Pioneer SX-424

Feb 12th, 2015 Posted in Pioneer, SX-424 | 1 Comment »


Pioneer SX-424


People tend to focus on the big, powerful receivers when looking at vintage stereos, but, there are some little guys out there that are very appealing as well. Not everyone has the space or desire for a 50+ pound monster in their house. Some just want a well performing, small, affordable stereo. Well, the Pioneer SX-424 is just that. Pioneer introduced it in the early 1970's - probably sometime around late 1971. It retailed at that time for about $200 which was very affordable. By 1974 the price had dropped to about $130.


Pioneer SX-424 Left


The SX-424 does not pump out a boatload of power. But, the 12 watts it does put out are solid and will drive most speakers. It has a pretty decent tuner as well as phono section.


Pioneer SX-424 Right


The SX-424's close relative the SX-434 (1974) was only slightly different in that it had a Balance control knob, silver capped push buttons, slightly different knob design, FM muting and screw down speaker inputs. Actually, the next receiver up the Pioneer line from the Sx-424 was the SX-525. The SX-434 came out later. The SX-4x4 models were essentially the bottom of the performance line for Pioneer. Still, these little receivers did a good job and fulfilled their purpose admirably. In fact, calling them bottom of the line is overly harsh. Pioneer made stereos that were marketed under both the Centrex and Craig names. Those receivers were definitely inferior to the entry level Pioneer models.


Pioneer SX-424 Dial


One of the bigger drawbacks of the SX424 is that the speaker plugs are non-standard. As you can see below the speaker inputs look like a wall plug. The one on the left has an 'adapter' that plugs into the inputs and has the more common screw down speaker wire holders. The one on the right is the 'stock' input without the adapter.


Pioneer SX-424 Speaker Plugs


These plugs pop up on eBay occasionally but aren't that cheap. They usually sell for around $20-$40 a pair.


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Pioneer SX-424 Meter


Parts are also easy to come by so if you need a repair it can be done relatively inexpensively. Knobs are also available fairly often for reasonable prices...

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Pioneer SX-424 Inside


The inside of the SX-424 is nice and simple. The styling of the SX-424 is also notable in that it has that iconic Pioneer silver face, blue tuning dial and wood case. All blend together to create that vintage look that so many collectors / enthusiast want.


Pioneer SX-424 Back


If you're looking for a smaller low power stereo for a room or office the Pioneer SX-424 is definitely one to consider. Just be sure to pick up some speaker plugs if the unit doesn't have them. The SX-424 sells for $40 to $120 depending upon condition. So, you don't have to break the bank to get a nice little workhorse of a stereo.


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Sansui 1000A

Jan 6th, 2015 Posted in 1000A, Sansui | No Comments »

Sansui 1000A


Sansui made a number of iconic receivers during their run as one of the top audio producers in the world. One of those is the classic Sansui 1000A. The 1000A is a tube receiver is known for its big and powerful sound. The A revision added bias adjustment for the 7591A output tubes. The receiver pushes out 40 watts of clean power per channel.


Sansui 1000A Cover Off


The phono section does use transistors but the two top level inputs and the tuner are all tube. Unfortunately the phono section uses old germanium transistors which are somewhat difficult to replace since there aren't really modern equivalents. It can be done however. I know that some people will utilize a small outboard phono preamp and use the tape monitor loop instead.


Sansui 1000A Left


Speaking of old parts the 1000A's also have old oil filled capacitors in them which when powered up for the first time after many years can have explosive effects. Best case would probably be to replace them all but you could also bring the receiver up to power very slowly with a variac. Still, I think most would agree that replacement is the best course of action.


Sansui 1000A Middle


An interesting feature of the 1000A is that the low frequency filter works on the aux and tuner. Usually it is only used on the phono circuit to remove record rumble. It also has both Presence and Loudness switches which seems a little redundant.


Sansui 1000A Right


Some of you may already know this, but the real secret behind the 1000A and many other Sansui audio products is their use of Hashimoto transformers. Hashimoto Electric was started in 1958 and has built high quality transformers practically ever since. Sansui was one of their main customers so many of their products have Hashimoto iron in them.


Sansui 1000A Inside


The Sansui 1000a came with a metal case but many user removed it due to the large amount of heat that the unit generates.


Sansui 1000A Bottom


The 1000 version is much harder to find than the 1000A and there are actually a few different versions of the 1000A as well. The 1000 was only made for a year before revisions were made and the 1000A came out.


Sansui 1000A Back


Some feel that the Sansui 1000A is the best sounding tube receiver ever made. That's saying a lot when comparing it to the popular Fisher 500C or 800C. Nonetheless, it definitely performs to high standards which means it is also in high demand. Run of the mill working units sell for around $500 while fully restored units can sell for $1200 or more.


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Rotel RX-1603

Dec 16th, 2014 Posted in Rotel, Rotel RX-1603 | No Comments »


Rotel RX-1603 Receiver


This one is a monster! It's the Rotel RX-1603 and is the biggest receiver they ever made. It earns its way into the Monster Receiver hall of fame by churning out 180 watts per channel into 8 ohms. It was made in Japan and would set you back a hefty $1100 when it hit the market in 1976. You would probably have to have someone help you get it to your car because it weighs in at a plump 73 pounds!


Rotel RX-1603 Left


It has a beautiful white/amber glow that emanates from the dial face, FM tuning meter and signal strength meter. I wouldn't necessarily call the receiver aesthetically pleasing because it has somewhat of a robotic look to it and the alternating knobs and switches give it a mechanical Morse Code look.


Rotel RX-1603 Center


The Rotel RX-1603 didn't just perform at high levels it was also built with exacting standards. It featured top of the line Sanken 2SC1586 output transistors that were hand picked and hand tested. It has 22,000 x 80v power capacitors that are as big as beer cans as well as a specially designed toroidal transformer made just for the RX-1603.


Rotel RX-1603 Right


Another interesting feature of the RX-1603 is that it can be separated into two units, much like the Sansui G-33000, so that it will fit in more confined spaces. At 60cm wide, 18 cm high and 55 cm deep it won't fit in most cabinets or shelf spaces. But, with the special RK-100 separation kit you can break down the unit into two pieces and stack them. It saves about 27 cm in depth. Of course, nowadays that kit is very hard to come by.


Rotel RX-1603 Inputs


Because the unit can be split into two pieces the designers located most of the inputs and outputs at an angle on top back of the receiver itself. The speaker outputs are located on the back of the amp section. There are outputs for three sets of speakers.


Rotel RX-1603 Back


While the Rotel name may not be as well know as Pioneer or Sansui it has held its own with regards to price. Both the Pioneer SX-1250 and the Rotel RX-1603 run about $1100.00 when  fully restored. Of course, unrestored units in good working condition sell for less at around $600 to $900. So, if you want to veer a little bit away from the mainstream and want monster receiver power then the Rotel RX-1603 just might be the receiver for you.


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