What We Like
What We Don't Like
Pioneer have long been one of the most trusted and recognizable names in the world of audio. One product that stretches their high-caliber reputation is the mid-range PL-30-K – a beautiful record player with a sound quality to match.
The PL-30-K is one of the best-looking turntables I’ve seen in a long time. It’s as simple and minimalist as it gets, featuring an all-black design with silver accents on the platter and tonearm. Thankfully its thin body – which weighs in at a modest 12lbs – doesn’t suffer the usual name branding that most budget-conscious products do. The controls are kept up front and to a minimum, and the platter is centered weighted, with a fantastic 5mm thick rubber high-grip mat on top.
The silver tonearm and matching cartridge contrasts beautifully against the black metal finish of the chassis. It’s hard to argue against this being one of the best-looking sub-$300 turntables on the market today.
The PL-30-K might be one of the prettiest turntables out there, but it is a little lacking in the features department. This turntable isn’t marketed for a performing DJ or recording musician – it’s a Hi-Fi turntable made simply to play your favorite records. So, what it lacks in more commonly seen features like a built-in USB interface, it tries to make up for in performance specs.
One thing that really does stand out – separating it from most turntables in this price range – is the inclusion of a fully-automated tonearm. Pioneer have avoided the usual flash and awe style approach with this record player – instead they went the understated route, trying to let the PL-30-K speak for itself with performance.
In the end, when buying any kind of musical equipment, it all boils down to performance. And Pioneer knows this. Out of the box, the tonearm is balanced and platter is center-weighted to keep playback as smooth as possible, preventing unwanted skipping on older or slightly warped records. The direct drive motor keeps a steady 33, 45 or 78 RPM and, with the RCA and auxiliary outs, set up couldn’t be made simpler.
Pioneer boast audiophile-grade quality from its pre-mounted cartridge and, although the PL-30-K will probably be best in class for audio quality at this price, I wouldn’t go as far to say its audiophile grade. You’re getting great sound quality, but bare in mind you still get what you pay for. Regardless, this will be tough to beat.
This is without a doubt a stunning turntable. The overall build quality is impeccable and has a sound to match. You could argue that it lacks some features – and we would agree – but the PL-30-K knows what it is: a simple but high-quality record player.