Stereo Turntables

Pioneer PL-55

Pioneer PL-55 (1975)  $265


The Pioneer PL-55 was one of Pioneer's best looking and best built offerings in the mid 70's. 

It's a beautiful vintage piece with direct-drive, servo-controlled motor.  Very easy to operate with its fluid semi-automatic operation (auto return) more features include two-speeds, pitch controls, speed controls, soft damped cueing and much more.  

The static balanced S-shaped tonearm is fitted with a brand new Ortofon cartridge/stylus.
Because Pioneer (and every one else that made turntables) felt the need to have a "new" model every year, there are a number of different PL-55 versions including the PL-55, PL-55X, PL-55D, PL-55DX, PL-55DXF, and PL-55XF and others.  All are nearly identical with minor differences. 

The PL-55 has a topside strobe speed plate that is easily referred to on those rare occasions you might want to calibrate the speed 
The actual design of the plinth (base) itself is heavy and well constructed with a two-tone dark walnut and dark satin grey veneer.  This PL-55 has a large gorgeous and pristine tinted dust cover.  

The sub-chassis is supported by four spring loaded adjustable feet to help decrease any acoustic feedback.  

This is a premium, stunning vintage turntable.


About Pioneer...

Not much needs to be said about Pioneer other then the simple fact that the name is known worldwide for above average quality and excellence in high fidelity component design.  They were the unchallenged leader in stereo advertising and marketing in the 70's.  Back in the day, Pioneer made it clear that if you didn't have a Pioneer stereo system in your house (or college dorm) you just didn't have the right stuff.


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Philips GA-212

Philips GA-212 ('71-'76)  $150

Mysteriously abandoned and left on our front doormat (literally) in rough condition by persons unknown, this Philips GA-212 needed complete restoration.  Done!

Made in Holland from 1971-1976 by Philips, the GA-212 is much beloved and desired due to its beautiful design and build quality.  Perhaps it's the green LEDs on the photo-sensitive touch controls.  Or, maybe because the floating, isolated sprung chassis design resembles the simple and famous AR-XA turntable.  

This beauty has a brand new belt so the motor transport system speed is spot on.  The 212 is a two-speed turntable with auto-stop at the end of play.  Philips definitely kept it simple because that's all it's supposed to do...stop at the end.  The motor shuts off and the platter stops.  There is no worry about the stylus sitting on the record if it's not moving.  It just sits there until you lift the arm off the record and power it off.   

Due to fragile plastic switch housings, many of the original power switches on the Philips 212s were prone to failure.  This is a known and common defect that this one also had so we added a wireless remote control (included) to power on and off.  Very cool!  

Everything else works just fine.

One of the best design features are the LED soft touch controls for 33, 45 and Stop.  

Other features include dual pitch control speed adjustment, original platter with printed stroboscope, adjustable counterweight, tracking force, anti-skate and cueing.  All are working just fine. 

We added some "design" touches to mask a few scratches in some areas on the aluminum plinth but, overall, this 212 now presents very well.   

The real wood base is fine, looks great and the dust cover has no cracks and the adjustable hinges are good. 

Philips AF-887

Philips AF-887 (Holland, '77-'81) $210

Philips High Fidelity International of Holland had a knack for carving out a great reputation by using their own "Euro-style" design when it came to turntables.  

This pristine AF-887 is a great example even if you just go by the visual:  sleek lines, gorgeous tonearm assembly, optical LEDs electronic touch controls and a very cool adjustable dustcover friction hinge assembly...modern yet still vintage with styling unlike any other company in the crowded field of turntable design.  

The AF-877 used a new (at the time) "Direct Control" drive operation that combined the advantages of both belt and direct-drive systems. The prime mover is a DC motor which drives the turntable/tachometer assembly via a brand new, precision ground (square) belt.  The tachometer continuously monitors the platter speed which it feeds to an electronic circuit.  Essentially, the speed is locked, dead on.

This AF-887 is a semi-automatic (auto return and auto stop) that comes fitted with a brand new Ortofon cartridge and stylus...the cover is crystal clear, and the operation is easy, silky smooth.


About Philips High Fidelity International...

Philips goes way back to the early 1900's and has always been a respected name in Europe and the Netherlands.  Their early development of loudspeaker technology pushed them into the high end section of audio.  A little known fact: They also invented and developed the cassette tape among other things.  Before they became well known in America, they were a leading maker of turntables, speakers and higher end electronics all over the rest of the world.  When they moved into the North American market, they dropped the "High Fidelity International" and became "Philips" and/or "Philips Laboratories". 

About Philips in North America... 

The Philips Laboratory Series trace their beginnings back to Magnavox and the model 1500 receiver that was very well designed and respected. The Magnavox engineers took on a task to make a no-holds barred system that would compete with the best and upgrade and expand the 1500 to capture a place in the hi-fi market that the Japanese were taking over. Also, they hoped it would save the company. However, before bringing the line out, Philips stepped in and bought Magnavox.  Philips had a foothold in North America and were doing quite well with their turntables, speakers and tape equipment but could not penetrate the market with its European styled receivers. They rebadged the Magnavox designs and introduced them in 1977.  The "Philips Laboratories" line of receivers, preamps and power amps were produced in the Magnavox facility in Tennessee.


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Project/One DR-331

Project/One DR-331  ('80-'85)  $235


Made in Japan by CEC for Playback Stereo (a long gone chain of hifi stores in the midwest), the Project/One DR-331 was one of their best decks.  The DR-331 along with most of all the Project/One equipment is well known for their excellent reputation, great function and superior design. 
This is a well-built, direct-drive unit.  Features include an onboard strobe, semi-automatic operation and a very unique three-point independent "floating" suspension above the plinth.
The platter, tonearm assembly and controls are "floating" separately from the base.
A low mass straight pipe tonearm with a combination cueing and reject switch is next to the speed selector switch.
Speed controls assure that correct playback RPMs are easy to control when necessary.
The lower half of the plinth is surrounded on all four sides by a band of real walnut veneer giving the DR-331 a touch of vintage class.

About Project/One...
At one time, during the 70's and 80's, there were many HiFi shops and electronics chain stores all over the country.  The West Coast was dominated by Pacific Stereo (Concept and Reference models), University Stereo and a few other smaller outfits while the Midwest was covered by the "Playback" chain of stores (their motto was "the electronics playground").
Besides the usual big names (Pioneer, Sansui, Yamaha, etc) Playback also had their own house brands.  Project/One was there top tier line (followed by the Skanda, and Kingsway models).
The very early Project/One receivers were made by Pioneer and rebranded by Playback.  Hence, today, some of the better receivers like the "Mark IV" and others are now considered very collectible and are beginning to command high prices.  
As the mid-70's rolled out, Project/One equipment eventually was sourced to other Japanese suppliers because Pioneer decided to quit making gear for them (and others).
Often confused with the other "ProJect" (those turntables are currently made in Czechoslovakia), Project/One is a completely different brand with no connection whatsoever.

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Craig (Hitachi) 5102

Craig/Hitachi 5102 ('77-'82)  $215


Craig Electronics began to move away from their less expensive HiFi gear during the time when they had a quiet but strong connection to Pioneer in the 70's.  Hitachi and Sanyo got involved later in the development of Craig's "Series 5000" vintage components that were all sold under the Craig label...very good stuff!
This beautiful turntable could be sarcastically referred to as "the poor man's version" of the famous Thorens TD-125 since the cosmetic design is very similar.  
For Craig, it was part of their venture into the "higher end" of audio when they came out with the "Series 5000" components in the late 70's.  
The Craig 5102 turntable motor and transport system is very similar to the Hitachi HT series era of turntables.  The platter, wiring and mechanism is all Hitachi...a great looking design and well-built deck for sure.
Quite large and heavy, the 5102 is a two-speed, belt-drive, semi-automatic unit with large smooth pushbutton operation.  
The large plinth is a gorgeous design using the combination of near perfect walnut veneer and aluminum.  Photos don't do it justice, it is actually much more impressive in person.
The S-shaped arm and swing-away anti-skate dongle are smooth and clean.  The auto-return is also smooth.
The huge tinted perplex dust cover is very clean, no damage.  The entire turntable is in excellent cosmetic and working condition.
To say this Craig 5102 was a surprise is an understatement.  It's one of the more beautiful designs we've seen...

About Craig...
Originally founded in the 1930's as Craig-Panorama by Robert Craig to distribute photographic products. They became best known in the 1960's for their tape recorder products that they sourced from Hitachi, Sanyo, Pioneer and others, initially these were mostly reel-to-reel but the company expanded into the 8-track cartridge market in the latter half of the decade. They met with spectacular success in the emerging car audio market. The end result being that in the last 2 decades of the company's life it was able to produce some respected components in the very crowded home stereo market.  By the late 70's, thanks to strong relationships and source materials from Pioneer, Hitachi, Sanyo, JVC and other Japanese companies, the very well made (now vintage) Craig "Series 5000"  components are, today, steadily rising in price among collectors.  Basically, despite all the history, Craig remains mostly known as a provider of car audio products and novelty high tech electronics.

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JVC QL-A2
JVC QL-A2 (1978) $230

The JVC QL-A2 direct-drive, quartz-locked, two-speed turntable is an excellent, well-built deck that plays great and sounds great.   The QL-A2 is one of JVC's late 70's turntables that was included as some of the best turntables to come out of Japan.
It is a semi automatic (automatic return and reject).  The table has excellent sound and vibration isolation. 
The QL-A2 features a quartz lock motor which is easily the table's best quality (-73dB rumble).  Also included is a brand new Ortofon cartridge/stylus.
The satin black and brushed aluminum plinth give it a mid-century modern look, stylish and cool...a really good looking turntable.

About JVC...
JVC was a great manufacturer of audio gear. The brand was sadly damaged during the recession of the late 80s and never really recovered from it. Originally, the Japan Victor Company was once associated with the RCA Victor Company. They built a name providing competing audio equipment at a lower price point than the more established names. However, their middle and upper range units were very good to exceptional...JVC and Denon turntables. Looking at the higher end turntables of the two manufacturers, there could be some merit, but who helped who is the big question.

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Reference 610-T

Reference 610T (1980) $200

The high quality Reference 610-T is considered rare and has an elegant design by the same company, Pacific Stereo, that was responsible for the success of the Concept and Reference lineup, developed in the USA, built in Japan.
This is a DC direct drive, semi-automatic, very heavy, premium deck with a massive die-cast platter, ultra low-mass S-shape, satin black tonearm and proprietary satin black headshell, beautiful satin-black plinth with walnut side panels.  Like all the Reference series components, this is a very nice, very solid, very good looking hard to find vintage piece.

About CONCEPT AND REFERENCE... 

We had the good fortune to have worked at Pacific Stereo in the late 60's (back when they only had three stores!) Today, it's not commonly known but, at one time, (late 70's) all the house brands like Concept, Reference, Quadraflex, etc (and almost all other well-known brands of the time) were sold by Pacific Stereo.  As one of the largest stereo chain stores in the USA (especially in the West) they eventually faded away but not before they left behind a legacy of some very fine equipment they designed in-house but were made in Japan.  The Concept units were first tier (top of the lineup) followed closely behind in quality by the Reference series. The Concept 16.5 stereo receiver (165 watts per channel) is considered by many to be one of the best of the "Holy Grail" of vintage receivers.

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MCS 6603

MCS 6603 by Technics (1981)  $175


Made by Technics for, and sold by, JC Penney in the early 80's, the 6603 is a direct-drive, semi-automatic turntable with built-in strobe and speed controls.
It has excellent cueing and tracking performance with its straight pipe, low mass tonearm (fitted with a brand new Technics SP-23 cartridge and stylus).
As the 80's saw the beginning of the rack systems often sold in department stores, the 6603 was originally part of Penney's better quality (well-built) component systems.
The 6603 is a heavy unit with an excellent motor and drive system.
It also comes with a brand new, crystal clear acrylic dust cover.
MCS 6502

MCS 6502 (Modular Component Systems, 1978) $200

(two of these available)


As is fairly common knowledge these days, JC Penney contracted with various suppliers to build the "MCS" branded turntables...mostly Matsushida (Technics) and CEC of Japan. 

Surprisingly (or not), the 6502 is one fine looking turntable...very desirable and extremely reliable.  

The beautiful rosewood veneer plinth is really cool and is in pristine condition.  

This is a 2-speed, semi-automatic, belt drive unit with cueing, strobe, anti-skate and very attractive, well designed controls on the top deck. 

The S-shaped tonearm is of very good quality and the motor is steady and reliable.  

In summary, it's great looking and easy to use.  The original owner's manual is included.


About MCS (Modular Component Systems)...
MCS was the house brand for JC Penney back in the 70's and was often passed over by audiophiles simply because it was sold by Penney's.  However, in our opinion, whoever worked for JC Penney's electronics acquisition department at the time certainly had discerning taste which resulted in some very good products being offered. There is some debate over who actually manufactured the MCS series for JC Penney. Most seem to agree that it was either NEC while others mention Technics. 
Probably the different models in the MCS line were made by different manufacturers, all of whom designed great products for Penney's.  By the late 70's, it was near the end of the receiver power wars and despite the fact that most of the mid to high range MCS units had actually incorporated some of the latest technology at the time, digital was looming on the horizon and was about to change the face of HiFi.


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