This classic receiver the Pioneer SX-850 was made from 1976 to 1977 and, while not the top of the line, it was one of their higher end offerings. It has the tradition mid to late 70’s styling that is easily recognized as Pioneer. The silver face, wood case and amber lights are all characteristic of Pioneer receivers of that time.
You’ll be hard pressed to find someone that doesn’t like the SX-850. It really epitomizes what vintage audio is all about. The great look, quality build and above average performance make it a fantastic receiver for someone wanting to build a good quality vintage system. It’s rated at 65 watts per channel but most agree that is probably low.
It phono stage and bass response are also known for being top quality. Hook a turntable up to this receiver and you won’t be disappointed. The SX-850 isn’t rare. Pioneer made and sold tons of them. That’s a good thing if you’re looking for one. Still, demand is so high for these receivers that price have been steadily rising in the auction market over the last few years..
The circuitry inside the unit is nice, clean and organized. Here’s part of the Pioneer advertising information from the 70’s:
How do you know when to trust a stereo receiver to fill your musical needs? Power output by itself is not much help, because unless your listening room is the size of a concert hall, a receiver with far less than concert-hall-sized output will do nicely. The answer, obviously, is to put your trust in the circuitry the kind that you’ll enjoy in the pioneer SX-850.
Here are some of it’s other features:
- No more than 0.1% total harmonic distortion.
- Super-quiet 3-stage direct-coupled phono equalizer
- FET in the Tone Control section
- 2-step frequency turnover switch for Bass and another for Treble
- 2-deck monitor/dubbing
- 2-system speaker drive
- Separable pre/main
- Superb FM/ AM section with dual-gate MOS FET and 4-gang variable capacitor
- PLL IC in the multiplex to improve stereo separation
- Special Integrated Circuit in the AM for better reception and less noise.
- AUX input
When the SX-850 was introduced Pioneer’s top of the line receiver was the SX-1250. Just a couple years later it introduced the legendary SX-1980, one of the most powerful receivers ever made. Of course, if you want a true monster receiver, the SX-1980 is occasionally available on the market for a few thousand dollars or more. For those of us with more modest budgets the SX-850, SX-750 or SX-950 are great choices.
As I mentioned above these receivers are extremely popular so demand is high. Prices reflect that high demand. I recently saw a completely restored SX-850 sell for $750.00. That’s the very high end of the price range though. In general you can get a really nice Sx-850 for around $400.00. If you’re not too concerned about aesthetics then you can get a functioning 850 for even less. Parts are plentiful so if something goes wrong you can always get it fixed. If you fond a good deal on one don’t pass it up.
Available on eBay
There’s a great video of a resto on a Pioneer SX-850 below. It’s long but worth a watch if you’re interested.