Biiiig Guns – Pioneer CS63DX
The CS99AAs hadn’t been gone more than a month when I started to miss them – they were beautiful, real furniture-grade equipment. And you usually don’t find them in such nice condition.
Maybe that was part of the reason why I jumped on a pair of Pioneer CS63DXs that popped up on the local Craigslist.
These were a ‘big fish’ for me – the 63s were the top of the Pioneer CS line in the early 1970s – they sat above all the rest you usually see in Goodwills and estate sales – the 66s, 77s, and 99s that the proletariat sported.
These were the real deal. The stats made for some serious hardware: 15″ woofer, 2 5-inch midrange, two super tweeters and one horn. Massive walnut veneer cabinet 28″ x 18″ x 13″. 63lb apiece. 80w rms.
In person they looked larger than life, and they felt as heavy – you don’t want to move these around more than you have to. The nice couple I purchased them from had had them from new – once again I think the gentleman bought them at a PX overseas and brought them back along with a number of Sansui speakers. They lived a good distance from my house but regularly came into my city for salsa dancing. They were kind enough to stop by one night on their way to a night of dancing and we pulled them out of the car.
How did they sound? Polite, ironically. They’re extremely efficient, around 99db/watt, so you don’t need a lot of power to get them jumping. But they also rolled off at the top and the bottom, giving them a warm and vintage sound. I’ve heard other speakers in the Pioneer CS line that were harsher on the top than these, even though I guess that all the Pioneers CS line (77,88,99, pre-a models) likely used the same horn, which I’ve found to be unpleasant in some situations. Maybe these 63s had worn capacitors which toned things down a bit. Or maybe the whole setup was more elegant – could be.
In the end I had more fun polishing the perfect cabinets and staring and their massiveness than I did listening to them. That couldn’t do. So after a while when other better-sounding but uglier speakers began getting all the air time I decided that these had to find another home. In the end I sold them to a nice young man who scouted the local area for vintage stereo gear to pack up and re-sell in Vietnam, Japan, and China.
At first I found it supremely ironic that these gentle giants, which had likely been purchased on a base in Korea, Vietnam, or Japan, were now going back. But then again maybe that’s good karma.