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.
Available 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.
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.