The 70s? Who can remember the 70s?
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Mmmmn...the cambridge would be more of a modern sound...the old Pioneer stuff has a romantic, slightly "fuzzy" sound...everything sounds good enough...but everything sounds the same...which is good if you enjoy less than audiophile recordings...its a very forgiving type of sound...with the bass being of bit "wooly" for my taste...that being said...the tuners are exceptional...as far as something contemporary...why bother? Pioneers from 70s were built extremely well...
This was the period of the great distortion race, when everyone wanted to add another zero to their distortion figures using massive amounts of feedback. Measured great , sound? not so much. I would think that any of the Musical Fidelity integrated amps would have all of the virtues of the Pioneer sound and none of the drawbacks. I had several pieces of Pioneer in those days, 1280 receiver, 9500 amp and others.
I have an old Pioneer SX-939 powering a pair of VMPS RM2 speakers right now and I find the sound unexpectedly good. The bass is tight and deep, dynamics are surprisingly potent and the sound is detailed and fast yet easy on the ears.
Truth be told, I tried using the Pioneer's preamp outputs feeding a more powerful well-respected modern power amp. I didn't like the result and went back to using the Pioneer in stock form. That's how good the internal amp is...
May I ask what the special appeal of the "Pioneer sound" in the 70's is?
I sold Pioneer and other brands back then. The Pioneers were the Toyota's or Honda's of the time. Solid performers but nothing special Toyota's and Honda's have come a long way. So has audio.
How about Pioneer Elite for a modern equivalent maybe?
BTW I love my Pioneer Plasma TV!
i've also started dabbling in the late 70s pioneer stuff recently, and, to mapman's question, i confess that much of the appeal is aesthetic--the silver faced stuff looks cool and was built like a tank (esp. in contrast to the plastic-y gear that followed). compared to the sound of modern gear, the pioneer amps may lack refinement and ultimate clarity, but i think they still sound good--perhaps because they were designed before the digital area, they have a very natural "analog" sound and real energy, and they're a good match for heavy rock and hard bop. ergo, i agree with phasecorrect--if you like the 70s pioneer sound, i'd stick with the real thing, rather than a modern equivalent. i frequent see immaculate-looking units for not much $$$$.
Stanwal: This was the period of the great distortion race, when everyone wanted to add another zero to their distortion figures using massive amounts of feedback. Measured great, sound? not so much.I second Stan's comments. Personally, I would avoid most solid state equipment from the 1970's (and 1960's), especially the brands that were made in Japan.
If you really want to come close to duplicating that sound, and if you can't find an original in excellent condition, I would look at inexpensive mass market brands, and focus on models that have extremely low THD (total harmonic distortion) specifications.
Sure there probably were some bad sounding products put out in the 1970s, but there were also some very good sounding products too. I'm thinking Luxman, Sansui, Kenwood, some Sonys, Yamaha, Hitachi (mosfets only), Marantz, Pioneer, Nikko and even some Toshibas are highly functional and decent sounding units. You can find these units for under $100 in any urban area. If you want to go crazy spend another $200-300 and have them recapped and aligned. Now pair them with an appropriately easy speaker load and while you won't get 21st century audiophile approved sound, you will get something quite listenable.
BTW, the tuner section on some of the receivers are better than all but the best modern designs.
I agree with Onhwy61. Some products sounded better than others not only within brands, but within models in a given brand and it isn't any different than it is today. The lower powered amplifiers usually sound better due to simpler designs and fewer parts count. System matching is as critical as ever and the '70s amplifiers were intended to be used with efficient speakers quite often using Alnico magnets.
Back around 1979, I heard a SX1280 with a couple of parts upgrades that was surprisingly good. A bit midrange forward, a tad of grunge on top, but nothing crazy and very listenable. It seems to me that we were using DLK 3's and ESS B122's.... I believe with good crossovers both of those speakers would still be decent today.
Here's another vote to go out and find an original and enjoy the real thing; they're out there, often in very nice condition. In the office for the past five years I've been listening to an SX1980 driving Joseph Audio Pulsars with a Velodyne SPL sub. You like your Led Zep analog-sweet and LOUD, just like you remember it: this is the horse's mouth. And, as folks have correctly noted, these late 1970s Pioneers (and others of the era) are serious eye candy that beats the look and build of much of today's stuff. No, obviously it is not going to do what your high end system does, but that's not what this is about.