What Is A Monster Receiver?

 

Pioneer SX-1980 Monster Receiver
 
I see forum threads all the time talking about this or that receiver being a "Monster Receiver". Many eBay sellers of vintage receivers tend to throw around the term "Monster" pretty easily as well. Just what does the Monster attribute refer to? Is it the size or weight of the receiver? Is it only top of the line receivers or those that exceed a certain power output? What makes a receiver a Monster?

Unfortunately there really is no standard definition of what a monster receiver is and probably never will be. Obviously something deemed a monster is usually very big such as a monster truck or monster wave. The same applies to receivers in that most of them that people would consider "monster" are large. Very large. I've seen some claim that any stereo weighing over 50 pounds should be considered a monster. But, there are a large number of receivers over that weight that wouldn't even be considered a quality piece of audio equipment.

 

Marantz 2385 Monster Receiver
 
Many times receivers are given the monster tag because of their power output. One of the more common themes is that any receiver that puts out 120 watts or more per channel should be considered a monster. That definition would make for a fairly large list though as quite a few receivers fit that criteria. One would think that a monster receiver would definitely be the top of the line (TOTL) for the particular manufacturer at the time of its production but there are many non TOTL receivers that put out 120+ watts per channel.

My definition of a monster receiver incorporates all of the above. The stereo should be big, heavy, TOTL, and have massive power output. It was more than likely produced during the receiver wars of the mid to late 70's and one look at it should cause you to say Wow! I wouldn't necessarily say that it has to be the best sounding stereo or have the least distortion.

 

Kenwood KR-9600 Monster Receiver
 
Some receivers are obvious monsters like the Pioneer SX-1980. It's huge, heavy and hase massive power output. Others in that category are the Sansui G33000, Marantz 2385, Yamaha CR-3020 and others. Other stereo's are more in the gray area such as the MCS 3275, Pioneer SX-1010, Yamaha CR-2020, Kenwood Model Eleven and others. 
Yamaha CR-2020 Monster Receiver
In the end there really is no formal definition of what a monster receiver is and it's really more in the eye of the beholder. I'm going to put together a list of my top ten monster receivers soon and I'll expect everyone to tear it apart. But, it's like sports conversations. No one is purely right or wrong. You just make the best case you can and leave it at that.

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Pioneer SX-1980

Pioneer SX-1980 front

This of course is one of the icons of vintage audio.  The Pioneer SX-1980. This receiver is highly sought after today and prices can reach into the thousands for a well maintained unit. Some will argue that the SX-1280 is actually a better functioning receiver but the fact still remains that the monster SX-1980 was the king of the audio mountain in it's day.

 

Pioneer SX-1980

 

The Pioneer SX-1980 was introduced in 1978 and was the most powerful receiver made at the time with a hefty 270 watts per channel and that was a conservative rating!

Pioneer SX-1980 Switch
It isn't called a monster receiver for nothing as it weighs in at 78 pounds. It's suggested retail price in 1978 was $1295.00 - a fairly large sum back in those days.

 

Pioneer SX-1980 Bulbs

 

Total harmonic distortion is rated at 0.03% which is extremely low for a power output that high. It has a massive toroidal transformer that is flanked by huge capacitors. It also has large heatsinks to dissipate the heat generated by the unit.

 

Pioneer SX-1980 Lights

 

If you find one of these at a good price - grab it. One in good condition with a few minor issues recently sold for $1599.00.

 


Pioneer SX-1980 Inputs

 

I've seen better condition ones sell for far more than that. Before the downturn in the economy I saw one sell for nearly $4000.00. But, it was in mint condition and functioned perfectly.

 

 

Pioneer SX-1980 Power Supply

 

5-27-2011 - An SX-1980 sold for $3,250. It had just been serviced and worked perfectly. It was also in very good cosmetic condition and had the original box which always adds some value.

 

Pioneer SX-1980 Parts

 

6-5-2011 - SX-1980 sold for $1,760. It was in pretty good cosmetic shape but did have a couple bulbs burned out. Still, a pretty good price for the buyer.

3-25-2017 - Fully restored SX-1980 sold for $5000.00 on March 25, 2017.

3-2017 - Four SX-1980 sales at the beginning of 2017 for $2900.00, $2977.00, $3150.00 and $3500.00

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