Pioneer SX-850 Receivers

SX-850

Vintage 1978 Receiver, 2 Ch. 85 W rms/ch.

User Reviews (16)

Showing 1-10 of 16  
Gerry M   AudioPhile [Sep 21, 2012]

I got the vintage "bug" years ago and I have since collected a great number of vintage receivers and speakers. The Pioneer SX850 is one of my favorites. I am using it with a pair of B&W DM 220 monitors (mid 80s) in my office and the sound is simply great. I was lucky to find the received locally and the old couple that was selling it had put very little use on it. A burned bulb easily replaceable (with some patience), some cleaning with De-Oxit and this was it. I seem to enjoy the sound of vinage gear a lot, especailyl when I get in one of my nostalgic moods. They seem to make 70's music sound...at home!
The feel of this uint is really exquisite. It glows "quality". The sound is relatively smooth, the bass strong and the highs clean. It competes well with my other favorite mid/low powered receiver the marant 2252B although the Marantz beats the Pioneer in the "musicality" department.

As I said' these are great units to enjoy on a regular basis and w/o a critical ear. They sound great BUT can never compete with well made modern gear. I have the Sansui 9090DB, the Pioneer 1280, the Marantz 2325 (my favorite by far from all the vintage gear at home) and I enjoy them all in my 4 vintage systems around the house.

However, and just to put the record straight: NONE of these receivers can hold a candle to my audiophile system in the living room. NONE! (Musical Fidelity KW 500 amp, Sota Cosmos TT, Engleston Andras II sepakers etc).

Despite silly claims that "they do not make them as they used to" ...THEY ACTUALLY do...and MUCH much better! Advances in semiconductors, circuit topologies, manufacturing techniques, material science etc. makes well made modern gear WAY better than vintage stuff. The problem with some people is that they;

1. Have NEVER listened to a serious modern system (even a mid priced one)
2. Compare a 20 year old Mercedes (ie great vintage gear) with a modern Yugo (ie Best Buy plasticky crap). The comparison is not fair. My marantz 2325 was costing close to 1000 back in its days. It would cost close to 3000 or more today.
3. Cannot afford anything serious and they just dimsiss what they cannot afford as hogwash. (Yeah, I cannot afford a Porche Cayene so I believe it is not any better than my Honda Pilot).

Again, the Pioneer SX 850 is a superb receiver that if purchased in good condition will give great pelasure to its owner. pair it with good speakers and it will sing for you. There are better alternatives at similar prices (Marantz 2252B) but it does hold its own...

Enjoy the music

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Dueldo   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 30, 2011]

My SX-850 is in mint condition, perfectly clean inside and out, not a single scratch and 100% original. I paid $150 for it from an estate sale and they were the original owners and I swear they kept it covered and never used it because I don't know how something this old could still be so pristine. I always keep mine covered with a microfiber towel when I am not using it because I WILL pass this on to my children when i die and I want it to remain as beautiful as it is today.

I think that receivers/amps/tuners/etc from the 70's are easily the best looking pieces of home audio equipment ever made. I personally like the pioneer silver series the best with the marantz a very close second. It blows me away how much detail and quality went into their entire construction and not just the outside but even the insides are a work of art. If you ever look inside one you will know what real quality is and whats crazy is the inside was really never meant to be seen.

As for the sound, they are simply amazing. I have listened to a lot of different receivers and amplifiers of varying price points and build quality and none have come close to the sound quality of my SX-850. Whats always funny to me is most "black box" gear claims 100-120 watts/ch, but this 85 watts destroys them in clarity, musicality, sound stage, and DB levels to boot. I will admit I have never listened to the crazy audiophile gear that costs many thousands of dollars, but I can't imagine how they could sound that much better than this. As many have said music if very neutral, but still very lively and engaging. I have used both pardigm 3semkIII, and home built Ero's by Wayne J. at speakerbuilder.net and I will sit and listen for hours and just want more no matter what I play.

The integrated tuner is another beast that lends to the quality of these machines. Not only do they pick up even the weakest stations, but you will be amazed at how good FM stereo sound quality can actually be. I think this is easily what has impressed me the most. This makes me really enjoy listening to all types of FM stations, but I have really come to enjoy listening to classical stations because it really does sound better on my SX-850.

Finally I must suggest that everyone get a power filter. I recently picked up a Panamax 1500 and after plugging my SX-850 into it and listening for 15 minute I was sold. The background is more quiet and the sound seems to be more dynamic and clear. Not to mention it is a lot healthier and more safe for all you home audio/theater equipment so it is worth the investment.

The only negatives I can say are the obvious....no remote control, it has push terminals for the speakers, you don't get the conveniences of digital tuners like presets (but how can you not love the feel of turning that dial?...so smooth!!), and I wish it had midrange tone control.

Just buy one if you have ever thought about it. You will never regret it. Like everyone has said...THEY WILL NEVER MAKE THEM LIKE THIS AGAIN. You are buying an investment in quality, craftsmanship, engineering and pure enjoyment

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
DonEagle   AudioPhile [Sep 24, 2009]

Feel bad driving my SX-850 with my I pod I do have a Manual for the sx_850 and a pioneer LT_1011 reel to reel I can fax it to you
Bought new in 78 for $429
Using Bose Acustmic 7 speakers
I found out years ago to turn the knobs fron full left to full right to keep the pots clean Other then that I have no problems My twenty four year old calls it a hoopti But he is still eats meals out of a paper bag..

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Doug G   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 01, 2006]
Strength:

Craftsmenship, musical sound quality, tone controls.

The SX- **50 series is the best that Pioneer has ever offered at any time. Find one... Buy it!

What else does anyone need to reproduce music in their home?

Weakness:

Like the other reviewer.... makes you listen all day.

Pre remote days makes me get up to "crank it up" for the good parts.... nothing I would trade for post remote equipment.


I don't understand why they refuse to build like this anymore. Sure it would have to reflect in today's $$$. Instead they cram techno junk at us that is built to sound like the junk it is. Manufactures it seems, are driving the enthusiast to either settle being a casual listener with sound we really don't appreciate, or drive us broke becoming an audiophile who's willing to spend $1000's or 10's of $1000's. Equipment like the SX-850 fits a need for the middle guy who loves great, room filling sound with musical clarity and depth, without a re-mortgage.

Because of that there is a generation who don't understand how you can get so much great sound out of 65 watts per channel. They have been taught loud without musical. I like to see their reaction when our gen brings them into it. My son, in his twenties, has learned. Because of the craftsmenship and detail to reproducing music, he now listens with appreciation to music he would never have paid attention to, as I have for years.

You can tell when you look at the beauty of design, minimal use of plastic, this is serious mass and weight. There's more inside than a few chip amps connected to what amounts to an am-fm pocket radio. Just lift one these boxes of crafted components.

My receiver is showing it's age and soon it will need re-capped. For now, I am using it as a preamp to feed a Carver A-500X 250wpc amp and it sounds absolutely WOW! Agreeing with another reviewer here, I can't get much done when I flip the switch on.... I'll sit and listen all day long. By the end of the day, and the volume knob has now found it's way to 2/3 of it's travel, I found my ZEN and life is good again. I'll get my work done tomorrow.

Similar Products Used: Carver Receiver 2000 (good sound, but not the Pioneer)
Carver Model 6200 (this was actually a nice receiver for post remote)
Vintage Realistic (late 70's)
Project One (mid 70's)
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
danfalk   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 15, 2006]
Strength:

Quality built, as all the 50 series were. Large Capacitors in power supply. Twice as big as Kenwood and 1.5 times bigger than marantz. Sound is the real srength. I am very impressed. Sounds like a 125 watt stereo instead of 65.

Weakness:

Only weakness is that it is approching 30 years old. May need volume control etc. cleaned with deox, lps contact cleaner, even wd-40 will work. Lights may burn out. Have to special order.

Wow. This has got to be the best sounding 65 watt receiver I have ever heard. The sonic purity is awesome. I have a SX-750 as well but the SX-850 sounds even better. Pioneer leaves Kenwood and Marantz in the dust with this one. I can't believe it is only 65 watts. It blows away my SX-1010 100 watt(which may have just been too old and tired) Sounds better than my SX-939 (75 watt) which sounds pretty darn good. I thought my Kenwood KR-6600 (60 watt) sounded good until I got this SX-850. I am running my sx-850 on pioneer hpm-100 speakers that I bought new in 1977. The tuner works perfect, the crossovers are a nice feature, the controls are quality. I did have to clean one switch and the volume control. All the lights still work. I can't imagine needing more power, but the avid enthusiast that I am I just bought a Kenwood KR-9600 (160 watt) on ebay. Haven't got it yet. I will let you all know how it sounds later. I am using this receiver for right and left channels with a dvd home theater player. Sounds better than the IMAX. Buy a sx-850,sx-950,sx-1050,or sx-1250. You will love em.

Similar Products Used: Pioneer sx-750, sx-3700(not really in the same class),sx-1010,sx-939,Kenwood KR-6600 and soon to have a Kenwood KR-9600.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Goran   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 03, 2003]
Strength:

built to last; lots of power; looks;

Weakness:

will make you listen music all day long

I bought SX-850 for 120$ from a guy that kept it in a basement. Although he uses Threshold NS10/400-A, that is no excuse to dump a beauty like SX-850 in a basement. I was amazed by the way it works after 27 years (made in 1976), but when I opened it I saw the reason to that. It is built like a tank with a huge transformer and two massive 17000uF capacitors placed on the left side. I replaced two bulbs and gave a new finish to the wooden case and that was it. I use it with a pair of KEF speakers (bass B139; mid B110a ; tweeter T27;) and the sound is brilliant. And to the owners of a tiny 300wpc desktop speakers all I can say is that Im more than satisfied with my 65wpc that blow my windows out. It has good THD value of 0.1% (distortion less than 0.3% cant be registered by human ear).But the way it looks is what separates this unit (and the whole silver series) from others. You can always find something more powerfull and more expensive but you dont need anything better for home use than SX-850. (tipp: good amplifier with great speakers will always give better result than great amplifier with good speakers. so if you have money to waste, waste it on the speakers)

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
John Keener   AudioPhile [Jan 29, 2003]
Strength:

65wpc of underrated minimal output. Take your new 120wpc A/V reciever and chuck it in the dumpster. High filter & low switches. Selectable crosover points for bass/treble adjustments. Preamp in and out. (very handy with a good quality DTS/dolby digital pre-amp)

Weakness:

Nadda one.

Pioneer SX-850. 65wpc @ 8ohms. 85wpc @ 4ohms. This reciever is grade A beef. It gets mighty loud (if you want it to). Musical instruments with great detail and purity. I use this unit with a pair of Pioneer CS-77A speakers. The tone, and the response of those speakers and the SX-850 is great. Clearity, and precision all day long. Without doubt, this is a system I will hang onto as long as I live.

Similar Products Used: Pioneer SX-3700
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
ron   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 01, 2002]
Strength:

pure power,,at 85 rms,,,new rxv1 yamaha shuts down way before sx 850 even gets started

Weakness:

imagine ,,a new retro series of recivers,,from all the top names,,but adding a/v,,that only thing get me to turn away from my 25 year old

its all been said,,just adding my 2 cents worth,,, why have we come to this i dont know,,maybee the cost cutting accountants ,,but hear is one of the most perfect examples of they dont make them like that any more.....the materials the build quality,,the sound,,,all there,,,all things have a golden age,,the zenith of development and style ,,the peak,,for audio,that was 25 years ago

Similar Products Used: all of them ,,been doing this too long
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
escottd   Casual Listener [Sep 30, 2002]

I bought my sx-850 from my best friend Sal when he was trying to raise the cash for an Italian Racing bike. We were still both in High School;late '70's.During the last 25 years maintance has cost me a whopping ten cents to replace a fuse.I've gone through at least 3 sets of speakers,2 turntables, a cd player, a laser vision player(Which played Cd's.)and it still sounds and works great.I thought I was upgrading when I bought a SONY Dolby pro-logic receiver with all the bells and whistles. I was wrong. The 850 with it's modest 65 wpc drove the speakers better then the SONY's 100 per! A friend of mine opened a bar. I gave him the 850 on a'permenent'loan basis. I would get it back if when when he bought a new system.Well after five years of having Rum and cokes spilled on it I got it back. You know what, it still works great!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Rod   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 06, 2002]
Strength:

Durability Clean, rich sound

I bought this unit in 1977 or 1978 when I was in the military. I think it was from a place called "Warehouse Sound" somewhere on the East Coast. My roommate bought an SX750. We each bought two HPM100 speakers, for a total of four. We ran the four HPMs off of my SX850 in our dorm room. At low volumes or high, it sounded great. I still have my 850 and the HPM100s, which continue to play brilliantly. The SX850 has been in the shop twice for the same intermittent power interruption that another reviewer experienced. At the time it was in the shop, probably 1999, the technician said "they don't make them like this anymore," and I happily paid him to fix it. All the lights still work. The switches and dials can get a little scratchy if you don't regularly move them. However, this is minor compared to the continued value I have gotten from this unit. It has survived several moves; I still have the schematics and original documentation. It's that kind of unit: a member of the family. I agree that the sound is clean and well balanced. Whether you are listening to Bach or Zappa, the SX850 continues to prove why I believe this was the best audio purchase I ever made. If you find one, buy it.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 16  

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