Pioneer SX-880

The Pioneer SX-xx80 series came after the SX-xx50. This Pioneer SX-880 is a classic example of that generation of Pioneer receivers and was the last of the 800 series. It premiered around 1978 and retailed for about $425 at the time.

The main aesthetic difference between the two series are the dark faced meters with white lettering. This change was made to improve visibility. The SX-880 produces 60 watts per channel with total harmonic distortion at 0.05%. It can handle a speaker impedance of 4 Ohms.

The tuning section utilizes a 3 gang variable capacitor tuner. Other features include:

  • Bass and Treble tone controls with tone defeat.
  • Low cut filter which cuts out ultra low frequency noise below 15Hz (like low pitch rumble from a turntable)
  • Independent left and right power meters
  • FM Muting
  • Stereo and Mono modes
  • Two tape in/outputs
  • One phono input
  • One Aux input
  • Duplicate switch
  • Loudness switch

The general consensus is that the xx80 series does not have quite the same quality build as the xx50 series did. As an example the Pioneer SX-850, which the SX-880 replaced, weighed 42 pounds (19.1 Kg) while the SX-880 weighs in at just 27 pounds (12.2 Kg). The SX-880’s dimensions are 19″ x 12.75″ x 5.5″.

Another issue with the SX-880 is that Pioneer used a number of IC’s in the design. Many of these IC’s are not easily found today so when one goes bad it can be difficult to replace.

While the Pioneer SX-880 has a few weaknesses it is still a very nice receiver with classic vintage styling and plenty of features. The 60 WPC is enough to fill most any room with sound. The SX-880 is also cheaper to buy than the SX-850. The SX-850 sells for around $500-$1000 while the SX-880 comes in at around $300-$600.


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Realistic STA-100

The Realistic STA-100 is a nice little receiver that was at the lower end of the performance spectrum for Realistic. It was produced from 1979 through 1981 in Korea and retailed for $279.95. The Realistic line was sold at Radio Shack as a lower priced, but equally featured, alternative to Pioneer, Sansui and other brands.

The STA-100 above has custom blue LED lights. Originally the STA-100 had white dial lamps.

Realistic’s advertising touted the STA-100 as:

Human engineered for you with a combination of features for superb performance and ease of operation.

And that’s what it is. Easy to use with good basic features. The dial face is wide and easy to see. It has a signal strength meter for easier tuning. Both the bass and treble controls are detented at zero. The styling is nice as well, although the push buttons on the left might have looked nicer in chrome or steel.

The STA-100 produces 22 watts per channel. The FM tuner is pretty good and can pull in some weaker stations. It also featured tape monitoring facilities, and a loudness button. Overall the receiver was an excellent value for the money. They rarely required service and were built to last.

It has inputs for magnetic phono, aux, tape in, tape out and tape dubbing to a second deck.

Of course, those of us that are old enough remember the Radio Shack catalog coming out each year. Hours were spent perusing the audio gear in those catalogs. You can relive those childhood memories fairly cheaply with the Realistic STA-100. They sell for roughly $100 and up to $200 in pristine working condition.

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