What Pioneer Receiver mid-late 70s to pair up with JBLs Control 1

Discussion in 'Pioneer Audio' started by Vintageaudio123, Nov 4, 2018.

  1. Vintageaudio123

    Vintageaudio123 AK Tropicalized Member

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    Hi, I am in the process of setting up a second audio system for my bench area and was wondering what you guys would go for of what is presently available on ebay. Or if anyone has something for sale, I'll certainly would take a look at it as well.

    For the fun of it (and a bit of nostalgia) I wanted to get a receiver from the mid to late 70s, but would certainly appreciate any other suggestions. I'm planning on pairing the receiver with a pair of freshly refoamed JBL Control 1s, and still need to get a CD player as well.

    Most important for me would be the serviceability of the receiver, because even though will try to get one that looks to be as good as possible (within a reasonable -non- "vintage" item price) I am sure it will need going over, so easy access to schematics or even better to service manuals would be a must. Another factor would be no exotic unobtanium parts, as I don't want having to hack something just to get it -maybe- working, or even worse end up with a model that cannot be repaired at all because due to limited availability the needed part might cost more than the receiver itself.

    As a first choice, I was of course looking at the SX series which was very emblematic of the era and had lots of good looks and the performance to go with it.

    BTW I was also considering the other main brands of the same era (not sure it will be polite to mention them here) but we all know which ones they are.

    So if you where in my situation, what would you guys go with?

    Thanks in advance.
     

     

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  2. rickb119

    rickb119 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I have a SX-850 and it's a nice amp. Recapped it several years ago (not too difficult) and was using it in the garage set up, driving a pair of recapped Norman model 8's. A few months ago I came across a SX-1010, at a good price. Put it in place of the 850 and was blown away at the improvement in SQ.

    I also have a Sansui AU-919 in my office, driving a pair of Ascend Acoustics Sierra 2's. I had always planned to, at some point, bring the 1010 into the office to see what it sounded like with better speakers. Friday, I sat down at my desk, turned on the Sansui and...................................nothing. So, I was "forced" to bring in the 1010. Don't know if it will stay once the 919 is repaired, but so far I'm liking it. Considering that the Sansui is recapped and the Pioneer is not, that's saying something!

    The one issue with the 1010 is, as one member here described it, it's an easy bake oven and tends to "cook" the power supply PCB so that's something to look at before buying (if you can). Even so, it shouldn't be that difficult to rebuild that board (caps and resistors). Fortunately, mine didn't get much use and shows no signs of overheating. And, I've got a small, computer type, fan blowing into it to prevent it.

    The 1010 was the first 100w receiver and pioneer came out with the 1050 and 1080 (both 120w) in the following years. Don't know if they have the same power supply issues, but it would be worth checking out.

    Just checked ebay and the 1010's are going for (asking anyhow) less than what the 1050's are. I think one reason for that is that the 1010 is not as "pretty" as the later models. They also have a few push button switches that some people don't care for. (Deoxit took care of the issues mine had.)

    If it were me and I had to choose between a 850 (or 950) that was fully recapped, or a 1010 that was fully functional but not recapped, I'd get the 1010. The SQ is THAT much better!
     
  3. Vintageaudio123

    Vintageaudio123 AK Tropicalized Member

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    Thank for the input. I've been roaming around ebay and doing a bit of research as well on the technical side. I was initially kind of inclined towards the SX-650, even tough it always nice to go for the higher models with a bit more bells and whistles and added power. But prices really start going up fast as one moves up on the models, and figuring I really don't need that much power to drive the Control 1, I still though a SX-650 would be a good compromise. But turns out that series uses a Sanken hybrid in the power output stage that seems its not easy to find if it came to needing a replacement for a faulty one. So I have now shifted looking at the previous SX lineup (SX-535, 635, 735...) which I think came out until 74-75, and which uses discrete TO-3 output transistors that are still available and relatively easy to find. So I am starting to incline towards a SX-737 or SX-838 which seem still to be available at a decent price. It was also very easy to find a PDF of the service manual for this series, as it is apparently for most other 70s Pioneer models. The models above the SX-737 mostly seem way too expensive as the sellers are really pushing the vintage factor to squeeze out extra dollars, but will keep an eye for a decently prices SX-838. Another thing I noticed is the crazy shipping rates that seem now to be the norm, I guess since USPS increased their rates some time ago, everyone else did as well. When was it that paying upwards of $60-75 or even more for domestic ground shipping is "normal". Sounds out of wack to me paying $200 for the receiver and then on top having to pay $60-$70 "economy" shipping. But what can you do, it is what it is.

    BTW, I can still clearly recall when those top Sansui models AU-717 and 919 series came out, they really looked tough and where very heavy, aahh and the smooth feel of the volume control. I would consider them if I where looking for an integrated amp, then who knows maybe I'll take another look at those as well. What happened to your AU-919? I used to think of them as indestructible, but then I never owned one.

    Anyway, I am still not set firmly on any receiver model, will keep looking a bit more. Even took a peek at Marantz, but they seem way over the top price wise, even the lower models. Not to mention Sansui G series. Yes they are nice, but that vintage market tendency really spoiled prices ever since a few years ago. Thanks again.
     
  4. rickb119

    rickb119 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Sounds like you know what you are looking for.

    You're right about the vintage market. Too many people simply buying to flip. Fortunately, I bought mine several years ago when prices were just beginning to climb. There's no way I'd buy a 919 today for what they're going for.

    I think (hope) the Sansui is going to be an easy fix. Got to playing around with it and found that it works with the jump switch on (albeit diminished volume). The last bit of recapping I did I had another issue with a wire that didn't want to stretch. Hopefully, this is the same type of issue with the jump switch. Next weekends project.

    I've read good things about the Onkyo TX-4500 Mk2. Might be another one to research.

    As to the increase in shipping, I've said for years that everything is going up except my income. :(
     
  5. KeithD

    KeithD AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Something from the x3x series would definitely sound good, BUT just be aware that everything in that series (Except the 1010) had a vinyl covered wood case rather than Walnut veneer. Only the SX-1010 in that series had a walnut veneer case. If you go one series earlier, both the SX-828 and SX-727 have walnut veneer wood cases. The draw back is they use speaker plugs, but there are many easy ways around that if a unit does not come with them. The sound on the x2x series will be as pleasing as the x3x series, and the 727 in particular is still very reasonably priced. They also have very good tuners.
     
  6. Vintageaudio123

    Vintageaudio123 AK Tropicalized Member

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    Hi Keith,

    Thanks for the information. As per your suggestion I went and looked at some 727 and 828 receivers and they indeed look very nice as well, but at least for the few examples I saw on ebay the asking prices for the ones in decent shape where generally moderately higher than for a newer generation 737. Is there some factor that makes the x2x series more desirable? (aside from the nicer veneer cabinet finish). Some crazy high 828 prices as well (one "works fine" at $749, and two "tested & rebuild" at $999 and $1199). What do these people think they are selling. Also saw what you mentioned about the speaker plugs, kind of a weird design. The (reproduction) plugs are being offered on ebay as well for $29/pair plus shipping, talk about the vintage factor :(
     

     

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  7. KeithD

    KeithD AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Hi Vintage,

    I'm not sure there is a lot of logic to some of the prices. However, the 828 came out in 1972 and was TOTL in 1973. It is a high quality piece with "stamped in" lettering on the face (stamped in to the metal), so you don't have an issue with lettering loss. In comparison, the 737 was 4th from the TOTL (1010, 939, 838 were above) in the x3x series. Just an opinion, I think the x50 series has become super desirable, which has push people to look at the earlier Pioneers. I was in the same boat. Had wanted a 1010, but the prices were just too high for me, so I looked at the x2x series. I was able to pick up an 828 on e-bay for $200 reasonably. I have noticed asking prices have climbed since then. If you look at the series previous to the x2x series, that would include the SX-2500, 1500, 990. I have both the 2500 and 990. They are both excellent receivers, reasonably priced, and just as good of sound quality (maybe even better if you like the early warm sound) than the x2x series. The SX-990 is common and generally under $200. I have found both of them to be pretty easy to work on, and mostly avoid the troublesome transistors in the later series. They also take speaker plugs, but an easy substitute is using a spade wire connector:

    51S17+HLUyL._SX425_.jpg

    The flat spade will fit right into the speaker plug slots. Also, be aware the early receivers have the RCA jacks closer together than later models. So, it does require RCA cables that fit that spacing.

    I've enjoyed all of the early Pioneers I've had, so I don't think you can make a bad choice as far as sound quality.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
  8. jeffpaletz

    jeffpaletz AK Subscriber

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    When comparing prices on Ebay, be sure to look for Sold auctions. Use the advanced search button to find that option. One can list an item at any price. If overpriced the item won't sell but some people see the high asking prices and think that is what their item is worth.
     
  9. Vintageaudio123

    Vintageaudio123 AK Tropicalized Member

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    That older SX series looks really nice, I was just now quickly looking over a few SX-990 and SX-2500 units just in case there was one BIN that was too good to pass as an impulse buy. These receivers look to be well build and not sure that case is actually made of real wood, but certainly looks great if it was properly cared for by the previous owner. Prices seem mostly ok, so I am going to take a closer look at this series later with a bit more time, and try to locate a PDF service manual which will be one of the main turning points. Thanks for making me aware of these older SX models.

    Jeffpaletz: thanks for the completed auctions search tip, definitively a great tool while out for fair/bargain "hunting".

    Also by chance saw an interesting looking SX-440 that kept coming up on the suggested "similar sponsored items" area of the listing, it has an all black face and gold color caped knobs not sure this model is actually from the same series as the other two, as it looks quite different. Out of curiosity, does anyone have any first hand info on this model?
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
  10. KeithD

    KeithD AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    The SX-990 and 2500 definitely have walnut veneer wood cases. Since the 1500TD was in between these two, I assume it also had a walnut veneer wood case. The 1970/71 catalog line for receivers from low to high was: SX-440, 770, 990, 1500TD, 9000, 2500. The 440 and 770 were different from the reset in that they had an all black face. The catalog does not say, but I would assume the 440 and 770 had simulated wood grain vinyl cases as these were both budget receivers. I don't know anything about them other than the catalog description. HiFiEngine lists the 440 as 12 watts per channel into 8 ohms. In this series the operation and service manual were all together and they are available on HiFiEngine as well as schematics.
     
  11. Vintageaudio123

    Vintageaudio123 AK Tropicalized Member

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    Hey what do you guys think about the SX-780? By chance came across one that looks quite good cosmetically, at $160, only thing one channel is dead, not much more explained, so guess it could be anything from a bad switch/selector contact problem to a blown STK-0050 output module, or anything else in between. Was also looking at the SX-880 which does not use hybrid power modules, but selling prices more than double. The SX-780 STK modules seem to be plentiful to get and quite decently priced, and there is even an initiative that developed a drop-in substitute made out of discrete parts. The other thing I noticed are a couple of custom Pioneer ICs in the tuner section (PA1001, PA3001A, etc), that may not be so easy to source if/when needed. I was wondering if anybody has had any personal experience with the SX-780, and what is the sound quality and/or any known issues. I understand the x80 series was the last fully analog series before Pioneer started integrating some digital technology into their designs.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018

     

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  12. Vintageaudio123

    Vintageaudio123 AK Tropicalized Member

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    Hey Keith, thanks for the info. The black facade looked interesting but both the 440 and 770 being obviously the lower tiered models and definitively way too little power output, I've given up on them. Although I'm not that crazy about the front panel design and knobs, and that odd combination of power switch and speaker selector, might consider the 990 or even the 1500TD if I manage to find a decently priced one in good cosmetic shape, and that domestic shipping does not imply another 50% or more above the selling price. I know these units are heavy due in part of the solid wood case, but the USPS shipping rates have frankly gotten ridiculous and kind of take some of the fun out of the buying experience.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018
  13. Harvestor

    Harvestor Super Member

    https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_library/pioneer/sx-1250.shtml

    https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_library/pioneer/sx-1280.shtml
     
  14. Vintageaudio123

    Vintageaudio123 AK Tropicalized Member

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    Harvestor: Agree that the SX-1250 and 1280 are absolutely gorgeous models, but they are selling anywhere from $1000-$3.500 for the 1250 depending on condition, and even seen up to $4000 for the 1280. Not what I would plan to spend for a small bench system paired with a pair of Control 1 speakers.
     
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  15. savatage1973

    savatage1973 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I'm not a big Pioneer guy, so I may be wrong, but IIRC, the x80 series was the introduction of the almost impossible to find (authentic, at least) Darlington STK packs, rather than discrete components--and you did mention that serviceability was a consideration. Someone will (please) jump in and correct me if I am indeed wrong--I very well may be.
     
  16. KeithD

    KeithD AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I had a 780, my first Pioneer. Sold it as I did not like the sound. The 780 is at the opposite end of the Pioneer spectrum from the 2500/1500/990. Many have described the sound of the x80 series as sterile or neutral vs. the earlier ones being warm. For me, I just didn't like it. Found it too harsh. After a while I could not listen to it. However, they are/were very popular as there are many around. Be aware the case is vinyl covered wood as is the 880. The x80 series has the L/R channel meters, which are nice eye candy, and can be somewhat useful for checking channel balance.
     

     

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  17. savatage1973

    savatage1973 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Your are "half right"--meters on any audio gear are basically "eye candy", but their relevance is highly questionable. Most (and yes, I said "most") are not calibrated well and not useful as a diagnostic tool.
     
  18. KeithD

    KeithD AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yes, that's why I said "can be somewhat useful." On the 780 I had, the channels were out of balance, and that was not easy to determine from sound alone.
     
  19. Vintageaudio123

    Vintageaudio123 AK Tropicalized Member

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    Keith: Right you are, and its fun to watch the meters swing, plus obviously useful as you said to get some general sense of content balance or dead/weak channel output. Nobody would even dream of measuring anything accurately. Also, how can the meters remain accurate under so many possible load impedance scenarios. Even the meters on my now long ago sold Accuphase E-202, they where merely an indication if I was anywhere near clipping, which was not easy with that amp but given I was driving a pair of Altec Voice of the Theater copies that I build myself with 425 woofers, 800E horns and Tangerine drivers, sometimes I got a little over enthusiastic with only 100W/ch.

    After looking for a while now what I realized as well is that it seems now a days the only way of getting one of the nicer TOTL models like a 1010, or even a 2500 (with that fabulous auto-tune feature -total breakthrough for the time) would be to get one that needs internal work and is being offered cheap "as-is for parts" due to this. I realize that some of these amps, even when still working fine unmolested after so many years, they will after all require some degree of recapping and change a bulb here an there, which I am more than willing and happy to be hands-on, so I hope I can take advantage of this scenario to possibly get a higher up model at a still rational number. But one thing I really need is that the cosmetics are in good shape. Unfortunately most units out there that fit this status are the very pricey already fully restored ones, except maybe the odd seller that just wants to get rid of it but then unless one is lucky to find it early, has to fight your way with the equipment flippers. Don't mind cleaning up some dust and grime, do some detailing and polishing, all part of the process. But a defaced, badly worn or scratched front panel, missing/broken/worn knobs etc are for me definitively deal breakers. After all I can deal with the electronics to get everything back to spec with better performance and long term reliability (with equivalent high quality electronic parts), but definitively trying to properly fix bad cosmetics is not my cup of tea. I need a unit that hopefully ends up looking as good as it sounds, or at least comes close, after all its part of the charm of owning one of these gems.

    Well, still looking for my SX receiver, and now with much better criteria thanks to the input received here so far, managed to narrow down my primary selection to the following (realistically priced) choices in order of preference: SX-828, SX-737 (or maybe a SX-838), or perhaps even a nice SX-990 (although as mentioned earlier I'm not too crazy about their style and the black knobs). Yesterday was very close to buying a working SX-828 at zero bids being offered for $220, plus around $55 shipping, which the seller happily confirmed to be correct for my zip code. And since the listing had a Make Offer, I sent one for $200, but never heard back from the guy in 24 hours, so rescinded my offer. Then there was this "working" very nice looking SX-737 at $200 BIN and free shipping, I told the guy $180 and he quickly changed his listing, but then while taking a closer look at his pictures started to see blemishes on the front panel and some of the knobs so never made my move. Anyway, I am not in a hurry, when the right SX comes along, things will click in place.

    BTW the 1500TD must have been somewhat of a special purpose receiver (?) with that useless (to me) Mic Level knob taking up space right smack in the middle of the front panel, instead of putting there something more useful. As a result I'm not really stoked on that model. Maybe it was aimed at the karaoke or whatever it was called then ("sing-along"?) crowd. Anybody know what the "TD" stands for?
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2018

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