"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
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
His conclusion after the followup was that he's even more convinced of the
Pioneer's performance and value than the first time around.
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 .
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.,
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