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Pioneer A 400X

Italian version

The Pioneer A 400X is a 60 watts integrated amplifier that clearly claims some audiophile heritage: it is very simple (I mean, no useless facilities) and it seems well designed and crafted.
It has earned some good reputation worldwide (together with his brother A 400) and it seems ready to prove that commercial Japanese amplifiers aren't always all that bad.

How does it sound
Firstly the sound of this amplifier is a bit strange: one immediately understands that it is different from the plethora of Japanese 60 watters but it does not convince.
After an hour of burn-in its real behaviour becomes clearer and clearer.

We'd better start saying what this amplifier is NOT:
it is not a very dynamically involving amplifier. Plus one hardly believes it does have the claimed 60 watts.
Also it is not a champion in the definition department.
It is not very good when it comes to control and drive the woofers and its bass range is slow and sometimes out of control, though impressive.

We can say it is a pretty euphonic amplifier with a very warm and velvet-like sound.
Incredibly slow, it reminds some big amplifiers of the 70s when the ability to control the woofers was a not so popular feature.
When mated to difficult-to-drive and bass extended loudspeakers like the Chario Hyper 2 mkII it shows all its limits and even a tiny amplifier like the Rotel RA 920 AX (20 watts) has been able to sound better.
But, when coupled with well-controlled and easy_to_drive loudspeakers it sounds classy, warm and old-fashioned with nice highs and convincing mids.
Imaging is precise and even depth, a very difficult test for budget amplifiers, is good.

We can say that it is a strange amplifier, with a very peculiar sound that clearly makes it appear different from the rest. But, because of this not so universal sound it needs to be understood and well mated. We'd advice fast, clean and sharp loudspeakers and cables for a perfect match. Using a better AC cord could help too.
To be listened carefully before buying and not for the first hour. Let it become warm then listen to it.

Copyright © 1997 Lucio Cadeddu

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