I recently serviced a lovely old Pioneer PL-514 belt-drive turntable for a customer from the wheat belt.

My customer has asked me to restore the deck so that he can present it to his father for his birthday. This was naturally a priority for me!

As I was working on the deck, it occurred to me that the older Pioneer belt-drive turntables from the ’70s and ’80s were very good for the money, and represent an excellent entry-level deck for someone today. For example, the engineering of these old Japanese decks smokes entry-level Rega and Project decks.

For your money, you get a proper aluminium platter that is nicely balanced, as opposed to a horrible MDF platter. You get a decent-sized motor, nicely decoupled from the chassis. You get a basic but functional tonearm and you can fit a quality moving magnet cartridge of your choice, without worrying too much about compatibility. Plus, they don’t break – made in Japan back then meant made properly, in Japan. This is a badge of honour.

I suggest you keep an eye out for these older Japanese decks as there’s a lot to love about them and little not to like. I am very happy to fit a new belt, cartridge or stylus, service and lube your ‘table and have her playing records beautifully again for you.

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6 thoughts on “Pioneer PL-514 Turntable Service”

  1. Greetings Mike,

    It’s just about time to replace my cartridge on my PL-514 that I’ve had for about 1 year now(luv it!). Would like your opinion on which MMC is the best match for this turntable. I’ve finally run the GT that was installed when I got it to the ground.

    I’d appreciate the input.

    1. Hi Rory, no one ‘best’ cartridge but the aim is always to ensure a good mechanical match. This essentially means we must make sure the compliance of the cart matches the mass of the arm, so that resonance is controlled. The Pioneer arm is of low to medium mass and so a compliant cartridge is required. There are many options to choose from, you might look for example at the Ortofon 2M range which I use quite a bit and with great success.

      1. Hi Mike, thanks for the quick reply. Might you be able to provide a couple more cartridges that matches the mass of the tonearm. Then, I can make a decision based on price, availability, etc. Again, much appreciated.

        1. Hi Rory, almost all modern moving magnet cartridges are of medium compliance and should therefore be suitable. I recommend an Ortofon 2M Red as a good starting point and you can upgrade the stylus from there. Look for medium compliance cartridges and you won’t go too far wrong.

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