Pioneer SX-880

The Pioneer SX-xx80 series came after the SX-xx50. This Pioneer SX-880 is a classic example of that generation of Pioneer receivers and was the last of the 800 series. It premiered around 1978 and retailed for about $425 at the time.

The main aesthetic difference between the two series are the dark faced meters with white lettering. This change was made to improve visibility. The SX-880 produces 60 watts per channel with total harmonic distortion at 0.05%. It can handle a speaker impedance of 4 Ohms.

The tuning section utilizes a 3 gang variable capacitor tuner. Other features include:

  • Bass and Treble tone controls with tone defeat.
  • Low cut filter which cuts out ultra low frequency noise below 15Hz (like low pitch rumble from a turntable)
  • Independent left and right power meters
  • FM Muting
  • Stereo and Mono modes
  • Two tape in/outputs
  • One phono input
  • One Aux input
  • Duplicate switch
  • Loudness switch

The general consensus is that the xx80 series does not have quite the same quality build as the xx50 series did. As an example the Pioneer SX-850, which the SX-880 replaced, weighed 42 pounds (19.1 Kg) while the SX-880 weighs in at just 27 pounds (12.2 Kg). The SX-880’s dimensions are 19″ x 12.75″ x 5.5″.

Another issue with the SX-880 is that Pioneer used a number of IC’s in the design. Many of these IC’s are not easily found today so when one goes bad it can be difficult to replace.

While the Pioneer SX-880 has a few weaknesses it is still a very nice receiver with classic vintage styling and plenty of features. The 60 WPC is enough to fill most any room with sound. The SX-880 is also cheaper to buy than the SX-850. The SX-850 sells for around $500-$1000 while the SX-880 comes in at around $300-$600.

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Pioneer SM-B201

This Pioneer SM-B201 Stereophonic Amplifier was built in the early 1960’s. It has FM and AM tuners and produces 14 watts per channel.

In the pre-MPX days of AM-FM simulcast stereo one channel was on AM and the other on FM. Two broadcast towers were required for stereo. In other words, FM was broadcast on one tower and AM on another. The user of the SM-B201 would have to tune both dials to the correct frequencies to get stereo. Of course, not many stations wanted to build two towers to broadcast in stereo so the design was short lived. The Fisher 800 was another example of simulcast stereo.

The Pioneer SM-B201 has a strange symmetric front because of its dual tuning dials and “magic eye” tubes.

The controls include separate Bass and Treble as well as a Whistle and Loudness switch.

On the back panel there are outputs for 4, 8 and 16 Ohm speakers. There are phono inputs for both ceramic and magnetic cartridges of 3mV or more. There’s also a Tape In and Out, Aux in and FM/MPX out.

The SM-B201 has 19 tubes including the two 6E5 eye tubes. 12AX7’s are in each channel driving a pair of 6BM8 (ECL82) output tubes. There is also a 5AR4 rectifier tube.

The early Pioneers were built like tanks but age takes a toll on them. The magic eye tubes in the SM-B201 are usually dead and the gray capacitors are usually leaking. With a little servicing you can have a nice amp and a great conversation piece.

These early receivers are somewhat rare but not impossible to find. They are not as popular as the later 1970’s Pioneers. A nice SM-B201 will run anywhere from $200 to $400 depending upon condition.

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