View Full Version : Pioneer Spec1 and Spec 4 amps > What to do with it?

09-21-2003, 07:34 AM
This is my first post, so first I would like to say hello to everyone.

I have a dilema ... I have a Pioneer Spec 1 pre-amp and a Spec 4 power-amp. They have been in storage for the last 15 years. I have sold the Pioneer HPM 1500 speakers, threw away the broken CTF-9500 cassette deck and gave away the TX-9500 II tuner that went with the system, so I now all I have left is the amps.

I want to buy a whole new system that can be used as a Home Theater 5.1 A/V system, but I can't see how these amps can power anymore than 4 basic speakers. In fact, I don't think there are enough wire terminals on the back to even power a "powered sub-woofer" along with the 4 basic speaker setup.

I just don't know what I am going to do. As nice as these amps are, I think they are only capable of driving your basic 4 speaker audio-only setup and nothing more.

Any ideas?


09-21-2003, 08:07 AM
They're worthless. Send them to me, I'll dispose of them properly.

:D :D :D

I'll even pick up the shipping! :D

Seriously, those components you have there are highly-sought-after classics. You could use them in a home-theater system to handle 2-channel duties as home-theater receivers are vastly inferior to true high-fidelity stereo components for regular music use, and couldn't come within 100 miles of the 2 SPEC pieces you have. Run the front preamp output of the Home Theater receiver or processor into an aux input on the SPEC preamp, and run that into the SPEC power amp, which would drive your main stereo speakers.

Ask THOR here how he integrates classic high-fidelity stereo gear with home-theater equipment to have the best of both worlds.

Those two units you have are among the finest ever made by anybody, and few machines made today can touch them. I'd hang onto them if I were you.

Welcome to the group! :)


09-21-2003, 08:35 AM
Thanks "B3Nut" ...

What I may just do is forget about the whole Home Theater deal altogather and just purchase a new set of speakers to power with these amps. The amps are in mint condition and have the operators manuals.

Now here is the deal. Certainly they will power 4 speakers, but, is there anyway they can also power a "Powered Sub-Woofer" as well?

The HPM 1500 were great speakers until my kids pet ferret got a hold of them. He somehow removed the front panels and ate holes in the big 15" woofers. I had to replace the woofers with something that would fit. Found a set of "MTX Terminator" woofers. They actually sounded ok. The ferret also scratched up the lower front cloth panels with his nasty little claws.

I wound up selling the speakers to a friend for $100 for the pair!

Anyway, I am really thinking just using the Pioneer amps to power a set of Polk RTi70 Tower speakers and a set of Polk RTi38 rear speakers.

Now, again, is there anyway that these Pioneer amps could also somehow power a "powered sub" along with the 2 fronts and 2 rears?


Retro Stereo
09-21-2003, 09:27 AM
I have a couple of the Pioneer SPEC 4's and I am going to ask you a question about your question. Instead of adding a subwoofer, why don't you add a pair of speakers that have a built in subwoofer, or a pair of speakers that have good bass already? I own a pair of Klipsch Forts II's which utilize a 15" woofer in the front and then also utilize a 15" passive woofer in the back. Plenty of bass without the added subwoofer. There are also plenty of speaker companies out there that offer a "built in" subwoofer in their speakers, some of which are up to 500 watts! In answer to your question, I don't know how to hook up a "stand alone" powered sub up to the SPEC 4, but if you come up with a method, let me know. ;) If you want to stay vintage, a couple of other speakers that have plenty of bass are the HPM 100s and the larger vintage JBLs. What's nice about using the old SPEC 1 and SPEC 4 system is, that you can crank up the bass using the tone controls that far surpass today's AV systems and their limited ranges. Just my 2 cents. Oh, one more thing, if you're going to get a new pair of speakers, terminate the farret first! :uzi: :uzi: :uzi:

09-21-2003, 09:42 AM
Many powered subwoofers (those with their own built-in amplifiers) have speaker-level inputs and pass-through terminals for your regular speakers. The SPEC amplifier (or any other for that matter) would work fine with them. Just adjust the subwoofer's built-in amplifier to balance properly with the main speakers, and you're good to go.

However, I second Retro's advice to find speakers with good bass to begin with. Pioneer HPM-100 or JBL L-100 Century are a couple nice speakers (12" woof, 4" mid, and a tweet plus the HPM-100 has a super-tweeter as well, both are similar designs as the HPM-100 was designed by an ex-JBL engineer). Look around for speakers by good makes (JBL, Infinity, Klipsch, etc) with at least 12"'ll likely end up not wanting or needing a subwoofer.

Lots of fun options, and the really fun part is there are really no wrong answers, as long as you like the sound of what you end up with. :)

As an aside, too bad you gave away that tuner. The TX-9500's are stunningly good tuners, and popular with tuner nuts for modifications. They eat today's digital tuners for breakfast. :) Heck, the simple 3-gang tuner in my SX-780 receiver beats the pants off the digital receivers I've owned...and it needs an alignment!


09-21-2003, 09:45 AM
This is the new reciever that I was going to use to power a full 6 Polk speaker A/V system:

Sony STR-DA2000ES New Silver Design Receiver with 120 Watts x 7 Channels

7 Channel Direct Drive Digital Amplifier: 120W x 7 (8 ohms 20Hz - 20kHz, THD .6%)

Dolby® Digital, Dolby® Digital EX, dts®, dts-ES, dts-ES 96/24, dts: Neo6, Dolby® Pro Logic® II Decoding

Video Up-Conversion to S-Video

2 Component Video Inputs: HD Pass (80 MHz)
2 Zone/2 Room Output (no Elec. Vol.), RS-232C, 12 V Trig x 1, 1 IR In/1 IR Out
1 Way Pre-Programmed/Learning/Macro/LCD Remote Control

** Digital Section:
7 .1 Channel Decoding
32 Bit System
32-Bit Decoding
Dolby® Digital EX Decoding
Dolby® Digital Decoding
Dolby® Pro Logic®II Decoding
dts-ES Decoding
dts 96/24 Decoding
dts® Decoding
dts® NEO:6 Decoding
Digital Signal Processor with 7 Acoustic Environments
Digital Cinema Sound System with Cinema Studio EX A/B/C Modes

** Sound Field Programs:
Cinema - 4; Music - 3;
Auto Format Decoding - 6

** Amplifier Section:
7 Channel Power Rating: 120W x 7 (8 ohms 20 Hz - 20 kHz, THD .6%)
Stereo Power Rating: 120W x 2 (8 ohms 20 Hz-20 kHz, THD .6%)
8/4 ohm Rated Amplifier Output
A /B or A+B Speaker Switching for Front Speakers
Circuit Devices: Discrete

** Inputs and Outputs:
2 Zone/2 Room (Room 2 Audio Output) with Independent Source
7.1 Multi-Channel Analog Input/5.1 Channel Analog Input
2 HD Capable Component Video Inputs/1 Output
Phono Input (MM type)
8 Analog Audio Line Inputs/4 Audio Analog Line Outputs
4 Optical 1 Coaxial Input (Includes Front A/V)/1 Optical Line Output
5CompositeVideo Inputs (Including Front A/V)/3 Composite Video Outputs
4 S-Video Inputs (Including Front A/V)/2 S-Video Outputs
1 Front Audio Video Input with SVideo, Composite, and Optical Digital.
1 Composite Monitor Output/1 SVideoMonitorOutput/ 1Component Video Monitor Output
RS-232C for Control
1 12V Triggers/1 IR Input/1 IR Output
Control S Input/Control S Output
Control A-1 II Input
FM Antenna Input (75 Ohm Coaxial Type)
AM Antenna Input (Spring Clip Dual Terminal)
¼" Headphone Jack Output
Subwoofer Output

09-21-2003, 09:48 AM
I use an AVR with pre amp outs and vintage amps for my HT and then a vintage pre amp and the same amps for stereo music (4 speakers) there are many ways to integrate vintage components into an HT if you are interested I am sure we could all walk you thru your best option. Or if you don't want to you could sell the pre and amp and make some good coin to buy what you really want ;)

09-21-2003, 10:05 AM
Glad to see you found your way to AK.
I see you've had some good suggestions.
Do you already have the Sony ES AVR?
What a terrible fate for the HPM-1500, all the HPM series models sound great, and that was the biggest of the bunch.

09-21-2003, 10:11 AM
If a sub is a must the self-contained active is the way to go.

Whatever you do, do some serious research (if possible with your ears) on what you'll lose (almost certainly) by going to the newer sony.

About five months ago, my situation was similar to yours. I had been using a newer AV receiver (nothing near as nice as that sony) with nothing special hooked up to either end. I fell into a Pioneer SX-1280 and was floored by the difference in sound. My ignorant thinking that the amp didn't make much difference in sound quality was forever (unless I get alzheimers) crushed like my ego in my pimple faced high school days. I had decent speakers (Cerwin Vega D-7's) but the sound quality sucked.

The general consensus here would be you couldn't touch that Pioneer Spec stuff with anything new that wouldn't cost a fortune unless you build your own tube amp.

As for a sub, be careful there too. Just becuase it goes thump doesn't mean it does it with crispness and tightness. Muddy Waters is cool, muddy bass sucks. Get great main speakers and if you plan on a sub make sure it doesn't take away from the crispness of the music.

I just reread the sub section in the "Complete Guide to High end Audio" and here is a quote, "Now for the bad news. More often then not, subwoofers degrade a playback system's musical performance. Either the subwoofer is poorly engineered (and many are), or the subwoofer is set up incorrectly..........rather then increasing our ability to hear..... a subwoofer often obscures musical information."

Marketing makes everything brand new sound like it should put the Beatles in your living room. the reality is that it kinda does cause two of em' are dead and so is the sound.

If you want surround eventually talk to the folk at:

Geeks that gotta have multiple channels for everything site (

they know that stuff really well and are very friendly.

You, my friend are in for an unbelievable ride, that combo is the start of some very fine listening.

Welcome aboard.

Retro Stereo
09-21-2003, 10:16 AM
I was just reading a thread somewhere in AK here about the Sony STR-DA series of AV receivers, and it wasn't good. To be honest, what exactly will be your main function with your new AV? For just plain music, you can't beat what you already own! If you're looking for a nice "stand alone" AV system there are a million of em out there, but it's been my personal experience that hardly any of them do music real good. Take the Sony you have picked out and look at the .6 THD it is bragging about, that's an awful lot of background noise (200X) when compared to your .003 THD from your SPEC 4!!! If you want awesome music, just use what you got and buy a stand alone AV system for your DVDs, videos, and TV. Just my 2 cents.


09-21-2003, 10:29 AM
Sony AVR receivers, except the high end ES line, have really been getting raked through the mud. This is do to the fact they really overrate the amplifiers contained in them. Look at the THD on the digital amps - they should have much less than that. I worry about how the digital amps are made, since I have heard some really nice ones - very low THD - and some of the early ones - with high THD - sound really crappy (they didn't put out the power they were rated for).

I would ask Thor and Bully for advice, since they really seem to have their shit together on incorporating HT with older stereo equipment.

I would use the amps you have - you really can't buy that quality for less then big bucks!!

If you don't want the Pioneer power amp - I would but it off of you and I am sure may here would say the same thing!!

Welcome Aboard!!!


09-21-2003, 01:44 PM
Thanks for all the replies. I believe you folks are right. There is no way in hell that the Sony A/V Reciever is going to have the sound quality output that the Spec1 / Spec 2 combo will give when playing back music only.

Maybe I really don't need an A/V setup anyway. Jeeeze, about the only thing I watch on TV is CNN anyway! :D

Now, I don't have any speakers anymore. I wonder how that Polk RTi70 Tower speakers and Polk RTi38 rear speakers combo will sound with the Pioneer amps?

I know I can spend lots more for speakers, but those cherry wood Polks do have eye appeal and claim to sound good reproduction. If they do infact put out very nice music quality by themselves, I can certainly hold off in buying a powered sub-woofer (which may not be compatable with these Pioneer amps.

I will be using a CD player for the source for all music. However, I dont have a tuner anymore. Regular FM radio stations don't transmit great sound quality [but], I understand that the music service you can subscribe to from your cable TV is of digital quality. And, many many music types without commercials.

Do you think that this type of cable music signal can be used with that Spec 1 pre-amp that I have?

Thanks again for your time,

09-21-2003, 03:54 PM
Yes the cable music will work just fine with the spec line.

As for the speakers, you may want to start a new thread in the speaker section with the speakers you are looking at, what you hope them to do, and the price range you are at.

I have no opnion on the Polk's, there are some really nice new speakers availalbe and they may be in the mix. I own new Axiom's which I love. picture below. about $1K for the pair. they have others in the line slightly smaller.

09-21-2003, 04:10 PM
Originally posted by bully
Glad to see you found your way to AK.
I see you've had some good suggestions.
Do you already have the Sony ES AVR?
What a terrible fate for the HPM-1500, all the HPM series models sound great, and that was the biggest of the bunch.

No, all I really have right now is the Pioneer Spec 1 and Spec 4. I do have a Sony 5 disk CD player, but I want to replace it with a newer CD/DVD player that will also play MP3 CDs.

As long as I can find a good set of 4 speakers, a CD/DVD/MP3 player and subscribe to digital cable music, I think I will be set.


DingusBoy ... Well, i'm glad to here I can use digital cable music with these amps. That seems like a good way to go. I certainly don't need a tuner then (plus it will have better sound quality than ol' FM)

09-21-2003, 04:27 PM
You can use your Spec Amp anywhere you can use any stand alone 2 channel amp. In a HT set-up as some have suggested and a CD player hooked into the same system. When you listen to CDs just be sure to have your PreAmp/Processor/receiver set to stereo. You will hear any satereo source on the Spec Amp. . .I have done similiar things. . .I like my music in stereo and I like Wiz-bang movies too. . . You can most certainly have the best of both worlds. . .You can use that Spec amp to drive a couple SVS passive subs at extreme levels if you like. . .I second retro about using good full range speakers for music. . .You still may need a sub for big movies. however I prefer the JBLs myself, just got my L-112s finally. . .Looking forward to putting them to work. . .Music. . .no sub, movies. . .sub Remember it takes a lot of air movement to get good bass. . .You wont do it with small speakers unless your set-up is in the closet or other very small room.

09-21-2003, 05:57 PM
Welcome to AK Ron. Checkout the OZ forum. If you like good sounding vintacge speakers, we have a set of Infinity Kappa 7's for sale that don't need a sub. Plus, you can match them up with pretty much any speaker for rears.

The Polk's are good, but the pricing seems a little high. The retail for the 70's is US$440 up here in Canada - C$600/pair, and US$185/C$250 for the 38's. :dunno:

09-21-2003, 06:21 PM
omer ...

I do like the older amps, but I don't know if I want another set of those big heavy older style speakers. The HPM 1500s I had were wonderfull, but they were MONSTERS! I really got rid of them because my kids pet ferret got the lower screens off and ate holes in the 15" woofers. Had to replace the woofers with something else. Wound up finding a set of "MTX Terminator" 15" woofers to do the replacement. That was a long long time ago. Still makes me a little pissed when I think about it again! The ferret also scratched up the lower screens while geting them off.

That was the same ferret :uzi: that ate a hole through the cold water hose going into the washmachine. That really made a mess! He never ever bit anybody, but he was hell on expensive speakers and heavy duty water hoses!

BTW, I wonder why Polk speakers are cheaper in Canada? Jeeze, I think there made down here in the lower 48.

How could I get those Polks that cheap down here?


09-21-2003, 06:26 PM
Is the ferret no more? ;)

Yeah, that pricing is strange, I would have thought it would be the reverse.

I have a customer who works at a local Polk dealer, I might be able to score you a good price......

Now, why would a guy who can buy Polk at cost be shopping at OZ Enterprises? :naughty:

09-23-2003, 04:07 PM
I really like the fun factor of vintage gear, so I knew that I would be working with some old equipment. Problem is I really wanted surround sound because I watch a ton of movies and just bought a nice new 40" widescreen tv. I don't know what's right for you, but I'll tell you what I'm planning. I've asked a lot of people for opinions both here and locally and this is what makes sense for me.

The solution for me was to get a surround sound processor (takes a digital input and separates it into 5.1 discrete outputs) and two vintage stereo amps. Since each amp has two-channels that gives me 4 discrete channels to drive a pair of front speakers and rear speakers.

Like you I didn't want (and don't need) really massive speakers, but I like vintage stuff, so I went with the smallest HPM's Pioneer made - HPM 40's.

I'm still waiting for the surround sound processor, the second amplifier and the second pair of HPM 40's, but here what the completed system will be:

4 HPM-40's

New Stuff:
Sony DVP-NS300

I can't tell you what it will sound like yet, but if the two-channel setup I have now is any indication it will be in-f*cking-credible!

With the SPEC-4 amp you have a great foundation to build on. If you wanted to go a similiar route, you could find a second SPEC amp for 4-channel surround - then you'd just need speakers and a surround sound processor.

I don't think a passive sub is the way to go - you'd really want a second amp to drive a passive sub, rather than piggy-backing off the SPEC-4, and if you had two amps it would be a waste to use it for a sub when you could drive another set of speakers with it or do some kind of bi-amping.

BTW, for the best stereo sound I've heard that two speakers are better than 4. So, unless you want to do surround like above, just invest more $ in one great pair.

09-23-2003, 07:10 PM
Thanks for your reply. Well, after reading numerous other posts, I went an ordered a Rava powered subwoofer.

Here is the specs:

09-23-2003, 10:21 PM
That's a GORGEOUS sub Turbota!

09-23-2003, 11:44 PM
The new guy is setting up a heck of a system there, ought sound and look real nice once the pieces are in place.

Next stop.............vinyl?

09-24-2003, 05:35 AM
Originally posted by DingusBoy
The new guy is setting up a heck of a system there, ought sound and look real nice once the pieces are in place.

Next stop.............vinyl?

No ... I got rid of all my old records and the Technics turntable years ago. I'm not a purist like so many folks here.

Other than CDs, I sure like the sound of the digital music you can order through a cable company though. Every imaginable type of music you could want (well, almost), and very high quality sound.

I wonder how many people here use those services?

I personally like 60s rock. Well, I went to high school in the 60s :)

Now I have to get rid of my older Sony 5 disc CD player. Won't play DVD or MP3.


09-24-2003, 05:40 AM
I was just thinking ... Looking through many of the posts in here, you don't ever hear much about people using Crown power amps.

They used to be the big ticket years ago.

I think Mark Levenson amps were also super high-end.

I guess the Search function may pull up some posts about them ..

09-24-2003, 11:19 AM
Years ago, I had a friend who loved classic rock 'n roll played at high volume. His electronics consisted of a McIntosh C26 preamp, I forget which McIntosh power amp (driving the smaller pair of Cerwin-Vegas with 12's he had) and a Crown DC-300A (driving the larger pair of CV's he had...those had 15's). In a small one-bedroom house. It was LOUD. very clean, not balanced in an audiophile sense at all and no imaging due to 4 speakers placed all around the room, but for just crankin' rock 'n roll for the sheer fun of it, unbeatable. :D

I loved it.


09-24-2003, 02:59 PM
You'll see Crown is professional set-up, they're ususally the amps of choice at concerts. Crowns are used locally here at the Jazz fest, lat time I checked anyway.:D

09-24-2003, 07:38 PM
I have a pair of Adcom GFA-565s for pure power. . .I use one for my SVS 20-39 sub. This amp puts out a lot of horsepower. . .Stable at 2 Ohms and less, enough power to drive my SVS wickedly loud!! Over 1000 damping factor. . .A shame to waste it on a sub but subs need power too. . . .I dont have big enough circuits in this house to run both at full tilt. . . .Might cause another blackout. . .LOL. .