Any Love for the Pioneer PLX-1000 Yet?


Early in the year, Steve Guttenberg (C-Net, formerly S'phile and others) and Herb Reichert (longtime high end figure; new to S'phile) posted favorable reviews of the new (released last year) Pioneer PLX-1000 direct drive turntable.

Although the PLX-1000 is obviously filling the gap left by the discontinued Technics SL12x0 series, Guttenberg and Reichert reviewed the table from an audiophile standpoint, and not as a DJ deck.

Reichert and Guttenberg auditioned the turntable together but wrote about it separately, so their reports mention the same electronics and cartridges as well as the other turntables they compared the Pioneer to. Both reviewers came away with an enthusiastic recommendation and consdiered this the one to beat at $2K and under. Not bad for $697.

Now in my latest issue of Stereophile, Reichert wrote a followup, where he revisited the turntable on his own, made sure he used LPs he's familiar with, tried out a bunch of his own cartridges, and compared the Pioneer with yet another group of turntables.

His conclusion? The Pioneer is even better than he thought the first time around.

I found it encouraging that the Pioneer improvements were very similar to what I did to my SL1210 M5G--damped the tonearm and replaced the feet. I also got the KAB fluid damper and record grip and a discontinued Oracle sorbothane mat. However, the Pioneer has a couple of other improvements I couldn't perform--a higher torque motor and extensive internal damping between (I think) the plinth and chassis. Also, the plinth is a zinc alloy now, which should be more rigid and sonically inert than the Technics' aluminum.

Has anyone here heard the deck yet? Thoughts? Feelings? Opinions?
johnnyb53
Personally I'm glad to hear such a positive report. This could bring music fans over to analog and with that, support for pressing more LPs.

No reason a big company like Pioneer could not build a capable direct drive table. Maybe not best in the world but all things audio have steep diminishing returns as price increases.

I hope it's successful.
"Both reviewers came away with an enthusiastic recommendation and consdiered this the one to beat at $2K and under. Not bad for $697."

That statement gives me pause. Practically every writer for every major audiophile publication makes a very similar statement about anything they review in that price range. I have no doubt that the Pioneer is a great TT and worth every penny. But maybe we should consider the Pioneer to be a $700 reference, as opposed to a $2000 and under reference. I say this because if you give them a $2000 player to review, I guarantee you they say it sounds as good as a $4000 table. lol. Now we have to reclassify the Pioneer.

I'm glad you brought this up. I just happen to need a TT in this price range for a certain system I have. I'll stop by Guitar Center on my way home and see if they have one. If so, I'll get one and report back on how it sounds. I can see my Scout shaking on its poor little cone feet.
Biggest falsehood ever in audio was Japanese DD/s were somehow inferior to Euro and American belt-drives.

Truth was the Japanese were the only ones able to manufacture those high-end works of art DD's .
Biggest falsehood ever in audio was Japanese DD/s were somehow inferior to Euro and American belt-drives.

Hold on! It is much easier to make a good sounding belt drive than a good sounding direct drive. Many cheap and terrible sounding DD table were produced.

Also, idler wheels, which is basically a high torque motor with a rim drive was implemented way before the Japanese improved and then mass produced DD tables. Which today, some feel sound better than both.

All of these approaches, when implemented properly, can produce great sound. However, when implemented improperly, or cost cutting is involved, can produce an undesirable outcome.

For cottage companies, it was easier to get great results from belt drives, thus eliminating the cogging effect inherent in many motors. It also was a way to decrease vibrations coming directly from the motor and all at reasonable cost and without a large investment in R&D.

I've owned both DD and BD. I've never owned a BD that I couldn't listen to but I have had a few DD that left me flat. I have also owned DD that I really enjoyed, too.

Bottom line was that it is easier to properly implement a belt drive when cost and R&D is a factor. You could get to your desired outcome easier, faster and save a ton of money in the process, thus increasing your bottom line.
"Biggest falsehood ever in audio"? Please :-)
Dopogue
"Biggest falsehood ever in audio"? Please :-)

OK tied for first.
The other: "Perfect Sound Forever"
Yeah I think Lew won that round.
07-02-15: Zd542
"Both reviewers came away with an enthusiastic recommendation and
consdiered this the one to beat at $2K and under. Not bad for $697."

That statement gives me pause. Practically every writer for every major
audiophile publication makes a very similar statement about anything they
review in that price range. I have no doubt that the Pioneer is a great TT and
worth every penny. But maybe we should consider the Pioneer to be a $700
reference, as opposed to a $2000 and under reference.

Good point, and well justified. I mentioned the
"$2K" boundary because in the case of these reviews, Reichert
compared the Pioneer side-by-side against a Linn Sondek LP12 w/Ittok arm
and Koetsu Rosewood, and against a VPI Traveler ($1199) and Ortofon 2M
Black ($799).

In his followup review in the July issue, he re-auditioned the Pioneer against
an Acoustic Signature WOW with TA-1000 tonearm ($4800) with Soundsmith
Carmen cart ($799), and a restored Thorens TD124 with Abis SA 12 tonearm
(about $3300 total) with the Zu DL-103, Ortofon SPU CG ($999) and Jasmine
Turtle (710).

His conclusion after the followup was that he's even more convinced of the
Pioneer's performance and value than the first time around.
07-02-15: Schubert
Biggest falsehood ever in audio was Japanese DD/s were somehow inferior
to Euro and American belt-drives.

Truth was the Japanese were the only ones able to manufacture those high-
end works of art DD's .

07-03-15: Raymonda
...
For cottage companies, it was easier to get great results from belt drives,
thus eliminating the cogging effect inherent in many motors. It also was a
way to decrease vibrations coming directly from the motor and all at
reasonable cost and without a large investment in R&D.

I think this is at the heart of the matter. It didn't take a lot of
startup money or an ultra-close tolerance assembly line to make the drive
systems of British cottage industry turntables--an over-the-counter motor, a
garden variety belt. As designs got refined they may have made special
orders with the motor and belt vendors. They put their emphasis on isolation
and vibration control, and in some cases, cost-effective tonearms (e.g.,
Rega).

This is my opinion on the matter:
Ivor Tiefenbrun (head of Linn) saw what a threat Japanese direct drive
presented to the British turntable industry and went on a worldwide tour to
demonstrate his suspended belt-drive turntable against a Technics DD to at
least reserve the high end and enthusiast market for the belt drives. If he
picked the music in these demos, he could have easily stacked the deck. If
not, well, the Linn would have beat a stock Technics on relaxed presentation
(the belt) and inner detail (the suspension plus the belt isolation).

In doing so, a lot of dogma entered the audiophile "knowledge
base" that has persisted for nearly 40 years. All the sonic differences
were attributed to the "inferiority" of direct drive without giving
consideration to suspension, damping, isolation, etc. which was lacking in
the Technics. Untested theory attributed the midrange glare to the 3150 Hz
speed control servo; the surface noise was because the motor noise came
right up the spindle, and so on.

After tweaking my SL1210 M5G for a few years, I chased down (to my
satisfaction) the true sources of the SL12x0's weaknesses--inadequately
addressed resonances, vibration control, and isolation. I got loads more
inner detail and clarity when I ditched the std. feet for a brass cone-to-
Vibrapod setup, further enhanced with an isolation base. I got rid of that
midrange glare--completely--by wrapping the tonearm. If you flick the platter
or the tonearm with your fingernail you will hear a very clear
"ping" with a specific pitch. The wrap totally killed the 3Khz glare
and coming up with a better sandwich of mats quelled the platter ring. Servo
frequency my ass!

And as I've mentioned, the Pioneer addresses these problems at the design
and mfg level--tonearm liner, purpose-designed feet, and extensive damping
internally. No wonder it sounds so much better right out of the box. The
higher torque would also be more competitive with the great vintage rim
drives.
Yes, I have owned the PLX-1000 for a few months now and it is an excellent sounding table.

For the price I would say the best value in turntables you can buy. IMO competitive to tables much higher in value.

Great for the beginner and the audiophile who wants to hear how good a direct drive table can sound compared to their belt drive table.
07-02-15: Schubert
Biggest falsehood ever in audio was Japanese DD/s were somehow inferior to Euro and American belt-drives.

With quartz clock I would 100% agree. Other DDs loose stability over time and need service.
I'm finding the love.  I feel strongly that if you're going to trouble someone (me) to take a platter off, move a rubber band, put the platter back on (when there are so many other options that don't require those extra steps), it should really be worth it.  The short story for me: Rega 2 wasn't.  I didn't think it was even close.  Here's the longer story.  

I had a self imposed budget of $800 for a turntable.  I don't know why anything past that point felt wrong, but it did.  I was drawn to the idea of getting vintage, and that was originally my intent (Pioneer 570, maybe).  I spent a lot of time visiting Austin's vintage stores (there's at least three good ones).  I spent way too many hours scouring eBay lists for months - but always shy to pull that trigger.  The local vintage stores (mostly) appeared to be way over priced.  I also read all these boards (probably the most helpful).  I questioned a lot of jaded old former band/FM radio engineers now selling vintage equipment.  I *tried* even talking to Magnolia staff at Best Buy (that was the most painful).  I debated and discussed and argued over vintage versus new, and DD versus belt drive.  I became a tad obsessed.  

So, here's the tables I tried, running from a Denon AVR-x3200 / Rotel RB-1572 pre-amp to a pair of Polk lsim 705s.  For each of these I used the blue Ortofon cartridge. Tables were preempted with ART DJPRE II Phono Preamp. 

Audio Technica 1240
Technics 1200 MK2 (with stuck tonearm weight)
Rega 2 
JVC JL-A40 DD (partially restored)
Pioneer PLX-1000

The JVC was what I was wanting to replace (which got me started on this journey).  The AT1240 was just okay, I can't say much else.  It seemed fine, not great, not terrible.  The Technics actually seemed to have a significant improvement in the quality of the sound, but alas the wires were beginning to fail and the counterweight was stuck (so back it went).  Next, after a lot of reading, I was excited to try the Rega 2.  I was expecting the greatest "wow" factor.  I must be the only one underwhelmed by this table.  Also it was so light and "simple" - that actually bugged me - it felt and sounded so insignificant.  It was also the most sensitive of all the tables to feedback.  It was also played as the softest volume.  I don't get the attraction, but I'm certainly don't have the background or experiences of all these places selling and bragging about that table.  It is so fun trying to return a Magnolia product to a different Best Buy location.  

So, after all the running around the PLX was the one that felt substantial (like the Technics); it was heavy to begin with.  It also was fun to set up; a lot of quality, metal, thoughtful contents (a rubber mat, for one).  I like the blue lights.  I like how stable it feels (not like the Rega "toy").  And, without question, to my ears it sounds the best -- by far.  The detail, the bass, the volume, NO FEEDBACK.  This might be the one.  I'm gonna sit with it a while and see, but clearly had a small "w" wow factor.  

No love here. I don't support fraudulent products that steal.
+1 butlersride! I have a PLX1000 in my collection. It is indeed an excellent TT - and easily the best value under $1K! Audio snobs would like it more if it cost 2 - 3X its list price! At $700 it's serious competition to the Technics 1200.
Pioneer is a nonsense since the Technics is back to business with $1700 SL1200GR and more expensive G model for serious audiophiles.

Pioneer lovers should look for PL70 II instead.
At that time Pioneer did not tried to copy Technics design.
Their original Pioneer P3 and P10 are amazing !

In my opinion the original Pioneer desing from the 70’s is better even today.
It would be much better if the Pioneer could continue with their own design based on flagship models from the past.

But Pioneer today is no longer a High-End manufacturer, they are in PROFESSIONAL AUDIO field, in that field the Technics is an iconic turntable, every manufacturer just copy Technics design to sell their product when Technics was out of business, let’s face it! This strategy crashed with Technics return!

Now when brand new fully upgraded Technics (Made in Japan) is available who need a bad clone made by Pioneer in China ???

Who cares about reviewers, anyone can touch Technics to compare it to the Pioneer.
New Technics is superb, no doubt

Technics SL1200GR is just $1700 new in USA, watch this video

Forget about old Technics turntables, look for the brand new GR, G or GAE (depends on the budget).

They made an affordable GR version for everyone and it’s better than old mkII, mk3D, mk5 or whatever version, because the whole Matsushita tooling is brand new and from the old design we have only the Dust Cover. The rest is completely brand new and way dirrefent from the old Technics.

The Pioneer IS an excellent TT and to most Americans a thousand bucks is a lot of money !
I wonder how my Superscoutmaster/rim drive/Classic platter/3D 2nd pivot from about 10 years or so ago would stand up.
@schubert i’ve tried that Pioneer few years ago in Paris, it’s just a clone of old Technics DJ classics, it’s OK and better than cheaper clones from Stanton, Audio-Technica and some other no-name turntables that looks just like the old Technics SL1210 on the picture, but in reality they are all cheap plastic toys. I just don’t understand what is "excellent" about that Pioneer, have you ever tried Technics ?

I am happy that Technics returned to wipe away all those clones.

I think Pioneer PL70 II is excellent Pioneer turntable with a nice Pioneer tonearm (made by Micro Seiki), but it wasn’t a clone of Technics, it was an original Pioneer design.


Whats nice about it ? With a lowly Grado Red it plays a Symphony in my condo very near to live concert . And having been to thousands of classical concerts I know what they sound like . Simple
Only help I have given to it is a Orsonic head shell. and a Project Heavy base .
Two Orsonics actually, other one has a new Empire 3000 ME/X which has rock steady .placement and depth for jazz group or string quartet .Also have a Pro-ject perspex 6 with a Nagoka 200 and a Rega RP6 with a Rega Exact .All have their place but the tremendous torque and heavy zinc body of the Pioneer is outstanding on Symphony.Oh,and about 6 old Sony PS-X5 and 6 in storage . I have owned 5or 6 Technics over the years .Of the hundred or so TT's I ever owned my all -time favorite was the beautiful Sansui 929 .Worst sounding to me was the first one I ever had , a Linn12 .
Warning: BRAND NEW Technics SL1210 mk7 just announced
They won't stop!  So the Pioneer must die with their clones 


Oooo....Interesting. Can't wait for someone to get their hands on one.
Technics killing us, there is another one coming later this year:
brand new Technics SL1500c 

more about it HERE