Back at Musikmesse, it really looked as though Pioneer had simply cloned the legendary Technics 1200 turntable and re-badged it Pioneer.

But… that seems sort of obvious, right? Maybe there’s some sort of digital interface. Or extra I/O. Or some feature we hadn’t thought of. Maybe there’s a connection to digital vinyl control systems. Maybe it integrates with a new line of Pioneer hardware. Maybe they’ve invented a new platter mechanism. Maybe it was all an enormous distraction, and then they were unveil some new DJ touchscreen or line of running shoes or Minority Report interface for big clubs. Maybe they were starting a boutique vinyl record label. Maybe it’s a clothing line. Maybe inside the turntable is some new hardware. Maybe inside the turntable is another turntable. Maybe it will support Keurig K-Cup coffee pods, and you’ll be able to enjoy delicious brewed coffee for those 8-hour Sunday DJ gigs.

Okay, actually, spoiler alert – it is really just a 1200 clone with a Pioneer logo on it.

But it’s supposed to be … really good. And that’s good. I think.

It’s called the PLX-1000. List price US$699.

It has “a user friendly layout familiar to top DJs of the past and present.” Yeah, it looks like a Technics 1200 with a Pioneer logo on it. If you’ve never seen a Technics, they go on to explain that means it has “a quick tempo control capability on the right side of the player, start/stop button on the left side, and a high-torque platter with a lighted speed guide.”

It has a “high-torque direct drive system,” like a Technics 1200.

It is “Designed for optimal sound quality.” Um… good!

It has “Detachable power and audio cables.” Even better. The actual news there, though, is that the connections are just phono/cinch cables and electricity – nothing digital here. That’s frankly to me not so surprising – lovers of the 1200s probably just want a new 1200 from Pioneer, and would view any new-fangled addition as blasphemous. On the other hand, what makes this decision predictable and perhaps logical also makes it fairly boring. (In Pioneer’s defence, bad decisions would have entertained me more, but then they would have had to make a bad decision, so I’m not really faulting them so much as hunting around in the dark for something to write about.)

Okay, let me try harder.

Detachable cabling means you can customize your sound. Photo and customization idea courtesy Pioneer.

Detachable cabling means you can customize your sound. Photo and customization idea courtesy Pioneer.

The integration with Pioneer hardware goes like this: “Combine the PLX-1000 with a Pioneer professional series DJM mixer for an ideal system for true vinyl enthusiasts.”

Well, yes, you can in fact combine audio equipment with mixers. Perhaps two turntables and a DJ mixer. (Music enthusiasts might also want to combine two PLX-1000s with a handheld vocal-ready professional transducer – you know, two turntables and a microphone. Where it’s at, I’ve heard.)

And in fairness, it’s made from things. Some of these things are made in a way that makes them more better, as opposed to less better. These things won’t, say Pioneer, fall apart, or actively destroy your sound. They won’t melt at room temperature.

We can get specific. The die-cast zinc is “heavy mass.” (Sorry, my Physics just broke on that.) The resin is 8 mm thick – a godsend for those who recently have been frustrated with sum-8 mm resins in their record players.

Actually, let’s hone in more on those detachable cables. Yes, I’ll agree, hardware with built-in cables is annoying. But this affords still more conveniences I frankly hadn’t considered. For instance: “Users are also able to interchange cables to further customize the sound quality.”

Not just improve: customize. You could try all kinds of cables to really get your own special sound. (Don’t touch that resin, though.)

I’m done.

Queue the obligatory artist video with vague revelations about sound quality.

Anyway, maybe it is quite good. There are other 1200 clones. I have no idea how they compare; that’s a slightly interesting question.

But it means Pioneer can sell turntables to clubs alongside those mixers and CDJs. And I don’t doubt for a second that that’s a smart move. Because, as it happens, Pioneer’s job isn’t to entertain me. But my job is to entertain you. So if there is something we can learn about these, or if you’d really prefer I be quiet and we get back to digital tech – well, let us know.

As for vinyl, don’t call it a comeback?

Nope. It’s definitely a comeback, for better or for worse.

  • H

    It appears CDM is slowly drifting to a writing style reminiscent of the worst of Vice Magazine.

    What happened?

    • NOIISE

      actually i thought it was kinda funny :)

    • Henry

      It’s summer time!

  • terrygrant

    Well, to be fair, it does do +50… in case you were looking to burn a hole in your vinyl whilst ruining a $100 needle… or if you happen upon a drum n bass gig w/ a bunch of hip hop records. 😉

    The Technics 1200 isn’t a classic because it was a particularly great sounding turntable, it’s a classic because it was built like a tank, which meant you could beat the sh*t out of it and it would still spin. It was easy to fix too, which basically made it the Stratocaster of turntables. I don’t think it was ever even top of the line for Technics.

    I’m surprised they’re not focusing on that. It’s clearly a copy of the 1200, yet they’re not advertising upgraded wiring or circuit boards, or a better, more stable motor, or internal grounding, or any of the hundreds of other things the online modding community has been doing to their own 1200s for years. Surely this thing has some of that, right?

    That being said, the insulated tonearm is a nice touch.

    • Dave Whiting

      I’ve always cringed when I’ve seen 1200s used on domestic hi fi setups There are many much greater turntables more suitable for the task that could be had for the cost of a Technics.

  • Andrew

    I am entertained. Thanks!

  • Yanakyl

    I’m not a turntable guy(although I’d love) not even a DJ, but i think it’s smart.
    If people do like this as a replacement for technics they can always do a version with added features later.

  • audioworks

    Thanks for writing a good and objective feedback on what is a big marketing move from a brand that is almost like Apple in many ways.

  • regend

    I’ve taken apart a lot of 1200’s to repair RCA’s and tonearms so as soon as I take one of these apart I will determine how much of a clone it is.
    I welcome this because used 1200’s are over priced. Hopefully this brings down used 1200’s back down to their normal used $250 to $300 price.

    • charlie

      Doubtful. Whenever people find out I have Technics, they get all hot and bothered. The name will keep prices up for the time being. I wish it wasn’t that way. It’d be great if more and more kids could get their hands on them for not a lot of money. There are direct drive alternatives sure but they’re garbage compared to properly maintained 1200’s.

  • cable-man

    Not sure about the need for a digital output – I’m rather frustrated with most DJ hardware not having DECENT ANALOG output, but only cinch…..

  • keihin

    From the reviews I’ve seen, it sounds like Audio-Technica has already outdone Pioneer in the Technics 1200 clone game. Their AT-LP1240-USB looks like an upgrade of the classic, and streets for $350 everywhere.

  • cooptrol

    War against corporations!! Let’s do it!!

  • Kevin Hackett

    I think they did it so they could get their name on more gear in the DJ booth.

  • Gil Adame

    I don’t think it sounds as good as a Technics, come on! It’s Pioneer! If it was an Allen & Heath’s clone of a Technics… well then

    • shomanca

      have you actually listened to the Pioneer, or are you just making an assumption?

  • Shanan

    Seems to me Pioneer has some catching up to do. Stanton, Reloop, Audio Technica and Vestax have all released similar direct drive turntables years ago. Or more precisely after the Technics patent for the motor design ended. This PLX-1000 is exactly the same as those models and in fact with albeit less features.

  • Kirk

    The article states it sounds great….. A turntables sound comes from the stylus and cartridge not the turntable….I think you mean it performed great…… Pioneer makes great equipment. I think its great that they make a high quality analog turntable just like the Technics considering the original is not manufactured any more…..

    • srobak

      This is not entirely true. How solid & resonant a deck is – plus falling victim to things like EMI and down to the components on the boards inside all contribute to the actual sound that comes from the deck.

    • Poinzy

      This Pioneer deck is just another Hanpin Super OEM turntable with Pioneer embellishments. And you’re wrong if you think the signal from the turntable is unaffected by the turntable itself. If that weren’t the case, high-end turntable manufacturers wouldn’t obsess over materials and construction methods.

  • RocknRoll70

    I have been on pins and needles since I spotted the prototype wanting it to be a true Tech clone and sorry its not. Now from a 21st century DJ point of view I suppose its alright but I have accused the current DJ crowd of being about flash and fashion anyway. From a 1970s DJ point of view , are you kidding me ? This is a tad better performer than a Stanton as far as signal to noise ratio which is 70 weighted. Its wow and flutter is still a depressing 0.1 that my friends is piss poor. No wander you guys cant match a groove without computer assist. It looks like the Vestax is still the only turntable to match and better the Tech specs, but the build on them are sad. I have belt drives that beat this thing.

  • Dr. Coon

    Yeah, maybe it is a clone (there are a lot of differences i.m.h.o.). BUT, if it is as good as the good old 12×0 series or even better then who cares? My biggest problem with this Pioneer is it’s price :S

  • dj_ arty

    The Technics units are obviously made in Japan. Is the Pioneer unit made in China? If so you might as well get an Audio Technica or Stanton.

    • Poinzy

      That’s right. The PLX-1000 is just another Hanpin Super OEM deck, with fewer features and a higher price tag.

  • Poinzy

    Tellingly, Pioneer sold the division that markets the PLX-1000 to another company shortly after this turntable was released. Sounds like Pioneer just “developed” this deck to sweeten the sale. It’s no longer part of Pioneer’s product lineup.

  • steve

    Heck…Technics makes one of the best turntables. I think it blows most esoteric audiophile turntables away! It has great sound, and yes, depending on the cartridge, put a $100 cartridge on a Technics 1200 and you got one of best set up’s made. It is stable and durable and sounds awesome. Great high end and bass, what more could you want? Many audiophile turntables are lucky to be half the weight and prone to feedback. I get no feedback and I can jump in front of my stereo set up and records don’t skip!