Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Integrated Amplifier - Pioneer SA-8500

In the realm of vintage Hi-Fi, few pieces of gear are as immediately recognizable as silver-faced Pioneer components. The heyday of these was 1975 to 1980 and there are plenty of Web sites dedicated to them. John Week’s site is packed with great information on these units, as is the Silver Pioneer site HERE.

For the SA-8500, terrific industrial design met great electrical engineering to produce a robust, 60 watt-per-channel integrated amplifier that still sounds great after 33 years. This particular model had a few minor scratches and a little static on the function selector, but sounded terrific, and looked great with the TX-9500 tuner (look for it in tomorrow's post). Love the confident snap of those hefty toggle switches!

I had this sitting on my workbench for about a month, hooked up to my pair of test speakers – Bose 201’s. Why use Bose speakers for testing? Ever fry a pair of speakers by plugging them into an amplifier with a DC offset of 75 volts? Exactly. See, I don’t like Bose, so frying these would just rid the world of one more pair of them. Of course then I’d have to find another pair of junky speakers. . .easy enough – Bose are all over Craig’s List! Anyway, while this amplifier was on my workbench, my cat discovered it and seemed to always know that when the music stopped, it would soon be cool enough to curl up on top of it. It became his "spot" for about a month. Then one day, in typical cat fashion, he abandoned it – never went near it again. I think I’ll bring the Bose down and introduce them as scratching posts.

Point worth noting, cat hair CAN make its way into vent holes, sticking to transformers and goopy circuit boards, and it takes a LOT of compressed air to clean it off.

Have any photos or stories about your Pioneer SA-8500? Please leave a comment or email me, and I’ll share them with the HiFiCollector.com community.

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  1. I have this set-up, 9500&8500. I am the original owner. I have a cat. 1+1+1= fried amp, fried cat. Now I am trying to repair the 8500. Should I look for another 8500 to be used for parts?? Should I trust my local Hi-Fi Guy?? Should I just be happy with me Kenwood M2A Basic?

    Kitty also nailed a H&K Citation 16. Who repairs these? and a RT-701 side by side R2R. She was heading for the Pentium4/NEC monitor when she met her last stand.


  2. I have owned a 9500 since the 70's and coupled with the "Top o' the Line" Finco FM antenna I was able to record the KingBiscuit Flour Hour outta Chicago ( 95 mi nw of me ) I with great clarity.

  3. I have a 8500 that I picked up at a garage sale for free, guy didn't know if it even worked, got it from his dad and because it was not a home theater receiver he did not want it so he gave it to me. Took it home thinking it was toast and OMG it worked and pounded my Energy test speakers like I fell in love with it pounding. The only thing I later found wrong with it was the two 15000uf CAPS off the PS were leaking 60HZ into the DC and so you heard that 60Hz hum coming out of the speakers. So I replaced them and this thing sounds so fantastic I cannot part with it. I put my Dynaco FM Stereo tuner on it and loved it so much I replaced my Yamaha home theater receiver in my offcie and paired them up on my older Polk Audio speakers and this combination is magic to the ears. Connected CD player up and marriage made in heaven.

    I just want to agree that BOSE make great step stools or tire blocks when you jack your car up to replace your brake pads, but thats about all they are good for or blowing them up because they are crap.

    Marvin S
    Oakville, ON CANADA

  4. Had my 8500 amp. since it was new. Sorta wished I had the 9500 now. I do think it's time to clean all the pots and switches. It should last another 30+ years!

  5. had my 8500ii since about 1977, had it packed away for 20 yrs, took it out to play some old lps, having some problems with static on some controls but otherwise works great, any suggestions on the static.

  6. Hi - Regarding static, you'll want to unplug the unit, remove the cover from the chassis and locate the knobs (pots) that are giving you static. Sometimes these are more easily accessed from the under-side of the unit. Spray DeoxIT (or similar tuner cleaner) onto the pots - inner workings of the knobs ,while turning them dozens of times back and forth. Do this for each knob. Let dry one hour, replace cover, plug-in and see how it sounds. Good luck! :)

    1. Will give it a go, thanks Tom!!

  7. In the realm of vintage Hi-Fi, few pieces of gear are as immediately recognizable as silver-faced Pioneer components. The heyday of these was ... pioneeramp.blogspot.com

  8. Just picked up one today hooked it to my klipsch belles omg.......then later on hook them up to dx-8's Cerwin vegas.....

  9. I have a 1976 SA-8500 for sale. I’m the original owner. Aside the pilot lamp not illuminating, this amp is in excellent working condition.



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