Which one... A Pioneer SA-8500II or the SA-8800 integrated amp??

Discussion in 'Solid State' started by bergun, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. bergun

    bergun Active Member

    Messages:
    406
    Location:
    Seattle-Tacoma Area
    I'm not expert, so I'm fielding this question to all the classic Pioneer equipment experts that are out there!!

    Currently, I'm a proud owner of a used, but in very good condition, Pioneer SA-8500II integrated amp that I'm planning on sending in for a basic clean up to bring her back to her full glory since I was able to find a matching TX-8500II tuner in even better condition.

    I'm mainly into Yamaha equipment, but I'm trying to build a "Classic" Pioneer system since as a teen back in the mid/late 70s, I've spent many... TOO MANY hours looking at Pioneer gear from that period while growing up in Seattle, so to honor Pioneer for getting me into audio, I have to have at least one system in the house!!!

    Now to the question, my SA-8500II sounds good, but it seems that many more individuals are hunting down the SA-9800 and if they cannot find one, will settle for a SA-8800 integrated amps. Was there something special about this series other than the great looking blue LED meters?? To me, the SA-8500II has more features than the SA-8800, but since I have never owned one, I don't know which is the best unit between the two.

    I know that the "blue meter" has no affect on the unit's audio preformance and I hate to say it, but it was a kick-@ss feature still!! Anyway, I have a Pioneer RG-2 range expander to give me the "half effect," so I'm OK with that. I just want to make sure that the Pioneer system I'm putting together is a good one since its getting harder as the years go by to find Pioneer and other bands of gear from the 70s and 80s in very good condition.

    BTW, I remember when I was set to Germany back in late 1980, a guy in my platoon had a Pioneer system and I want to say it was built around the SA-9800 without the wood case and with every other piece of Pioneer equipment offered at that time to go with it... It was the first real "MONSTER" system I've ever seen owned by an average Joe!! After a couple of months, I ended up with a very basic Pioneer rack system, which was less than good, but still OK. Later, I was able to build a good sounding system around a Kenwood KA-9X integrated amp and a matching KT-9X tuner in 1982 BEFORE falling in love with Yamaha equipment, with those HUGE red LED meters!!

    Thanks for looking!!
     
  2. cademan

    cademan Addicted Member

    Messages:
    8,540
    I haven't seen or owned an 8800, so go with the 8500II. I only say this because I own three of them. One SA-8500, one SA-8500II and a SA-9500II.
     
  3. audiojones

    audiojones Jonesin' for audio Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,007
    Location:
    Central NJ
    +1 for the SA-8500II.
     
  4. Ed in Tx

    Ed in Tx Super Member

    Messages:
    4,973
    Location:
    DFW
    The SA-8800 and 9800 utilize the non-switching amplifier design that virtually eliminates any of the usual class A-B amplifier switching or crossover distortion. This is the design used in the Series 20 M-25 power amplifier too. Said to produce a smoother, more Class A amplifier sound with the efficiency of a class A-B amplifier. I would go with the SA-8800. I have a SA-9800 myself and I love its sound quality.
     
  5. dim_span

    dim_span Active Member

    Messages:
    169
    I have the sa-9800 ... will never sell it! ... works very good with my other components (old B&W DM2a transmissions and Marantz CD63 MKII K1 signature cd player)... will be upgrading the cdp shortly and am researching for a good used one

    have not heard the 8800 but am sure that it sounds very similar ...

    funny thing here in the UK, 2 months ago you could but an old 9800 for under £300 ... a few now listed on ebay from £650-£1000

    even for £1000, not sure if anything new in that price range even comes close
     
  6. boreas

    boreas AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    14,583
    Location:
    Sonoma County, CA
    This is good info. I have a SA-8500 II and love it. I can only suppose I'd like the 8800 or 9800 even better. Guess I'll have to keep my eyes peeled.

    John
     
  7. Ed in Tx

    Ed in Tx Super Member

    Messages:
    4,973
    Location:
    DFW
  8. Dr. Ear

    Dr. Ear Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    661
    Location:
    Austria
    In 1985 I owned a SA-9800 and liked the sound and the extraordinary build quality. Unfortunately this amplifier could not handle my Acoustic Research AR-11 properly which was a challenge for every amplifier due to its low impedance minimum. The 9800 got unstable, i.e. it produced extremely high distortions at higher volume levels, reducing the volume did not help, I had to "reset" the Pioneer every time by turning it off and on again. So I sold it to a friend and got an Yamaha A-1060.
     
  9. Ed in Tx

    Ed in Tx Super Member

    Messages:
    4,973
    Location:
    DFW
    That is interesting because for about 5 years I drove a pair of AR-3a's with my SA-9800, and that combination worked great. Those 4 Ohm ARs never sounded so alive, and they are why I got the SA-9800 in the first place- to have plenty of power to drive them without running into clipping, as the AR-3a tweeters and mids were somewhat prone to fail with any clipping distortion.
     
  10. xoaphexox

    xoaphexox Supernatural Anesthetist

    Messages:
    4,233
    Location:
    South Central PA
    I have owned both the SA-8800 and SA-9800 so I am partial to them - I think they are fantastic!
     
  11. Dr. Ear

    Dr. Ear Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    661
    Location:
    Austria
    The AR-11 where difficult to drive. My A-1060 with the X-power supply controlled the speakers but when playing at very high volumes the room light was flickering synchronous to the bass and drums.
     
  12. bergun

    bergun Active Member

    Messages:
    406
    Location:
    Seattle-Tacoma Area
    Thanks for the replies.

    It seems that its pretty much split evenly between both series of amps and I'm still happy with my SA-8500II amp, so I'll finish building my Pioneer system around her!! If by chance I should come across either a SA-8800 amp or the SA-9800 amp, I'll go with it too... I guess it wouldn't hurt to have one of them on stand-by.

    Again, thanks for looking!!!
     
  13. cademan

    cademan Addicted Member

    Messages:
    8,540
    What's great about these Pioneer amps is that you can connect them together. Use one as a preamp/amplifier, and another one as just a power amp. You can mix and match between which amplifier to use as the preamp and which to use as the amplifier, or both.

    I currently use my SA-9500II as the control preamp/amplifier with a Pioneer TX-9100 tuner, and my SX-1010 as an added amp on another set of speakers. What a combo!
     
    Kangurek likes this.
  14. Ed in Tx

    Ed in Tx Super Member

    Messages:
    4,973
    Location:
    DFW
    In case anyone runs across this thread and the comment about high distortion at higher volume levels in a SA-9800...
    Was looking at my SA-9800 service manual and I have a service bulletin concerning a 20 kHz oscillation problem when driving 4 Ohm loads, and the changes that were made to correct it. If the same problem, the April 1979 (ZDxxx.. serial number) and on 9800s have the changes.
     
  15. DENNYDOG

    DENNYDOG Addicted Member

    Messages:
    7,461
    Location:
    South Central,MN
    I say keep your 8500II. Nothing better about the SA-8800 other than the pretty blue meters.
     
  16. jojo0416

    jojo0416 aka Karipas

    Messages:
    251
    Location:
    Mississauga, ON
    I've never heard an SA-9800, I have the similar Japanese 60watts version SA-8800II to the SA-8500II. I love it and currently in use as a pre-amp to my Accuphase.

    I also have much better condition SA-9800II, similar to the SA-9500, but my taste prefers the latter's sonics and sound.
     
  17. lasminit2

    lasminit2 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    608
    I like both amps a lot. I sold an SA-8500 II a while back and now have a great sounding SA-8800, but no way to "compare". The design appears to be very much like the 9800 with a little less power.
    As "Ed in Tx" notes above, the "non-switching design" was the heralded feature in the upper end 800 series Pioneers. I certainly love mine (the meters are cool, too) but I can't say you would hear an actual improvement over the 8500 II.
     
  18. ml69

    ml69 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,322
    Location:
    Twin Cities area
    I bought my SA 8800 from a member here. I haven't heard the 8500II or 9800, but I listen to the 8800 almost every day, and it is smooth. Excellent sound imo. I also have a SX 939 and an SA 900. I'd find it hard to get rid of any of them.
    Mike
     
  19. moinau

    moinau Je me Souviens

    Messages:
    6,488
    Location:
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    I bought my SA8800 in 1978, also bought AR10pi the same year and AR92 in 1980. The 10pi and 92 were difficult speakers to drive, and using common sense, I've never had problems with this Amp, very smooth. Today I use it in conjunction with the HPM100, though they are a very easy load on the Amp. I also use it with small compacts speakers rated at 8ohms nominal, so again very easy on the Amp. This Amp as 80WPC at 8ohms on tap and also 110WPC at 4ohms continuous, very good reserve for a small Amp. I would recommend this Amp with speakers rated at 8ohms nominal, curving down at no less then 4ohms for a short period of time, in the hz scale.
     
  20. lasminit2

    lasminit2 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    608
    Just a late addition to this fine thread (now several years old). During the last few months, my main (and really only) system has used either KEF 103.2's or a pair of EPI 200C speakers. I went from an SX-1050 to a Sansui AU-717, and felt that the Sansui was the clear winner (in spite of the extra power the 1050 can muster). They both sounded sweet, and it was really neck and neck. The SA-8800 was sitting in the same rack, and just for fun I crawled back there hooked her up. WINNER! Someone used the term "smooth" earlier in this thread. I couldn't agree more. It sounds great at low levels and never sounds stressed when pushed a bit. I was never all that impressed with the phono section on my now long departed SA-9500 (probably needed a recap) but the SA-8800 simply loves vinyl. For me at least, this amp is a serious keeper.
     

Share This Page