The Sony PS-LX520 is a fully automatic, direct drive, quartz lock, linear tracking turntable. Sony offered it from around 1985 up until about 1991. It retailed for about $270 and since it was on the market for quite a few years they are fairly easy to find today. It was the top Sony linear tracking model for a time in a lineup that included the PS-LX500 and PS-LX510.
The PS-LX520 has nice, sleek styling and it’s all black color scheme give it a modern look even today, especially the sloped, tinted dust cover. However, I believe the base is made of MDF and the bottom plate is plastic which isn’t the best dampening material around.
Since it’s fully automatic the Sony PS-LX520 is easy to use, especially for a linear tracking turntable. The light sensor will detect the record size and the arm will then move into proper position on its own. At the end of a record the arm will move back into the rest position. All the user has to do is select the correct speed and then press Start/Stop to begin playing.
The PS-LX520 can be run in manual mode as well. Just utilize the arm lifter and transport buttons to manipulate the arm. The repeat feature will position the arm to the beginning of the record and play it again after it has finished.
The linear tracking arm doesn’t have many adjustments to be made. The other tables in the Sony lineup, the PS-LX500 and PS-LX510 both have small, sliding tracking force weights incorporated into the tonearm, but the PS-LX520 does not. As long as the arm is working properly it is basically plug and play. It uses a T4P mount (P-Mount) which gives you a decent selection of cartridges to choose from. It originally came with Sony’s VL-45G cartridge and ND-145G stylus. Many people also used the Audio-Technica AT92E but I believe that is now discontinued. Since it is a linear tracker you don’t have to worry about tracking error or inner groove distortion either.
With the platter removed you can see the photo sensor strip underneath (brownish-red strip). There are two photo sensors on this strip that detect light. The light just above the strip (light gray tab) shines light through the two slits in the platter mat and platter toward the sensors. If the sensor detects one slot open it assumes a 7″ record. If it senses no slots open then it assumes a 12″ record. If both slots are open it assumes no record and will not engage the automatic system. This can sometimes be problematic if you have a transparent or badly warped record that lets light in to the sensors. In this case you’ll have to use manual play.
The slots in the platter mat need to be matched to the slots on the platter so that light can shine through to the sensors underneath.
- Platter: 300mm aluminium alloy diecast
- Motor: brushless and slotless motor
- Drive system: direct drive
- Control system: quartz lock servo control system
- Speed: 33 and 45rpm
- Wow and flutter: 0.035% WRMS
- Signal to noise ratio: 75dB
- Automation system: lead in, return, reject, repeat, arm up/down, record size selection
- Tonearm: linear tracking
- Pivot to stylus length: 75mm
- Tracking error: +-0.1%
- Usable cartridge: plug in type 6g
- Dimensions: 16.9 x 3.7 x 14.4 inch (430 x 95 x 365mm)
- Weight: 11 lb 0.2 oz (5kg)
The main issue to be aware of with the PS-LX520 is the linear tracking arm thumping, jerking, or not moving at all. Usually this is caused by one of two things (or sometimes both). First, while the PS-LX520 is a direct drive turntable and has no belt, the tracking arm does have a small rubber band sized belt that moves it. If this belt has deteriorated or broken the arm will not move. It’s a fairly easy fix and only requires removal of the bottom plate to access. You can see the belt location (two small pulleys) where the tip of the red arrow is (this turntable is missing the belt). Fortunately, new belts are available on eBay HERE.
The other cause is that the bar the tonearm mechanism slides along needs cleaned and possibly lubricated. When lubricating the guide bar I wouldn’t recommend grease. Grease will attract dust and other particles that you definitely don’t want building up on the guide bar again. A Teflon based lubricant that is then wiped off after application to leave only a very thin film might work best. A caution from someone who rebuilt a PS-LX520:
“If you remove the tracking assembly for cleaning and lube, be aware that once you remove the stop that attaches the head assembly to the moving string, the head will flip up (if the unit is upside down, which it would be at this point). Tape that sucker down. If it flips up it will smash the hair-thin contacts that run up and down the long switch under the guide bar and very possibly destroy them. I don’t think there are any replacements“.
In other words, be careful when you’re working on this turntable.
Another less frequent problem is with bad IC protectors. These little fuse type pieces can fail and cause a loss of power to some of the controls and the front panel. These are hard to find. One user said they were part number ICP-N10. I found some available on amazon which may work but do your due diligence first.
On the back there are three connection ports. The Sync connection is for synchronizing the PS-LX520 with a connected cassette deck. But, only certain Sony cassette decks will work with this feature and you’ll need the original Synchro remote control cord as well. The system control connector is for use with the Sony RM-44 remote control. If you have one you just plug in the Phono connector from it and you can control the PS-LX520 remotely (wired). The Control S connectors are for connecting an entire Sony audio system together via 4-pin cables for remote control of the entire system. None of these connections are really needed if you’re just going to play records. Just connect the RCA connectors and ground wire to your preamp or amp and you’re ready to go.
If you’re looking for an affordable linear tracking turntable then the Sony PS-L520 is a good choice, especially for those new to linear trackers. It’s very easy to use, looks great and is a good, reliable performer. Just make sure the tonearm mechanism moves freely or that you’re confident enough to clean and lubricate it yourself.