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Vintage Asylum: REVIEW: Pioneer SX-780 Receiver by ghostboy

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REVIEW: Pioneer SX-780 Receiver

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Model: SX-780
Category: Receiver
Suggested Retail Price: $unknown
Description: Classy, analog 70's receiver with great sound and good reserves
Manufacturer URL: Pioneer

Review by ghostboy on November 20, 2009 at 13:58:07
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for the SX-780

I just recieved today the most minty sx-780 one could possibly get. I immediately hooked it up in the living room, replacing the Kenwood KR-4140 that's been parked there for 6 months. Speakers are some Boston HD8 I've had since 1997, and even mixed a few big records on.
First crank up I said 'this thing is punchy!' I reached for the bass knob and clicked it down 2 notches. It was the first cut off of Radiohead's 'Amnesiac' playing from CD through the Aux in, which is heavy bass synth and electronic kick.
My wife immediately states 'It doesn't sound as good as the other one'. She's right too. Restoring the eq settings to zero and moving on thru some cds showed me there is a pretty bright top and lack of middle mids. The tone controls are very subtle yet very effective. These are some soft slopes apparently. Boosting the treble way up is way too much. Probably dance around -1, zero, and +1. The bass knob rolls off very nicely but boosts a bit too aggresively, once again, effective from about -2 to +2.
The Pioneer SX-780 is quite a different beast from the older, way more euphonic Kenwood KR-4140. It is brighter and more scooped and definitely lacking some mids from 200 all the way to 1k.
Moving to vinyl now, Rush's 'Moving Pictures'. PAYDIRT!!!! Flashbacks!! The Pioneer SX-780 is amazing for Vinyl. The high center is just what I was really missing. With the Kenwood I was really questioning my vinyl desire. The Pioneer has immediately rekindled that.
I put the Smiths 'The Queen is Dead' LP on and my wife sang and danced while sweeping the floors and drowning out my session.
Later I layed on the couch and put some Denon AH-D7000 headphones on to check out the Pioneer's headphone tone with the Beatles 'Love'. I have really been enjoying this ProTools-ed modern mixup from George Martin and son.
The Kenwood has some real magic in the headphone jack and it would be hard for the Pioneer to top that. The Pioneer is too center heavy and mid-lite. Heavy rock passages blur out and the stepdown from the amplifier to the headphone amp just doesn't get it--EXCEPT!--on soft and ambient passages it is totally thrilling, 3D loveliness. For soft music, classical, mellow, or ambient stuff, this is going to be a thrilling machine. Rock dog headphone heathens are not gonna dig.
The tuner doesn't work nearly as well as the Kenwoods. The sound is not as magical on FM, not as warm. The lack of blue lights and featherweighted tuning knob are not as thrilling. This was about a 30 second dial check without any antenna switching though, so take this lightly.

For $100 bucks this is just amazing. I would completely understand if the value of these keeps escalating, especially in this shape, museum quality. For audio super nuts this probably won't thrill straight away, but in my first test drives, I've found 2 areas in which it excels wonderfully, both resulting from the bright center frequency and 10k forwardness offered. If you are a low-mid lover across the board you're not going to like it. If smiley face scooped sound is your thing this should be right up your alley. If you're vinyl collection has been sounding dull and boring, or if you love headphone sessions with tripped out ambient music, BUY ONE!!!

Product Weakness: Scooped out mids leaves it harsher sounding for CD's. Tuner is questionable in my leadlined walls. Not as solid as the Kenwood it was compared to.
Product Strengths: For Vinyl it is Amazing, giving it modern swagger. Headphone output is great for 3D revealing of softer mellower music.

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: --
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): --
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Sony CDP-CX53 Cd player
Speakers: Boston HD8
Cables/Interconnects: cheap cheap old speaker wire
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Radiohead, Beatles, Smiths, Rush
Room Size (LxWxH): 20 x 18 x Cathedral
Room Comments/Treatments: none, and it sorely needs some
Time Period/Length of Audition: 2 Hours
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner
Your System (if other than home audition): Mastering Studio, lot's of other little jambox's and receivers to check stuff on.

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Topic - REVIEW: Pioneer SX-780 Receiver - ghostboy 13:58:07 11/20/09 ( 7)