First big gun – Pioneer SX-9000

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Early in to my vintage stereo hobby, I thought it would be cool to try and replicate the system that I remember from my childhood – my Dad’s all-Pioneer rig brought back from the PX in South Korea after his stint in the Army in 1972. He had a Pioneer SX-9000 receiver, a pair of Pioneer CS99a main speakers, some CS-06As, a TEAC reel-to-reel, and a Garrard 0/100 turntable. I remember trying to record a four-track punk masterpiece through that stereo and the tape player while in a promising local high school garage band. We actually used that receiver and the CS99As as a PA system once. 

It punched hard and played well. 

And so there was really no saying ‘no’ when I found an SX-9000 in good shape in the local CL. It had been owned by a vet who brought it back from Vietnam. It was spotless. The only problem was that it was a little scratchy on the volume, and the little speaker wire plugs in the back were missing. 

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Pioneers (and likely some other brands of the era) used these little DIN speaker plugs in the back of the receivers – you screwed the speaker wires into them, and then they plugged into the amp. I don’t know why they went with this solution, but it means that almost any receiver of that period that you now find has lost these important little widgets, which Pioneer is happy to sell you at $8 per. I was happy to fork over the money. 

What a monster! It may only state 60 or so watts per channel, but this thing is a tank. It can take three sets of speakers, two mics, two tapes, phono, two aux inputs, and who knows what else – this was from the era when a receiver was the home entertainment solution, and evidently many people were into overlaying their own voice tracks onto tape.  

The look is proto-vintage pioneer – the SX-9000 is a generation before the venerated ‘blue dial’ or ‘silver face’ pioneers, and has more bakelite plastic buttons than later units. but the knobs are heavy and thickly damped, the glowing yellow radio dial is deep set behind the glass, and secondary tone controls are hidden behind a hinged aluminum door. How cool!

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The sound was awesome – vintage all the way. While it first impressed with a booming bass and strong mids, there is plenty of treble and with the right speakers it can image very well. I had it hooked up to a number of the vintage Pioneers, and they seemed to match well – the Pioneer CS line in my mind promise more bass than they deliver with their massive woofers, and the bass-prominent SX-9000 perhaps was designed to compensate. 

Another cool feature was the built-in reverb – a spring reverb system is built into the receiver, ready to add ‘depth’ to any music. My read is that this was to add to any voiceover or recordings made through one of the two mic inputs. 

One feature I used more than others was the ‘tone color’ selector – in addition to bass and treble knobs, there was a selector switch for four automatic EQ settings – flat, soft (lower treble), bass (obvious) and ‘vibrant (jack treble and bass). Switching the tone color would change the output shape in a little lighted window next to the reverb lamp – which made its own psycheldelic shape depending on how much reverb was dialed in. 

I was very happy with this receiver and it did top duty in my living room system. But the itch to keep exploring got too great and I sold it on, happily enough to another Army vet who had bought a similar one while on duty outside of Saigon. That seemed appropriate to me. 

 

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~ by silverfacestereo on November 16, 2012.

3 Responses to “First big gun – Pioneer SX-9000”

  1. I have an SX 9000 that I brought back from Viet Nam in ’72. Looking to sell it if anyone is interested.

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  2. I have a SX 9000 in very nice condition for 180 shipped . No speaker terminal blocks though.

    Like

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