Are there audible differences between different models?

Discussion in 'Pioneer Audio' started by Stevescivic, Feb 2, 2019.

  1. Stevescivic

    Stevescivic Active Member

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    For those that have multiple SX receivers do you notice a significant difference in sound from model to the next with all other things being equal? I am curious as to what others experiences are as I have read for example that a SX-1250 is leaps and bounds better than any models under it while other have said they’re similar. I know there are differences in the 50 vs 80 series. It I can’t speak from personal experience since I have no access to a fully restored 80 series unit to compare against the 50 series I currently have.

    Ideally it would be good to hear from those that have done complete restorations where they have new caps and transistors in them so their comparisons are fair.

    Can anyone tell me what they like about the sound say in a SX-950 vs. a SX-1250 or vice versa?
    Thanks
     

     

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  2. john stumpf

    john stumpf AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    the world of opinion is a veritable mine field, not only that but no two sets of ears are the same.in my case,too many gas turbines.so i will give you mine based on the sets ive owned and repaired.the 1080 sounds good but my 850 was warmer and sounded better.my 9930 about the same as my 1010. my 828 to my ears sounds much the same as the 9000 im currently doing battle with. i doubt i could do a blindfold test and get it right all the time which was which.if you want to confuse things further,are you speaking of fm or vinyl? i cant do full alignments only front ends.to me the 9000 tuner is right up there with all that ive mentioned if not better,
     
  3. hertzdonut

    hertzdonut Press Play and Stand Back Subscriber

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    As much as I liked my SX-850 (owned it since new), when I swapped over to my SX-1280, was instantly amazed at the bottom end that was suddenly there. (Both units fully recapped)

    I know, 50 series vs 80 series, but that’s what I’ve got.

    - Jeff
     
  4. savatage1973

    savatage1973 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yes, there are differences. Of course, the higher up the model lines, you get a few more features and more power, but there are definitely sonic differences as well.

    I've posted this before, but a buddy of mine (who is a total Pioneer "fan-boy") had a 1250, 1280, and 1980, but could only keep two of the three. All three were fully restored and ready to go. So a group of us got together one weekend and played with all three to determine which one would go--same room, same sources, same speakers, and source material. The SX-1250 won hands down, with the SX-1280 a close second--it was the "mighty" SX-1980 that got "the cut". Balls to the wall power, but just didn't sound all that great compared to its lesser siblings. So he sold it for a small fortune and started on his SPEC rack :)
     
  5. Stevescivic

    Stevescivic Active Member

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    I wish I had some reference to compare a SX-1010, SX-1050, SX-1250 and SX-1280 against each other.

    Isn't the "sound" of an amplifier or receiver more dependent on circuit design than anything else? Here is the thing that gets me... using the 50 series as my only real reference. The circuit layouts for each model varies including the parts used to build the receivers. Higher end models use a toroidal transformer while lower tiered (but not necessarily worse) models use a traditional power transformer. Case in point, a SX-1050 and SX-1250 are Pioneer's top two 50 series receivers and both use a torodial transformer yet I consistently hear people say that the SX-1250 is a cut above the rest in sonic capabilities and build quality - the highest watermark of all Pioneer receivers. I'm quite happy with my 1050 but I often am left wondering if I should continue my hunt for a 1250 because it is supposedly much better. Right now I'm working on restoring a SX-950 which doesn't use a toroidal tranny, yet many have reported that the mid tier models sound just as good if not better than the higher end models - something along the lines of using their power in the ideal range instead of using the lower range of their output power on higher end units. Not sure how "true" that is. If anything, low to moderate listening levels usually require very little wattage. It is when you listen to music loudly with big transients in the music and wide dynamic range that having that added power can make the world of sonic difference.

    There is a fellow (or maybe a few) on AK that had every 50 series receiver in his personal collection. Would love to know if he's actually done a comprehensive ABCDEFGHIJK comparison of all his gear.

    Alas, with all my curiosity that in the end what other like may not be what I like. Someone want to sell or loan me a SX-1250 to test in my home :)
     
  6. savatage1973

    savatage1973 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I would have to concur with those folks. Sometimes the middle of the line models do sound better than the TOTL--not always, but in many cases they do, and they are generally always a better "bang for the buck"--new or used, because they are priced to sell in larger volumes. TOTL generally gets you more watts, but also gets "burdened" with more features that may or may not be useful, and can detract from sound quality. Sometimes less is more, especially when things are inserted into the audio path.

    Most people do only use a few watts during typical listening, so 300+ wpc is not a necessity. Yes, it's nice to have enough headroom to crank it and cover dynamic transients, but electronics do not operate with 100% linearity. So there is something to be said about operating within their most linear range. If you have a huge amp, and never get beyond its first 10% of capacity, it may never sound its "best". OTOH, if you have a small amp and are constantly running 90+%, you are probably pushing the opposite extreme.
     
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  7. z-adamson

    z-adamson Super Member

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    Is there somthing stopping you from buying them so that you form your own frame of reference to compare? Going by other opinions is pointless because everyone has a different opinion.
     
  8. fredgarvin

    fredgarvin AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Gee, did you know this is an Internet Forum?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_forum
     
  9. SaturationPt

    SaturationPt Fickle Collector Subscriber

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    Funny, we were just discussing this here this morning. Working on completing the rebuild / restoration of my second SX-1010, the best sounding model Pioneer receiver I've owned.

    Having compared: SX-1980, SX-1080, SX-1250, SX-1050, SX-950, SX-1010, SA-9900, SA-9800, SA-9500II, SA-7100 and several smaller SX-xxx and SX-x80 I feel that the 1980 is great in the spec book, but doesn't have the power supply to maintain headroom (and thus its mediocre 4Ohm spec), plus I feel that (like the SA-9900/SA-9800 and to a lesser extent) the SX-1080 is shrill and likely has more of the harmonic distortion that is unpleasant causing the fatiguing sound.

    The SX-xx50 receivers are flat and powerful, in my experience/opinion the SX-950 has more warmth and a more musical sound to it. The SX-1010 is IMO the best of the receivers because well, it just sounds best and tends to play well with any speakers I hook to it, never shrill.

    Now you do realize that all of this is completely subjective? My wife doesn't like the same speakers I do although we both like (most of) the same music. I have several sets of speakers, but I don't think that I have any that are less than 89dB efficient, so I don't need a ton of power, and I listen mostly at lower SPLs. My room is medium-size with lots of soft surfaces, I listen to most types of music, like Ti domes and Heil tweeters, electrostats, so HF harmonics have nowhere to hide, always listen to my music flat, play vinyl as well as lossless FLAC, do most of my listening now to tube amps, currently not using a subwoofer in my main system, ...

    If I were still running inefficient 4Ohm speakers that dipped below 2Ohms, ... none of the SX-xx80 would have cut it anyway, and the SX-1250 although better suited would still have fallen flat in high-dynamic music. If you're listening on nice 2-way ARs that only need 15watts, you might find that an SX-737 is the best thing you've ever heard, ... or in my experience the SA-7100 is a great low-watt integrated with exceptional character. Thus the difficulty in picking gear from a list.

    I rediscovered my inner stereohead a few years ago with high-end modern gear, quickly started to acquire (lots of) mid to high-end vintage gear and restore it so that I could have the best vintage gear, A-B-ing ad-nauseam the restored vintage gear to decide which one I liked best, which to keep and which to pass on, looking for better and better (part of how I came to own the gear of which the above list is a very small sampling).

    Eventually I realized I really don't care.

    Not that I want to settle for crap, but that once you're enjoying what you have then you're just wasting your time with the opinions of others which is based on variables and tastes that might not match your own.

    I do appreciate your quest for quantitative data comparing these models so that you can choose the best for you, but it isn't there. Although I've read others who also have had opportunity to compare the 950, 1050, 1250, and 1010 and it's a fairly common opinion that the 1010 is the best sounding of the bunch, and that the 950 is the best sounding of the xx50 series, I'm not sure I would have come to this conclusion in 1980 when I was listening to Pink Floyd THE WALL at infinity dB. I liked sharp, and the 1980 was the most brutal hard-edged sound out there (opinion), had something that I didn't feel that was there from the other SS Japanese manufacturers.

    That is great right? Funny thing is, I regret selling my SX-1250 (and also the 1010) so having found a replacement SX-1010 I am watching for a nice 1250. Why no 950 then? Because it's a collection and I really have no desire to listen to any of them anymore, I have other equipment that IMO makes them all sound like boxes full of transistors.

    Get what makes you happy. For some of us the visual presentation is worth as much as the musical presentation and it's hard to beat the silver-face SXs.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
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  10. z-adamson

    z-adamson Super Member

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    Yes. Why do you ask?
     
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  11. EastPoint

    EastPoint Factory Code No. 4200 Subscriber

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    I’ve heard a lot of Pioneers but I have yet to find anything I like more than a restored SX-535 or 636. The 828 comes close though.
     

     

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  12. slow_jazz

    slow_jazz AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    At lower volumes my SX-1050 and SX-1250 sound the same to me.
     
  13. sendust

    sendust Music feeds the soul Subscriber

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    I own and have listened to my SX-1010 , SX-1250 and SX-1980 and for me sound wise the SX-1010 seemed warmer but it lacks the punch that i desire in the various instruments. The SX-1980 gives that punch at lower volumes. I have read in many of the posts that you never really need all of the power to listen to music unless you want to crank up and trouble your neighbours. I dont want to rock the house but i want to feel the sound in my music, and to do that it takes the extra power. Just my take on this.
     
  14. peerson

    peerson Well-Known Member

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    To my ears, my SX1010 is just "smoother" sounding than my SX1250. Both have been restored by the same person. Both will ROCK!. Hard to describe, though. I gave an SX450 to my daughter awhile back and it is no slouch, either (for a low power receiver), though not as "warm" sounding as the SX1010. I don't have the experience of hearing any of the SXxx80 series. So, I cannot speak to that. But, I do know that when all is said and done, that I will never get rid of the 1010. Definitely my favorite Pioneer.
     
  15. Dave1384

    Dave1384 Stuck in the 70's

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    So , the hi end integrateds along with most of the sx series are below par for you? And they’re really nothing but a box of transistors and metal ? I get that you’ve moved on , but to flame a company like Pioneer over much of their product line is just wrong . I have a few of what you mention and none of them fail the sound test . The 850 is no slouch either and mine is comparable to both of my 1010’s . The 850 in my house is an electrical masterpiece .

    And if you don’t care and have no intention of listening to it , why look for another 1250 ?
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
  16. Dave1384

    Dave1384 Stuck in the 70's

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    27C08147-079D-4280-841D-9EE0AC696820.jpeg A57F6447-24A8-49AD-B192-155C9C1E1617.jpeg
    The 5 series is around here too .
    No junk .
     

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  17. Stevescivic

    Stevescivic Active Member

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    I don’t think SaturationPT is knocking or flaming Pioneer, quite the contrary. He did say he is a collector and collecting doesn’t necessarily mean listening to them. I can relate as I have some cars that I have sat on for 20+ years that barely get any road time and that the new cars knocks the performance off of my old classic yet somehow I adore and love staring at my garage queen. SatPT is likely in that same boat with Pio gear. He’s been there done that and have played with lots of gear and he’s likely inferring that a box full of transistors is saying that they’re all the same to him in that they’re receivers and what model is better than the next is hard to quantify but that they have a common sound which is solid state sounding.
     
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  18. Stevescivic

    Stevescivic Active Member

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    Dave that is so sexy I am jelous. Gotta love the silver face blue backlit equipment. I never paid much attention to the “blue lite” gear but it has gotten my attention - why? Because of the 1010 and staring at it is mesmerizing :)

    Well done.

    Here a picture of part of my collection. Far left is my newly acquired SX-950, to the right of it that brown/black color box that is obscure looking is a 1976 Technics SU-8080 integrated amp, the center is my restored SX-1050 and to the right of it is my father’s minty and apparently quite rare TOTL Sony STR-7800SD receiver.
     

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  19. Stevescivic

    Stevescivic Active Member

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  20. Dave1384

    Dave1384 Stuck in the 70's

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    Yes , 2.
    A sx 535, 636 , 737 an 828 and a 990

    That , sir is a beautiful room .
     

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