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Are SPEC series gear really worth the money?

Discussion in 'Pioneer Audio' started by Stevescivic, Sep 24, 2018.

  1. IMF_Pioneer

    IMF_Pioneer Active Member

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    I guess I haven't explained myself properly as when I mean it's a false economy the prices are currently being driven up by people on these sites suddenly wanting them because others here have them. In a few years they will no longer be the prized possession and thus the prices will again fall.

    I have seen this happen with other things like 201K Singer Sewing machines that were being wheeled and dealed for up to US$1600 and then when most people had one the prices fell. You can now easily pick one up for around US$300 and for that you have to struggle to achieve this figure.

    Many of these retro items run in cycles and it's just all about the next thing that has its turn in the sun. I very much feel that 70's vintage TOTL Stereo equipment is now having it's turn and will do for a period of time. Mark my words it will again fall, but in the meantime enjoy it and don't get too sucked in by it all.

    On a side note most of our kids feel that this type of gear is awful and I'm sure their interests will be in other things that we'll never play with in our lifetime.
     
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  2. gslikker

    gslikker Super Member

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    From this perspective, I am sure you are right.
    It is of no use looking at audio stuff as a monetary investment, unless you can guess a unit will be desirable forever.

    In the end, a Pioneer Spec-4 looks like an old power supply lacking its front panel banana jacks ;)
     
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  3. Blue Shadow

    Blue Shadow I gotta get me a new title

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    Based on comments about that C/M combo, you would definitely enjoy a nice jump in SQ by letting an SX-1050 or two go and getting the combo. But then you lose that silver you love so much.
     
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  4. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Addicted Member

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    Years (OK--decades ago), one of my buddies' brother came home from the military (overseas/Japan) with an entire SPEC rack system--tuner, preamp, amp, EQ, expander, cassette, R2R and HPM 150's--TT was a Technics SL1200. We cranked the f**k out of that system, and were just in awe.

    Now--decades later--I had been contemplating putting a whole SPEC rack like that together, just for the "nostalgia". I looked at a bunch of them. Most were fully restored (and pricey), but in all honesty, they just didn't sound that great anymore. I already had far better at home, and the prices were (in some cases) just absurd. They look awesome, and can certainly "kick some ass", but as for actual sound quality--meh.
     
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  5. Ricktptman

    Ricktptman There are two kinds of Music: Good & Bad-Ellington Subscriber

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    As far as I'm concerned there is nothing bad to be said about the best of Pioneer's gear from that peak Silver (or the earlier-to-mid portion of their "Elite") period. The market tells the story and that story is NOT primarily about Nostalgia. The only thing exerting downward pressure on Pioneer's auction prices are that they sold so many, and they sold so many because they were GOOD. Hearing any (well maintained) SPEC product will disabuse you of any notion that they're not worth their ask pretty quickly.
    As far as "New" stuff goes, with respect to amplifiers, people like to "Back to the Future" these things for reasons I've never really understood. Will it drive a difficult load like a post-Modern Sunfire, Bryston et al? No. But it will drive (and drove) virtually everything it was designed to be used within its day and do it flawlessly. I'm always reminded about a somewhat funny story that sums up pretty much everything I disliked about the 1980's. It involved my ex-wife and her (poor) husband. They bought an SX-980 and used it to drive a set of early, "biggish" Martin-Logans (it's a long, bizarre story, my ex-wife tried to advise her Husband about my affection for Pioneer's Classic era stuff and they didn't know anything beyond the fact that I liked it). They riffed their way through to a mismatch and that led to their buying a well restored 980 from a friend. I didn't find out about it until later. They cooked a couple diodes in the PS board. (I wound up with it for about $30.00.) It doesn't make those amps "bad" it just means you should know what to use them on and what not to use them on. YMMV.
     
  6. zebulon1

    zebulon1 Getting behind on work. I need help? Subscriber

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    One of the desirable features the Spec's have, is the connectability of other equipment. The Spec one is top of the line in that regard, let alone the Pioneer circuits.
    And it's all in the speakers.
    Fifteen years ago I heard similar discussions, and here we are.:dunno:
    Good discussion and opinions.
     

     

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  7. slow_jazz

    slow_jazz AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    For the price some of those receivers are going for the Spec isn't bad at all.
     
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  8. Sandstrom

    Sandstrom Seldom turns out the way it does in the song Subscriber

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    I honestly think people are in love with the way they look, performance is secondary. You could certainly get higher performing gear (old or new) for that kind of coin. It is similar to the mystifying prices for something like a first generation Ford Bronco, sure they are nostalgic and kinda cool but really, north of 40K in some cases for a perfect example seems to defy logic.

    Again, in the above case I think people are drawn to the tough, classic look of yesteryear. I guess how well it does what it does is not the main pull to own it.
     
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  9. IMF_Pioneer

    IMF_Pioneer Active Member

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    171
    Location:
    Australia
    To add a bit more to this thread

    I feel there are many things from that era that were just plain and simply out of our reach money wise when we were either in our teens and only on basic wages, while now 30 to 40 odd years down the track we are more cashed up in life with fewer responsibilities to have to pay for, thus now many of us are able to relive our youth.

    Start looking at some of the "new top end of town gear" and it's in the same league as all the Spec type gear was way back in the late 1970's.

    Anyway that's a bit more of a take on it all I'd guess.
     
  10. Blue Shadow

    Blue Shadow I gotta get me a new title

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    I don't know that folks are drawn to that look but more remember that look when they were as IMF said above out of reach money-wise and settled for a very fine 40-60 watt receiver or integrated amp. Now that they have the funds they can hunt down the lust of their youth and that is the spec gear and as you say, sonics be damned it is what I want and have wanted for 40 years.

    Nostalgia is a huge price driver in these units, since Pioneer was the most advertised it was always well liked back in the day. How can you not like that brand when you buy that SX-650 and then see it in ads in all the audio magazines of the day. inside front cover, 2-pages, or more, some full page ads in the magazine and then the back cover. Since they were popular back then with all the ads and sales, 1/3 off list price at warehouses, can't go wrong folks thought. It met the expectations. Not many bought a new Pioneer system having already owned a few systems as most folks weren't buying a lot of systems. Most folks buying hi-fi were first time buyer who had never heard bass response. Any system in the Hi-Fi store would deliver that bass, what is not to love. And that continued to today. More people with the funds to buy the gear of their youthful lust and that is the Pio-Mar-Sui brands. The competition for these brands is what is driving up the price compared to the other brands or the separate components for the era. Sound quality be damned. It isn't bad, it is just that there is better especially for the money. Way better when you get to the higher end units with what they cost today.
     
  11. Sandstrom

    Sandstrom Seldom turns out the way it does in the song Subscriber

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    All good points. Nostalgia is a powerful draw and I totally get the gained disposable income none of us had when we were young. The Japanese companies were great at improving on the solid state designs still somewhat in their infancy. The designs were mostly handsome and the marketing brilliant...
     

     

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  12. Stevescivic

    Stevescivic Active Member

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    All great comments. What allured me to Pioneer was my dad and uncle's fondness for hi-fi. I can vividly recall my dad ruining my ears by blasting music on his Sony system and my uncle doing the same on his Pioneer fluoroscan system. So pretty back in the day and they sounded great. The new home theater stuff just doesn't seem to do it for me at all and when I got a job that paid me decently is when I started wanting to acquire things that I WISHED I could own when I was a kid. The lust for buying things we couldn't afford is so true. I like the 1970s Pioneer sound... my father despite being a former audio enthusiast doesn't get what all the "hoopla" is about with my hobby but he's now quite old and no longer appreciates audio the same way like he did "back in the day" when he was around my age.
     
  13. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Addicted Member

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    It is kind of amusing how this thread crosses lines into several others that have been running recently, regarding vintage gear and the vintage of its owners.

    Yes, most of us owners of TOTL, fully-restored vintage gear are older. We drooled over this stuff when we were younger, and now have the time and money to put into it, and there is a certain "nostalgia" to it (for me anyways).

    "Disposable income" is a different story. When I was young (high school/college), the bulk of my income went to only 4 things--college, fast cars, nice stereos and partying my ass off. Actual "living expenses" were handled by my parents (high school) and then included as part of the "college package" later on. So on a % basis, I blew a lot of my income on cars and stereos--I just wasn't making that much money back then--30% of $5 is a hell of a lot less than 20% of $100--even adjusted for today's COL.

    Then life gets in the way--a "real job", multiple moves, rent, car payments, mortgages, kids, etc. and suddenly there is very little "disposable income"--it is already "disposed of" as fast as you can earn it. That is why for a lot of us (myself included), that stuff like nice cars and nice stereos kind of moved to the "back burner" for a couple of decades. Now, the houses are paid for, the cars are paid for, the "nest" is empty, and it is far easier to pull out $1K and buy something that we couldn't even dream of pulling out $400 to buy new back in '79.

    My buddy's brother that had the full SPEC rack had to eventually sell it because he came home at the end of his military service, got married, had kids, moved half-way across the country chasing jobs, etc. When he was in the military, Uncle Sam took care of food/clothing/housing/medical, so his paycheck was basically his to blow on whatever he wanted--then the "real world" set in.

    I haven't seen him in years, but I'm guessing that, by now, he either has bought another full SPEC rack, or is "on the hunt" to replace what he had.
     
  14. SPEC2man

    SPEC2man Are we there yet? Subscriber

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    Location:
    Vancouver Washington
    I lusted the Spec gear from high school through college, so once I started making money I picked of pieces one by one. I got a million miles out of that system and I held onto it for years. I bought the Spec 4 rebuilt on AK and the Spec 2 and Spec 1 I have had for 3 decades. About 2-3 years ago I tried to get $2K for the whole stack - mint CTF-1250, SG-9500, TX-9500 all in rack kits ... couldn't even get a decent offer. Hell, the rack kits sell for $350. Threw in a pair of Altec Model 14's and a Technics SL-1210 all in really nice shape. I finally said screw it! I'm keeping the system forever. On my birthday every year, I drag it out to the mancave and let it rip for a couple weeks. I'm sure sooner or later It will die a horrible death but I guess I can sell it off piece by piece. I even picked off an SF-850 electronic crossover a few months back and I am planning on a passive sub build to finally put both amps to work. Once a freak, always a freak. I have to hold back every time a set of HPM-100's come up for sale local.

    SQ? It's not bad ... matched up with the Altecs and a small Velodyne sub it's great for what it is. Classic vintage overbuilt monster ... sort of like the muscle cars of the 70's. I see the big Pio receivers selling for $3-4K on eBay and haven't really figured that one out but then again I would trade the whole mess for a G-33000 Sansui in a nanosecond. Why all the lust for Spec? I suppose it's the look and feel - I even hunted down 10-15 sets of vintage Monster cable interconnects ... the old school ones build to last. It's sort of a snapshot of a dream system from my college years. Made a deal with myself - if I get through school and start making money, I will build my dream system. If I had the room it would be great to set up a retro-70's room with the system all hooked up and running. Vintage posters, artwork, furniture - I think it would be a kick. Beanbag chairs, lava lamps, concert posters ... cheaper than therapy.


    Pio stack.jpg
     

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  15. zebulon1

    zebulon1 Getting behind on work. I need help? Subscriber

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    I've sold Spec equipment to the young guys too.
    I believe that some of the market is driven through the millennials. Some of these kids (My sons age) have careers which give them extra cash to spend on audio. They too, enjoy the two channel music and once they listen to their favorite sounds on vintage gear, it's all over. Remember the TV show " That 70's show"? It made an impression on them as "Happy Days" did on us. I'm not kidding. Good pop culture, 70's era stuff sells it in a heartbeat.
    About millennial audiophiles?: The tube gear is moving into their view.
     
  16. zebra03

    zebra03 All Audio - NO BS

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    I'm glad you did not say Stereo Lust User Tax .
     

     

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  17. Belvedere2

    Belvedere2 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I’d still love to get a SX 1250. But new baby is here. Be awhile before I can get the wife back to work. Lol
     

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