With the launch of Pioneer’s flagship PLX-1000 turntable a few years ago came rave reviews from users and critics alike. Lauded for its top of the line functionality, sound, and build quality – the PLX-1000 did a great job of filling the gap in the market left by the downfall of the all-conquering Technics 1210.
And now, with the recent launch of the Pioneer DJ PLX-500, DJs and vinyl lovers can get their hands on an amazing turntable without having to fork out a huge amount of cash!
The Pioneer DJ PLX-500 could be easily confused for its bigger brother. Sure, there are some functions that the PLX-1000 possesses that the PLX-500 leaves out. But for the majority of users, these omissions are of little consequence.
So, join us as we take a deep dive into our Pioneer PLX-500-K review. And take a peek at why this is the highest-rated and reviewed mid-range/beginner turntable on the market today!
Design, Build Quality, and Setup
Although you would be hard-pressed to tell the PLX-1000 and the PLX-500 apart from just looking at them, however, once you get them in hand, the differences become more apparent. Unlike the PLX-1000 (which has a full metal body), the Pioneer DJ PLX-500 has a mostly high-grade plastic shell. Although the platter and the tonearm are made from metal.
Looking from above, we see the On/Off switch, the large Start/Stop button, and the three-speed selector. This offers you a choice of 33, 45, or 78 rpm. Pioneer have also kept the +8/-8 pitch fader, which works great for pitch bending (even though the motor is not as powerful as the PLX-1000).
The inbuilt LED indicator light enables you to estimate the record’s speed at a glance in low light settings.
How about Inputs and Outputs?
Looking at the back of this unit, we see a single USB jack, a phono/line output switch (in case you want to plug this directly into a stereo system that does not have a phono input), a pair of RCA. Unfortunately, the RCA’s are not the best quality, and they’re unfortunately hard-wired into the deck. And there is a power socket to round it all out.
The Pioneer DJ PLX-500 has been designed with a wide range of DJing styles in mind. Perfect for any beginner or a seasoned professional for that matter.
Inside we see a three phase brushless motor with electronic brake. This setup enables seamless transitioning between the three rpm settings. This not only increases the amount of control a DJ has, but also makes for much easier and more precise mixing, which is very important when starting out as a DJ.
The S-Shaped Tonearm comes with a Fully Detachable Headshell. But is This Important?
Absolutely! Without this option, we would all be stuck using the default needle/cartridge setup. This greatly increases the flexibility of playing style and makes it more fun to play if you do have a preferred needle or cartridge. Our personal preference would be the Shure M44-7 stylus and headshell.
The S-shaped arm is static-balanced, meaning the user can also adjust the tonearm’s height and weight thanks to the counterweight and anti-skating dial. But remember to dis-engage the anti-skating if you are going to be scratch DJ’ing.
On top of the huge amount of physical attributes, the Pioneer DJ PLX-500 can be hooked up directly to your computer and gives the ability to digitize your complete vinyl collection! With this, you can add your vinyl records directly into Pioneer’s very own Rekordbox DJ software, which hugely increases your creative options!
Just a flick of the On/Off switch, and then a quick tap of the circular Start/Stop button is all it takes for the platter to start spinning. This comes up to speed in about a second. When compared to belt-driven turntables might seem lightning-fast, but it is a fair bit slower than the PLX-1000.
The adjustable tracking weight is generally much lighter than what most DJs will be used to. But in practice, we found this to pretty much of no consequence. It did take a little getting used to and does mean you have to ‘nudge’ the record a little harder than usual. However, once we acclimatized to the weight difference, we actually ended up preferring it.
A little heavier…
The one major change we made for club gigging was to slightly increase the tracking weight of the tonearm to help with keeping the needle in contact with the record while scratching.
The only noticeable noise from the motor is heard when running at 78RPM, which is engaged by pressing both the 38 and 45RPM buttons simultaneously. And, thanks to the mostly hollow design of the shell, harder taps or bumps to the unit can result in some audible changes. This is not a deal-breaker for us, but definitely something to keep in mind.
It is pretty simple. However, for the price, there is no better vinyl player currently on the market in terms of the quality of sound!
The gorgeously warm quality that vinyl records bring is on full display with the PLX-500. The overall soundscape is handled with grace and care. The lower end has been very slightly muted, with the full midrange being pushed to the front of the mix.
There is a certain roomy quality that a lot of the competitors miss completely, which gives the PLX-500 the space it needs to convey its full range.
Pioneer PLX-500-K Review Pros and Cons
- High-end torque and stability for a mid-range price.
- Removable headshell.
- Three phase brushless motor.
- Inbuilt LED indicator.
- +8/-8 pitch fader.
- The hollow body can result in audible taps.
More Superb Turntable Options
If you’ve got a particular budget in mind, then check out our reviews of the Best Turntables under 100 Dollars, the Best Turntables under 200 Dollars, the Best Turntables under 300 Dollars, the Best Turntables under 500 Dollars and the Best Turntables under 1000 Dollars currently available.
Pioneer PLX-500-K Review – The Wrap-Up
Sure, the Pioneer PLX-500-K may not be the greatest DJ deck currently available on the market. In our opinion, that award goes to its big brother, the PLX-1000. But, when you take into mind exactly what you are getting, and at what price you are getting it. Then this DJ vinyl player becomes one of the best (if not the best) options on the market today!
And there has never, ever been a better time to check out the deals on offer! With new competitors hitting the market all the time, the deals available on the Pioneer PLX-500-K are simply unbelievable!
So, what are you waiting for? Check one out today!