Pioneer SX-3800 Receivers

SX-3800

In Pioneer's extensive receiver lineup for 1980, The SX-3800 was in the upper third in terms of power and performance. It was rated at 60 watts per channel, which was more than sufficient to rock the house. It had extremely low THD: .005%, It's phono S/N ratio was an amazing 115dB. It had a list price of $500 and weighed in at over 35 pounds.

User Reviews (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6  
Kate   AudioPhile [Nov 08, 2017]

I bought the Pioneer SX3800 with some Advent Speakers in the 1980's and I still love my sound system. It was worth every dollar I bought them for. Whatever you buy in the way of an amp make sure it has plenty of power to drive your speakers otherwise you're just not doing yourself any favors.
It took hours of listening to different speakers in various Sound Rooms to finally decide on the purchase of the Advent Speakers. Heard B&W's, JBL's, Polk Audio's and on and on it went for hours of listening with a boyfriend I had at the time. Finally I bought the Advents for their superb midrange clarity on vocals. Getting the Pioneer SX 3800 was such an easy decision in comparison. Whatever you do whilst looking/listening to various systems take the same Music Album/CDs with you so you can compare them. Sounds so fundamental but it is true and some get sucked into listening to what's on hand at each location which can suck one into buying the wrong equipment.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Jerry Bandy   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 16, 2017]

I bought the SX-3800 back in the early 80s when I was in the Navy. I loved it and paired with my JBL 4311B, it would out crank my roommate's Yamaha pyramid amp and his tower Boston Acoustic speakers. The only problems that I ever had was that the led light on "Speakers A" went out and I replaced it. The other problem that I had was occasional static while turning the tuning dial. It could be fixed by turning the dial back and forth quickly several times. I suppose there was dust or built up oxidation on the contacts. The last problem was that it was so heavy and I moved quite a few times. The wooden covers on the rear eventually became slightly loose. Yeah, it was heavy but it took everything I through at it and always sounded great. I wish I still had it. Coupled with a dbx 128 and the JBLs, it was a killer system in it's time.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
gary   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 25, 2017]

I saved this classic reciever from certain death. I was helping my broinlaw clean out his deceased fatherinlaws office and noticed this on a shelf under 3 other old receivers.He showed no interest and told me it was going in a disposal bin if i didnt want it. Got her home and after stainless cleanup, vacuum, deoxit, and some lemon oil for the wood sides i fired it up and was amazed. The only problem was I had to upgrade my speakers to wharfedale floorstanders and turntable to carbon debut dc! It must be rated conservatively as power and clarity are fabulous. What wasnt impressive was the brand new 80w/channel pioneer I bough for my summer home-it doesnt even compare to this old tank! If u ever see one grab it!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Charles Hayhoe   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 21, 2008]
Strength:

Velvet warm sound, Exellent AM and FM receive. I can pickup all of my Washington DC FM stations with decency here in Baltimore and I can listen to my oldies Canada statiion AM 740 late at night. In retrospect, my current Yamaha HTR-5790 has to have an outboard tuner (Marantz ST-6000) to do any real radio receiving.

Weakness:

Does run rather warm so give this set good air circulation, ventalation.

Got this fine set about four months ago from the thrift store. I couldn't wait to try it out. It has a georgeous sound and even though it does not tout "DC Amplifier", it seems to have that kind of sound quality. After this inital test run, I disassembled the front part of the radio completely to very throughly clean all the controls with quality tuner cleaner from the local electronics store. Since some of the tiny pushbutton pilot lamps were out, I opted to do an LED retrofit for all of them. White 5mm LED's biased with about 10ma DC for each individual one (including the Stereo pilot and quartz lock), and just a standard replacement 8v wedge bulbs for the three main dial lamps. I kept the main dial lamps stock because I wanted to preserve the original overall look of the set itself. I then touched up the front end and blew out the dust of the tuning capacitor while running the dial up and down. This got the scratchines out of the tuner. This retrofit and minor work should only be attempted by someone with quality electronics experience. Anyway, after all that, I love this set and it has performed flawlessly ever since. It may only be 60wpc but this should be enough for most speakers. The main selling piont of surround sets today is crazy wattage numbers. Numbers usually blare whereas quaity shines brightly. A sleeper and definitly a keeper.

Similar Products Used: Marantz model 4300, 2270 and ST-6000. Technics SA-800, Pioneer SX-950. Proton D940, Vector research VR-7000. Eico ST40, Fisher 440-T. Yamaha HTR-5790
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
rodneypeterson   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 15, 2008]
Strength:

The Pioneer SX-3800 is clean sounding and packs a punch. Also, if there is an issue it can be fixed and is most often worth the cost.

Weakness:

If this unit has a weakness, it's that it's dated. It is from another era, before CD players and surround sound. Don't buy this unit if you're looking for cutting edge technology.

I purchased a new-in-the-box unit in 2006 from an eBay store http://stores.ebay.ca/envirosponsible. The price was high, $875, but I was willing to part with my hard-earned cash for such a rarity. I've seen many SX-3800's that were used go for much less, but I wanted to be the first to use mine. I'd always wanted one when they were released in the early 80's, and only recently found new-in-the-box units at the same time I had the cash.

When I received it and pulled it out of the box I was flooded with memories of longing for this shiny piece of gear. The best was yet to come though. When I hooked it up, the sound was crystal clear and very warm. While it's less power than I've become accustomed to, the 60w per channel really lit up my listening room.

Customer Service

The online store I bought this from http://stores.ebay.ca/envirosponsible, provided excellent service and delivered on their "satisfaction guaranteed" policy. While their prices are high, so is there quality. They've got a ton of feedback on eBay, and almost all of it is positive. I strongly recommend buying from them if you're feeling nostalgiac and want to make an investment in solid audio gear.

Similar Products Used: I've also used this unit's little brother, the SX-3500. The SX-3800 is much beefier and delivers much more bang for the buck.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
mrmanke   Audio Enthusiast [May 21, 2006]
Strength:

High-wattage channels, clarity, punch, warmth, nostalgia, rock-solid construction

Weakness:

Pots a little noisy after all these years, super heavy.

After years of suffering with the lousy sound quality of various boomboxes, crumby shelf-systems, and mediocre computer speakers, I figured it was about time that I get a serious sound system so I can do serious listening on something other than my Grado SR325's. I bought a pair of Epicure 100's off ebay and needed a receiver until I could afford my own. So I dug my dad's Pioneer SX-3800 out of the garage and hooked it up. This thing rocks. I tested it out with a toshiba CD player and busted out some Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, Marcus Miller, Led Zeppelin, Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits. I don't know if it will be worth it to take this receiver out of the rig if I can buy another one. The sound is crystal clear and super-detailed. The quartz locked radio tuner is amazing. It gives its digital descendants a run for their money with its precision and clarity. The high per channel wattage is insane, I barely have to turn it up to be overwhelmed by the volume. The equilization control is minimal, but highly-functional. You can tweak your tunes a lot with the bass and treble controls. So overall...great sound, great features! It also looks awesome. It's got that old-school look of professionality and class, like something that wouldn't look out of place in a recording studio or at home. It's got super-sturdy construction. The thing weighs a lot. It was a frightening experience to lift it off of an overhead shelf, so watch out! I really like the system to connect the speaker cables to the back of the unit: a real slick approach where you just push in a button, insert the cable, release the button...and bingo! You're ready to rock. (A trivial detail I know, but it's pretty danged convenient.) Anywho...this is definately worth a look!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
technut   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 23, 2005]
Strength:

Solidly built, beautiful to look at, 4 gang tuner pulls in distant stations well, great sound compared to modern stuff unless you can afford audiophile equipment.

Weakness:

Push button source selector buttons are fragile after 25 years (super glue), wish it had a midrange control, if it seriously breaks down who ya gonna call?

I remember these receivers from when I was a kid roaming around the department store. Incredible sound, brilliant highs, fat bass and those cool blue flouroscan power meters. I decided the time had come, and picked up a used one on ebay. Now, lets not forget these things are 25 years old now and unless you buy one in mint condition, you are going to need to do a little work. After blowing the dust out, cleaning and lubricating all the knob and switches, wiping off the grime off the inputs and soaking the faceplate in the kitchen sink this thing sounds incredible! I had thought that my hearing had deteriorated after all these years, but I had just been listening to a surround sound system too long. They simply don't build em' like this anymore folks! It weighs about 35 pounds, the faceplate, knobs, switches, and buttons are all solid aluminum. The chassis is a thick steel stamping, and there is nothing on this unit that isn't resolutely screwed down. The sound compared to my Denon surround sound receiver, is much better in every way: better imaging, warm bass and crystal clear highs. The dynamics are also better with quiet passages not losing any detail and loud transients having more punch and definition (enough to scare the cat off the couch). They say an amplifier is only as good as it's power supply and in this case it certainly shows, the transformer and filter capacitors in this thing are pretty good size, rated at 60wpc it sounds like it easily puts out about 80 and still has the reserves to not lose any detail or get muddy. Comparisons: All these were done with a pair of JBL ARC1000's. I have a friend who brought over a pioneer sx-780 which is an earlier model with nearly the same specs, in a side by side comparison they sound very similar but I think the SX 3800 was cleaner sounding owing to it's lower THD rating and better S/N ratio. Another comparison: to my Sansui 9090db (this thing is a monster, 120 wpc and has a real warm "tube" sound and has a transformer the size of a canned ham) The sx-3800 had better presence and imaging but not quite as much midrange detail and of course, raw power. Compared to my modern Denon, it wins in every way. It's not that the Denon sounds bad it just was not built to be a 2 channel stereo system. While it has a stereo mode it just lacks the detail and soundstage of the pioneer. Bottom line: The collectors on ebay have not driven the price of these up too high yet like they have on the earlier model sx 750,780,850,880,1280,etc. So if you are looking for a great sounding reciever for 2 channel music I think this is a great buy, as are many other quality units built from 1970 to 1982.

Similar Products Used: Sansui 9090DB, Pioneer sx-780, technics sa-946, Denon avr-1802.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-6 of 6  

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