The Pioneer PL-518 is a fairly common turntable but is still in pretty high demand today. It’s a two speed, DC Servo, direct drive turntable that incorporates an S shaped tonearm. It is not a quartz controlled motor. It is also technically, a manual, single play table but has a couple features that make it a little more convenient than other manual tables. First is the Quick Start mechanism that only starts spinning the platter after you’ve lifted the tonearm and moved it towards the edge of the record. You can engage the oil damped cue lever as well which will allow you to lower the tonearm down onto the record smoothly.
Another feature is the Auto Return function. Once the stylus reaches the lead out groove of the record a ‘special Pioneer developed device’ detects the increased lateral speed of the tonearm and triggers the auto-return mechanism. So, the tonearm with lift, return to it’s rest and the turntable will shut down. The Pioneer PL-518 has the usual turntable controls such as anti-skate, arm elevation, speed selection of 33 or 45, and fine pitch control (speed adj). A built in strobe is also on the right side of the platter and allows for easy assessment of speed accuracy.
While the PL-518 isn’t the best looking turntable around there are a few who like the Sunrise Silver color of the base accentuated by the die cast aluminum control base plate. Unfortunately they tend to become discolored over time. I’ve seen quite a few PL-518’s that have been re-veneered and they are beautiful. One drawback to the turntable is that the original feet can deteriorate over the years and require replacement. However, it’s usually just the inside rubber insulator that deteriorates. Sets of new polyurethane insulators can often be found on eBay.
If you’re looking to rebuild your PL-518 then check out this thread on AudioKarma for some great details.
The Pioneer PL-518 is a good solid turntable. It’s well built and performs admirably. With a re-veneer you can even make them look great. Pricing is all over the place depending upon what you want. Want one that’s already been fully restored and re-veneered? Well, that could run you up to $800. If you want one in it’s original state but really clean and fully serviced then around $350 will do the trick. For an average working PL-518 though you can expect to spend about $200.