The Pioneer PL-A45D hit the market in 1974. It is a two speed, belt drive turntable and is basically Pioneer’s PL-12D but fully automatic. It retailed for $169.95 which was a fairly high price for the time. After moving the lever to ‘Start’, the tonearm will position itself onto the record and begin playing. At the end of the record it will lift itself, move back to the tonearm rest and shut down the motor. The user can also use it in a manual mode. It features one touch cut and repeat that will let you interrupt and repeat any record freely.
There is also a PL-A45 model (without the ‘D’ designation) . The only obvious distinction between the two that I can see is the base design and color. The PL-A45 has an all walnut wood grain base while the PL-A45D has a two-tone base with walnut grain on the top half and a dark gray vinyl on the bottom half.
Pioneer advertised the PL-A45D as “combining studio quality performance with the operational ease of a fully automatic.” In fact, the PL-A45D uses a separate precision gear motor just to move the tonearm. It’s other 4-pole synchronous motor only drives the 12 inch aluminum alloy die-cast platter.
Pioneer’s Pl-A45D utilizes an 8 11/16″ S-shaped tonearm for optimal groove tracking. It is statically balanced and has both a counterweight as well as a lateral balance weight. According to the manual the lateral weight should be positioned 10-15mm from the outer end of the shaft. No other adjustment should be necessary – even if changing cartridges. Any standard SME headshell should fit the PL-A45d. Here are the specs for the original headshell supplied with it:
Features and Specs:
- Fully automatic tonearm
- Light aluminum alloy head shell plug-in type
- Dust cover with free stop hinges
- Lateral balance control
- Hydraulic cueing device
- Static balanced S-shape tonearm
- 11.5 kg / 25 lb 5.3 oz (25.33 lb)
- 16 15/16″ wide x 14.25″ deep x 6.5″ tall and weighs 21 lbs
- Motor: 4-pole synchronous motor
- Drive: Belt driven
- Speed: two speeds, 33.33 and 45rpm
- Speed accuracy: 1% or less
- Wow and flutter: 0.1% WRMS
- Signal to noise ratio: 47dB or more
Belts and headshells can readily be found on eBay these days:
Available on eBay
There are some issues to be aware of when considering the PL-A45D. The automatic start and stop functions can be noisy and the mechanism is somewhat complex so can be problematic especially if the original lubricant has seized up over the years. The plastic tubes that supply oil to the motor bearings can dry and crack. The suspension springs have foam stuffed into them which has almost always disintegrated by now. With the exception of the somewhat noisy motor and tonearm mechanism the other problems can be remedied fairly easily. Aquarium air tubing can be used to fix the dried plastic tubing and new foam or magic eraser can be stuffed in between the suspension spring coils which will better stabilize the turntable.
Despite its quirks the Pioneer PL-A45D is a well built and very good performing turntable. The automatic functions can add some complexity to it but if you really want an automatic turntable then it’s a good choice. It’s not top of the line but for the price it will do a very good job.