We look back to the year 1983, when Sony's latest deck appeared at a time when vinyl was floundering…

We’re in the middle of a vinyl revival now, but back in 1983 it was a vastly different story.

The format looked to be in terminal decline, with the new (Sony co-developed) CD grabbing the limelight and an ever-increasing number of sales.

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Against such a backdrop it’s no surprise Sony didn’t pay much attention to the quality of its budget turntable designs back then. The PS-LX33, reviewed in 1983, is typical.

The specification is fairly typical for the time – direct drive with automatic operation where the arm set down and lifted off the record on reaching the end of the side. It wasn’t devoid of innovation – the cartridge was integrated into the headshell for ease of use and to avoid alignment issues.

It’s an admirable idea, but not nearly enough to make this deck anything approaching recommendable.

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Despite measuring brilliantly for speed stability, this Sony did little else to impress us. It had a bland, undynamic sound that just about managed to stay on the right side of listenable. Things weren’t helped by sensitivity to hum and a lightweight plastic construction that was prone to resonance.

The new PS-HX500, reviewed three decades later, is far better. It’s a more thorough design with a greater emphasis on performance.

While fully manual it remains easy to use and is well equipped. Features include a built-in phono stage and analogue-to-digital conversion circuitry, which makes it an immensely flexible proposition.

Back in ’83 vinyl looked dead and buried. Who’d have guessed that 33 years later the format would have a shot at outlasting CD?

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