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SA8500/9500 vs MrkII Versions

Discussion in 'Pioneer Audio' started by LFazio51, Jan 9, 2018.

  1. LFazio51

    LFazio51 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    222
    Location:
    Beaumont, Texas
    Was curious as to the differences between the SA8500/9500 series integrated amps versus the "MKII" series in both, and of course which design offers the best performance?
     

     

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  2. kvining

    kvining Active Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    There are a bunch of threads here on the subject.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=SA+...rome..69i57.8575j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    ^click the "more results from audiokarma.org" link in the first google item that pops up.

    I'm waiting on a 9500ii from an ebay purchase right now, if you look over the docs on hifiengine, the 9500ii has better distortion and frequency response specs, I've been told that's because it uses a nonswitching transformer vs a switching transformer on the 9500, and that results in a slightly cleaner sound. What I do know is that the 9500 is a more heavy-duty unit, with rack handles and side mount jacks, my guess is that is because the 9500 has dual mike jacks which were standard for years on the high end equipment of the late 60's early 70s, something the 9500ii lacks, so it can be used as a PA amp - it's designed to be hauled around while the ii is meant to be the center of a home stereo system that is not intended to be hauled over to your uncle's retirement dinner. The 9500's command higher prices, which I always found odd given the ii's better specs, and that may be a result of it's greater utility as a PA amp and it may have a more heavy duty chassis as well since it's intended for that particular use.

    Myself, I've wanted the ii for years simply because the one's I've heard sound incredible. I've had a chance to compare one to a Spec set up and I myself thought the 9500ii was equal or better.

    In the end, I don't know if it's a "one is better than the other" argument, I think its more a choice on what you prefer. In my case, I want the wood case look, its a lot easier to fit one to the 9500ii, and I'm not really into the rack handle look altho I must admit the side mounted jacks look super cool. I doubt they even made a wood case for the 9500.

    I do know the 9500 is also preferred by older long time collectors because the utilitarian styling harkens back to Pioneer's roots back in the day when hifi was more an enthusiast hobby, before mass marketing took over the business, while the ii is more in tune with the styling of the mass marketing "receiver war" days. I'm sure there are plenty of them here to report on that aspect...
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
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  3. LFazio51

    LFazio51 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    222
    Location:
    Beaumont, Texas
    All great points. I believe the 85 and 9500 series used TO3 power transistors while the MkII series used chips. I know my SA-7800 uses chips. If this is true, it might be the reason why the NON MkII series commands a higher price.
     
  4. kvining

    kvining Active Member

    Messages:
    279
    Location:
    Planet Houston
    The thread here discusses a lot of that:

    http://audiokarma.org/forums/index....-sa-9500ii-for-a-great-deal-yesterday.547420/

    Apparently the 9500 uses two TO3 transistors while the 9500ii uses four smaller ones that have been discontinued, with the thread stating that TO-264 is used now as a replacement.
     
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  5. LFazio51

    LFazio51 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    222
    Location:
    Beaumont, Texas
    Thanks!
     
  6. LesE

    LesE 110284 Subscriber

    Messages:
    878
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Both use linear power supplies. The 9500II has dual transformers, filter caps and rectifier bridges.

    The 9500/9900 amplifiers do not have rack handles. The rear cable guides resemble handles but are not intended to be used to carry the amplifier.

    The 9500/9900 were only equipped with a single mic jack.

    They did.

    Both use discrete output devices. The 9500II output transistors use the "batwing" style case.

    Both are equipped with 8 output transistors (4 per channel). The 9500/9900 output transistors are mounted on a heat sink on the exterior rear panel allowing for matching components to be stacked on top. The 9500II output transistors are mounted inside the case which necessitates a sizable vent in the top cover which should be kept unobstructed.

    Les.
     
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  7. IMF_Pioneer

    IMF_Pioneer Active Member

    Messages:
    190
    Location:
    Australia
    So all in all it sounds like the SA-9500 is the quality product while the Mk II was the cheapening of the product.

    Personally I've always loved the far more classy appearance of the 9500 / 9900 units while 9500 Mk II looks more of a budget build.
     
  8. IMF_Pioneer

    IMF_Pioneer Active Member

    Messages:
    190
    Location:
    Australia
    Personally I've always preferred the look of the classier SA-9500 / 9900 opposed to cheaper looking 9500 Mk II unit. That's when they oozed of build quality, but sadly as the years rolled on the quality rolled out.
     
  9. LFazio51

    LFazio51 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    222
    Location:
    Beaumont, Texas
    Thanks for such great input Les, very helpful sir!
     
  10. LesE

    LesE 110284 Subscriber

    Messages:
    878
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Just a few additional thoughts ... The 9500/9900 shared some features with the SPEC 1 preamp such as a step attenuator volume control, a front panel Mic input, as well as three position Low Filter, High Filter and Attenuator switches. Like the SPEC 1, the 9900 and 8500 had the twin stepped tone controls while the 9500 featured the selectable turnover control instead for some reason. The 22 step attenuator volume control in the SPEC 1, 9900 and 9500 was a nice upscale feature but it meant the exclusion of a loudness control. Additionally, the 9900 had the very cool backlit volume control (see avatar).

    On the downside, the 9500 and 9900 uses several transistors that are known to be troublesome such as the A725, A726 and C1451 all of which should be replaced. The regulated power supply is enclosed under a metal shield which adds to the heat issues that these power supplies tend experience. Unfortunately, the 9500/9900 isn’t the easiest to work on due to their packaging.

    The 9500II seemed to be a return to a more conventional configuration along with an incremental improvement in performance. While it retained the twin stepped tone controls, it reverted back to the two position Low Filter, High Filter and Muting switches. But, the 9500II adds a Loudness control as well as phono cartridge loading adjustments that are more flexible than the ones included on the 9500/9900. Plus, the 9500II features the dual unregulated power supplies as mentioned previously.

    Les.
     
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  11. IMF_Pioneer

    IMF_Pioneer Active Member

    Messages:
    190
    Location:
    Australia
    Sorry for the above repeat post as it initially showed the first post missing so I rewrote much the same second time round. Now both posts are showing.
    No idea as to why that happened, so for that please excuse me.


    As Les has put so well, with the technical improvements also came the compromises. That's progress I guess.

    The Loudness contour was always a bone of contention with me as it was missed at lower volumes, but it was never considered a professional control rather a more Consumer Electronics feature which is not who the SA-9500 / 9900 and Spec series were ever aimed at.

    Cheers.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
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  12. restorer-john

    restorer-john Addicted Member

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    You're excused. Just this once- don't let it happen again. ;)

    :)
     
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  13. IMF_Pioneer

    IMF_Pioneer Active Member

    Messages:
    190
    Location:
    Australia
    I guess I'm on notice now :banana:
     
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  14. LFazio51

    LFazio51 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    222
    Location:
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    I absolutely love it! You guys are too funny :rflmao: It seems as though we have some serious Pioneer Afficianados here - way more information than I could have hoped for and far more appreciated than I can ever express. As an ex-employee of Pioneer (90'-96'), these discussions bring back very fond feelings of years gone by. Unfortunately, as you can see by the employment dates, these units were before my time, so I carry no empirical knowledge into the discussion and can only marvel at the wealth of knowledge you guys bring to the topic. I own a SA-7800 but would like to purchase one of these bad boys. I absolutely love the classic appearance of both and am ready for the extra headroom.

    Since I'm certain both units will perform admirably, I'm more concerned with its restorabilty; the availability and matching of parts for restoration is actually what's driving my decision. Understanding these concerns prior will likely reduce the headache and irritation while underway, so, the ability to source parts, such as the power output transistors, carries a lot of "weight." If you guys know of any restoration threads on either, or can speak to this issue, please feel free to share.

    Given the wealth of information you guys have so freely shared, it seems to me that the 9500 series was targeted at the mid-level pro market for smaller PA work; I'm sure those spinning records at dances owned a some of these.It also seems to corroborate its architectural and equalization approach. And while the 9500 offers three center frequencies by selection, applied to one control, I personally believe that the dual controls working simultaneously at two center points would lend greater control and therefore be of greater benefit. I also tend to lean towards the overall architectural design of the MkII series as well. I'd rather have the connectors situated on the rear back plane instead of the sides.

    So at this point, it really seems like the MkII series would be the most appropriate given my application, unless, it's impossible to source a replacement for those "bat wing" output transistors or any other parts that are known issues.
     
  15. kvining

    kvining Active Member

    Messages:
    279
    Location:
    Planet Houston
    So, my SA-9500ii arrived from ebay. It is in absolutely beautiful condition. One very, very small nick at the top of the faceplate that you can barely see, otherwise not a scratch on it, and the guts were clean without looking like they had been cleaned up, it looks like it has been in a smoke free dust proof environment for years. The one shortcoming was that the power light was out (had to pull the faceplate, nothing to it). I paid $400 total for it including shipping, which I thought was a great price. Fixed the power light with an 8V mini-led, put in a CD to test it and ended up sitting there all weekend listening to it. Absolutely amazing bass accuracy. It's so powerful I am worried it could blow my 100 watt HPM's, so now I'm looking for a new set of front speakers. I pulled the HPM-100s and ran my Klipsch F-3 towers, which are rated at 170 watts, and the Klipschs' made mad love to the amp - you could hear Clapton's "Crossroads" for a city block at half volume, but I think I really need something along the line of McIntosh Isoplaners to get the most out of this thing. I've never heard an amp that sounded so perfect with all controls set to flat. I mean absolutely perfect. I'd compare it to any McIntosh I've ever heard.

    I tried my SA-9800 EQ with it and I just don't think it needs it. So I pulled that and tried the RG-1 expansion unit with it and it was actually a more interesting component to use with it for certain music, especially 60's pop stuff like Classic 4, The Association, Guess Who, etc. But with the controls set to absolutely flat with tone off, any sort of modern post-90 recording was fantastic without the need for any sort of EQ or expansion unit. I think I'm going to use my SX-828 to act as the FM tuner, I'll run a second set of speakers (the HPM-100s) off of it to complement the SA-9500ii because they both have a very similar overall sound. I'd love to hear what any other members who owns one of these or similar models are using for speakers.
    IMG_1304.JPG

    IMG_1302.JPG IMG_1298.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018

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