Thin sound from a PL-L1000?

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Belmont
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Thin sound from a PL-L1000?

Post by Belmont » 21 Oct 2018 22:25

I’ve had my PL-L1000 for about a year now, and while I love it, it does have some sonic issues. My chief complaint is that it sounds...thin and bright. It’s not like it’s mistracking or that it can’t handle the bass, but rather more like someone cranked the treble and cut the bass. Granted, I’m running it with an Ortofon Omega (which cost more than the turntable!), through a comparitively “plebeian” SX-3700 receiver and some HPM-40 speakers, both of which probably lean on the bright side. My room is also a bit bass shy, being a slightly narrow college apartment with hard walls and high ceilings. I didn’t really notice much of an issue until I happened to take a friend’s Pioneer PL-15D in for repair (motor switch screws fell off, common issue). In comparison, that humble little thing seemingly has a beautiful lush midbass and a slightly creamy top-end with the same cart, on the same setup. I haven’t quite made an A/B comparison yet, but I frankly haven’t had this much pleasure just spinning vinyl since my lowly Sony PS-LX300 bit the dust years ago. If I were a lesser man and didn’t have any personal attachment to this PL-L1000, I’d simply claim the PL-15 died in a tragic schmelting accident and offer my friend that old aircraft carrier.

Now, there could be a lot of variables at play here, before I actually decide to go down any of the following rabbit-holes. These are the ones I’ve entertained:

A) This PLL was a literal barn-find exotic, so I had to clean the thing out quite thoroughly and add my own headshell, cart, and platter mat. Caps and RCA cables seem to check out, although I do plan to eventually upgrade the RCA/ground cables one day. But maybe there’s something amiss internally?

B) The PL-15D is sweetening the output...somehow. I don’t know, there’s almost 0 circuitry in this thing, certainly nothing that could be boosting the bass to please the simple-minded. Maybe some sort of tonearm resonance, or simply very good/bad synergy with this Ortofon?

C) I remember hearing somewhere that there is a sonic difference between belt and direct-drive turntables, in particular that “belts are musical and smooth” and “direct drives are hard and metallic”. I wrote it off as audiophile hand-wringing rubbish, but maybe there’s some sort of low-pass filter in my PL-L1000 to prevent rumble, and it’s gone awry? Or maybe there really is something to it after all?

D) The PL-L1000 doesn’t play nicely with the Ortofon. This turntable retailed for around $1000 back in the day, from what I can tell, and I’m using an Ortofon Omega that retails for a solid $37 at the time of this writing. I have no real clue on the black magic of tonearm/cart pairing, other than the fact that people seem to say that this machine favors a “low compliance” cartridge. I know the Audio Technica headshell is far lighter than the original Pioneer’s, so that probably plays a role. Regardless, slapping a $37 cart on this thing is pretty much like putting cheap knockoff tires on an old Ferrari and running it on regular. Since I’m on a strict budget, I’d probably shell out for buying a new stylus for my old Shure M97xe, or buy a new Ortofon OM5e. It’ll obviously be an improvement across the board, provided I make the right choice.

E) As long as I’ve had this Pioneer SX-3700 receiver, I’ve long been doubtful of the low-pass switch’s functionality. I haven’t noticed any bass issues on other sources, and all the other switches work just fine, but it could be that the rumble filter is stuck on. Of course, it’s marked as cutting off at 15Hz, which is below the range of audibility, let alone what my speakers can produce.

F) “turn up the bass and cut the treble”, ah, two tilted scarlet letters that will always continue to cry out for adjustment. +2? -1? +5? Before you know it, the album’s over and I spent it all diddling with my knobs. No thanks.

G) Simple is just better. There’s certainly a reason why basic, no-nonsense turntables have such a following in almost every price-range, while techy fiddly space-age monstrosities like the PL-L1000 have largely gone the way of the dodo.

H) There’s nothing wrong, my acoustics are just kinda bad, I’m too used to low end turntables, and I’m simply responding positively to the placebo of hearing another turntable.

bernard1
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Re: Thin sound from a PL-L1000?

Post by bernard1 » 22 Oct 2018 11:21

Your PL-L1000 has very good reviews on this site, and is certainly worth the struggle to resolve this issue !
I suggest you download the manual in the library if you haven't already.
In my opinion, it deserves a better cartridge than the Omega, which is an entry level cart at Ortofon.
Anyway, as your receiver seems not to be responsible for the issue, and considering the same cart and the same receiver give a better sound with another turntable, it is very possible that the issue comes from the PL-L1000.
First thing I should do is trying another cartridge on the PL-L1000. Maybe one of your friends could lend you one ?
If the sound is better, then you know that the Omega is the problem. If the sound remains thin, then the issue comes from the PL-L1000.

LN Cree
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Re: Thin sound from a PL-L1000?

Post by LN Cree » 22 Oct 2018 15:08

Try the simplest first like swapping the cart from your friend's table. just a tip. this would eliminate alot of the things on your list in one go. good luck.

Belmont
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Re: Thin sound from a PL-L1000?

Post by Belmont » 22 Oct 2018 17:00

I do have some spare carts to swap onto it (an ADC QLM 36 mk III, and a Shure M97), but the ADC seems a bit more bass shy and has probably seen better days, and the Shure needs a new stylus. That being said, I have yet to try the ADC with the PL15D and see if the bass is still more balanced on that.

Again, I haven't done explicit A/B comparisons, since there's nothing convenient for me to place the other TT, and unhooking the receiver to swap in the other TT takes a fair amount of time (suddenly, those two phono inputs on my Kenwood back home make sense!). If I can find my capture card, I'll try doing some needle drops. Speaker placement/acoustics could still also be running afoul. It's a narrowish room, and the speakers are on stands, about a foot from the wall, nowhere near the corners. Plus, I'm generally running at lowish volume (not really straying past 1-2 on the receiver, usually barely cracking 0.03 watts on the power meters). Pioneer's HPM speakers aren't exactly famous for their performance at quiet, respectful volumes.
Last edited by Belmont on 22 Oct 2018 17:20, edited 3 times in total.

bernard1
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Re: Thin sound from a PL-L1000?

Post by bernard1 » 22 Oct 2018 17:15

Make a try with the Shure, they are known for good basses and less highs. A worn stylus can add distortion but tone balance should remain the same.

fscl
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Re: Thin sound from a PL-L1000?

Post by fscl » 22 Oct 2018 17:34

Belmont wrote:
21 Oct 2018 22:25
.......... I’m running it with an Ortofon Omega (which cost more than the turntable!).......major snippage......
:shock: :shock: =D> =D>

Talk about finding a good bargain...... :shock: =D>

The Omega is a capable of good bass, if the turntable is operating correctly this turntable is able to at least match and or exceed the 15d.

I'm sure you've downloaded the owners and service manual from the VE library in cleaning / working on the unit. Things to check:

1. Tracking force. Use an independent tracking force gauge to verify the VTF.
2. The VTA can be adjusted on this turntable. Unlock the VTA clamp and set to the correct angle for the Ortofon

The suggestion of switching your headshell with your friends is a good one.

Hopefully, this will correct / discover the cause of the thin sound on the L1000...... :-k :-k :-k

Good luck

Fred

old_spinner
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Re: Thin sound from a PL-L1000?

Post by old_spinner » 22 Oct 2018 19:12

Check the cartridge wiring.

Maybe it is wired wrong and for this reason out of phase.

regards

Alec124c41
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Re: Thin sound from a PL-L1000?

Post by Alec124c41 » 22 Oct 2018 20:09

Old spinner has a point. Ortofon cartridge pins are in an X pattern, rather than the more common II pattern. This makes it easy to get them wrong.

Cheers,
Alec

Belmont
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Re: Thin sound from a PL-L1000?

Post by Belmont » 22 Oct 2018 22:14

Well, cartridge wiring checks out on both carts that I own and use (the Ortofon and the ADC). Hmmmmmm....

Belmont
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Re: Thin sound from a PL-L1000?

Post by Belmont » 24 Oct 2018 22:30

Tests made yesterday, causing my roommates to become quite confused when they came to see two turntables hooked into the receiver. Did some back and forths, and the PL-15 really did seem to be kicking out more bass than the L1000. Roommates agreed, even, and wondered why I didn’t just keep the other one.

I happened upon a very old Command test record from the early 60s at the local thrift shop today. Primitive, but it had a series of test tones from 10k down to 30 cycles/second and I used the power meters to measure the levels. At what I’d call “normal listening volume”, or well above what I’d ever want to hear raw tones blasted at, the meters gave a nice healthy 0.03 Watts flat down to 250hz, at which point the meters began to get flaky and fade down to nothing.

Before I began to fret, I decided to try it again at a higher volume. I turned off the speakers and cranked it so 10k gave me a nice healthy 3 watts, and watched as the power meters stayed pretty much steady down to 30hz.

Well, guess I should go pick up some super power hungry speakers then.

Belmont
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Re: Thin sound from a PL-L1000?

Post by Belmont » 27 Nov 2018 20:38

Figured I might as well post an update. I learned the value of having proper overhang and VTA, especially on such a sensitive turntable. I merely eyeballed and lightly readjusted the cartridge on the headshell when I first mounted it, making sure that it roughly lined up with the spindle. Well, some light googling just 15 minutes ago revealed that Pioneer specified a solid 48-49mm of overhang for this unit, and I had an absolutely egregious 54mm. Well, I figured I had nothing to lose, even though in my head I doubted that a mere half-centimeter could make *that* much of a difference, and readjusted with a ruler and a good eye. Conveniently, 49mm lined right up with the back of my Audio-Technica headshell.
Put it back on, and wouldn'tcha know it, that thin sound is gone, and the sound is MUCH more balanced. I was listening to Pablo Honey by Radiohead right before adjusting it, and the difference is stupendous-especially on the inner groove tracks like "Thinking About You" and "Anyone Can Play Guitar!". My half-speed mastered Brothers in Arms suddenly doesn't sound like I found it in the garage (which I did), and 24K Magic is downright holographic. Can't wait 'til my friend comes over with his remastered copy of Dark Side of the Moon, which I bet will be downright fabulous on this rig.

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Re: Thin sound from a PL-L1000?

Post by Ghaasl » 28 Nov 2018 03:07

Glad you resolved your issue. I wouldn’t call the SX-3700 bright. Mine is warm and smooth, like fresh caramel. It doesn’t hurt that my TT is sporting a notoriously warm cartridge (Nagaoka MP-110). Like you, I don’t listen much above volume level 1-2. Powerful little receiver. Speakers are Pioneer S-D1s from the late 80s.

fscl
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Re: Thin sound from a PL-L1000?

Post by fscl » 04 Dec 2018 16:28

Belmont wrote:
27 Nov 2018 20:38
Figured I might as well post an update. I learned the value of having proper overhang and VTA, especially on such a sensitive turntable. I merely eyeballed and lightly readjusted the cartridge on the headshell when I first mounted it, making sure that it roughly lined up with the spindle. Well, some light googling just 15 minutes ago revealed that Pioneer specified a solid 48-49mm of overhang for this unit, and I had an absolutely egregious 54mm. Well, I figured I had nothing to lose, even though in my head I doubted that a mere half-centimeter could make *that* much of a difference, and readjusted with a ruler and a good eye. Conveniently, 49mm lined right up with the back of my Audio-Technica headshell.
........snippage........
Congrats on "finding" the correct overhang...... =D> =D> =D>

As this is a "tangential" turntable, the overhang is easily adjusted for any cartridge / headshell combination by making sure the styli is at the exact centerline of the spindle. So with the stock headshell, that dimension is 49mm. If you use any different plug in type headshell, just make sure the styli of the cartridge is adjusted to the centerline of the spindle.

As a member, the manual for the turntable can be downloaded here:

https://www.vinylengine.com/library/pio ... 1000.shtml

Good luck

Fred

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