The Pioneer PL-990 is a fully automatic, belt-drive turntable. Thanks to its built-in phono preamp, it easily integrates into your stereo system and will allow you to spin those records right out of the box!
If you’re looking for a step up over CD and MP3, but don’t need all the bells and whistes and just want to play some vinyl, this is an excellent record player. Nothing fancy but it is a Pioneer and they traditionally have made great products.
The PL-990 is indeed considered to be the best of all the cheap generic turntables on the market today, and the only one with a pitch control and strobe. If you are on a tight budget, this is THE model to buy.
Review of the Pioneer PL-990
The PL-990 features speed control, arm control, 45 play capability, and just about everything you want in a player. We’re even surprised the speed control is included for this price.
The automatic feature is certainly nice – you just have to push and it moves/sets the needle on the record. We also like the up/down button that lets the needle hover over the record, which makes it easier to select where to play, or skip tracks. When one side of the record has finished, the arm automatically lifts and returns to its holder. This saves stylus wear and avoids potentially damaging the needle whilst lowering it onto the record by hand.
Finally, the strobe light really helps in keeping at correct tracking.
The Pioneer PL-990 is one of the best looking players of all the lower-end turntable models. Construction is top-notch, with a well-made turntable base. The design is quite sleek. The PL-990 also features a dynamically-balanced low-mass straight tone arm, and a DC servo motor, which makes for smoother and more accurate platter rotation.
The PL-990 comes with a moving magnet cartridge. The turntable plays at a consistent speed with pure and clear sound. The mid-ranges and vocal are warm and marked but without being strident. The treble is fresh and authentic, as vinyl sound should be.
Since this turntable has a pre-amp, it should be hooked up to an AUX input on your stereo, and not into the PHONO jacks.
Although the PL-990 has a built-in preamp, you might one to buy an external one. Some popular budget phono preamps include the NAD PP-2, Pro-Ject Phono Box (a.k.a. Sumiko Phono Box), and Bellari VP129 (tube).
An alternative might be to buy a used receiver with a phono stage (noticeable because it requires a ground screw) and use it for amplification. For example, the Pioneer Elite A-35R integrated amplifier (~$175 retail), which will do for phono preamp duties.
We would recommend this entry-level turntable to anyone who wants to break out old records or start buying new ones. It makes a great gift for someone getting back into vinyl.
- Two speeds so you can play LPs and 45s
- Fully automatic operation means you push a single button to play a record and the unit automatically suts itself off
- Low-mass straight tone arm: Highly sensitive and resistant to resonance, track records better
- Universal-type cartridge connector
- Moving magnet cartridge included
- Built-in phono Equalizer – Simply connect to any auxilliary/line Input on your amplifier or mini Audio system
- P-mount cartridge
- Low-vibration, belt-drive design
- Rubber platter mat
- Vibration-absorbing feet
- Hinged dust cover
- Motor: type: dc servo motor
- Drive system: belt drive
- Speeds: 33 and 45rpm
- Wow and flutter: no more than 0.25%
- Signal to noise ratio: more than 50dB
- Platter: 295mm
- Tonearm: dynamic balance straight pipe arm
- Dimensions: 420 x 100 x 342mm
- Weight: 2.65kg
Owner’s manual: Download