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Pioneer PL-540 Reviews

displaying reviews 1 to 5 of 5

Pioneer PL-540

Pioneer PL-540

5/10 by waxburger

I bought my PL-540 new, along with an SX1250 and a pair of Cerwin Vega 12TR speakers. I now have an AT-F7 moving coil on it, and it sounds great to me. Re prices from 2014 review, prices being asked on the auction-bay for good condition PL-540 in Fall of 2019 is now well over $600.00 USD! Sadly, one of my 12TRs was destroyed by fire in the '90s.

9/10 by oldclassics

Earlier this month I picked up this Pioneer PL-540 from a G/W to replace a Sansui SR 4050C that had its auto shutoff fail. The PL-540 was missing its headshell/cartridge otherwise the unit was super clean, not a mark or scratch anywhere even on the plexiglass lid. The unit had replacement feet attached to the base in place of the notoriously friable rubber encased spring-loaded feet. Since I had fond memories of a prior PL-518, I thought the price of $115 was reasonable.
I installed a brand new Denon DL-110 with the appropriate overhang and a VTF of 1.8 grams and ran it for 50 hours before comparing it to other cartridges on hand. The PL 540 and Denon-110 were made for each other. This turntable/cartridge combination had slam and detail where other cartridges offered muddied bass and fuzzy midrange. What had been my favorite cartridges on the Sansui with its Acos Lustre arm failed to unseat the Denon 110 from its top place and this included a Shure V15 II with a new Jico elliptical stylus.
The PL 540 is essentially the PL 518 with quartz locking. The entire tt is built like a battleship with the tone arm attached to a massive cast aluminum base which itself is seated firmly onto a thick MDF plinth. Securing the bottom of the plinth is a heavy steel plate on which the motor and other components are mounted via shock absorbing connectors. Pioneer ads of the time claimed that they used 10 times as many ball bearings as their direct competitors. I can believe it since the same ad shows a cutaway of the tonearm base which extends well below the top of the deck and has two sets of bearings to allow friction-free horizontal movement. The whole thing looks more like the main turret of a Yamato-class battleship then a pickup arm but it works with the right cartridge. If there is a drawback to the PL 540 it is too effective digging out all the information in the grooves of vinyl including errant pops and clicks.
This tt is worth getting and keeping since after the plunge of the dollar versus the yen in the 70’s, Japanese manufacturers like Pioneer had to be more cost-conscious so the expensive cast aluminum tonearm base and multiple sets of bearings were designed out of mid-level decks following the PL 518/540.

10/10 by Marec2

This Pioneer PL540 rocks. Whenever I start playing records I just can't stop. It is worth getting a good cartridge and phono amp to show off its abilities. But it also works fine with budget cartridges and budget phono amp. Not fussy about set up like so many high end turntables. If you find one buy it or better, sell it to me.

3/10 by ChefE

I acquired a PL-540 from the GW. The dust cover has yellowed, the metal housing in the control/ tone arm area has lots of greenish spots, the feet have rotted leaving only the screws and a rubber nub, the stylus is bent down almost 90 degrees, the platter mat is severely dried and cracking, and the RCA jacks are dirty as is the intire turntable. Sticker said Tested, works. Brought it home and cleaned it. Hooked it up......nothing. No power, no spin, nothing. Somehow I got it to turn on and spin. At the end of the record the auto return worked but dragging the stylus across the record back to rest, leaving a perpendicular scratch line on the last quarter of the record before I lifted it. Good thing I used a test record. I swapped the old rubber mat with a thin cork mat- no more cartridge dragging.To get the platter spinning I have to give it a push then drop the needle by hand. Also the auto return fails to return the tone arm all the way. I noticed when I rotated the platter I heard a 'click'. It seems like that helped reset something because then the turntable functioned with a nudge to get it spinning.
The original headshell contained a black cartridge with two stickers. One said Shure an the other Premier. The stylus housing is a puke green and has silver lettering 3156DE printed on the front.
This is my first Pioneer component aside from my 2003 DjM-300-S mixer and a few black cassette decks. However I have many vintage components by other brands. My experience with vintage Pioneer is off with a bad start, hence three stars for the issues mentioned.
When playing a record, it sounded good but not great. I'll take it to a technician.

10/10 by DjTommyB

I've had several PL-518's and I just found this PL-540 in December of 2014 and I decided to treat myself to it. Since playing this table for a little over a month, I've found The PL-518 and the PL-540 are virtually the same except the 540 is Quartz Locked. The speed is perfect all the time. And with the auto return function, the tone arm returns to its arm rest when the album is over. These old Pioneers are very solid units. Its amazing to me with the RESURGENCE of vinyl, these have become very sought after. There really is nothing made today that is as solid as these old tables. And best of all, they still look great even after 35 years. These tables now sell around $150 to $250 dollars. What you may pay depends on the condition. But, if you find a really nice one, and it costs you a few bucks, you'll be very happy you got it. Honestly, you'll love this turntable.


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