I Wreck Me

Too Long; Didn't Read: Dood resurrected a should be dead Pioneer SX and likes it better than his Primaluna... Moron.

Well damn. What a conundrum. I have an old amp that means so much to me from a sentimental perspective. It's a Pioneer SX-780 and belonged to someone very special to me. He passed away in '84 and it was given to me. I used it till it died, had it fixed, and then it died again. The last time it died was maybe 5 years ago. Fast forward to todayish. Pretty satisfied with my current system. It's a Primaluna Classic with an assortment of tubes, a pair of Nordost Frey speaker cables - on a semi permanent loan, Meadowlark Swift speakers with NOS tweeters and drivers. That's the main stuff. I have a Rega turntable, Pirimare phono preamp, and a rudimentary CD/DAC solution. I'm in love with "The Idea" of my system. I love the glow of the tubes. I love the warmth of the sound (I thinnk I do, or maybe I thought I did). I love the way the Uber High End cables gave me so much more detail from my Swifts (Was it that, or was that I finally broke in the NOS drivers and tweeters... I dunno). Best of all... got the wife on board!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did I mention I got the wife on board. Holy crap, I got the wife on board. She LOVES the system, the nostalgic glow, the warm sound, the atheistic... Life is Good. I'm no longer... an Audio Refugee. Music is back in the house.

I have some new audio goals that will require a shit ton of money (for me... relatively speaking), so I've been holding off on DAC, CD transport, streamer, moving coil and SUT upgrades. It's been killin' me but I've been pretty disciplined about it. But I kept looking at the dead Pioneer SX-780 perched on a shelf.

Couldn't take it anymore, so I pulled it down, dusted it off, plugged it in hoping that maybe the universe might have healed this one of my most beloved... things. It's not my friend/mentor/brother, Glenn Klimek, but it's a reminder. It's a thing he shared with us. He blasted that thing so that we could enjoy it. He didn't make it off limits or set volume limits, so... I should apologize to all the neighbors. 45 Watts? I don't buy it, but whatever. We played it LOUD all the time. Glenn had 'em hooked to a pair of Cerwin Vega HED 10 or 12s. I can't remember. More on that later. He was one of three original founders of DYSAN Disc, Corp., driver of an SCCA C Production Datsun Z with an L28, and I was lucky enough to be one of two on his Pit Crew. We raced across the U.S. the summers of '81 and '82, raced against Paul Newman twice, and qualified for the SCCA National Runoffs at Road Atlanta... from THREE different divisions in '82.

So Glenn Passed and I got his amp. It got older... and older. I kept it, but when it died the second time... that's what I did... I kept it. Built a new system, went a new direction (tubes) and have been happy. Hard to sit still though. So even though I've been disciplined about spending... I had to get it the Glenn amp fixed after taking it off that garage shelf. I took it back down to the guys that fixed it the last time and they took another crack at it.

They finished it. Upon hearing the words... I felt... anticipation, nostalgic, cautious, but most of all... a flood of memories washed across my brain. I just wanted to hear it again. When I picked it up, Norman plugged it in and gave me a pair of headphones to hear it. Good. It lit up in all it's glory. He asked if there was anything else I needed. I thought for a second and said "We use to have this hooked up to a pair of Cerwin Vega HED's, and we rocked the world with those. Got any?" Norman replied "Those are DJ Disco speakers with lots of bass, but not a lot of anything else." I was insulted! It was like someone had just insinuated John Wayne was weak. "The HELL you say!" I didn't say it though. I like and trust Norman. Instead I asked him "What would you suggest for this amp?" He responded "Pioneer HPM-100. Same designer as the JBL Century 100. Get either of those or some klipsch Heresies.

I didn't know anything about any of those three speakers except the Heresy. I thanked Norman, grabbed my beloved amp and headed home. I put the amp in a safe place, where I could see it, and stared at it for the next several days. What was I going to do with it now that it was... fixed? Doesn't take 4mm banana plugs for speaker inputs... takes wires. How cave man. Has ONE Aux input! Really? A built in Phono Preamp, but the only way to bypass it is to use the Aux input... but now... how to do you input your DAC and it's digital sources. And, how the hell am I suppose to address the the speaker cabling issue? My expensive cables won't work. The connectors are too damned big. Problems, problems and more problems.

Didn't care. Wanted to hear it. Knew I had some thin cables that I use to use to run rears many moon ago. Those would work, but I was pretty sure they'd sound like crap. Found 'em. Cut 'em, stripped 'em and wired these cheap cables to my Meadowlark Swifts. Move the Phone Preamp interconnects from my Primaluna to the Pioneer... and fired that mess up... Wow!

Then moved the DAC cables to the Aux inputs on the Pioneer. OMG! I listened all day. Maybe I'm a Luddite. I'm in love with the idea of tubes. But, this sounds SO much better to me... with CRAP cables! I'm hearing so much more bass punch, more highs, more mids, more separation, more immediacy.

So, I'm asking myself... Am I liking it better out of nostalgia? I don't think so. Is it because the music I like was pressed during the SS Renascence? I don't know. Is it really better than the music coming out of my Primaluna Classic? I think... yes. I like it better.

I guess I'm a moron. I like a 1980 Solid State amp better than a Tube Amp. Pretty sure the answer is... "Yeah. I do."
 
Last edited:

Try1256

Very Special Member
I put together a Pioneer rig a few years ago when I started the vintage trek. It represented all that I would have wanted, but couldn't afford, back in the 70's. An SX-838, PL-50, CT-F9191 and HPM-100's. I loved the blue dial on the reciever. A lot of vintage gear came and went but it stayed. I finally graduated to some pretty high end stuff and frankly, I am not going back. But.........
The Pioneer rig is still in the bedroom in all its glory. I don't do any critical listening with it but it has a wonderful sound to it that really does take me back. It is just a different vibe than the BAT gear. Not better, just different. Just allow yourself to enjoy, that is what it is all about.
 

MrEd

Senior Nobody
Great storey, I also relate to the 240z and SCCA, but.... back to the Pioneer.
I had a 780 I used in my work shop for years playing some Magnavox console drivers that were mounted in open baffle up in the rafters. There were times when working that I would stop and marvel at the sound of something so basic and yet delightful. I think I payed about 25 or 30 dollars for the speakers and 50 for the SX 780.
 

MikeO

Active Member
Loved the backstory and your relationship with your friend no doubt contributed to your enjoyment of the system. Recent experience has shown me that I can be content with a vintage receiver over a better quality modern amplifier but not because it is better, just that it is so pretty to look at and sounds good enough. I bought the receiver primarily to look at figuring I would just keep it on the rack. I had never had success getting full vintage systems to sound quite good enough but I had never tried them with a good set of easy to drive modern speakers before. When i finally decided to try my Royd Envoys with this receiver i knew I would finally be able to be happy with a vintage receiver in my system. Of the dozens of configurations I had done in the past I realized I had never used modern speakers, instead always trying to find a matching vintage speaker. I suspect the Meadowlarks are similar in that they are fairly modern and fairly easy to drive. I have had the receiver in my system for a couple of months now with no desire yet to put my higher end amplifier back.

Again not suggesting that vintage receivers are as good as modern equivalent gear just that I have seem to have found a spot where I can enjoy the area I like best (late 70s receivers) with the rest of my gear being much newer and not feel that i am giving up too much in sound quality.
 

MWalt

Active Member
Great story. I once had this exact amp that I picked up at a thrift store for $20. This came after a long hiatus from audio, so it was my first venture back into hi-fi since college. I too loved that little receiver with its shiny silver, dancing meters, and the ability to tune into radio stations. Your story makes me wish I had my old receiver back too!
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Wonderful journey there. Could be many things including that you just like it better and no explanation needed. Curious, though, have you tried any other solid state amps with the Meadowlarks?
 
No. I've always had the Swifts hooked to tubes. First time with Solid State. It's crisper. Cleaner. I think mids are just... much more apparent. It's interesting. The 780 has four adjustments: Loudness (increases bass at low volume), Low Filter (shuts bass off below 15Hz, Bass and Treble. I've been playing with them, but have found that factory neutral on all is pretty good. Loudness is fun though. Gives the bass some extra punch. Not as much as other systems I've heard, but more than I've ever heard from this one. I'm going to listen for a week or two... then wander back to the Primaluna. I need to listen to more music, hear what I'm hearing, then do the same with the tubes again.

A friend offered to loan me his NAIM SS amp in exchange for my Primaluna. I'm thinking I'll take him up on that offer.
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
Too Long; Didn't Read: Dood resurrected a should be dead Pioneer SX and likes it better than his Primaluna... Moron.

Well damn. What a conundrum. I have an old amp that means so much to me from a sentimental perspective. It's a Pioneer SX-780 and belonged to someone very special to me. He passed away in '84 and it was given to me. I used it till it died, had it fixed, and then it died again. The last time it died was maybe 5 years ago. Fast forward to todayish. Pretty satisfied with my current system. It's a Primaluna Classic with an assortment of tubes, a pair of Nordost Frey speaker cables - on a semi permanent loan, Meadowlark Swift speakers with NOS tweeters and drivers. That's the main stuff. I have a Rega turntable, Pirimare phono preamp, and a rudimentary CD/DAC solution. I'm in love with "The Idea" of my system. I love the glow of the tubes. I love the warmth of the sound (I thinnk I do, or maybe I thought I did). I love the way the Uber High End cables gave me so much more detail from my Swifts (Was it that, or was that I finally broke in the NOS drivers and tweeters... I dunno). Best of all... got the wife on board!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did I mention I got the wife on board. Holy crap, I got the wife on board. She LOVES the system, the nostalgic glow, the warm sound, the atheistic... Life is Good. I'm no longer... an Audio Refugee. Music is back in the house.

I have some new audio goals that will require a shit ton of money (for me... relatively speaking), so I've been holding off on DAC, CD transport, streamer, moving coil and SUT upgrades. It's been killin' me but I've been pretty disciplined about it. But I kept looking at the dead Pioneer SX-780 perched on a shelf.

Couldn't take it anymore, so I pulled it down, dusted it off, plugged it in hoping that maybe the universe might have healed this one of my most beloved... things. It's not my friend/mentor/brother, Glenn Klimek, but it's a reminder. It's a thing he shared with us. He blasted that thing so that we could enjoy it. He didn't make it off limits or set volume limits, so... I should apologize to all the neighbors. 45 Watts? I don't buy it, but whatever. We played it LOUD all the time. Glenn had 'em hooked to a pair of Cerwin Vega HED 10 or 12s. I can't remember. More on that later. He was one of three original founders of DYSAN Disc, Corp., driver of an SCCA C Production Datsun Z with an L28, and I was lucky enough to be one of two on his Pit Crew. We raced across the U.S. the summers of '81 and '82, raced against Paul Newman twice, and qualified for the SCCA National Runoffs at Road Atlanta... from THREE different divisions in '82.

So Glenn Passed and I got his amp. It got older... and older. I kept it, but when it died the second time... that's what I did... I kept it. Built a new system, went a new direction (tubes) and have been happy. Hard to sit still though. So even though I've been disciplined about spending... I had to get it the Glenn amp fixed after taking it off that garage shelf. I took it back down to the guys that fixed it the last time and they took another crack at it.

They finished it. Upon hearing the words... I felt... anticipation, nostalgic, cautious, but most of all... a flood of memories washed across my brain. I just wanted to hear it again. When I picked it up, Norman plugged it in and gave me a pair of headphones to hear it. Good. It lit up in all it's glory. He asked if there was anything else I needed. I thought for a second and said "We use to have this hooked up to a pair of Cerwin Vega HED's, and we rocked the world with those. Got any?" Norman replied "Those are DJ Disco speakers with lots of bass, but not a lot of anything else." I was insulted! It was like someone had just insinuated John Wayne was weak. "The HELL you say!" I didn't say it though. I like and trust Norman. Instead I asked him "What would you suggest for this amp?" He responded "Pioneer HPM-100. Same designer as the JBL Century 100. Get either of those or some klipsch Heresies.

I didn't know anything about any of those three speakers except the Heresy. I thanked Norman, grabbed my beloved amp and headed home. I put the amp in a safe place, where I could see it, and stared at it for the next several days. What was I going to do with it now that it was... fixed? Doesn't take 4mm banana plugs for speaker inputs... takes wires. How cave man. Has ONE Aux input! Really? A built in Phono Preamp, but the only way to bypass it is to use the Aux input... but now... how to do you input your DAC and it's digital sources. And, how the hell am I suppose to address the the speaker cabling issue? My expensive cables won't work. The connectors are too damned big. Problems, problems and more problems.

Didn't care. Wanted to hear it. Knew I had some thin cables that I use to use to run rears many moon ago. Those would work, but I was pretty sure they'd sound like crap. Found 'em. Cut 'em, stripped 'em and wired these cheap cables to my Meadowlark Swifts. Move the Phone Preamp interconnects from my Primaluna to the Pioneer... and fired that mess up... Wow!

Then moved the DAC cables to the Aux inputs on the Pioneer. OMG! I listened all day. Maybe I'm a Luddite. I'm in love with the idea of tubes. But, this sounds SO much better to me... with CRAP cables! I'm hearing so much more bass punch, more highs, more mids, more separation, more immediacy.

So, I'm asking myself... Am I liking it better out of nostalgia? I don't think so. Is it because the music I like was pressed during the SS Renascence? I don't know. Is it really better than the music coming out of my Primaluna Classic? I think... yes. I like it better.

I guess I'm a moron. I like a 1980 Solid State amp better than a Tube Amp. Pretty sure the answer is... "Yeah. I do."

Great story about your friend and your journey.

Listen to the gear that best connects you emotionally to the music you love. Makes no difference if it meets anyone else's "audio orthodoxy".

The only ears you have to please are your own. :)
 

adaug

Awaiting Updated Member Status.
[QUOTE="Audio Refugee, post: 101578, member: 3787"
A friend offered to loan me his NAIM SS amp in exchange for my Primaluna. I'm thinking I'll take him up on that offer.
[/QUOTE]

naim vs primaluna will be a classic showdown! please report back on your findings and preferences.
 

MWalt

Active Member
I have the Primaluna Prologue Classic, the current iteration. It really is a great sounding amp with top shelf internal parts, point to point wiring, huge quality power supplies and the ability to roll tubes to taste. And it weighs a bunch for a small tube amp. Simply well built. I do like the 70's SS gear, but to my ears the Primaluna is in a much higher league.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
No. I've always had the Swifts hooked to tubes. First time with Solid State. It's crisper. Cleaner. I think mids are just... much more apparent. It's interesting. The 780 has four adjustments: Loudness (increases bass at low volume), Low Filter (shuts bass off below 15Hz, Bass and Treble. I've been playing with them, but have found that factory neutral on all is pretty good. Loudness is fun though. Gives the bass some extra punch. Not as much as other systems I've heard, but more than I've ever heard from this one. I'm going to listen for a week or two... then wander back to the Primaluna. I need to listen to more music, hear what I'm hearing, then do the same with the tubes again.

A friend offered to loan me his NAIM SS amp in exchange for my Primaluna. I'm thinking I'll take him up on that offer.
I think that Naim might be a good match, but that's part of the fun of this hobby. It's also why I was always reluctant to sell any of my amps. When something new for speakers comes in for one of my setups, I end up rolling about 6 amps through them. And I'm always surprised by what sounds best. And what works with one set of speakers sometimes flat out sounds bad on another. My Leben tube integrated almost got sold because I couldn't find speakers for it, then these little Royd Minstrels came in and they're magical together. But the Minstrels don't really sound fantastic on anything else here. With my Elac speakers, they liked a '80s solid state amp by Heybrook and not much else, including the Leben. The Harbeths had this giant VAC tube amp that sounded great, but a solid state amp..that I actually had before I got the VAC...sent the VAC to the basement, awaiting a decision on its fate. It's either aggravating or fun, I can't tell sometimes.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I forgot one other combo the Elacs liked, and its along the lines of your discovery with the Pioneer. I had all this stuff stored in the basement and was working down there and cobbled the Elacs together with the closest thing I could find, a MAC-1900 receiver. And they sounded great together. The MAC doesn't really sound great on other things but the slight tendency towards brightness of the Elacs balanced with the dark tendencies of that McIntosh 1900.
 
I'm definitely going take my buddy up on the NAIM loan and see what that's like. I've been pretty busy the last few weeks with the kid being on summer vacation. We've been doing a lot together, which I love. Put him on a plane this morning to go to Drum Major camp is Southern California. Finally have a few days to breath till he get's back. So, a little time for me to get back to Hifi!

When I picked up the SX-780 from the repair shop, the owner, Norman, mentioned that a pair of Pioneer HPM-100s would be a good match. He mentioned they were designed by the same guy who designed the JBL L100. The iconic speaker from the Maxell Blown Away poster that we all loved. Didn't know anything about the HPM-100s though. Did a little internet searching learned more. Looked them up on Hifishark and they're still a bit pricey at between $600 to $1,000 for a pair. Much more than I'd want to spend. But I stumbled on a pair of HPM-60s that were in incredibly great shape and dirt cheap at $100 for the pair. So, I snagged them to use in the garage along with the SX-780. Not a bad combo. Definitely a vintage '70s sound. My Meadowlark Swifts are still king though. So, now I have two, count 'em, TWO systems! You guys have wrecked me. :smile:
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
We like to enable.

Though I'd have been less enabling on the HPM route.... I think you're MUCH better off with those Meadowlarks :)
 

Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
I forgot one other combo the Elacs liked, and its along the lines of your discovery with the Pioneer. I had all this stuff stored in the basement and was working down there and cobbled the Elacs together with the closest thing I could find, a MAC-1900 receiver. And they sounded great together. The MAC doesn't really sound great on other things but the slight tendency towards brightness of the Elacs balanced with the dark tendencies of that McIntosh 1900.
Good post. Pairing the right amp/speaker is everything. One piece of equipments strengths offsets the weakness of the other. I’m really surprised that we don’t have a “magical pairing” thread (maybe we do and I’ve overlooked it). If one has the patience (as @Audio Refugee ), they will be rewarded in their pairing journey.
 

marantzfan

Administrator
Staff member
I have a little SX-580 out in the garage paired with some Minimus 77 speakers. The receiver was a gift from @Pioneer Vato and the speakers were $10 at the Goodwill. I use nothing more than my iPhone and a headphone to RCA cable as a source.

You know, that little system sounds surprisingly good considering the sum of its parts.
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
The Meadowlarks aren't going ANYWHERE. Those are my babies and I covet them. They live in the house and always will. The HPMs have found their new home in my garage, which they're perfect for.
Garage speakers are a whole other crew than the main system coddled sort. I run a pair of Klipsch KG-4s out in the garage and with a Sansui AU-D607 (Japanese market version of the AU-517) powering them and they sound great across the back 40. Up close they're fine as long as the levels aren't really pushing it, but the horns get a bit spitty until you get a way off when the levels rise. They work great taken outside on the patio for a party and rock down the 'hood.
 
Last edited:
Decided to listen to the SX hooked to the Swifts a little more this morning before I move it to the garage. Fired up some DEVO, cause... why not? Got a Gut Feeling is such a great song. I was listening at low, then moderate volume with Loudness switched on. Damn that sounded so good. I mean REALLY good. I listened for a while and couldn't take it anymore. Had to give it more volume. And, this is where it stumbled. The music kinda just crumbled and got distorted. Switching the Loudness off didn't seem to help much at all. Lowered the volume and the magic was back. Beautiful. So, I disconnected the SX and reconnected the Primaluna Classic. Exact opposite. Not much magic or punch at low, or moderate volume, but give it some juice and WOW! Weird. Never expected that.
 
Top