When it comes to audiophiles, there are two kinds; those who always spring for the latest and greatest devices in audio, rocking noise-cancelling headphones and filling their rooms with 7.1 surround sound. And then there are the vintage lovers among us, who prefer the warm crackle of an old stereo or turntable, and the look of vintage wood on their end table. For those, shopping for a new sound system involves hours scouring Ebay and enthusiast message boards, looking for that rare find that will add some class to the collection. And it’s almost unanimous that the Pioneer SX-1980 is the best vintage receiver you’ll find.
Controversial? Of course. Every audio maker has their own fans, who will likely contest that. But many consider the SX-1980 the Holy Grail of Receivers, if only for its impressive power. The Pioneer was rated to turn out a mega 270 watts of power per channel, making it the most powerful on the market in its day. It actually turned out quite a bit more power than that – up to 323 watts per channel. Total harmonic distortion is rated at 0.03%, which is ultra-low for something that loud. And it wasn’t small, either, coming in at a hefty 78 pounds. 78 pounds of pure music sound producing capacity.
Nor was it cheap; in 1978, the SX-1980 retailed for about $1295. These days, you’ll be lucky to find a restored version on Ebay for less than a few thousand. But, when properly restored and connected to some worthy hi-fi speakers, with good old, uncompressed audio, the sound is worth it. Absolutely worth it. You’ll never, ever, go back to SkullCandy earbuds. Ever.