Pioneer Model 510A Direct-Drive Manual Turntable (Equip. Profile, Aug. 1977)

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Motor: d.c. servo.

Speeds: 33 1/3 and 45 rpm.

Wow & Flutter: 0.03 percent W rms.

Rumble: 68 dB, DIN B.

Arm Length: 9 1/4 in. (22.1 cm).

Cue Control: Oil damped.

Dimensions: 17 in. (43.2 cm) W x 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm) D x 6 1/4 in. (15.9 cm) H.

Power Consumption: 5 watts.

Price: $200.00.

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Direct-drive turntables are becoming more and more popular with new models appearing on the scene almost every week. Most of them are fairly expensive, but there are several now available, at the $200.00 mark, which thus offer excellent value for the money. One of the best examples of these is the Pioneer 510A which compares favorably with models costing nearly twice as much and what's more it doesn't look cheap! It has the same level of styling and finish as the more expensive units, and nothing appears to have been skimped on.

The S-shaped arm is made of polished tubular aluminum, and balancing is both vertical and lateral. A weight slides on an extension rod projecting out from the left-hand side of the arm near the pivot, and the adjustment is not critical.

The headshell is the low-mass type, and it is locked to the arm by the usual collar. Controls are all located to the right, on a neat satin-finished panel, with the Off/On switch at the front of the unit. This switch is unusual as it also controls the cueing. The Off position is at the rear and in moving the lever forward to the center position you start the motor, while bringing it forward again to the third position at the front lowers the tonearm onto the record. This takes a little getting used to, but it's all quite logical enough. Behind this dual-purpose switch are two pushbuttons for 33 1/3 and 45 rpm, and behind those are the variable speed adjustments.

At the rear alongside the tonearm base is the anti-skating adjustment, which is calibrated from 0 to 4 grams.

At the left front is the strobe lamp, protected by a cover, with the strobe markings on the edge of the platter, which, incidentally, weighs just under 3 3/4 lbs. (1.7 kg). The motor is a d.c. servo type, and all bearings are permanently lubricated. The unit is styled in matte black and silver with a wood-grain vinyl base which stands on four acoustically damped feet. The turntable comes complete with a hinged dustcover, and the accessories include an overhang gauge and a miniature screwdriver.


Like all Pioneer turntables, the 510A came with a generous selection of cartridge mounting hardware, and no particular difficulty was experienced in either balancing the arm or obtaining optimum alignment. The cartridge selected for testing was an Empire 2000Z, a top of the line, high compliance model which needs a good tonearm for best performance. The tracking force was set at 1 1/4. grams with the anti-skating dial turned to 11 grams for optimum performance, and these were used throughout the tests, although it was found that the 2000Z could track very well at lower forces.

Checking the speed variations first, the 33 1/3 control had a range of +1.6 percent and -4.5 percent, while the 45 rpm speed could be varied ±4.5 percent. Wow and flutter measured 0.05 percent (DIN), and the rumble was-63 dB using the ARRL weighting. Tonearm resonance with the Empire cartridge was just under 8 Hz with a rise of approximately 3 dB. Both lateral and vertical arm friction was less than 10 mg, and the tracking error was within 0.5 degrees per inch, standard for this type of arm. Both the tracking force and anti skating dial calibrations were found to be within practical tolerances for accuracy, and the position of the lateral weight was non-critical, as stated by Pioneer.

In-Use Tests

The cue lift device took longer than usual to lower the arm onto the record, but it was very gentle, with insignificant side drift. As mentioned earlier, the combination motor start and cue switch does take a little getting used to, but it really works well. And once the turntable speed has been set, the servo control holds it right on the nose.

All in all, the 510A is a first-class value for the money, and the engineers at Pioneer are to be congratulated for bringing the price down without sacrificing very much in the process.

--George W. Tillett

(Source: Audio magazine, Aug. 1977, )

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