Hi-Fi Corner: Pioneer serves vinyl fans an affordable new toy in the PL-30

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Pioneer has been cranking out hard-core, road-warrior turntables for professional DJs for years, and while the company never really stopped producing consumer-level turntables, that particular product category really hasn’t been a priority. And why would would it be? Vinyl took a huge dive in popularity and was the exclusive love of a slim set of audiophiles for nearly two decades. But now vinyl is back, and so is Pioneer with the brand new PL-30 turntable.

This latest piece from Pioneer reflects a re-energized effort to produce extremely well-designed, high-value home entertainment gear — the company’s new BD-88FD reference Blu-ray player, which is layered in gorgeous brushed aluminum and runs a record scratching $2K, is another fine example.

Related: Get a load of turntable nirvana with the Pro-Ject’s Signature 10

While it may look simple, the PL-30 is extremely functional and offers some thoughtful features, such as an auto-start/auto-stop feature, a built-in switchable phono-preamp (any receiver will work), and a grip-y rubber mat that really takes hold of the record when you take to spinning your wax. Speaking of spinning, that belt-driven platter gets up to speed in no time, and Pioneer claims its speed variance is less than .1% to allow for extremely accurate playback, which is impressive if it’s true. Other features include an aluminum die-cast tonearm, and a sleek, dual-layered chassis.

The PL-30 also comes fitted with an Audio-Technica AT3600L, a favorite mid-range stock cartridge included on competing ‘tables like the Music Hall USB-1, and the Audio-Technica AT-LP120 USB (a personal favorite). Unlike those last two turntables, though, the similarly-priced PL-30 does not offer a USB output, which means ripping albums to a digital format will require a computer with its own decent analog-to-digital interface.

Still, for those looking to break into the medium or possibly upgrade from a starter table, at just under $300, the PL-30 could make an excellent addition to your listening room.

This piece first appeared on our brother site, Digital Trends.