The Pioneer SX-434 was basically the bottom end of the Pioneer lineup from 1974-1976. There was, of course, the unforgettable Pioneer SX-300 which pumped out 7 watts per channel but that receiver tended to be packaged by dealers with a low end turntable and speakers for the absolute budget shopper. The SX-434 is a legitimate receiver but with minimal power and sparse features. Still, it was a good entry level stereo at the time. Actually it’s not a bad entry level receiver for those just getting into vintage audio today. Pioneer listed the SX-434 at $239.95 but I’ve seen a number of dealer ads that had it for sale as low as $159 in 1976.
How much power does the SX-434 have? Well, it produces 15 watts per channel. You’re not going to blow the doors off the house with that output but that’s not really what it was designed to do anyway. It’s perfectly useful in a smaller room, den or even garage. On top of that it’s a really nice looking receiver with the blue dial face and linear control layout. The knobs are even faceted.
The power switch is integrated into the speaker selector switch. There are only controls for Bass, Treble, and Balance (no mid range). However, the tone controls are click-stop which is a nice touch. There are jacks for headphones and Mic as well as push buttons for Loudness and FM Muting. And that’s about it with regard to features. But again, the Pioneer SX-434 was designed to give listeners the basics at a reasonable cost. Compared to the feature heavy SX-1010 at $699.95 the SX-434 was very reasonable.
Overall the SX-434 receiver has excellent build quality and a very sensitive FM tuner. The tuner is designed with a low noise FET and 3-gang frequency linear variable capacitor. The total harmonic distortion is less than 0.8%. Not too bad. The AM performance of the SX-434 is marginal though.
Pretty sparse inside the SX-434’s chassis. It only has 3 boards:
- Power Supply Board
- Tuner Board
- AF board (Audio Frequency board) which comprises the Phono EQ, Tone control, preamp and amplifier sections on one board.
- Tuning range: FM, MW
- Power output: 15 watts per channel into 8 ohms (stereo)
- Frequency response: 30Hz to 25kHz
- Total harmonic distortion: 0.8%
- Damping factor: 25
- Input sensitivity: 10mV (mic), 2.5mV (MM), 150mV (DIN), 150mV (line)
- Signal to noise ratio: 65dB (mic), 70dB (MM), 90dB (line)
- Output: 150mV (line), 30mV (DIN)
- Speaker load impedance: 4 ohms to 16 ohms
- Semiconductors: 1 x FET, 3 x IC, 27 x transistors, 13 x diodes
- Dimensions: 430 x 140 x 347mm
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 430 x 140 x 347 mm (16-15/16′ x 5-1/2′ x 13-21/32″)
- Weight: 8.1 kg (17 lb 14 oz)
- Accessories: FM T-type antenna
If you need parts for your SX-434 such as bulbs, knobs, feet or even rebuild kits you can find them on eBay:
It has inputs for Phono, Aux, and Tape on the back panel as well as two sets of speaker terminals. Though I would be wary of running the SX-434 too hard with two sets of speakers running simultaneously.
Overall, Pioneer’s X3X line in the early to mid 70’s was fantastic in both build quality and performance. From the SX-434, SX-535, SX-636, SX-737, SX-838, and SX-939 to the top of the line SX-1010, all of them performed extremely well for their price point. The SX-434 is no exception with maybe its only weakness being AM performance. So, for someone just getting into vintage audio and on a budget Pioneer’s SX-434 is a good choice. You can connect a turntable, a CD player or MP3 player through the AUX (with the correct adapter cable), and even a cassette player if you have one (through the TAPE input). Everything you need in a great vintage looking package.