View Full Version : SX-1980 versus SX-5590 (SX-1250)


crooner
01-19-2006, 09:00 PM
Well, finally I had the chance to compare both monsters using my Vandersteen 2C speakers and 2W subwoofer.

I was hearing some upper midrange spikes on the sound last night while playing the Tony Bennett/Bill Evans album recently ripped to my Squeezebox music server. These anomalities were apparent with sharp piano attacks. This is a great recording for testing equipment BTW. Solo piano is one of the most difficult instruments to reproduce correctly, in my experience.

I was wondering if the problem was related to the speakers or the receiver. I was betting it was the Vandy 2Cs (I bought them used, they are 20 years old). But anywho, I decided to connect the speakers and sub to the SX-5590 (black SX-1250) which has been powering my stack of HPM-100s.

Well I have to say that both receivers sound very different. The SX-5590 has a more forward midrange character. It is not agressive but you can tell right away with vocals. Bass was also less deep, even with the help of the 300 watt Vandersteen sub. Imaging was comparable to the SX-1980.

To my ears, the SX-1980 has wider dynamic range (remember this is 110 watts more powerful), with better upper bass "punch" and warmer midrange.

The slightly distorted Bill Evans piano at the start of Waltz for Debby is still there which will mean a future upgrade to the $1700 Vandy 2CE signatures (I wish I was rich $$$!).

Both receivers have been properly adjusted for DC offset and bias.

I don't want to knock off the SX-5590/1250. It's a great receiver. But the SX-1980 is clearly a notch above in resolution and overall sound quality.

steve gibson
01-19-2006, 09:15 PM
I would hope so given the difference in price, specs, etc. I doubt that I will ever be able to do my own comparison. The 1980 is just too rich for me unless I get real lucky. I am glad to hear that the 5590 did so well. Thanks for the review.

crooner
01-19-2006, 09:24 PM
Steve, I forgot to mention this is all subjective and I guess it only proves that the SX-1980 interfaces better with the Vandies. The importance of the speaker-amp interface (I know it has been said zillions of times :D ).

OTOH, the SX-5590 driving the HPM-100s is just incredible. It gives you everything you could hope for. Musical and powerful.

I briefly tried the HPMs with the SX-1980 and I don't remember giving me those goosebumps... :D

The Rebel
01-19-2006, 10:50 PM
Steve, I forgot to mention this is all subjective and I guess it only proves that the SX-1980 interfaces better with the Vandies. The importance of the speaker-amp interface (I know it has been said zillions of times :D ).

OTOH, the SX-5590 driving the HPM-100s is just incredible. It gives you everything you could hope for. Musical and powerful.

I briefly tried the HPMs with the SX-1980 and I don't remember giving me those goosebumps... :D


Sounds like you have two nice systems, all be it different, still two nice systems. :thmbsp: Glad you shared with AK :yes:

Rebel

e2e4c7c5
01-20-2006, 06:00 AM
Very interesting. I have a SX-5590 along with a SX-1250 and two SX-1280s.
I find basically the same conclusions that you have put forth that the SX-1980 has a richer sound than the SX-5590/1250, when I compare the SX-1280 to the SX-5590/1250.
I also have my original SX-1080 and have owned a few SX-1050s and I always found the SX-1080 to have a nicer sound than the SX1050s.

SicMan
01-20-2006, 06:43 AM
Wow! nice set up, and by the way there's an SX-5590 on EPAY right now! Not mine, dang.
http://cgi.ebay.com/PIONEER-SX-5590-RECEIVER-EUROPEAN-VERSION-OF-1250-1280_W0QQitemZ5856523278QQcategoryZ39789QQrdZ1QQcm dZViewItem

VintageNut
01-20-2006, 08:48 AM
Well, do a complete restoration on both, like a full recap, spec out all of the components inside, should take you about a year, then do the comparison again......

steve gibson
01-20-2006, 12:12 PM
Well, do a complete restoration on both, like a full recap, spec out all of the components inside, should take you about a year, then do the comparison again......


I think he has already done that.

VintageNut
01-20-2006, 12:23 PM
Maybe, but I don't think so.....

VintageNut
01-20-2006, 09:17 PM
Although I have great respect for Crooner and his opinions,

Me too, Crooner has helped me and I appreciate it. I can count him as a internet friend. His abilities as a tech exceed mine, so if you guys need anything, just ask him ( I'm sure he will appreciate that comment)
That being said, there are several threads here at AK addressing total recap jobs on receivers. I think I can boil the threads down and say that 30 year old receivers need to be recapped to get an idea how they sounded when new. Setting bias and DC offset is important, but it's not everything.

crooner
01-20-2006, 09:37 PM
Forgot to mention (and no, I am not being a post-whore :D ) this is like deja vu all over again for me.

10 years ago I engaged in endeless debates with folks about the relative sonic merits of my (then newly acquired) McIntosh MC275 tube amplifier. Today the new "underdog" is the Pioneer SX-1980. Neither is anything but perfect, but they do stir some controversy!

And hey VintageNut, FYI, I have replaced several caps and even a FET transistor in my SX-1980s' power supply board. I also replaced the input capacitors to the power amp with film types! :D

I must admit I am not a believer in complete "recap" jobs on audio gear unless something is obviously amiss. I remember replacing capacitors wholesale on that MC275 and ending up with something with a totally different sonic signature...

Negotiableterms
01-20-2006, 09:40 PM
Echowars may bring my fully updated and upgraded SX-1980 to AK Fest. If someone brings an SX-1250, everyone there will be able to hear and compare for themselves!

crooner
01-20-2006, 09:46 PM
I guess that would settle it once and for all! :yes:

crooner
01-20-2006, 09:49 PM
The SX-1980 came AFTER the SX-1280 and was victim to even more cost-cutting. In fact, the SX-1280 was supposed to be the Top of the Line, but Pioneer was under considerable pressure to remain Top Dog, what with relentless competitors like the Marantz 2500

mmmmm I don't think that's correct. My service manual for the SX-1980 is dated November 1977 and it was introduced in early '78. The SX-1280 was introduced at the CES much later that year as documented in the trade mags. I got to dig them up to find out the exact month this happened...

EchoWars
01-20-2006, 09:52 PM
If I can get Punker to answer my email, I want to send to him, and pick it up when we go to MI...in which case it will be there for comparison.

If Pioneer cut corners with the 1280 and 1980, these 'cuts' are cleverly disguised. The 1250, 1280, and 1980 are world-beaters, and to suggest that intentional steps were taken to reduce costs at the expense of sound quality or even construction is mistaken as far as I can see. It might be possible that Pioneer scaled back some things that they would have liked to do on the 1280 and 1980...and it is possible that the 'no holds barred' approach that went into the 1250 was unrealistic with the exchange rate quickly deteriorating, but the result with the 1280 and 1980 was two very very well-built no-BS receivers with power to spare and looks that might have even made the wife happy.

If the 1250 gets an 'A' for build quality, the other two get an 'A-'. Splittin' hairs here.

VintageNut
01-20-2006, 10:08 PM
Well, I think the discussions in the past about recapping focused on replacing electrolytic caps throughout the receiver, since they dry up over time. I would think replacing caps on the tone board would be important as well. EW is one of the most qualified to speak on the subject. So how about it EW. If you wanted to compare two vintage receivers in a side by side test, what would you do to them to ensure a fair test?

EchoWars
01-20-2006, 10:15 PM
Well, they both need to be in top shape. Comparing David's SX-1980 to someone's SX-1250 isn't going to be a fair fight till both are restored. As it is now, this rebuilt 1980 lacks nothing and has a lot to offer a listener.

VintageNut
01-20-2006, 10:18 PM
What do you do EW in a restoration on a receiver?

EchoWars
01-20-2006, 10:25 PM
Anything that needs to be done...replace OOT resistors, new bias/offset pots, replace weak transistors, new electrolytics, and a good bath in DeOxit...followed by extensive testing to make sure it has culminated in something pleasant to listen to.

OldSkool
01-20-2006, 10:29 PM
I wish you guys could see & hear the mint SX-1250 I just bought. I know its 30 years old, but honestly guys, this thing hasnt been used at all, its like new. It would be interesting to somehow measure its abilities right now.

VintageNut
01-20-2006, 10:42 PM
Actually, not being used at all can do more harm to a receiver than using it. I know first hand about that. Kinda like having a car sit up and not running it. Seals dry up.

steve gibson
01-20-2006, 11:23 PM
It will still boil down to personal taste and individual hearing characteristics. I believe that Negotiableterms jst did a post on asthetics and influence on hearing. I believe that the way you "feel" about a piece of gear is an important element. I would love to own a 1980, if for no other reason than just plain satisfaction. However, I can't imagine that I won't be happy with my 5590 or 1250 for a long time. Actually, I would be very happy to listen to my 750. I just spent an hour listening to my little 5533 and litle KEF bookshelf speakers and it was a very pleasant experiance. This is what is so great about this hobby. There is so much stuff and so many options and opinions that you can never get bored.

crooner
01-21-2006, 12:07 AM
Very true Steve....

I thought that discernible sonic differences between decent quality cables was for the golden ear "snob".

Well... I just got a pair of XLO Pro 100 1m cables for my Squeezebox and heck everything now sounds so much different.

With the Kimber PBJs I had borrowed from my Denon universal player, the sound was very lively with a lot of energy. Now it's subdued with an apparent reduction in top end response. Good thing is that I can now crank up the system and the sound signature remains the same, very easy on the ears. I still don't know if I am going to like the sound of the XLOs long-term, but the difference was indeed dramatic!

Chris1280
01-21-2006, 02:03 AM
If I can get Punker to answer my email, I want to send to him, and pick it up when we go to MI...in which case it will be there for comparison.

If Pioneer cut corners with the 1280 and 1980, these 'cuts' are cleverly disguised. The 1250, 1280, and 1980 are world-beaters, and to suggest that intentional steps were taken to reduce costs at the expense of sound quality or even construction is mistaken as far as I can see. It might be possible that Pioneer scaled back some things that they would have liked to do on the 1280 and 1980...and it is possible that the 'no holds barred' approach that went into the 1250 was unrealistic with the exchange rate quickly deteriorating, but the result with the 1280 and 1980 was two very very well-built no-BS receivers with power to spare and looks that might have even made the wife happy.

If the 1250 gets an 'A' for build quality, the other two get an 'A-'. Splittin' hairs here.

Ya Glenn. but i hope we are fixing to turn that A- into an A+. Dont you think? :yes: at least i hope so.

Chris :thmbsp:

agger
01-21-2006, 12:33 PM
Thats a interesting comparison, Crooner. I would have not thought that there is such a good noticable difference between the both candidates. Maybe its really becaus of the different match to your speakers.
There is no other way, I need to get a SX-1980 to do my own comparison!!!