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Pioneer RT-1020L

Three Motor Three Head Stereo Tape Deck (1974-77)

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Pioneer RT-1020L


The RT-1020L is a superb reel-to-reel stereo tape deck. It features a 2 and 4 channel playback head and built-in 4-channel preamplifier so that you may enjoy quadraphonic as well as 2 track and 4 track stereo playback.

The 3 position bias selector and 2 position equalization selector guarantee perfect reproduction of low noise/high-output tape.

With its high-torque motors, professional sized 10.5 inch reel transport and other standard extras it is built to bring you top versatility, long service and total reliability.


Track system: 2/4-track, 2-channel, stereo system

Heads: 1 x playback, 1 x record, 1 x erase

Motor: 2 x reel, 1 x capstan

Reel size: up to 10.5 inch reel

Tape speeds: 3 34  7 12 ips

Wow and flutter: 0.08% (7 12 ips)

Frequency response: 40Hz to 20kHz (7 12 ips)

Signal to Noise Ratio: 55dB

Total harmonic distortion: 1%

Crosstalk: 60dB

Input: 50mV (line), 15mV (DIN), 0.25mV (mic)

Output: 0.3V (line)

Dimensions: 440 x 431 x 225mm

Weight: 21kg

Year: 1974


Related Catalogues

Turntables and Tape Decks

Stereo Components

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Reviewed Aug 04th, 2016 by taru03

Beautiful and cool machine. The sound is deep and clear (if you have a good tape and heads are clean). Built as a tank (super heavy) almost 0% parts made of plastic. If you can find one of them in good condition for 200 to 250 take it! you'll be more than happy.

Reviewed Feb 27th, 2015 by videoluvr

I had mine restored with new caps and its like brand new.Not a scratch or blemish on it.It sounds so goodAn ideal choice for audiophiles.

Reviewed Oct 01st, 2013 by wdwright

It's an oldie and a goodie! I always wanted a great deck like this when I was growing up-specifically a very heavy Sony. But then I heard the Pioneer at a rolling trunk show and while it took a few years-more than I care to count-I'm about to get a second 1020L version. It may not do much recording, but the playback will be fantastic! A great deck and while not as heavyweight as the Sony, it eats it up in sound reproduction for sure! A true reason for keeping my reel to reel collection spinning.



re: RT-1020L

The pinch reel on my unit is not engaging. Any ideas as to what I can do? All other functions are fine. When I hit PLAY however, it goes basically into FF because the pinch reel is just sitting there.

RT-1020L - Play issues

It's two years ago, but this is for others to read:

If the pinch wheel is not engaging, it's prob the snap switch behind the PLAY button is going out, which controls the solenoids in the unit. It's a switch replacement time.

Pioneer RT 1020L Reel-to-Reel Tape Deck A SOLID DECK!

I bought a Pioneer RT 1020L Reel-to-Reel Tape Deck for $35 about 10 years back, and it worked OK at the time mechanically, but it has seen some rough storage since then. Hot, cold, dust, humidity, etc. Finally got it out a few days a go and it was so jammed up that the pinch roller would not even budge. After 2 hours with oil, compressed and and a full cleaning (meaning I removed the face plate and literally pulled dust and rotted rubber out of the drive mechanism), it it working great again. Seems to be right on speed. Does not eat tapes on fast wind and stop, etc. This is a very impressive, solidly built reel-to-reel. Much better than most of the TEAKs, SONYs, Akais, and the later Pioneers I have worked on. I am using it for transcribing to PC, not recording, and for that purpose a solid machine like this one is a treasured tool.

wdwright's picture

re: Pioneer RT 1020L Reel-to-Reel Tape Deck A SOLID DECK!

I had a beauty of an RT-1020L a few years ago and babied it because I was not sure if it would last. I took it across the state to do a buddy's wedding and it survived. Someone at that wedding saw it and wanted to know if I'd part with it. After about 9 months I asked what he'd offer and while it wasn't fully what I wanted, I let it go. Much to my sadness, I never thought I''d part with it, but space was at a premium and so I said, you want, u pick up. And he did.
Much to my amazement, I am now sitting on another 1020L and this one is not going to go anywhere, space or not! It even has a box of virgin MAXELL UD XL on 10.5 reels and those too, are coming home with me as soon as I can make space. I'm not doing a lot with reels these days, but I figure it's never too old to start.
Like the gent above, I've always been impressed by the way this deck handles tape. It solidly stops between fast wind, automatically stops when tape breaks or ends and in general, treats tape the way it should be treated: with care.
I'm only hoping I can find a repair guy like I had last time. The key to keeping it running great is having it serviced and tweaked so it continues to run right. If tis means new transistors, capacitors and the like, so be it. Yes, this guy weighs in at an impressive 45 lbs. but when you consider that it's a three-motor deck and it's practically solid aluminum alloy, isn't the pain of keeping it rolling right worth the trouble? I'll admit I've lusted after a SONY/SUPERSCOPE TC-854-4S deck for a while, but finding this one makes up for all the looking for that really heavyweight deck. Besides, this one might just fit at the top of my audiophile grade and very expensive rack by Salamander. If it doesn't, I'll find a way to get it in there.
Hopefully, if in the future I nee them, somebody will have the necessary rubber, heads, etc. to keep it rolling.
I can testify for sure that this deck is so much better than my old Sony TC-630 and it had a wimpy amplifier for the time, but served me through college and ten years of adulthood as well as my older brother who bought it new. Still, this deck has more impact and records very well. So I am looking to getting my hands dirty again and maybe we might start a smaller reel collection amidst the vinyl and cps that occupy the music room right now. Oh yes, hidden in the rack right now is a vintage 1970's Mac Power Amp that really sings even though its VU's don't swing.

This website is not affiliated with or sponsored by Pioneer. To purchase RT-1020L spares or accessories, please contact the company via their website or visit an authorised retailer.