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Pioneer SA520 - How old and was it any good?

Discussion in 'Hi Fi Systems & Separates' started by joydivision, Sep 10, 2009.

  1. joydivision

    joydivision Member

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    My sister has a very old system, compromising of modern Bush speakers (actually sound as good as a typical £50 Richers pair with a very clean sound nothing like mini system speakers) a Pioneer SA520 and a Cambridge Audio CD32.

    The amp was given to me years ago I just wondered what a modern eqv would be. I would say compared to my Camrbridge A640 it sounds a bit commercial like it is trying too hard but for free it sounds pretty damn well amazing. Also how old is this amp? I am guessing late 70's early 80's but I can't tell.
  2. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure the Pioneer SA-520 was a good amp in its day. That time frame was the peak of quality for Pioneer amps, but it is only a 16 watt/channel to 8 ohms.

    Pioneer SA-520

    As such, a current amp would only be the very smallest available amps.

    As you can see from the link, the amp was apparently introduced around 1973, though we don't know how many years that model was produced.

    Also, here is a link to Sweden that shows a slightly different amp with the same model numbers -

    http://hifigoteborg.se/Pioneer_sa-520_spec.htm

    Steve/bluewizard
  3. joydivision

    joydivision Member

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    The one my sister has is the same as that Swedish one. I am in the UK so maybe there was a different European one. It sounds a lot more powerful than 16 wpc but then my sisters speakers are cheap Bush ones (but are proper ones designed for seperates).

    This partly why I made this thread as I got no where on google due to the different amps with the same name.

    Edit it says 2 x 65w I am not sure if thats into an 8 ohm load though but when I first demoed it seemed much to have a much more powerful sound than my old Marantz PM4000 which my parents now use.

    Edit looking at the inside from that website I can see proper PCBs and a ribbon cable which would suggests its early 80's. I am guessing its pre 1982/83 as it has no CD input although it does have a video input (ahead of its time).
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2009
  4. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard Well-Known Member

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    The Swedish link shows 2x 60w/channel DIN. I'm not sure how to convert DIN to standard RMS/FTC values. I know DIN tends to be slightly higher, more of a dynamic power rating. But, even conservatively, I think it would safe to assume 30w to 40w per channel from this amp. That's low, but still a decent amount of power, and certainly better than 16w per channel.

    You could maybe go to the Pioneer website, and see if the Support Section - Archive has information on this. I'm not sure how far back they go, but they have many old user's manuals on line.

    Steve/bluewizard
  5. S Bibby

    S Bibby Member

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    Hi,
    I have a feeling that model on Audio Database is Japanese and is probably equivalent to the SA-5200. There is an SA-520 which I think was one of the early 80s Pioneer Amps that were the last of the old type. I think the SA-408/410/420 were all around 20 Watts so my guessestimate for the 520 would be 30/35 at 8 Ohms.

    Does it look much like this -
    [​IMG]?

    If so, this might be useful - http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/archive/index.php/t-54989.html

    Cheers,
    Simon
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2009
  6. kabuki

    kabuki New Member

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    I've got a Pioneer SA-520 Integrated Stereo Amplifier that I bought new in the US in the early 80's, pushing a pair of Jensen Model 4 speakers through a Optimus 10 band graphic equalizer. It's an awesome tube amp that delivers 65 watts per channel and sounds as good today as it did the day I unpacked it from the box.

    The Jensen speakers have 10 inch woofers, a 5 inch midrange, and sonodome tweeters with approximately 2-3 foot tall walnut cabinets that I bought new 40 years ago, with Model 4 being among the first in the Jensen line.

    The equalizer is relatively new compared to the rest of the system but really boosts the sound quality and is an integral part of the system.

    I live in an apartment building now so my days of cranking it are behind me but it would rattle every window in the house at half power. These days I run my cable box and flatscreen TV through it at the lowest settings possible and it still gives deep, rich theater sound to the shows I watch.

    I wouldn't trade my SA-520 for anything and if you ever get the chance to acquire one in working condition I would highly recommend doing so, as IMO the sound from a tube amp can't be beat.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2012
  7. Dav1dF

    Dav1dF Active Member Assured Advertiser

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    My dad used to have the SA520 that was pictured, and I'm sure from memory it was more like 60wpc. It was running his JR149's quite easily at the time.
  8. kabuki

    kabuki New Member

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    Mine is like the one in the image too. I don't have the owners manual anymore but remember it as being 65 watts per channel, though I could be mistaken. Here's what's on the back of the case:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I'm a long way from being an electronics whiz so don't know if that signifies it's putting out 80 watts or not. The legend on the bars that light up as volume increases read 0.03, 0.01, 0.3, 3, 10, and 65.

    I liked listening to it loud but found that when the bars maxed out at 10 that was about as loud as you needed it without it becoming obnoxious and the police showing up and still fill a 2 story house with music as clear as a bell. My speakers are only rated at 50 watts and I never have opened it up all the way as there's no doubt in my mind it has the power to blow them. At the volume I listen to my TV through it it's barely enough to light up the bars and still loud enough to hear it all through the apartment.

    Now I listen to music on my laptop through a pair of Bose earplugs so as not to get kicked out of my apt. A friend of mine gave me the earplugs when he bought his Wave Machine, and while they advertise them as putting out sound to compare to a system like mine it falls far short of the mark.
  9. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Member

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    Eyup. That right there's your problem.
  10. kabuki

    kabuki New Member

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    I researched them when I got home and they go for approx. $100US retail.

    The price was right, they didn't cost me anything, but if I was buying I'd go for another pair of Optimus Pro35 headphones at half the price.
  11. Stinger69

    Stinger69 Member

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    That signifies it's power consumption, not it's output.

    I used to work in a hi-fi shop in the 80's and the pictures of the SA520 shown here are of an amp I used to sell. They weren't very expensive and were sold as part of a "stack system" mainly. The old NAD 3020 used to eat it for breakfast to be honest, and the price wasn't that different. But it was reliable and punchy.
  12. kabuki

    kabuki New Member

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    I'm not sure how much I paid for it as that was 30 years ago, $100US give or take $20 as a single piece.

    It wasn't the most powerful or expensive Pioneer amp made but still serves me well today after 30 years of hard service and is one of the better buys I've made in life. :smashin:
  13. Dav1dF

    Dav1dF Active Member Assured Advertiser

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    You've jogged my memory kabuki - they were 65wpc.

    They weren't expensive, I think they were about £140/150, and was worth it just for the most sensitive and responsive power meter display on the market! :)

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