Pioneer PL-12D Turntable Review

Pioneer PL-12D Turntable Review

If you grew up in the 1970s, one of the items likely found in your home was the Pioneer PL-12D turntable.

This era still had the large cabinet radios, 8-track players, cassette decks, and turntables put into all-in-one units with a built-in speaker. You’d pop open the lid, fiddle with the stations for a bit, and enjoy your favorite Saturday morning programs.

Although I was a child of the ‘80s, my parents had one of those all-in-one cabinets. I’d listen to the adventure shows on Saturdays while cleaning the house or doing other chores. It was often a lot of fun to do the work that way.

With the Pioneer PL-12D turntable, you got the same turntable sound while saving an enormous amount of space – even with the consideration of needing speakers to play the audio.

Pioneer PL-12D Turntable Review

The Pioneer PL-12D turntable was a staple in homes in the 1970s. It provided entry-level features at the time, delivering multiple speed functions with a basic autostop. Once connected to a sound system, the audio representation was above-average for its suspension type.

The belt transmission system makes the Pioneer PL-12D turntable stand out from others in the early ‘70s.

Using this method instead of the idlers that were always a bit prone to trouble, the brand could remove the motor vibrations from the playback dynamic.

The belt transmission also improved the signal-to-noise ratio because it could limit the rumble generation that you found on many entry-level turntables during that era.

Pioneer made the belt for the transmission system out of polyurethane. That allowed it to age with remarkable grace while staying resilient against potential temperature changes.

The Pioneer PL-12D turntable uses a four-pole synchronous motor to ensure listeners receive an authentic playback experience.

This inclusion provides a stable speed for the record while delivering an accurate rate. A zinc-alloy platter sits on top to improve the stability even further.

Arguably, the best feature found on the Pioneer PL-12D turntable is its anti-skip stylus tracking. The needle stays in the center of the record groove consistently with a spring-activated design made for this specific model.

The effect is an improved channel separation when you have everything connected to a stereo system while playing compatible vinyl.

Specification:Specs Found on the Pioneer PL-12D Turntable
MotorFour-pole synchronous motor
DriveBelt-driven turntable design
Speeds33 and 45 RPM
Speed Accuracy1% or less
Wow and Flutter0.1% WRMS
Rumble Noise47 decibels
Length221 mm
TonearmS-shaped tonearm with anti-skip technology
PlatterStandard 30 cm platter made from an aluminum alloy
Dimensions430 x 160.5 x 349 mm
Weight7.5 kg

What stands out about the Pioneer PL-12D turntable is the walnut-finished base with the black and silver colors resting on top. That makes it look like a precision piece of audio engineering.

When you consider the absolute lateral balance weight that supports vertical stylus movement, it’s easy to see what this model continues to be a popular choice for listening to vinyl LPs.

What Are the Benefits of Listening to Vinyl?

Vinyl records provide a system for analog sound storage. These flat discs offer an inscribed modulated spiral groove, starting at the edge and ending near the center. For most of the 20th century, this method of audio production was the primary medium for listening to commercialized music.

Even when cassettes, 8-track tapes, and CDs entered the marketplace, a love for vinyl EPs and LPs continued.

Although it became less popular for a time when digital streaming became popular, enthusiasts are coming back to the warmth and charm that you can only get through the Pioneer PL-12D or another turntable.

Is listening to a vinyl record better than the other options out there today? Here are some of the reasons I’ve put together from my personal listening experiences.

1. Vinyl Is Lossless

You won’t find another playback option right now that delivers a lossless format and remain 100% analog.

You only need to listen to a record is a decent turntable or gramophone to receive a full-fidelity experience.

Since it’s less technical than most digital formats today, almost anyone can enjoy the benefits of having more music in their lives.

With the analog format, artists can transport their music to the speakers without converting the signal. That means every note is based on what the artist or musician intended.

2. Audio Warmth

When listening to a vinyl record through a mid-range or higher speaker system, you’ll notice a lot of mid-range in the audio.

The supportive bass and treble deliver a complementary component that focuses your ears toward the vocals, harmonies, or specific instruments. It’s an EQ that flatters virtually any recorded sound.

3. Volume Limitations

If you want to blast your music without considering its quality or tone, digital files can accomplish that goal on your behalf.

Vinyl has volume limitations that eliminate the need for compression, which means the listener has more time to enjoy the textures and dynamics of each composition.

The volume limitations found on a vinyl record involve each groove’s side length and depth. If you put more songs on the LP (or have a lengthy single on a small disc), you’ll receive quieter sounds.

If you have a full-size LP with only a single on it, you’ll notice a significant audio difference when listening to the record.

4. Surface Noise

Although some people put this issue in a negative category, I’ve always found that the dust particles on an LP contribute some character to the sound you hear. A few ticks and cracks provide some nostalgia.

Even when you clean a vinyl record thoroughly, it will continue to have small debris enter the groove. It’s nearly impossible to have a 100% clean record.

When you add the nice little hiss from the needle moving around the surface, you have a sensual tone that works well in nearly any situation or setting.

5. Music Availability

It’s nice to have tons of streaming and digital music at our fingertips today. I know that I have lots of fun browsing YouTube for some of my favorite records from the 1990s.

You might listen to Spotify, stream iHeart, or be a Pandora fan – the options are numerous.

The fact remains that there are tens of thousands of albums out there that don’t have a digitized counterpart. Some of them aren’t on CD yet if you want a great record.

It’s one thing to find a song online. It’s another to pop an LP onto your turntable, kick back in your easy chair, and enjoy the sound that fills the room.

6. Cover Art

Although some CDs have outstanding cover art, the era of the vinyl LP will likely never get matched. Those sleeves are large enough where the work really stands out for what it is.

You get the complete experience as the listener, enjoying each composition as intended while looking at the artwork included with your purchase. The combo gives everything a deeper meaning.

Even if you play your vinyl LP until it dies, you can keep the album art hanging on your wall or display it another way.

It allows you to enjoy the memories you had of listening to the music each time your eye catches it.

7. Vinyl Culture

Some of the best times I’ve spent with others involve a record store. We looked at the vinyl collection in the basement or on a shelf somewhere if we weren’t there.

It’s always fun to see the music people collect because it lets you know what you’ve got in common.

It’s also a chance to listen to a new band, try a different cover of a song you love, or experiment with other genres.

That’s how I was initially introduced to John Coltrane as a kid – my friend’s father had a massive collection of jazz LPs. I popped one in at random and fell immediately in love.

Best Turntable Alternative to the Pioneer PL-12D

If you want to replicate the sound of the Pioneer PL-12D turntable with something a little more modern, I highly recommend the Fluance RT85 record player.

It uses an acrylic platter to keep things lightweight, ensuring that you don’t get a lot of premature wear and tear on the unit.

The design uses solid wood plinth, similar to the old Pioneers, but with the update of using vibration isolation feet.

You can pick up the Fluance RT85 record player in four different finishes. I prefer the walnut option, but the bamboo design is a close second.

The Ortofon 2M elliptical cartridge delivers an outstanding listening experience. You receive the right amount of channel separation through improved linearity. That design combination keeps distortion levels down so that your focus can stay on the music.

I don’t like to compromise on the quality of my sound. Although you can route the Fluance RT85 to speakers directly, I prefer the Puffin Phono DSP preamp to be part of my audio chain.

It reduces the influence of the different clicks and pops while adding more warmth to the tone. The product even comes with a grading function to let you know when to start replacing your records.

As for the speakers in my setup, I’ve gone with the Kanto TUK Premium Pair. They come with S6W desktop stands to let you direct the audio waves toward whatever corner or wall you prefer for a nice bounce.

They’ll also let you set them on a shelf for a direct listening experience. I like how the upper end of the register comes out to complement the mid-range while the bass delivers a nice little rumble without feeling overwhelming.

The speakers come with automatic filtering through an active crossover to ensure that each one plays the appropriate tones.

With that combination, all my old LPs sound like they were just taken out of their packaging for the first time. Even the ones I grab down at the thrift store down the street are fantastic with this setup.

Listening to Vinyl Records Can Change Your Life!

Vinyl is a fantastic way to enhance how one listens to music. These LPs deliver a superior analog sound, even though the industry has endured seven different music distribution mediums over the past four decades (MP3, CD, cassette, 8-track, ringtones, streaming, and vinyl). Only streaming and vinyl show consumer growth.

When I was six years old, I came down with a rough case of the chickenpox. I was out of school for about two weeks, with those itchy blisters and a fever that got high enough where I was taking ice baths.

A vaccine was introduced in the 1990s for it, but that was after my time. We used to see it as a rite of passage.

All I could do was sit on the couch and try not to itch. We didn’t have a TV at the time, so my mother played through her entire vinyl collection to keep me distracted.

That’s how I got to know bands like Gary Lewis and the Playboys, the Monkees, and Jimmy Dean. When I eventually got back to school, I drove my teachers nuts by singing “Big Bad John” repetitively.

Although the scars from the chickenpox won’t go away, neither will the memories of being there with family, listening to all those vinyl records.

I think those two weeks of almost complete music exposure are what led me to the passion I have for writing, composing, and listening to great songs.

The Pioneer PL-12D turntable is a fantastic option for those who love vintage sounds. If you want something a bit more modern for your setup, the Fluance RT85 record player is an excellent choice as well. From there, it’s all about finding the albums you love to play on your equipment.


Attention: You have to take care of your own safety and health. The information on only serves for learning and entertainment purposes and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider. Before you use any audio equipment or soundproof your space, make sure you have been properly instructed by an expert and adhere to all safety precautions. This site is owned and operated by Media Pantheon, Inc., Media Pantheon, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for websites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to