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  1. #1
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Cool Pioneer PL-55x TT

    I recently got back into vinyl and puchased a Thorens TD-145 and a Pioneer PL-55x. I was using the Thorens with a Nagaoka MP-200 cartridge until yesterday. I took the Thorens apart as a friend of mine is making a new wood cabinet for it out of Cocobolo wood (one of the top 3-4 most dense woods in the world)which should be better than the veneered press board it came in. In the mean time I hooked up the Pioneer and I am pleasantly surprised. The 2 TT's could not be more different. The Pioneer hits hard, has more punch and is very dynamic and musical. It has much deeper bass and a warmer, slightly darker sound than the Thorens. It's sound is a little more forward and the midrange is fuller but there is a little less transparency and air with the Pioneer. It is more forgiving than the Thorens of poorly recorded and bright music.

    The Thorens in contrast, sounds a little more hifi and has a more detailed,delicate,open and airy sound and is better for vocal and jazz except for piano.

    I could be perfectly happy with the Pioneer but I wish I had the room to keep both running. The Pioneer is definitely better for Rock n Roll.

    The Thorens should sound better once I get done with it. I am going to add some dynamat or GTMAT insulation and a Baltic Birch bottom with Sorbothane feet instead of the flimsy fiber board. I am undecided about a cork mat.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  2. #2
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    While this post may not be to your liking, I felt all but obliged to post it anyway. I purchased a new Pioneer PL-55X sometime in the 70's, replacing a Dual 1229Q with it. I have rarely been so disappointed with a turntable in my life as I was with the 55-X (only the Garrard Zero 100 was worse). I had no complaints about the sound, though it didn't seem to sound much better than that which it replaced, but I found the cueing mechanism to be the worst-designed of any turntable - ever. There was simply no way to use the awkward cueing "slide" lever without the tonearm actually dragging across the record before lifting! I even wrote to Pioneer about it and was informed, "that's the way it was designed."

    A less expensive Technics SL-1500 replaced the 55-X with far better results all around.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    The cueing mechanism works fine with mine except I have to be careful using the lever so it does not skip. Moving the lever gently prevents skipping. I tried it out before buying it, knowing that some had that problem. I did my research. The TT is still better than just about anything $500 and under for a new TT.

    I was talking with Jerry Raskin of the Needle Doctor here in town and he thought that both my Thorens and the Pioneer were good turntables and that I would have to spend over $600 to equal the sound. They did not have good things to say about the Rega P1.

    As far as the sound goes, it probably has to do with system matching. While the PL-55x is not as detailed as the Thorens, it is much more dynamic and musical. The bass it puts out is better than my digital system in many ways. It's sound is colored to the warmer side which I tend to like but I may have to roll in a less warm tube in my phono preamp.

    I do prefer the Thorens overall but the Pioneer is awesome with rock and bright music.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  4. #4
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Maybe you guys had different cartridges on your 55X's. Hence the complete opposite conclusions. Also 40 years is along time between your two experiences to really make a comparison.
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
    Yamaha RX-A830 (Receiver)
    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

  5. #5
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack in Wilmington View Post
    Maybe you guys had different cartridges on your 55X's. Hence the complete opposite conclusions. Also 40 years is along time between your two experiences to really make a comparison.
    Thats why I posted that it probably has to do with system matching. I love the sound of my Nagaoka MP-200 cartridge and the Bellari Preamp with the NOS 1950's Raytheon Black Plate tube. That tube has really transformed the sound of the Bellari. I was going to upgrade to a better phono pre but I will put that on hold for now as I will probably
    up grade my DAC first. I was looking at a Wyred 4 sound but I may go with a Bel Canto or an Auralic Vega if I can get a used one at a good price.


    I am also using a $9000 BAT preamp and a $6000 Pass amp. Both of these will improve the sound of just about anything I throw at it. They are truly amazing.

    Jack, I am sure that your Pass amp and Cary preamp have done the same for your system.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  6. #6
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    Thats why I posted that it probably has to do with system matching. I love the sound of my Nagaoka MP-200 cartridge and the Bellari Preamp with the NOS 1950's Raytheon Black Plate tube. That tube has really transformed the sound of the Bellari. I was going to upgrade to a better phono pre but I will put that on hold for now as I will probably
    up grade my DAC first. I was looking at a Wyred 4 sound but I may go with a Bel Canto or an Auralic Vega if I can get a used one at a good price.


    I am also using a $9000 BAT preamp and a $6000 Pass amp. Both of these will improve the sound of just about anything I throw at it. They are truly amazing.

    Jack, I am sure that your Pass amp and Cary preamp have done the same for your system.
    Maybe I'll pull out my Dual 1225 turntable and see how it sounds with my amp and pre. You never know what you'll hear.
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
    Yamaha RX-A830 (Receiver)
    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

  7. #7
    Aging Smartass
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack in Wilmington View Post
    Maybe you guys had different cartridges on your 55X's. Hence the complete opposite conclusions. Also 40 years is along time between your two experiences to really make a comparison.
    That's a very valid comment. My system today is considerably more sophisticated than that which I owned around 1975-6 when I purchased the PL-55X. Still, it wasn't the sound of the turntable that bothered me, but the lousy cueing mechanism and Pioneer's response, "that's the way it was designed." A $50 Garrard record changer had a better cueing system.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    I remember my first Garrard, not very fancy, but it got the job done. It was quickly replaced by my Elac Miracord 45 when my friend got a job at Radio Shack in the mid 70's.

    Pioneer PL-55x TT-elac-miracord-45.jpg
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
    Yamaha RX-A830 (Receiver)
    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

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