Pioneer PL-30 Turntable review

Pioneer has been cranking out hard-core, road-warrior turntables for professional DJs for years, and while the company never really stopped producing consumer-level turntables, that particular product category really hasn’t been a priority. And why would would it be? Vinyl took a huge dive in popularity and was the exclusive love of a slim set of audiophiles for nearly two decades. But now vinyl is back, and so is Pioneer with the brand new PL-30 turntable.

This latest piece from Pioneer reflects a re-energized effort to produce extremely well-designed, high-value home entertainment gear — the BD-88FD reference Blu-ray player we recently checked out is another great example.

While it may look simple, the PL-30 offers some thoughtful features, such as an auto-start/auto-stop feature, a built-in switchable phono-preamp (any receiver will work), and a grip-y rubber mat that really takes hold of the record when you take to spinning your wax. And speaking of spinning, that belt-driven platter gets up to speed in no time, and Pioneer claims its speed variance is less than .1%, which would be impressive if true.

The PL-30 comes fitted with an Audio-Technica AT3600L, a favorite mid-range stock cartridge included on competing ‘tables like the Music Hall USB-1 and the Audio-Technica AT-LP120 USB (a personal favorite). Unlike those last two turntables, though, the similarly-priced PL-30 does not offer a USB output, which means ripping albums to a digital format will require a computer with its own decent analog-to-digital interface.


Vinyl 2CD Rescue says:

When people shopping for a TT at that price aren’t normally looking for a USB output to digitize their music. I’m not a fan of built-in preamps as they muddle the music. Case in point: I bought the AT-LP120-USB about 4 years ago and ripped out the built-in preamp as it was stifling my music. I soldered in a pair of high quality shielded RCA cables to the tone arm wiring for a direct connection to my preamp. The results are night and day! Anyone who wants to spend $300 for a TT needs to think about how they are listen to their music and what they want out of it for their money. For the time and money I’ve invested in modifying my TT I could have bought a much better TT. I now have lessons learned to pass on to others. By the way, good video on the Pioneer TT features.

Perverted Alchemist says:

Meh… Pioneer’s older turntables are better.

Peter Regoršek says:

Also in the older days, when turntables were mainstream, there were some japanese companies, which produced cheaper turntables on the same basis for different brands. And there was also Micro-seiki, who produced high end tables for Yamaha, Pioneer and some other brands. It is logic of capitalistic mass production, so it is not strange if majority of modern turntables are produced in the same factory in China.

Liofa says:

Personally I’d rather have the auto start/stop (which the Audio-Technica you mentioned doesn’t have) than the digital out.

bobskie321 says:

Our vintage turntable has similar length of cable as that one (1:48) and many years back then I added an extension RCA cable about 10 meters long (10 yards) because I moved the turntable far away from the receiver and the sound quality degrades significantly that moved the turntable back to its place to avoid using any extension. They said that moving coil cartridge are not easily affected by cable capacitance but they cost arm and a leg. Another way to avoid this problem if you use a long extension RCA cable is to use the turntable’s built-in preamp (Line not Phono).

NotOrdinaryInGames says:

WHat about the sound though? And how do you connect a turntable without a USB output to your computer?

Jose A Avellanet says:

Great video!

nqadie en blanco says:

Made in China

Glpi lpi says:

You shouldn’t extend your phono input leads at all as the signal levels are low typically 3 to 6 millivolts and noise and mains hum will be picked up . Line levels are OK though .

davidst489 says:

Looks so cheap compared to the vintage ones.How do you adjust the speed? Both cables should be detachable. But using too long a cable will change the capacitance hence the sound, they are matched for that reason. I don’t like a USB or a Built in phono preamp both are almost always a compromise between quality and price. You can buy a preamp with a usb or just buy a cheap preamp and cable, RCA to mini plug for computer input.

The Sun Will Rise Again says:

That’s not the original PL-30, the PL-30 came out in 1981

Zockopa says:

Well,this is not a turntable made by Pioneer in japan,its a marketing job by pioneer bought in china. Every entrylevel turntable made by pioneer in the late seventies is way better then this.
Actually youtube is full of videos of them. If pioneer wouldve wanted to market a good turntable just give for example the 
PL-518 a new production run.

phishpot says:

“This is a hard wired R.C.A. cable, that means if you need to go more than 6 feet to your amplifier you’re going to have to add extensions, and … I dont like that”.

Hang on a second. Unless it is a line livel output (i.e. from a built in preamp) a long turntable output cable is the last thing you want. The output from a phono cartridge when sent over a long cable will be affected by the *impedence* of the cable; this WILL mess with the sound. The top end will become more rolled off, and upper mid frequencies will be given bit of a boost. Not to mention, if you extend the cable yourself, you lay yourself open to added hum.

Turntable cables tend to be short for a reason. Don’t lengthen them.

Abigail Sockeye says:

Who the fuck wants to digitize their records? Use CDs for that.

Jango Sherman says:

So what is the difference between the pl 30 and pl 30

twinsmm1 says:

if it outputs line level, you can play into the line level input (mic input) of a computer and record. the only difference is the computer is doing the A to D instead of the turntable itself.

MadDanno says:

People are being duped into vinyl. It’s rubbish.That’s why they got rid of it 20yrs ago. It’s a pain in the ass trying not to scratch it or drop it. Plus they charge a fortune for an LP now.

joey1127 says:

Platter mat is upside down…turn it over.  The dished out center is for the label to set down in.

Phono cable should NEVER be long so that is actually OK, see other tables from pioneer in the 70’s.  They all had captive cables for a reason.

As Pioneer is calling it Audiophile, there would not be any digital output and for good reason.

The built in phono amp is a turn-off for real hi-fi lovers.

I returned mine as it had a bad platter wobble and it’s really just a re-worked Denon DP-300F turntable.  I expected a lot more from the company that brought us the PL-12D…kind of a let-down.

Alan Maier says:

This turntable is a prime example of taking advantage of a trend and milking it for all it is worth. It is based on the same mechanicals of the humble Audio Technica AT-LP60, which Pioneer has sold as variant of known as the PL-990. The price is simply too high for the plastic turntable it is, especially considering there are solid contenders at the same price point that are true audiophile turntables.

I am all for an affordable turntable that bridges the gap between the $99 entry level models and the entry level true audiophile turntables from Pro-Ject and Rega. The uTurn is a definite step in the right direction – this $300 turntable just does not cut it.

Quirky Meerkat says:

You put the mat on upside down

HartfordHD125 says:

Life is full of coincidences. I had just been listening to “The Nightfly” by Donald Fagen, and then by chance happened to watch this video !
Nice review.

D. Paul Riderman says:

I hope you realize the analog to digital convertor that most turntables have are $10 quality you find on the internet. Although I’m not a Sony fan, their new home use turntable has a convertor to 24bit 192Khz, so the output is better than CD quality. This is a copy of the Denon DP300F which has had many problems of late.

Brian Marcou says:

you can still record your vinyl without a USB all you need is the RCA cable adapter to 3.5 jack which to go into your microphone input into your computer.

Kevin Lyons says:

Made in China isn’t a selling feature to me

See You In Mist says:

whilst I applaud the sale of more turntables, this is not made by pioneer at all and a rebranded Chinese turntable. It can seen as a Pioneer PL-30K or a Denon DP-300F – they are the same decks, just different logos. Probably more closes out there also. You feel a bit cheated as its not really a Pioneer or a Denon in all honesty.

Paulo Santos says:

I like the simplicity of it!

W4RD1N8ER says:

I just purchased this unit and I am acustomed to listening to a Phase linear component stereo with a Revox digital turntable. My dad is still using this stereo with infinity speakers that are older than I am and it is all still mint and in perfect working order. I have to say I am very happy with my turn table no issues it gets better with use its not the fidelity you get with my old mans stereo but it is a simple nice easy to use still sounds great very decent music I am using a sony 2 channel reciever my Denon pma 500v needs work done, a set of Kef c3 book shelf speakers that are Ok at best so paired with this amp and speakers I am still very happy to listen to that very same album in the guys hands in this video on my system Donald Fagen sounds just fine on my turn table and the fact that there is no usb port suits me just fine I am listening to vinyl for a reason TIRED OF TINNY DIGITAL METALLIC NOISE!. So this turn table is more than fair in my book looks great simple easy to use and does the job very nicely. If your one of those sound nuts that needs the full warm rich highs,meds and lows then it might not be for you. I on the other hand will fix my Denon and get better speakers and I bet I will be even happier with my turn table your only as good as your speakers I can upgrade my cartridge later too if ths fidelity is not enough. My point? Its a good turn table with some room for improvement.

R Link says:

Can you please tell me if there are any lights at all like for the start button or anything?  I also don’t see a place for the 45rpm adapter that comes with it?  Last question, does base color match the Elite BDP 88 you previously reviewed.   Thanks so much.

speewave says:

To be honest, I think USB output isn’t a big deal, considering that a simple RCA->3.5mm converter does the trick (It’s what i use on my cheaper ION turntable *as i use my PC’s Soundblaster which may be of higher quality than your average cheap turntable’s DAC*)  Feels that it saves on cost and maintains qualityreputation by not throwing a cheap dac just to fit in the market with USB-ready systems

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