Pioneer SX-3900

Pioneer SX-3900

This is the Pioneer SX-3900 which was Pioneer’s top of the line Fluoroscan receiver. It’s the big brother to the SX-3800 and was introduced in 1980 at a retail price of about $800.00. It represents Pioneer’s transition from analog receivers to the more contemporary digital receivers. In fact, the SX3900 basically has both analog and digital features. As you can see it has an old school analog tuning dial, the mechanism is mechanical, as well as a five digit digital tuning display. The displays use fluorescent bulbs hence the nick name fluoroscan.

Pioneer SX-3900

The blue fluorescent display is beautiful and one of the more iconic displays in vintage audio. Still, the FM Quartz Locked SX-3900 was not all looks. It pumps out 120 watts per channel with less than 0.005% total harmonic distortion and is built with quality engineering.  It also incorporates a non-switching amplifier.

Pioneer SX-3900 Left

You can see from the pictures that the SX-3900 has illuminated push buttons for certain functions as well. Some other features are:

  • 2 high pass filters
  • Tone turn-over controls for bass and treble
  • Adapter loop switch
  • FM de-emphasis
  • Tape duplicate
  • 2 phono inputs
Pioneer SX-3900 Right

Measuring in at 20.7 x 6.9 x 17.8 inches the SX-3900 is pretty big and weighs roughly 46 pounds. It is similar inside to the Pioneer SX-D7000 which, oddly, was on the market at the same time. The SX-D7000 moved even more toward the digital side and had all push button and slider controls and no analog dial.

Pioneer SX-3900 Back

It’s a little hard to see in the picture but the SX-3900 has a large toroidal transformer that is tucked in on the left side and sits sideways like a tire as opposed to flat like most transformers. I suppose they had to economize on space given the number of features the unit has. You can also see the large heat sink in the middle. These units generate a lot of heat so it’s not a good idea to stack anything on top of them.

Pioneer SX-3900 Inside

The Pioneer SX-3900 represents the end of the analog era and the beginning of the digital era. And, being from one of the pre eminent audio companies of the time in Pioneer, they are popular. However, I would say that, given the features, performance, and iconic nature of this receiver, they tend to be under valued.

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63 thoughts on “Pioneer SX-3900

  1. I saw that $1400 on ebay. I gave up bidding at $1200 myself. I ended up with another sx-3900 later from ebay, but what a mess it was. It’s going to be an expensive project to rebuild, but I’m hearing that it’s going to be the ‘bomb’ when it’s done. Hey, you only go around once, and these guys aren’t going down in value anytime soon.

    1. I just bought one for $1,800. But it was rebuilt and upgraded with better more durable components inside. Cleaned, and led light upgrade as well. I’m retiring my current SX-939. Which was cleaned and recapped over 2 years ago. At 70 watts per channel. But the switches need another cleaning and/or replacement now. I needed more power for my two large Advent acoustic loudspeakers and more for my Pioneer HP100s the 200watt version.

  2. I think these are some great looking/sounding receivers, I have a 3700 and waiting to get my hands on a 3900, who knows, I might as well get the 3800 too :)

  3. original owner of a 3900 here….in great condition & has been restored less than 10 yrs ago….think I can dig that receipt up if need be. Hard to part with it bein it was my 1st “big” purchase back in the day (prior to buying my 1st car) but I really need a new unit that I can run my big screen & speakers thru…on that note….willing to consider a trade if possible (Nor Cal/SF East Bay region). Any offers out there? Willing to let it go for $500 or staight trade + cash if need be…anyone interested?

      1. I have a SX 3900 for sale, it has been serviced but not upgraded, as everything works as it should. Has been upgraded to led, looks clean. Only rub is I live on Oahu, Hawai’i. So shipping.

  4. Hey Rob! Do you still have the SX3900? If so I would like to get your contact info for a possible trade!

  5. I’m keepin my 3900,I restored it and it kicks ass on a pair of optimus mach twos with a 20 band eq,I love the 80’s.

  6. Just picked one up yesterday of Craig’s List. Unbelievable power. Now I have to go through the unit before my new audio rack gets here. (Wouldn’t fit in old cabinet). Monster appearance and output.
    Everything works but one light. So very pleased. Love to say this: “They don’t make ’em like they used to!”

  7. I have a mint condition sx 3800 pristine condition. Not a scratch, blemish, blur, nothing. I purchased it from an audio enthusiast when he went out and bought some Krell equipment. That was in 2004. I have not used it since then. Immaculate condition. Pictures available. You’ll not see one like this again. The price will be handsome too. 312 912 4141

  8. I’ve got a SX3900, I bought it new in Corpus Christi, Texas. I live in UK. Just pulled it out of mothballs, had it serviced (by Pioneer). They said it did not need to be basterdized (requiring replacement parts of which many are not available!). And didn’t show any signs of being ‘overplayed’ (high volume for extended periods causing heating problems), and performed perfectly, as good as the day it was produced. It is for sale, one owner, not stupid money but talk to me…
    Comes in its original box, heavy (24KG boxed), so shipping…

  9. I have a 3900 real good shap and works good I also have a PL-600 turntableand a tape deck all togther would love for some one who was into to vintage pioneer. Some who would be interested let me know plz

  10. Hi, Greg here. 3800 was my teenage dream. Would love to reminisce with a 3900. I see the last post for a 3900 for sale, reasonably. My email is: SOSinBC at if still for sale, or anyone else. If trades are interested…have a newer Rega TT, Macintosh Speakers, Sonab Speakers etc..thx. Look forward to hear.

  11. Anyone have any issues with components getting fried?

    I was listening to a record and maybe about 40% into the volume when a slight “pop” occurred follow by total silence and a wisp of smoke from about the center of the unit. All lights still lit but all channels are fried. Haven’t wanted to open it up until I have a better idea of what component burned out. More likely: will take to a professional for repair.

  12. Not sure what the 3900 is like but I have a 3800 and run it thru some decent sized Advent speakers. I bought them both back in the 1980s after hours of listening to various amps and speakers. Although I bought my system a long time ago I’m still in LOVE with it. I had to get the Advents worked on for the foam or whatever it was around each speaker had perished after being around for so many years. Gotta a nice bass response now with plenty of umph behind it. Still really love my equipment after all these years. It’s in absolutely Mint Condition, and I even have the schematics laid out in the User Manual that came with it. So for anyone who wants to build their own unit it might be a possiblity.

  13. I have a PIONEER SX-3900 RECEIVER up for sale.. original owner although it was out of my care unfortunately back in 1982 it still works great but minor attention is nessarary to put it in mint condition.. I bought it new over seas in Korea in 1980. I also have a set of Sansui SP-X8900 the two together will rock the block! I’m going to o post it on let go because I’ve recently lost my job after 18 years as a Maintenance manager wrongfully terminated/retaliation and life really sucks at this moment in time…See my campaign on GoFundMe or message me if you might know a killer lawyer in California / Coachella Valley.

  14. I have a very nice Pioneer SX3900 Receiver, asking 650.00, also am selling pioneer graphic equalizer SG8800, and Technics Quartz direct drive automatic SL-5200. Let me know if interested. Email is dbendele78 at

  15. gorealerradio at email me I have a sx3900 and d7000 both still working and been using lately because I can’t resist. I live in Dallas and would hate to ship these heavy things but they won’t be cheap as I was given pair by grandma and they were barely used. Thx discount it buy both $1600

  16. I have a sx3900 in St Pete, Fla. that is in pretty good condition. It has some broken buttons and the red stereo led doesn’t light. It has a balance pot that needs cleaning. Make an offer.

  17. Sx3900
    Just serviced
    Wood has a few chips
    Tech said it’s in great shape
    950 plus shipping
    Rolling meadows,il 60008

    1. St. Louis here but mine’s not for sale, however you’re always welcome to reference mine should you find one that needs work.

  18. 3900 for sale in Tucson AZ as we speak. Wood case is good, a small scratch on the face, everything works. Was tuned up right after I bought it last year.

  19. I am looking for a Pioneer SX-3900. Originally had one purchased in Okinawa, but started having issues and donated it. Please let me know if you have one to sell.

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