Pioneer SX-440

This little guy is the Pioneer SX-440. It retailed for $299.99 and was later discounted to around $220. Released in 1969 it predated the silver face era and instead featured a gloss black faceplate (Pioneer called it Midnight Black) and black knobs with chrome bevels on the outer edges. In fact, the plastic faceplate is covered with a special acrylic resin which gives it a nice luster and makes it very durable. The SX-440 was at the lower end of the spectrum in terms of performance but still does it’s job well. At 12 watts per channel it isn’t going to blow the doors off a room but in a small area it is certainly sufficient.

The AM/FM dial face is not very big but, as you can see, with the blue tint and subdued illumination it is very easy to read. The small meter at the upper left corner is for signal strength. It really is a very nice looking receiver. Volume and Balance are on a split knob. There are separate controls for bass and treble, a loudness switch, and a headphone jack as well.

The SX-440 has a phono input and the phono stage is pretty good for a lower end receiver. It also has an AUX input which can be used to hookup a phone or MP3 player as a source. You just need the correct cable (usually a 3.5mm to RCA). The SX-440’s tuner is also good quality.

How does it sound? Well, most Pioneer SX-440 owners rave over it’s rich, full sound. Especially if it has been recapped.

There are five 6.3v screw in bulbs inside the SX-440 and changing them is very easy. Sometimes they are locked in place with a bit of paint but once that is removed they screw out easily. Be careful with the lamp sockets though. Sometimes they can break if you’re not careful and they are not easily fixable. Replacement bulbs are readily found on eBay.

If you want to switch to LED those can be found in screw in format as well.

The interior is nicely laid out and clean. Of course, with minimal features you only need a few circuit boards. The SX-440’s dimensions are: 405 x 135 x 330 mm / 15.9 x 5.3 x 13 inches and it weighs 8 kg / 17.621 lbs.

Speaker load is rated from 4-16 ohms but most users pair the SX-440 with 8 or 16 ohm speakers given its low power output. A nice pair of 8 ohm, efficient, bookshelf speakers will work the best.

If you find a Pioneer SX-440 for sale make sure it has the speaker plugs in the back. Many times they are missing and are needed to hook up a pair of speakers.

It’s not a deal killer if they aren’t included as you can find them on eBay occasionally. But, it is an extra expense to be aware of. There are both originals and replacements available on eBay.

The SX-440 has a very basic layout on the rear panel including the fuse holders, antenna and usual inputs/outputs.

If you’re into monster receivers or high wattage then the Pioneer SX-440 is not for you. But, Pioneer’s low wattage receivers are very underrated and perform very well with beautiful sound. So, if you want a receiver for a smaller area that you aren’t going to play at high volume then this little unit might work well. For a vintage Pioneer they can still be had at very reasonable prices.

Available on Ebay

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3 thoughts on “Pioneer SX-440

  1. Pioneer was a master at clean sound at a reasonable price. I have never owned this one. But I have owned three others. And currently have a SX-650. They all sounded nice on my self built audiophile quality speakers. Classically they handled less than and 8 ohm load very badly. You get down in the 4 ohm range and they just about die trying to drive that load. But With that said Pioneer has that nice creamy, warm analog sound that is a pleasure to listen to. So if you want classic audio sound on a budget, you will enjoy most any Pioneer you buy. Just make sure you have 8 ohm speakers.

  2. I have a SX-440 that I picked up for $100 aud. I bought it with a plan to rebuild it then sell it to some one who will love it. I rebuilt it, then put it on my shelf and forgot about it for 9 months. This week end I got it out, planning to take some photos for sale and plugged it into my Klipsch Heresy IV speakers. That was my mistake….. I tuned it into my local radio station and put the volume to less than a quarter and my living room was full of buttery warm tones. I literally couldn’t believe my ears. I haven’t ever been a fan on tuners, but I guess I just haven’t ever heard a good one, until now.

    No joke, I turned it on at 11 o’clock on Saturday morning, and listened to it through my Heresys until 10:30 at night when my wife went to bed. I then switched over to listening to it with my Sennheiser HD650 head phones and I was again blown away again by the quality of the head phone amp. I stayed up listening to my local radio until 2:30

    Here’s a few good points I’ll make about it.
    It pumps a great amount of bass, you won’t believe how much for its size.
    Controls all feel really solid and required no attention, even for a amp that had been in a shed for years.
    It sounds amazing at any level and you don’t feel like you are missing any tone with it running at low volume.
    It looks amazing and to me is reminiscent of a macintosh. The face looks like glass and surprisingly is extremely scratch resistant.
    The loud switch can be super useful, but the standard sound it provides is very present.
    With the loud off, The bass control is really nice, not boomy at all, and adds a thicker tone to vocals rather than making things sound muddy.
    Tone control is really balanced and ist harsh in anyway.
    The phono stage is delightful! I can tell that this phono stage was made with the client demographic in mind. It responds amazingly to rock, as it has a nice warm amount of harmonic distortion and polishes out any harsh tones or pops. It makes speakers come alive and you will want to move your body to the beat it pumps.
    The construction is a dream to work on. Chuck it on its side and not problems squeezing your iron into tight spots or separating the amp into a thousand pieces like you do with most sansui’s.

    The only down side is the speaker terminals, those pesky plugs with a screw terminal, pain in the bum, but you could replace them if you wanted too.

    Some insight that has been given to me by a veteran HiFi tech is that “tho the SX440 was the bottom of the line, it still runs virtually the same design phono and tuner as it’s bigger counter parts that have 10 times the power and price.”

    In all, as some one who has owned and rebuilt countless Sansui and pioneer amps, I’m telling you that this is a quality piece of machinery and is extremely under rated.

    If you have a pair of high efficiency speakers and you come across one of these, don’t pass it up!

    Needless to say, I’m not selling this little guy and I honestly don’t see my self getting bored with it.

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