Nikees? Pumaz? Pioneer CS99AAs?

        Pioneer CS99aa 1

I used to live overseas in my younger and more adventurous days, and I saw a large number of clever copyright violations, hacks, and end-runs – sports apparel from Nikee, button down shirts from Tommy Hillclimber. They always looked good from 10 feet but if you got close or touched them you saw things fell apart in the details – crummy non-operating zippers, no lining, 100% synthetic fabrics, etc.

When I first came across these CS99AAs at another estate sale I didn’t know what to make of them, literally. I had never heard of CS99AAs and never ever saw them mentioned online.

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I knew the CS99As – built like a tank, 6 drivers, indestructible fiber woofers and surrounds, beautiful veneers and grilles. They have a unique sound and are highly sought-after by vintage mid-fi folks.

But what were these? Intrigued, I took them home. Picking them up, the first thing I noticed was how (comparatively) easy they were to hoist into the car – while the 99As felt like they were hewn from solid walnut, these were definitely lighter.

Getting them home, I opened up the grilles to take a look inside. These were obviously a different family from the other Pioneer CS speakers I had known – here was a 15″ woofer, 4″ midrange and 1/5″ tweeter, all with foam surrounds, set in a ported enclosure. Things were getting weird.


So I went back to the internet. All I could find was that evidently the 99AAs were produced in the very late 1970s and early 1980s and sold at PXs overseas. Some folks raved about them, but there weren’t many at all that knew anything about them.

This pair looked to be in pretty good shape. The cabinets were spotless. The speakers and mid and treble adjustment dials worked too. They had the crummy little Pioneer spring wire posts on the back, but they were all there and operable. The only issue was that the tweeter surrounds were going stale – the foam surrounds were dry and beginning to crack. Neither one had any sound issues, and they looked to be whole. But I knew that they would a pain to fix in the future.



I cranked them up and they sounded fine. Actually they sounded pretty much like my CS99A – warm, with a rich midrange and treble, rolling off at the top and the bottom. For an imposing 15″ woofer, there wasn’t tremendous bass, but if I cranked it it got low. With the exception of the wonky tweeter surrounds, I don’t think this 3-way gave up almost anything to its heavier, much more complicated, and much more expensive older brother the 99A.

I actually ended up using them in a tower configuration with my Polk Monitor 7s for tv duty – I turned the dials for the treble and mids on the 99AAs all the way down to make them into quasi-woofers and let the Polks handle everything else.

In the end these went to a family with vintage Pioneer gear all over the house. They were very happy.


~ by silverfacestereo on December 14, 2012.

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