Forgotten Classic Turntables

What ever happened to the Sony PS-X60?

by Nick Seiflow

Sony PS-X60 Turntable Top View

Sony PS-X60 Turntable Top View

There are dozens if not hundreds of classic turntables that seem to have faded from the public consciousness; I’m largely speaking of the casualties from The Great Turntable Wars of the 1970s here, but our time span could be from 1965 to 1985 – and we’d still miss some worthy contenders.

Case in point – the Sony PS-X60. Made in the late 70s, just before the advent of the little plastic disc that was to spell doom for the vinyl industry. This particular example appeared on my repair bench a little the worse for wear. It appeared to have been used as a painters drop sheet and glue-mixing platform, as well as a home for some spiders and other assorted beasties. The nerve! After a few hours of rather pleasurable work it is like new again; all the controls work just as they should, and the thing gleams with pride. This beauty may have come close to death, but not any more…

In some ways just another table, but this one deserves a close look. And the more we look the more there is to admire. At first sight it seems to be a somewhat typical automatic unit, although more substantial than many (well over 20lbs soaking wet), with all the control functions outside the lid – a nice touch for the white glove set. This includes the rocker switch for raising and lowering the arm, a model of sureness and accurate operation. The only inboard control is a rotary switch to select automatic and manual functions; really it’s just where it should be.

Sony PS-X60 Turntable Detail

Sony PS-X60 Turntable Detail

The first thing that catches attention is the platter itself. It’s a substantial piece of work, slightly oversized, with a good thick rubber mat; very little resonance here. The oversizing makes removing records a breeze. Removing the platter reveals a very interesting feature: a la Denon the inner rim is imprinted with a magnetic strip and there is a tape head on the table base which reads the strip, this being part of the Xtal speed control system. Does it work? Well, this example is flawless. Through the usual window we can see the stroboscopic pattern; speed is achieved in just over a second, and doesn’t waver. Listening to piano music reinforces the impression of rock-steady speed. The Xtal quartz-lock system works!

Sony PS-X60 Turntable Strobe

Sony PS-X60 Turntable Strobe

The arm is also an unusually fine thing: again substantial and with extremely low levels of friction, there are one or two features worth commenting on. Firstly, arm height is beautifully and easily adjustable via a locking lever on the right side. Setting the height takes no more than a second or two during playing: I wonder sometimes where we have gone in the last few decades – it’s a long time since I’ve operated such a nice and friendly arm. The engineers at Sony obviously believed that normal humans were going to use this turntable. The same is true for the anti-skating mechanism: adjustable during play with a beautifully executed engraved ring, there is no fear that you might give up on getting the best from your cartridge – it’s just so easy that it’s a delight to make all the necessary adjustments. It puts me in mind of many of the very expensive arms out there that make adjustments difficult if not downright impossible.

Sony PS-X60 Turntable Tonearm Detail

Sony PS-X60 Turntable Tonearm Detail

Sony PS-X60 Turntable Tonearm

Sony PS-X60 Turntable Tonearm Detail

OK, so nothing’s perfect. The plinth tap test reveals that there is a low frequency resonance, but to be honest I could hear no evidence of this during playback even at very high volume. One would think that there must be some correlation between this inherent resonance and the potential for airborne feedback, but try as I might I couldn’t detect any.

Fitting an (obviously) old Stanton EEE cartridge and dialling in the necessary parameters (about one minute’s work) I sat back to listen. Astonishing. This baby plays, and I mean it really plays! I threw everything I could at it, from Emerson Lake and Palmer through to 13th century plainsong, and the results were sublime. The imaging was wide and deep, vocals being perfectly rendered; speed was perfect, and there wasn’t the slightest sense of instability or frequency anomalies – and the whole experience was deeply unsettling.

Why? Well, this is just another table from Japan, albeit a cut or two above the average, but nothing prepared me for the utter musicality of the thing. A real plug-and-play design, this would be all the turntable 99% of us would ever need. The thing is, it just gets out of the way, and you just listen to the music.

And all this makes me think yet again: where have we come to? A table like this, in the used market, probably could never be ‘worth’ more than around $400. This is just nonsense in my humble opinion; a triumph of consumerism and the insatiable desire to get rid of the old and buy the new. I can’t think of any new turntable for less than a good bite into the four-figure mark that I have heard that would make me even think of getting rid of the PS-X60. And none of the new tables would offer even a fraction of the convenience of operation.

Yet, this is an ‘old’ thing, so obviously it can’t be worth that much. Hmmm. Really. If some magic manufacturer started producing this turntable for $450, new, then the entire industry would collapse. Sure, it’s 40 years old, and the fear that it might just give up the ghost one day must be a factor. But, properly serviced, I have the teeniest suspicion that it might just outlast me…

The Sony PS-X60. In its own quiet way a simply superb turntable, and one that deserves a bit more in the way of street-cred.

 

PS. Sony made many thousands of the PS-X series – I wonder where they all are. Time to raid the basements across the land!

13 thoughts on “Forgotten Classic Turntables

  1. I rarely comment on blogs or online articles but could not help myself with this article in particular. I recently got back into vinyl and bought myself a Denon DP-51f, that I adored…sadly, it broke down on me just 2 weeks in. The person I bought it from couldn’t be more helpful and refunded my money. My next turntable (based on a referral from the same guy that sold me the Denon, and some research was a Sony PS-X60) and I could not be happier with my choice of replacement. Like this article says, it truly feels like a workhorse that could spin forever. I was lucky to find one on eBay in beautiful condition, as they are pretty hard to come across …anywhere! The Denon, was elegant both in its looks and movement. However the Sony, has a more industrial and utilitarian feel to it, and that ain’t so bad either. Listening to it as I type, amazing ! (knock on wood)

  2. I’m lucky enough to have one of these in my living room and I can’t imagine anything new could outperform it without spending significantly more than the $200 this cost used from ebay. It is musical, convenient and built like a tank.

    • I couldn’t agree more with your comments on the Sony table. One of their very better efforts – and all but forgotten. It will outlast us both:-)

  3. Well Im hoping to come back to this page and post my experience on this TT. Its my first turntable since the 70’s and that was a 45 player only. Enter the 80’s, cassettes then CDs were my format of choice. Im on a budget so after researching I went with the PSX-60 not only on the turntableshop’s review but a few others as well. I still need to find a budget tube phone preamp and was thinking about getting the Aric Audio Systems 3.7 . I cant wait to listen to analog again!!

    • Hi there. and welcome back to vinyl-land! I’m delighted you chose the Sony – an under-appreciated table from one of the Greats; may it spin forever!
      Best regards,
      Nick

  4. I just acquired a Sony PS-x60 turntable from a friend who was moving. Unfortunately, although the red light comes on, it doesn’t do any thing. Could it be as simple as a new belt?

    • Hello Teresa,

      Unfortunately not a belt – this table uses a different method to spin. Possibly the best thing to do is to have a technician examine the turntable to see where the problem lies…

      Good luck with this, and best regards!
      Nick

  5. Hi, I have one of this !!! After a good service I must to say taht is an amazing turntable . Really a tank ! I have a grace cartridge in it (also an ortofon red) (i have two original headshell) and the sound is georgous ¡

    • Hi Dario,

      As always, it’s great to hear from yet another happy PS-X60 owner! The combination of this table and the Grace cartridge is a taste of 1970s heaven, esp with the original headshell (an integral part of the design of the tonearm).
      Best regards from Canada!
      Nick

  6. Does anyone know if any other model’s platter will also fit the PS-x60? Do others also have the magnetic strip on the inner lip?

    • Highly doubtful…those magnetic strips were usually dedicated to the specific turntable – but if you get lucky let us all know!

  7. I bought my first system in the winter of 1976, the turntable was the Sony PS x60, I’ve always loved it, I still have the empire cart, it came with plus a Shure V15 type IV, thats still rests in its orig, box. and mounted is a audio quest moving coil cart, I’ve just dropped it off with Nick to have a few problems delt with on it. the difference in sound between it with a record and that of a C D, makes you wonder how C D,s ever took the market over.

  8. My Sony PS-636 uses the same xtal system, on my turntable I need to keep it on because it runs too fast with the xtal system off. It’s a 1979 model and everything else works like new. Just installed a NOS Realistic RTX4 cartridge and it sings.

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