|The Pioneer PL-12D|
The Pioneer PL-12D was a budget record deck which saw much success in the seventies, and I feel deserves a place on this site, as I am sure that many of you will enjoy another look at an old favorite.The Pioneer PL-12D was indeed a good choice of deck, which produced excellent results, and proved to be a very reliable robust record deck.
In the mid seventies, when vinyl was what CD is today, record decks were plentiful. They were made in every imaginable form, from the cheap and nasty to the expensive and sophisticated. Though the objective was to produce a deck that was simple in design, it also had to be capable of revolving the platter at different settings at a speed that was constant. A great deal of engineering and thought also went into isolating bearing and mechanical feedback from reaching the pick-up, which was a common problem. From this derived the popular belt drive system, where the drive motor and platter are separated and connected only by the rubber drive belt.
Based on this principle, there are a few different designs, some worked by insulating the motor by means of rubber mountings, to the more sophisticated suspended chassis designs such as the Thorens 150 and others, where the chassis is made up of two separated sections rather than one. In the case of the Thorens 150, this was done by a two-tier chassis arrangement, where the top section is fixed to the plinth and carries the motor and controls, while the bottom section that carries the Arm Board and bearing for the platter is separated by being being suspended below.
Some decks came with the parallel tracking arm system such as the Revox, but the majority were of the pivoted variety. Others decks were produced without an arm (or plinth come to that), giving the discerning hi-fi buyer complete choice.
If you wanted to buy a record deck in those days, you were quite literally bombarded with choice, leaving the less experienced buyer quite bewildered by it all. Hi-Fi magazines played a key role in helping buyers make the right decision by comparing specifications against price on their behalf, and providing opinions and advice.
As ever, with hindsight, it's quite easy to look back and recognise what was good, because all the choices and decisions have now been made. Garrard, Leak, Dual, Thorens and Linn to mention just a few are all well known producers of record decks that were of a good standard and purchased in their thousands. In fact, there were many other manufacturers that provided equally good decks, but were not as well received.
One unlikely success story that stands out from this period was the Pioneer PL-12D. This deck, certainly looking the part with its wood grain effect plinth, and sleek design, turned out to be a big hit, I think everyone looking for a reasonably priced deck with excellent specification at that time, had one, (myself included), they were everywhere! The Pioneer ads of the day stated that; 'The famous PL-12D which is unquestionably the most widely acclaimed turntable to be sold in this country for many years'. At this time (1974) it was retailing in the UK in at £60.78, compared with the Thorens 160 at £83.02 and the Thorens 125 at £150.94.
The PL-12D, is a belt drive system with an aluminium one piece platter, which comes with a choice of two speeds, 33 and 45 rpm; a manual action 'S' shaped tone arm, a SME style screw-on headshell and a detachable Perspex lid. Though the 'Anti-vibration sprung floating chassis' was one piece on which the platter spindle and the tone arm are fixed, it actually produces excellent results and was usually paired off with the Shure M75 range of cartridges. Another novel feature was an 'over-hang checker', a marker device that can be pulled up under the stylus, serving as a guide to the position the cartridge in the headshell.
The motor is suspended under the chassis and is seated on an arrangement of rubber insulators that ensure that there is no metal-to-metal contact between them.