Pioneer SX-1980

Pioneer SX-1980 front

This of course is one of the icons of vintage audio.  The Pioneer SX-1980. This receiver is highly sought after today and prices can reach into the thousands for a well maintained unit. Some will argue that the SX-1280 is actually a better functioning receiver but the fact still remains that the monster SX-1980 was the king of the audio mountain in it’s day.

Pioneer SX-1980

The Pioneer SX-1980 was introduced in 1978 and was the most powerful receiver made at the time with a hefty 270 watts per channel and that was a conservative rating!

Pioneer SX-1980 Switch

It isn’t called a monster receiver for nothing as it weighs in at 78 pounds. It’s suggested retail price in 1978 was $1295.00 – a fairly large sum back in those days.

Pioneer SX-1980 Bulbs

Total harmonic distortion is rated at 0.03% which is extremely low for a power output that high. It has a massive toroidal transformer that is flanked by huge capacitors. It also has large heatsinks to dissipate the heat generated by the unit.

Pioneer SX-1980 Lights

If you find one of these at a good price – grab it. One in good condition with a few minor issues recently sold for $1599.00.

Pioneer SX-1980 Inputs

I’ve seen better condition ones sell for far more than that. Before the downturn in the economy I saw one sell for nearly $4000.00. But, it was in mint condition and functioned perfectly.

Pioneer SX-1980 Power Supply

5-27-2011 – An SX-1980 sold for $3,250. It had just been serviced and worked perfectly. It was also in very good cosmetic condition and had the original box which always adds some value.

Pioneer SX-1980 Parts

6-5-2011 – SX-1980 sold for $1,760. It was in pretty good cosmetic shape but did have a couple bulbs burned out. Still, a pretty good price for the buyer.

3-25-2017Fully restored SX-1980 sold for $5000.00 on March 25, 2017.

3-2017 – Four SX-1980 sales at the beginning of 2017 for $2900.00, $2977.00, $3150.00 and $3500.00.

1-3-2019 – One sold for $5098. Also sales of  $3999, $4051, $4499 and $4700.

Available on Ebay

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31 thoughts on “Pioneer SX-1980

  1. My Dad bought a really nice Pioneer tuner in 1977-78. The face looked just like the 1980 but the top and back looked like the SX780. He gave it away about 10 years ago. Sadly he passed away a few years ago and my Mom wants to know who he gave it to. Anyway, can you tell me was there a unit that one the front looked like the SX 1980 with all the little push buttons? I know for a fact that the top and back did NOT look like the 1980 but the 780. Thanks very much.

    1. The closest I can think of would be the sx-1080, sx-980, sx-950 or sx-1050. The sx-1980, sx-1250, sx-1280 etc have the black metal heat sinks on the side of the case which gave them a different look. The sx-1050 and down did not have that and had full wood panels along the sides with a metal grill on top. The SX-1080 would probably match your description the closest.

    2. I actually have a 780 receiver that I bought in 1978. Although this text would tell you then it’s a 40 W Per channel receiver, I have tested it up to a 120 W per channel, The same goes for the 1980 receiver I have heard it was tested to Well Above 400 W per channel. There is no push buttons on the front of the 780 receiver it is all dials and levers And does not have the big heat sink That the 1980 receiver has.

  2. I purchased my 2nd SX-1980 in Feb. 2010.A few days after receiving it,it wouldn’t power up.So I finally shipped it to a very good repairman in Tx.It is due to arrive back the first or second week in Nov. 2011 fully restored.It’s gonna be so great to get my MONSTER back kicking butts.I sold my first one in 2009 and have regretted it since.This one will be a keeper for good.Mine was manufactured in 1980 with the serial # starting with a “Z”.They sure don’t make ’em like the SX-1980 any more.The pix of the SX-1980 on this page with the blue table cloth was taken on my kitchen table by me when I listed it on eBay in 2009.Others can criticize the SX-1980 all they want.But this MONSTER just can’t be beat.I wouldn’t want nothing else.Why settle for hamburger when I already have steak.

    1. Wow, nice! The SX-1980 is definitely one of the holy grails of vintage receivers. I do hear some criticism about the SX-1980 mainly because of the transformer but when they are functioning properly there isn’t much, if anything, out there that is better. I’ve never owned one but hope to sometime in the future. Every collector should own an SX-1980 at least once in their lifetime.

      1. I have one for sale everything works but the cord that works tuner broke it still jams like no other if instead hit me up you will be surprised what I’m asking

  3. Well,after about a month delay,my SX-1980 is finally on it’s way home.Fully restored and repaired.It’s due back Friday Dec.9th 11.I’ve waited 5 1/2 months for this restore job to be completed.But I’ll never put myself through this long of a wait again.The power supply board,amp boards and every electronic devise in this monster has been replaced or was brought up to specs.A complete restoration from beginning to end.I also had the 3 big caps replaced on the power supply board with new ones.The MONSTER is ready to rock.But no way I’ll blow my JBL 4410A’s when I get it back by decreasing bass when increasing volume.I also have a very nice SX-950 with under 200 hours on it,along with the SX-650 and 750.

  4. While my SX-1980 (produced in 1980)was being restored,Circle Stereo also recapped the Power Supply board along with other P.C.boards.In all,48 caps were replaced and other parts as well.This BEAUTY is definitly hummin’ now.Parts I have left over are the 109 and 110 amp boards,4 output transistors,one heat sink,and a complete SX-1980 tuner assembly still mounted on the frame.The MONSTER should last me the rest of my life and still be banging away when that day comes.I’ll probably leave it to my Son and my SX-950 to my Daughter.
    The sound of the SX1980 is even better when you switch the de-emphasis switch on the back plate to the 25 or 50 uS position.And mash the 25 uS button in on the front.Switching to the 25 or 50 on the back plate does not hurt the receiver at all.I asked two experienced repairmen about this and they said it’s ok to switch it and won’t damage the receiver.You SX-1980’s owner’s out there,try it and see what you think.Wish I could get in touch with the buyer of my first SX-1980 in Moline,Il.Sure would love to have that 1st one back.These bad boys are getting more rare with each day that goes by and more valuable.Get your hands on one if you ever get the chance.

  5. Well,it’s about time for a change.I sold my 2nd Pioneer SX-1980 Feb.1st 2012 restored by Circle Stereo on Ebay for $2,700.00.I turned around and bought an immaculate SX-1980 on Craigs list today(2-23-12) for a great price.It is in like new condition and I can hardly wait for it’s arrival.It has hardly been used after all these years.What a lucky find this was.It had been on Craigs list for a long time.I bought it from a very good friend of mine who bought my first SX-1980 back in ’09.He also bought an SX-1280 from me in ’09.I know this one will be a keeper for me and will last me a long time I hope.There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it from what my good friend told me.It should arrive sometime next week.The Good Lord just keeps smiling down on me.I’m hoping it’s a ’79 model with the sensor gain switch on the back plate.I’ll know when it gets here.

  6. My 3rd Pioneer SX-1980 arrived Wed. Feb.29th 2012 and it’s just like it was described by my Buddy up north.It is immaculate with very little use on it,probably about 50 to 75 hours,just about like new and operates perfect.I ran it for several hours straight and it doesn’t even break a sweat.Stays cool constantly.What a find this was and I appreciate my buddy saving this baby for me.It’s a ’79 model with the sensor gain switch on the back plate.It was packed very very good with no damage to it when it arrived.The double boxed packing materials alone was over $200.00.I did a little cleaning on it since it had been packed for a long time and it cleaned up nicely and sprayed the switches with Deoxit.I also ran the dial up and down 20 to 30 times and it tunes in stations great with no problems.Of the 3 I’ve had,this is by far the very best one.I still want to hold on to my mint SX-950 with an original SX-850 box.This SX-1980 is in a little better condition than the 950 so both are very mint.Both with very low hours on them.If you’re looking for an SX-1980 at a great price,good luck.This SX-1980 has found a great home and caring owner.As far as the other three monsters from Marantz,Sansui,and Technics,no thanks.This one is heavy enough.

  7. Hello everyone. I’m fairly new to high end HiFi equipment. But just recently I I’ve been able to spend a little more on my equipment. My question is, Does the SX-1980 have an option to use a Moving Coil cartridge?

  8. I own a one of these MONSTER RECEIVERS that my dad bought new. It is in ‘mint condition’ and was passed on to me. Through the years it has had updates put on it, and everything works great; it’s also always been kept in a closed cabinet. I am now thinking of selling it. What do you people suggest as the best means to sell it?
    Thanks! Mike

    1. Hi Mike,
      Obviously eBay is the main venue where vintage receivers are sold but it’s not the only option. Also, shipping a big receiver like that is no easy task. Packaging it to survive the USPS or UPS has to be done very carefully. There is also some risk of wacky buyers as well as the roughly 15% that eBay and Paypal will take from the sale price. Remember also that eBay changed the fees awhile back and they now collect their “commission” on the shipping amount as well as the final sale price. On a big heavy receiver such as the SX-1980 that can be a decent chunk of money.

      You could try Craigslist as well. That would eliminate the shipping issue. Another idea would be to post it on in their for sale section of the forum. Maybe a member in your area would be interested in it. I assume that is an extension for Wisconsin. There are quite a few audio collectors up there that would be interested in that receiver. Here’s the link to the forum

      Good Luck!


  10. I’d agree with you if you were speaking about the average music consumer now, but that’s not who seeks these out. They’re pushing $6000.00 now and they SOUND like it. And that’s more than I can say for 98% of everything else, either from then or now. Sunfire and Late Carver did great for Price/Performance ratio. But virtually everything else is just a waste of time compared to this gear. It goes FOREVER and mine (2-1980’s,1-1280,2-1080’s,1-980,1-880 and a 780 restored just for fun) and they ALL are still killin’ their “digitoid” competition. But they do take maintenance.

  11. I was born in 1978. This receiver would be my dream to hook up to 4k HDTV through configuration using the converters for analog sound. It just so happen that my father owns four vintage Sony loudspeakers, made circa 1988.

    I am in love with vintage electronics. Analog sound sounds so much authentic than strictly digital.

    Imagine hooking this king of the analog receivers up to the LP soundtrack album
    by Vangelis and Tangerine Dream.

    1. 1 have a Pioneer SX-1980 in pristine external condition and 100% fully restored internally with the upgraded AWR-154 power supply pcb in Australia with 220-240 volt same power voltage as in the UK. Phil. All the best.

  12. For that amount of money, you could pick up a nice discrete system that would smoke this receiver (I wont mention any since the prices get inflated by internet hype). They may be 275w but don’t have any current to drive difficult loads, the schematic is a dead giveaway, save your money for something better.

  13. Like my SX 1980. Not looking to out do any one, but. I am going to use my 1980 as the center piece as a tuner with my spec 1 pre amp and spec 2 amp. According to the hook up instructions I can use a second spec 2 amp that I have. Any comments?

  14. One of these went recently at auction on ebay for $27 000.00 USD It was mint in box and had never been used but its strange to me that right now the prices for these seme to have dropped to an average of around $4000 USD. Maybe its the Covid19 pandemic dropping prices. Strange

    1. I think the $25k sale was an anomaly given its alleged perfect condition. Will be interesting to see if it gets relisted. A lot of these very high priced sales end up getting relisted over and over as buyers back out of the transactions. Time will tell. As for values, I think $5000 is still around the market value for an SX-1980 in excellent working condition. Covid, or more likely the economic downturn triggered by it, may have an effect on vintage audio values. Depends upon how bad things get I guess. We’ll see.

  15. Yes the $26,200 USD someone paid for the Mint Pioneer SX-1980 was an anomaly. The ad said, no speakers were ever hooked up in it, packaged in the original cardboard box. Perfect purchase for a museum piece I guess. As a Canadian it worked out to $37,000 CAD.

  16. It didn’t sell for 26k
    The guy selling it was just messing with people, the next week it was marked down to 19k
    And he didn’t expect to get that,
    As far as never hooked up,
    You can’t tell by looking at the speaker terminals, they make super soft copper wires that wouldn’t leave a trace, don’t believe everything you read,
    SX 1980 Owner.

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