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Pioneer, Marantz or Sunsui?

I need a little help. Which one of this receivers are the best one?




Power is not the focus, but sound quality!

Many thanks!

Re: Pioneer, Marantz or Sunsui?

Hands down my top pick is the Sansui AU/SU for integrated components, Sansui 9090db for receiver. For clarity, accuracy, imaging, slam and pure brute power, it was the only game in town if you couldn't afford McIntosh. It was certainly the top Japanese offering.
The Pioneer golden years were the Early 70's to the mid-late 80's, Marantz quality was great in the early 70's but was all but history by the 80's. (It has since made a dramatic turn-around in the last few years) Pioneer and Marantz were voiced entirely different in those days, Marantz was warmer, fuller lots of soul (Jazz, Classical, Acoustic) Pioneer was the rocker, the street brawler, the amp you peed off your neighbors with. Brighter, lots of punch/slam. It has an edge in reliability as well. (I do vintage repair as a side job). Now you get what you pay for, whatever vintage you chose, buy the flagship of that year (or close to it) this is especially important with Pioneer where their lowest offerings could be of mid-fi sound quality. Marantz usually didn't offer but three or four (five?) models in any given year and even their lowest offering was usually a quality product, whereas Pioneer made a dozen models most years including some very cheap offerings. I bought new and still own a Pioneer SX-650 for $150 in 1977. It isn't the last word in fidelity but forty years later it still rocks my workshop. I also bought Pioneers 1974 flagship the SX1010 to restore, the monster receiver that started the monster receiver wars of the 1970's that we all remember so fondly. The Sansui may beat it in sound quality, but you can get 95% of the performance at easily half the price.
You didn't mention Awia. I restored a flagship Awia (1977-78, brushed Alum) 120W/chan. Very nice amp, Clean at all playing levels, well built, monster power. Given most people don't think of Awia when they think high-end Japanese, you would be very pleasantly surprised, plus you could get one for a steal. if you wanted to consider the late 1980's, look at Kyocera. They only built one model and only for three years. But it is indeed a killer amp.

Re: Pioneer, Marantz or Sunsui?

I've owned both the Pioneer and Marantz models listed as well as many Sansuis from the same era as the one you listed. If the model you listed is based on the AU series from the same time I would go for that over the others, hands down! To me they have the best combination of accuracy/transparency and a warm and thick vintage tone that is glorious to spend hours listening to. Looks do play a part though I suppose and to me the Pioneer is the better looker of the three...I found mine a little harsh with an overemphasized bass response, and the Marantz is not the best example of the brand as it falls into a period where cost cutting was starting to show with some models, including the 1530

Re: Pioneer, Marantz or Sunsui?

Recapping that Pioneer with modern caps will work miracles. Nichicon Superthrough for the power supply, Elna Selmic II for all the bypass caps and quality name brand high-temp 105c caps for all the rest. If you really wanted to go nuts, most all the small signal transistors have Fairchild and ON Semiconductor substitutes that far outperform the originals. But you will clearly spend far more than it's retail value going down that road, ask me how I know. I restored a SX838 that I bought new as a teenager, it sounded nothing short of incredible when I got done with it, sold it for less than half what I had into it to make room for newer, better stuff. The new owner was doing backflips over it.
Full disclosure: I do this for a living on all ages, makes and models, High-end Pioneers have always had a special place in my heart. I also own the Sansui TU9500/SU9500 combo that makes up the test set for my repair work, and I have to agree with you, the Sansui most defiantly was the best Japanese offering of that era.

Pugsley's picture

Re: Pioneer, Marantz or Sunsui?

These are all mighty machines and will all sound fantastic (when fully restored - caps, transistors, pots cleaned, etc.).
Now I will say something outrageous and I will probably get chased and burned at the stake by transistor sniffers after saying it: Go with the one that looks best to you. If you like the looks, get it, have it serviced and it will be great.


Re: Pioneer, Marantz or Sunsui?

Well said. One caveat: get references for your repair tech. Some don't know what they are doing, some are just in it for the money and particularly don't care what the final product sounds like and last, a high shop fee is no guarantee you won't get one of the above.

Re: Pioneer, Marantz or Sunsui?

A very subjective question... Depends on each persons individual hearing tastes and what speakers you connect them to. Look at each units Freq. response. The further apart the numbers are, the more dynamic range it produces, assuming you have normal hearing ability.
You will find die hard Pioneer and Marantz fans that swear one is better than the other. It's an age old debate.
I personally favor older Kenwoods due to the fact I am deaf beyond 6Kz in one ear. They sound more "mellow" to me, much like the early to mid 70's Pioneers.

Re: Pioneer, Marantz or Sunsui?

My guess would be that the Marantz would sound a little better, but I am not familiar with the 1530. This could be just my personal preference though.

Re: Pioneer, Marantz or Sunsui?

Hello All:

Thank you for the opportunity to post on this board. Yes The older Marantz Kenwood, Pioneer, Sansui, Realistic, Onkyo, etc, all sound good. I recently recapped a Marantz 3300 pre amplifier and am driving it into a tube amplifier with a set of Yamaha 690 II speakers. Nothing really super high end but wow some of the songs sound clean and terrific. Not as mellow as the Class A tube amplifier but very close - Also don't forget things like room acoustics, hardwood floors, and drapery, all of which can gather trebles or throw bass - especially if the speaker is placed in a corner about a foot from the wall. I have a Marantz 4270 Quad which can be adjusted several ways, However, I have not had that specked out or recapped (as of yet). When I do this, I will send some info on it. Thank You