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Pioneer PLX 1000 review

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Beast_of_burden

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I have been enjoying the PLX1000 for about a month now with a DL103R cartridge. The phono stage is the usual suspect- Schiit Mani.

Why the PLX?
The fact that it is available here in a India at a reasonable price that is almost a straight up translation of its USD price abroad.

I have been a previous owner of the venerable SL1200 which was a nice experience. I did a lot of research to make sure the PLX compares well with the old Technics.

Very hard to source a used SL1200 here in Bangalore. There were a couple of listings pan India but they were asking as much as the new PLX.
Very Favourably reviewed on Youtube and on Stereophile.

I couldn’t audition but did get to see the unit before ordering at the experience center in Indira Nagar Bangalore. I had to order a pair but that wasn’t a problem as my brother wanted one too.


Many teething issues

I might hasten to add, none having to do with the TT itself. I had a Denon Grado black and a Shure M97Xe on hand. The Grado proved to be too dull for my tastes. The M97xe sounded great but had a highly skewed channel balance. My setup was plagued with terrible earthing issues that caused an extremely loud hum. I researched the topic a lot and it took me nearly a month before I changed the power cord of the TT to one with the earth prong. The stock cable does not have the earth prong. After the cable swap all was super quiet.

Then it was another couple of weeks before my brother sent me his used DL103R he had as a spare. I suddenly saw what the fuss was all about a LOMC cartridge. The Schiit has plenty of gain. It doesn’t have very many loading options but it works.
I also got an AT95E which was cheap but there is no reason to use this if you have a DL103R. The difference is like night and day. The M97xe is better. The DL103R is a very lively performer in this TT. I experimented with the extra 4gm headshell weight but this made the sound dull. There is also an extra weight at the tonearm end which is evidently enough . It sounds much better without the extra headshell mass. I don’t have to describe the sound of the DL103R, it is very much in line with what a lot of others have written. It’s a lively and engaging performer with extended frequency extremes and excellent suppression of surface noise. I am sold on this cart and there is good synergy with the PLX. Extraordinary dynamics to boot especially when set to maximum gain, I had to tone down the gain to suit my taste. It is not warm sounding but neither is it harsh.

Lessons learnt

You have to be willing to spend a packet on the cartridge! Also be prepared to wreck a couple during handling!

Have to get the spirit level, protractor, carbon fibre brush and miniature weigh scale. These are must have accessories and it beats me they aren’t included with every TT. The PLX has nearly all adjustments except azimuth which can be had by buying a headshell that provides it.

It takes a bit of time to gain the required dexterity to safely handle the cartridge. Initially it’s all quivering hands but it gets better after a few iterations.

But is it worth the effort ?

It’s a long and arduous process. It’s every bit as fiddly as you already knew. The PLX with its removable headshell, height and easy VTF adjustment makes living with a TT a wee bit easier in my view.

With a decent cartridge and phono stage the music is astonishing and unfailingly intimate and engaging. I’m loving it. However bad pressings will not fare well on this, not all LPs are mastered well unfortunately. You will have no trouble identifying those turkeys on this TT.
 

peace_sells

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Thank you for your review. Very informative indeed.

I have a question (to nobody in particular): the wow and flutter specification of this turntable is described as < 0.1 % WRMS. In what way, would this impact the listening experience as compared to say, Technics DD turntables (which have a wow and flutter of around <0.025-0.04 % WRMS)? No impact? Just curious to know. I have never understood this.
 

Saket

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Hi! I read somewhere that most critical listeners would not be able to pick wow/ flutter range upto 0.25%. Since most good TTs can control wow & flutter from 0.10% to even as low as 0.025% (for many DD Technics), a listener is not expected to pick up the difference. However, a lower wow/ flutter does mean better engineering on board, no two ways about it. Plus, a lower wow/flutter spec at factory level does mean that as the equipment ages, it still will have a good cushion range before it bothers with some significance in terms of listening due to general depreciation.

Regards,
Saket
 

sunder

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The PLX has nearly all adjustments except azimuth which can be had by buying a headshell that provides it.
This tonearm's overhang is 54mm. Other older model tonearms' overhang are 49mm. Is Schitt Mani good for MC cart's?
 

Beast_of_burden

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Messages
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Location
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This tonearm's overhang is 54mm. Other older model tonearms' overhang are 49mm. Is Schitt Mani good for MC cart's?
The Stereophile review says 54mm too. I simply used an AT protractor and aligned the cart. As for the Mani it does just fine with the MC cart. Has loadings for 47ohm(MC) and 47KOhm(MM). And has gain upto 59db. I found this too much and using the 48db gain setting. It does rather dynamic at the 59db gain setting. My integrated amplifier has plenty of gain too. The recommended loading for the dl103r is at least 100 ohms. I have it set at 47 ohms and it is working fine. It might sound a little better but it won’t be night and day, because it is already playing at a level that has surprised me. It is definitely playing a level above the SL1200 + M97xe + CJ tube phono I had a while ago.
 

Hiten

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wow and flutter specification of this turntable is described as < 0.1 % WRMS. In what way, would this impact the listening experience as compared to say, Technics DD turntables (which have a wow and flutter of around <0.025-0.04 % WRMS)? No impact? Just curious to know. I have never understood this.
Pioneer PLX 1000 wow and flutter specification is less than 0.01 which is good. As with different ways of measuring Rumble there are different ways to measure measure W&F. Most distinguishable speed variation can be found on long piano notes and its harmonics. Pioneer and Audio Technica 120 are good turntable. I have heard and seen Audio Technica at friend's place. Very smooth running very low noise turntable. Beside bearing and motor drive Tonearm stability has significant impact on speed variation. Shure Papers says, resonance and scrubbing has significant effect on speed stability. All moving parts need tolerance (i.e. minor play to move other wise they will jam) Due to this when resonance occurs the stylus tip is not true to the modulation and scrubs on the grooves which due to higher in magnitude nature this exerts force on vinyl and speed variation occurs. So Tonearm stability plays important role. Diyaudio has turntable speed stability thread. Lots of interesting post.

I am happy with my Technics SL-Q3. Nice turntable with green motor known to have good speed regulation. Also these 'minor' things should not be worried about (personal opinion) as tin ears like mine I can not detect it. if we set out to 'extract' last juicy bits of specification the turntable becomes expensive. Some Magnetic bearing high specs. turntable cost so much one can buy 1 BHK home in suburbs.
Regards.
 

vinyl

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[QUOTE="
I am happy with my Technics SL-Q3. Nice turntable with green motor known to have good speed regulation. Also these 'minor' things should not be worried about (personal opinion) as tin ears like mine I can not detect it. if we set out to 'extract' last juicy bits of specification the turntable becomes expensive. Some Magnetic bearing high specs. turntable cost so much one can buy 1 BHK home in suburbs.
Regards.[/QUOTE]

Hiten, I fully agree with you.
 

Beast_of_burden

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Messages
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Location
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The torque on the PLX is super strong, that in itself doesn’t mean superior speed stability. I haven’t heard yet to suggest anything out of pitch. There is some play in the tone arm bearings exactly as described in the Stereophile review but the tracking is really good, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I don’t want to mess with setup as it is working quite well now. Older Indian classical LPs sound extremely engaging and I cannot stop marvelling at the quality of the mastering and the pressing. They sound like I am listening to the microphone feed. Superb. Rock and roll LPs are another story, quite a bit of variation. For example I think Eat a Peach sounds better on the SACD than it does on the LP. This is a Japanese pressing I have of the LP and it’s not that great. Eric Clapton’s Slowhand sounds like the band is playing in front you when you turn up the volume a wee bit. So yes there is a great deal of variation. I will hasten to add that it’s not just the PLX but also the DL103R, there is a certain synergy going on here.
 

kuruvilajacob

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I would like someone to play Pioneer PLX 1000 side by side with maintained vintage turntables like the Technics SL 1300 mark 2 or Technics SL 1400 r 1600 mark 2 turntables using same cart and other systems. Only such tests can reveal how good these new turntable are comparing the price factor also.
 

Beast_of_burden

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Messages
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Location
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I would like someone to play Pioneer PLX 1000 side by side with maintained vintage turntables like the Technics SL 1300 mark 2 or Technics SL 1400 r 1600 mark 2 turntables using same cart and other systems. Only such tests can reveal how good these new turntable are comparing the price factor also.
Please let me know if you come across a well maintained SL1200. If the price is right I will buy and will be happy to do the comparison. As a previous owner when it was available brand new, of the SL1200, its not going to be night and day difference between the PLX and the SL1200. Of course, if the SL1200 was available today I would have bought it. I would have considered the new SL1200R if it were available at a decent exchange rate adjusted price in India. But I am not aware of a dealer in India.
 

Beast_of_burden

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What is a correct price for a well maintained SL1200MK2.
I saw one for 55k in Bhubaneswar. These are quite rare and existing owners probably want to hang on to their units if in good condition. Without original packing I wouldn’t consider shipping a TT over long distances or for that matter even short distances. This price was higher than what I paid for the PLX. The SL1200 10 years back was quite affordable at 525 USD, by contrast a Rega P3 with Goldring Elan cart was 1250 usd. Was the Sl1200 sold in India through dealerships?
 

kuruvilajacob

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I saw one for 55k in Bhubaneswar. These are quite rare and existing owners probably want to hang on to their units if in good condition. Without original packing I wouldn’t consider shipping a TT over long distances or for that matter even short distances. This price was higher than what I paid for the PLX. The SL1200 10 years back was quite affordable at 525 USD, by contrast a Rega P3 with Goldring Elan cart was 1250 usd. Was the Sl1200 sold in India through dealerships?
 

kuruvilajacob

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I don't think Technics ever had a dealer in India. The ones floating around in India are mostly those imported by DJs years ago or brought to India by individuals for their own use. It would be difficult to get a good condition one locally unless one is very lucky. I have quite a lot of them maybe 10-12 years ago. Nothing has come my way since then.
 

Locomotive

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Oct 31, 2009
Messages
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I have been enjoying the PLX1000 for about a month now with a DL103R cartridge. The phono stage is the usual suspect- Schiit Mani.

Why the PLX?
The fact that it is available here in a India at a reasonable price that is almost a straight up translation of its USD price abroad.

I have been a previous owner of the venerable SL1200 which was a nice experience. I did a lot of research to make sure the PLX compares well with the old Technics.

Very hard to source a used SL1200 here in Bangalore. There were a couple of listings pan India but they were asking as much as the new PLX.
Very Favourably reviewed on Youtube and on Stereophile.

I couldn’t audition but did get to see the unit before ordering at the experience center in Indira Nagar Bangalore. I had to order a pair but that wasn’t a problem as my brother wanted one too.


Many teething issues

I might hasten to add, none having to do with the TT itself. I had a Denon Grado black and a Shure M97Xe on hand. The Grado proved to be too dull for my tastes. The M97xe sounded great but had a highly skewed channel balance. My setup was plagued with terrible earthing issues that caused an extremely loud hum. I researched the topic a lot and it took me nearly a month before I changed the power cord of the TT to one with the earth prong. The stock cable does not have the earth prong. After the cable swap all was super quiet.

Then it was another couple of weeks before my brother sent me his used DL103R he had as a spare. I suddenly saw what the fuss was all about a LOMC cartridge. The Schiit has plenty of gain. It doesn’t have very many loading options but it works.
I also got an AT95E which was cheap but there is no reason to use this if you have a DL103R. The difference is like night and day. The M97xe is better. The DL103R is a very lively performer in this TT. I experimented with the extra 4gm headshell weight but this made the sound dull. There is also an extra weight at the tonearm end which is evidently enough . It sounds much better without the extra headshell mass. I don’t have to describe the sound of the DL103R, it is very much in line with what a lot of others have written. It’s a lively and engaging performer with extended frequency extremes and excellent suppression of surface noise. I am sold on this cart and there is good synergy with the PLX. Extraordinary dynamics to boot especially when set to maximum gain, I had to tone down the gain to suit my taste. It is not warm sounding but neither is it harsh.

Lessons learnt

You have to be willing to spend a packet on the cartridge! Also be prepared to wreck a couple during handling!

Have to get the spirit level, protractor, carbon fibre brush and miniature weigh scale. These are must have accessories and it beats me they aren’t included with every TT. The PLX has nearly all adjustments except azimuth which can be had by buying a headshell that provides it.

It takes a bit of time to gain the required dexterity to safely handle the cartridge. Initially it’s all quivering hands but it gets better after a few iterations.

But is it worth the effort ?

It’s a long and arduous process. It’s every bit as fiddly as you already knew. The PLX with its removable headshell, height and easy VTF adjustment makes living with a TT a wee bit easier in my view.

With a decent cartridge and phono stage the music is astonishing and unfailingly intimate and engaging. I’m loving it. However bad pressings will not fare well on this, not all LPs are mastered well unfortunately. You will have no trouble identifying those turkeys on this TT.

Many thanks for your review.

I have been looking for a mint Technics SL 1200 for a while now but as you have also said, it is extremely difficult to get hold of (And in the current scenario, I have lost all hopes of travelling to Japan in the near future). Not only am I smitten by the industrial design and indestructibility of the Technics, I have also seen many review that rate it as a quality audiophile deck. So even if I could lay my hands on the new MK7 I would be happy to buy it but it is not available in India.

Enter the Pioneer PLX 1000, which i accidentally discovered a few weeks back. While a Technics clone doesn't seem as exicing a prospect as the original, It has some really good reviews (particularly from Stereophile and John Darko) and looks the part as well. And as you also mentioned its India price is very reasonable.

Your review is also very interesting for me as I also have a Denon DL 103 and a Nagaoka MP 200 to experiment with and I also use a Schiit Mani.

So do you still have the Pioneer with you? And after about 2 years of ownership has your opinion about it changed?

Look forward to your reply.

Thanks
Sabya
 

Beast_of_burden

Active Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2011
Messages
206
Points
28
Location
Bangalore
Many thanks for your review.

I have been looking for a mint Technics SL 1200 for a while now but as you have also said, it is extremely difficult to get hold of (And in the current scenario, I have lost all hopes of travelling to Japan in the near future). Not only am I smitten by the industrial design and indestructibility of the Technics, I have also seen many review that rate it as a quality audiophile deck. So even if I could lay my hands on the new MK7 I would be happy to buy it but it is not available in India.

Enter the Pioneer PLX 1000, which i accidentally discovered a few weeks back. While a Technics clone doesn't seem as exicing a prospect as the original, It has some really good reviews (particularly from Stereophile and John Darko) and looks the part as well. And as you also mentioned its India price is very reasonable.

Your review is also very interesting for me as I also have a Denon DL 103 and a Nagaoka MP 200 to experiment with and I also use a Schiit Mani.

So do you still have the Pioneer with you? And after about 2 years of ownership has your opinion about it changed?

Look forward to your reply.

Thanks
Sabya
I owned SL1200 back in 2008-2009 for about a year in Chicago and sold it before heading back home. The 1200 is undoubtedly a great deck and would buy it again if it was available. I still have a few needledrops from that time and those recordings still sound remarkable.

The PLX 1000 is darned good but in comparison it does suffer only because it's a clone. The tonearm feels more precise on the Technics. With either the Technics or the PLX it's quite easy to get good sound. Both are equally easy to setup. If anything the Pioneer headshell feels better and comes with an extra weight for the headshell and an extra weight for the counterweight. You will need to install the extra weight as the DL103 is a heavier cart. Still as I pointed out it lacks azimuth adjustment so it will be wise to invest in a headshell that allows azimuth adjustment.

I will be honest I am not a heavy vinyl listener, I probably listen to internet radio and streaming services more. I bought this mainly to listen to some of the used LPs I had collected during my ownership of the Technics. One good thing with the Pioneer is old scratchy records are perfectly listenable. However I bought a couple of CCR albums in Bangalore which are brand new but sound rubbish. A Nirvana record of digital provenance sounds good though. The PLX is not forgiving of poorly mastered vinyl, it's resolving enough to let you know and it's not pleasant.

The PLX captures the forward momentum of music superbly, it has this bounding energy. I like this but some folks might say that it sounds like CD.

My brother who owns the other PLX is running it with the AT95E. Sounds bloody marvellous even if it's a modest system consisting of a denon 1500AE and Q acoustics bookshelf speakers. Like the 1200, the PLX performs consistently and is a relative snap to set up.

The PLX is a clone, that's the only strike against it. I haven't had any problems with it and it's unlikely I will "upgrade' to the 1200 if the opportunity presents itself. It's good enough. I don't like checking in big boxes when I travel and I don't want the hassle of customs or importing it. As T Bone Walker famously said, it's a mean old world;when you cant get the one you love...

If you have the patience and don't mind spending a bit more for the 1200, I say go for it. If you put it up for sale at some point in the future, people will pounce on it. But if you are a pragmatist like me who believes good enough beats perfect, the PLX is a good option. There is a slightly more expensive Denon which also got good reviews.

The other TT I considered was the Rega P3, it's more expensive but it blew my mind when I heard it with a Goldring Elan II cartridge. I do not know how many realize Jim Morrisons voice is heavily reverbed on Riders on the Storm, he sounds rather growly. The P3 laid the reverb bare, it was stunning. Ofcourse the components higher up the chain were also of a tall order, the P3 while being a budget component was up to it.
 
Last edited:

Locomotive

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2009
Messages
92
Points
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Location
Mumbai
Thanks for your views. It makes perfect sense. One of the main reason that the Pioneer appeals to me is that it seems to be a very good clone of the original, both aesthetically and in performance, almost like it is paying homage to the master.

I have seen the denon as well but it looks too flashy for my tastes.

Love the quote you have quoted here. I will certainly borrow it for later use :)
 
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