Ease my mind SX-980, vs SX-1080/ SX-1280

Discussion in 'Pioneer Audio' started by benjmatt, Apr 12, 2017.

  1. benjmatt

    benjmatt New Member

    First post to Audio Karma. Really looking for advice for those that have experiences with these three boxes. I almost bought a SX-3800 local and ended up buying an SX-980 and it works really good. I love the look of the SX-xx80 series because of the black meters. I have read the SX-1250 is the best bet overall.

    After having the SX-980 I really think I need or want a SX-1080 but then I figure if I do that I will want the SX-1280.

    Truly the SX-980 is loud enough. I run a 10 band EQ through my setup and it sounds excellent. I bought a brand new pair of BIC America Eviction Series Speakers. 15" with a 5.25 mid and horn tweeter.

    I keep coming around to the fact I want or think I need to have the 1280. The rational side of my thinks I bet there isn't that much more to gain.

    Please help me with my 1st world problems and tell me why or why not go bigger.
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  2. peerson

    peerson Super Member

    Kansas City area
    You will not notice any detectable volume difference between the 980 and the 1280. Might gain a little "Headroom" for some details. I have an SX1010 and an SX1250. Can't tell any difference in Volume. Both will produce volumes that people should probably not be exposing their ears to. At least not for prolonged listening.
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  3. benjmatt

    benjmatt New Member

    Yeah already ran into that problem. When I first got the new speakers jammed out for a while. (This setup is in my shop so I am able to crank without bothering anyone) After I walked into the house my ears rang for quite a while.

    I absolutely love the SX-980, The looks of the unit, the feel of the mechanical buttons and knobs. I am really glad I purchased it.
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  4. hunter00

    hunter00 Super Member

    Mission b.c
    There can be a multitude of reasons why spending the extra money on aquireing the totl units in that sx line could make sense but none of those reasons will have anything to do with sound quality.Been there and done that.

  5. Dave_1962

    Dave_1962 Lunatic Member

    Ontario, Canada
    I have a 1080 @ 120 wpc but I never get it past 3 o'clock on the volume because it could blow your head clean off. I get more mileage out of my 680 @ 30 wpc at noon on the volume dial and it's plenty. If I was still collecting Pioneer I'd go for the 50 series over the 80 because of a general consensus of a better build although I am a sucker for those black dials. Also when you can get a 980 for half the cost of a 1280 why pay double but not get twice the receiver? The law of diminishing returns seems to come into play with anything bigger than the 980. You won't get twice the frequency response or quality from a 1280 but you will get over twice the wpc (185) so more volume and be able to hook up 3 pairs of speakers. Personally I can't see the extra 105 wpc + more volume and the third pair worth another $500. As you mentioned the 980 @ 80 wpc is already ringing your bell. A 980 at 10 - 12 o'clock on the volume dial is a face melter already. You could spend that coin on other good stuff.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2017
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  6. jeffpaletz

    jeffpaletz AK Subscriber

    Minneapolis, MN
    As others have said, no rational reason to buy the bigger one. I have the SX-1050 and SX-1980 and there's no difference in sound quality between them. They are both equally amazing. I compared them on a pair of JBL L300 speakers which, like yours, have 15" woofers. Both receivers provide more than enough power to generate deep bass you can feel in your gut.
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  7. Ricktptman

    Ricktptman Great Music deserves Great Gear and Vice-Versa. Subscriber

    Where it's at!
    I can't agree, but then the music I've played and have collected isn't "easy" on output stages. There's a difference between the 580-880 and the 980, 1280 and 1980. The house sound is the same, but you know the difference when you hear it on something like Telarc's "Spies" or the Reference Trittico. Headroom always matters. Your first instinct is the right one. I own two 1980's (all self-restored) a 1280 (in my bedroom) a 1080 (mint), and two 980's, one mintish (and one of which I recently brought back from the dead with the help of several AK threads) a really nice 880 and 780 that I bought just for nostalgia as my first receiver was a lowly SX-680. Again, they all sounded similar but they didn't start sounding "heart-stopping" until around the 780. The 880 is an odd duck. It actually DOES sound nearly indistinguishable from the 780, but NOT from the 980. You know you're in a different neighborhood then. The 1080 sounds much closer to the 1280. And the 1980 is (justifiably) in a class by itself. "The house sound, noise floors, tuner sensitivity and Phono preamp versatility are similar in the "top" three. My advice is hold out for a 1080 if you're only going to own "one". My lowly 680 was stolen in a burglary (while I was playing a Christmas Eve gig) in 1984, and I didn't know what had happened with the "Black Plastic Plague" until I tried to replace it with no renter's insurance. I lost my CT-F1250 and (also lowly) PL-512. I hadn't noticed what had happened with the one-two punch of "MUCH higher prices for (often) lower quality. The closest thing I could find to the 1250 was a Dragon, 505 or BX-300. (Dolby C notwithstanding, they're GREAT machines.) I couldn't afford any of them at the time. A "friend" got me a loss leader Technics and it lasted about four months. I eventually found Carver's gear and it was a Godsend in terms of "value per dollar". I ran a set of vertically bi-amped (they run too hot if you run them in mono-they lack heat sink real estate) 1.0's for about 20 years. If you have "horns" or something similar you won't notice as much difference. But even with the fairly sensitive/efficient HPM's, C-V's and JBL L's they were meant to be used with you can tell a difference. I didn't have a choice when I was a teenager. The 680 was the best I could do in those circumstances. Keep your powder dry until the right 1080 comes along. Good luck!
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
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  8. benjmatt

    benjmatt New Member

    Thank you for the advice. I bought a KR-9600 several weeks ago and was able to get it working last night. (One wire inside came unsoldered) It is much louder but not as nice sounding as the pioneer sx-980. I did like the ability to turn it up louder so I snagged a SX-1080 today on ebay. I am probably going to have to try them all and figure out to do with them all when I am done.

    I have read the 50 units are better build but I just plainly like the cosmetics of the black gauges and it is cool to see them move as the volume is increased also.
  9. john rivers

    john rivers New Member

    I had a 88xa then bought a sx 1050 but just had to have a sx 1250 shelled out 900 bucks got one now I'm in trouble with police so be careful could even get more expensive.
  10. benjmatt

    benjmatt New Member

    I live in the country. My nearest neighbor is 1500 ft away from my outbuilding where the stereo is setup. I have jammed out for hours without a complaint yet.

    My wife said she can hear bass once in a while but not the music. The shop is about 300 ft away from the house. 40x70 pole building with concrete floor.

    Once I get insulation up it should sound deaden more.

    No Police yet.
  11. bshorey

    bshorey Super Member

    Gilroy, CA, USA
    What is the power handling of those speakers?

    As others have said, no real reason to upgrade. The only caveat is if you had some really inefficient, power hungry speakers, then it might make sense to opt for something with more power. But if you've got a speaker that can handle 100 watts, getting a bigger receiver won't buy you anything.



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  12. rcs16

    rcs16 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Baldwin, Ontario, Canada
    Look at the postings around here, esp. the tuner issues, many SX-x80's tuners are in a state of repair, with no fixs/solutions yet. Some complain, taking them to local techs can not fix them, good tuner techs are hard to find these days. Shipping your unit across the country is very expensive and can be risky.
    I like the power meters on the SX-x80's series, I think it makes them look attractive, but I recommend a SX-x50's series over a SX-x80's series, as these seem to be more reliable and easier to repair. The postings show my proof.
  13. zebulon1

    zebulon1 Building a new bench. Finally! Subscriber

    Las Vegas Nevada
    Working on both SX - 50 and 80 models, I find the 80 series a bit flimsy in build and circuitry. The TO-3 outputs make for a solid output structure that is easily fixed with modern plug and play components.
    merlynski likes this.
  14. benjmatt

    benjmatt New Member

    Along with owning the SX-980, I ended up buying both the SX-1280 and the SX-1080. I did a shootout with these 3 and several other units in the opinions/review section of AudioKarma.

    The 1280 is clearly the best of these three. The details you get both of the bass and treble at high volumes was amazing to me with the 1280. I preferred the sound of both the 1080 or 980 unit at the listening volumes, in the lower volume end. I feel to make use of the 1280s ability you need to be running at high volumes. (Which I will only do when showing the unit off to friends)

    The additional price I couldn't swallow so I sold the 1280. For me the best value is the SX-1080. It goes as loud as I need to but isn't as costly as the 1280.

    In the meantime I have also purchased an SX-850 and SX-1050. The 1050 needs some caps or rework. I plan to do a heads off between the SX-1080 and the SX-1050.

    One thing I noticed right away with the SX-850 is that it is more bassy and doesn't seem to have the high range that the SX-980, SX-1080 and SX-1280 had. The SX-850 is a really nice unit both looks and sounding, I think the SX-980 or SX-1080 sound much better than the SX-850 with much greater headroom and a much brighter sound. I like treble and the "bright sound" where I also have read some people do not.

    I have owned a KR-9600 and the SX-1280 and I don't care for these dual amplifier units. I hope to own an SX-1250 at some point but my guess is I will feel the same as the 1280 and 9600. We will see.

    The adventure continues.....
  15. danrclem

    danrclem AK Subscriber Subscriber

    I have a 750, 1050 and a 1980 and none have been rebuilt so that may be the reason why one stands well above the others. The 750 is ok but nothing special to me. The 1050 is better but the 1980 sound so much better than the other two. That was until a puff of smoke came out of it.
  16. KingBubba

    KingBubba "Too Much Stuff" Subscriber

    Brooksville, Fl.
    You are mostly in the fractions when it comes to hearing the difference between any of the Pioneers you have described. I suggest to you to give up the EQ. Adding any additional equipment to the output chain is generally going to be a detriment, not a benefit, to your overall sound. EQs cannot really be properly setup by ear. To be properly setup, your EQ has to be able to accept a calibrated mic and then your EQ also will need a spectrum analyzer to determine which way to adjust the EQ to obtain a flat output from your particular speakers. If you do not like the way your speakers sound, you are generally better off to change the speakers. Running your systems with no EQ will give you more of a chance to hear music as it was recorded. Unless you have a pair of Yamaha NS-1000s, or speakers similar to what was used in the studio the music was recorded from, your speakers will have a certain amount of colorization that only they will exhibit. This is why it is more important to have a pair of speakers that suit you. If you have that and then start changing settings, you are then changing what you like.

    I know that buying and comparing equipment is fun. You can find the minute details in the sound that please you, but doing it should be more for the fun rather than serious comparison. Only a spectrum analyzer can truly tell what the differences are. The human ears and the brain they are attached to are just not that dependable; since they can suffer fatigue and other brain created differences that can't be controlled. Have fun with your ears, but don't trust them very much. Have fun out there. :thumbsup:
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  17. Killer Fox

    Killer Fox Super Member

    Also consider tonal differences. I had a SX-980 until recently and also have a SX-838. I sold the SX-980 as that seemed too bright.The 838 sounds much warmer to me. I wanted to try a SX-1010 as that supposedly has a similar sound but with more power so I was searching for one and accidentally ended up with a Sansui some how. LOL. Gotta love the vintage audio hobby!
  18. benjmatt

    benjmatt New Member

    Not that it would really matter I have tried multiple receivers and the SX-980 is my favorite.

    Marantz 2230
    Marantz 2275
    Harmon Kardon 330C

    I bought them tried them and always thought the 980 was where I liked to be.
    I don't personally care for the warmer sound of the 850 or 1050. I love the 1080 and the 1280 but worth too much.
    I had sold the 980 and was kicking myself because I wish I had it back.

    The prices on all of these SX pioneers is just too high to keep for me. I started looking for other options and was and still am looking for a SA-7800, SA-8800 or something along those lines.

    Kept cruising craigslist and ebay and one popped up local and I met the guy and picked it up today.
    What a beautiful unit. He was the first owner, he said he bought it when he was one year out of high school around 1978 ish. He said it had been sitting in a closet for 30 years. The left front corner on the top wood has a small dent, the rest of the wood is really nice. The silver portion and all the knobs, levers and buttons look brand new! Looking through the grill at the large caps it looks as if it is new. I still need to open up and blow out. I want to deox the pots and lube all the levers. There are some dust bunnies behind the glass. I paid more than I wanted to but still about 50% less than the going rate on ebay for a 1080. When we did our test I felt my 980 was about as good as the 1080. The 1080 allowed a bit more volume and larger bass thumps. I am guessing due to the transformer and larger main caps.

    What I love about the 980 is that it gets you the size that is the same as the 1080 and is the larger than your standard receiver. Plenty of inputs and the black meters. The gentleman also has the owners manual. I plan to make this a center piece in my house for a system to use on a regular basis.

    The only thing I regret is that I was unable to hear all the above receivers when they were brand new. I don't have the time or the money to spend to have each one recapped.

    I really appreciate everyones input and help. This has been a super fun learning experience.

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  19. slow_jazz

    slow_jazz AK Subscriber Subscriber

    SE Michigan, Downriver....
    Congrats it looks beautiful..
  20. SaturationPt

    SaturationPt Fickle Collector Subscriber

    N.E. Indiana
    One thing that you might find is that the 980 is your favorite sound, ... until you change speakers. Some speakers reward a brighter source, others punish you for it.

    I don't know the characteristics of your B.I.C. speakers, but available at Home Depot for under $200 would indicate to me that they're more of a party speaker than audiophile quality. If this is the sound that you want & like, then you've won the game.

    However, if (like many of us) you start to get speaker-curious, and buy sets like you have done with receivers, you might find that you no longer like the sound of the 980 as well as something not as bright, or something with substantially more headroom. It also changes with music choice.

    I had a Pioneer SA-7100 since new, loved the sound. Bought a 9900 and hated the sound (harsh, fatiguing to me). So I listened to a 1050 and 1080 back-to-back for some time (on Magnepans) before settling on the xx50 series for my taste and buying my SX-1250. I also bought a 950, which IMO sounded as good (or better) until I got to volumes where my wife has to be out for the evening, ... where the 1250's headroom (similar to the SX-1980) really made the difference. Also, I noticed that I prefer my SX-1010 on my Infinity Interludes but the 950 on the JBL 4312As (Interludes are a bit brighter).

    I've been through several of the big boys this year including McIntosh, Pioneer, Marantz, Onkyo, Yamaha, Adcom, Sansui, Crown, ...

    Although I prefer the pre-xx80 for several reasons, there is no right or wrong choice only your favorite. Beware the result of trying different speakers however, ... you might decide that you need a different amp or receiver!

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