelous device. If someone is interested on the sevice manual (cost me 5 bucks) happy to share!!!!

  • kawser

    If not too much to ask. I have some questions
    I want to buy and do not know what to choose. which is better?
    SL-J300R Linear Tracking Turntable vs Turntable Direct drive SL-QD33.
    advantages and disadvantages for the two types.Can any one give me best advice.
    Thanks

    • Ashley Post author

      If it were me I’d go for the SL-QD33 as the build quality is slightly better and it’s easier to maintain. Both are fully automatic, both use the same direct drive system and both use P-Mount cartridges. The J300R has the automatic track detection, the QD-33 doesn’t. The J300R is linear tracking, the QD-33 isn’t. Those are really the only differences.

  • Sevi

    Hi!

    if not too much to ask. I have some questions
    I want to buy and do not know what to choose. which is better?
    SL-J300R Linear Tracking Turntable vs Turntable Direct drive SL-QD33.
    advantages and disadvantages for the two types.
    what periods was made SL-J300R?
    If anyone can send me and me the service manual SL-J300R.
    Thanks in advance for help.
    All the best

  • Florian

    Dear Ashley,

    a few months ago I could lay my hands on a SL-J300R too and I am really happy with the machine, but after reading your nice article I felt the urge to do your mentioned maintenance and upgrade the cartridge.
    Where did you get the new tonearm belt and the Ortofon OMP-20 from?
    I could not find both anywhere.

    Thanks

    Florian

    • Ashley Post author

      Hey Florian – The tonearm belts can be purchased from eBay. The belt is a 1″ square belt. It’s the same belt used in the SL-10, SL-J33, SL-5 etc. Do an eBay search for “Technics Tonearm Belt” and they should pop up.

      As for the cartridge, sadly Ortofon have discontinued all of their P Mount cartridges, so your only option for those is to go second hand. There is currently one on eBay at the time of writing (though it’s from Italy, so I’m unsure as to how much the shipping would cost).

      You have a couple of other options. You could find an Audio-Technics cartridge, such as the AT92E (which again is sadly discontinued but there are plenty available online). AT still make a few P Mount cartridges, just make sure to get one with elliptical stylus.

      Alternatively, find a new EPS-30ES elliptical stylus for your current technics cartridge, or purchase an aftermarket Shibata or Line Contact stylus from an online retailer such as Turntable Needles or LP Gear. Both options are readily and easily available online. Check out our Services page for some links to suppliers.

      Hope this helps!