The Pioneer PL-514 belt-drive turntable is an absolute classic. Let’s find out why.
The Pioneer PL-514 is a high-quality, great-sounding belt-drive deck from one of the big Japanese manufacturers. In terms of build and performance, like so much other Japanese gear, it puts many other belt-drive decks to shame. The motor alone is far better than you’ll find in famous turntables from Rega and Linn. This is so typically Japanese, but more on that later.
Updated for 2023!
Check out my video, below, and read on for more details.
The Pioneer PL-514 is a high-performance belt-driven turntable that employs an auto-return mechanism. Other features include an anti-skating force control, cueing device, detachable dust cover, insulator feet, plug-in type headshell and a 40mm thick particleboard cabinet.
For what you pay, you get a heck of a lot of turntable with the PL-514. I mean, this thing punches far above its weight, right up into decent direct drive territory and beyond. You could pay $2000 AUD for a new turntable and I promise you it won’t be as nicely made, nor will it sound as good or be as collectible later.
Pioneer PL-514 Specifications
Courtesy of Vinyl Engine
Type: auto-return turntable
Drive method: belt drive
Motor: 4-pole synchronous
Speeds: 33 and 45 rpm
Wow and flutter: 0.055% WRMS
Signal-to-noise ratio: 65dB
Platter: 320mm aluminium alloy die-cast
Tonearm: static balance type, pipe arm (s-shaped)
Effective length: 221mm
Usable cartridge weight: 4 to 10g
Dimensions: 440 x 365 x 140mm
I serviced and upgraded this one for her owner. I installed a Jelco HS-25 magnesium headshell, Ortofon 2M Red moving magnet cartridge, new belt and cleaned and lubed the motor, deck mechanisms and bearing.
Doing all this work takes time but the results are well worth it. The deck’s noticeably quieter post-service and runs with less wow and flutter. It looks better too and the new Ortofon 2M Red cartridge and Jelco headshell really lift performance and freshen her up.
This Pioneer PL-514 runs perfectly now and plays a record very nicely. I highly recommend you look for one of these if you need a good, solid record player that will likely last for another 30 years!
The Pioneer PL-514 is one of those classically underrated turntables that many don’t seem to even know about. Talk about solidly built, the PL-514 is so far ahead of decks like the Rega P1 and Pro-Ject Debut whatever, that frankly, it’s embarrassing. This deck crushes cheap modern machines and walks all over them sonically and in terms of build.
“Mike, there is no way the Pioneer PL-514 motor is better than those found in expensive Regas and Linns…”
Oh, it is better, much better. It just shouldn’t be. This is what Japanese engineers and businesses did/do so well, much to the chagrin of everyone else. That an affordable deck like this is so well-engineered is a marvel, hats should be off to the design team and to Pioneer.
The PL-514 has excellent speed accuracy, a lovely tonearm, a super-solid chassis, motor, and lid and is just generally such a loveable machine that I would honestly have one as a spare deck if I had the space. They really don’t make turntables like this anymore, certainly not that the average buyer can afford.
The Pioneer PL-514 is the little belt-drive turntable that could, offerring a taste of high-end on a beer budget. Seriously, grab one, if you can.
You may note that I’ve replaced the headshell here and installed a new cartridge, fasteners and precision rubber drive belt. There are/were good reasons for doing so, relating to performance and my customer’s requirements.
Keep in mind that fitting a new headshell and correctly setting up the cartridge to suit is something requiring good tools and expertise to accomplish correctly. I’ve written about cartridge alignment in various places, here is a great starting point, then read this.
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If it weren’t for articles like this one, most would never have heard of the Pioneer PL-514, so I’m glad you stopped by! Unfortunately, many including my competitors, soak up all the useful information but forget about their local, hard-working specialist, who creates this great content for the benefit of hi-fi equipment lovers.
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Best of all, I’d be happy to service your Pioneer PL-514, fit a new headshell, cartridge, fasteners and wires and anything else that fits in with your budget. When you use a local specialist repairer, you build a relationship with someone who actually cares about you, your equipment and the result. Try getting that from a zero-service online retailer!