Sunday, November 30, 2008

Call Me Lightning: the Pioneer SA-606 Integrated Amplifier

Dum Dum Dum Do Day
Dum Dum Dum Do Day

See that girl who's smiling so brightly,
Dum Dum Dum Do Day

Well I reckon she's cool and I reckon rightly,
Dum Dum Dum Do Day

She's good looking and I ain't frightened,
Dum Dum Dum Do Day

I'm gonna show you why they call me lightning.
Dum Dum Dum Do Day

This particular Pioneer integrated amp is called Lightning because that’s what blew it up.

This SA-606 was born somewhere around 1973 (Orion is clueless) and died violently in what Mike delicately terms ‘an event’. That event took out half the power supply diodes and every single transistor short of the outputs, tone control circuit included. This amp probably should not have been restored based purely on cost benefit. It ran away on the Sencore, so we pulled the nicely mounted heatsink, and tested the outputs. They were intact so we figured re-cap it and figure it out from there. After my re-cap and Mike walking through transistor carnage we found ourselves committed to a very significant cost in time and parts.

Yes, even the little 3-legged beasties in the tone cardlet at the front left were torched. All caps were replaced except for the relatively modest main filters. This was a relatively easy amp to work on, but Pioneer made the bottom cover too small and several caps were very difficult to reach.

The interesting thing about the effort is the end product was essentially an electronic clean slate up to the outputs, lots of new parts in an old box. So, how does it sound?

Very, very good it turns out. This amp is not a power house, but it is a very lively performer and well suited to a bit of Cobwebs and Strange. Now where is that Who CD? Entwhistle’s bass leads on ‘Happy Jack’ or ‘Call Me Lightning’ are running through my head now hours after crappy YouTube renditions. Ahh, the sacrifices my art demands.

Anyway, this SA-606 is a bit rough around the edges cosmetically, but it sounds great.


Anonymous said...

How about the moving coil VU meters, were they fried too? I have one of these amps. and I love it. If it was to brake I'd want to repair it also.


Anonymous said...

hi there,i allready own an sa-706,i love this piece,& recently found an sa-606 about to be scrapped,i want to restore it ,a few components are missing ,so i am collecting informations.Can you help me with some substitutes for D26,Q19,Q20 ?

Nat said...

This particular 606 is long gone to a good home. As for substitutions, I will have to leave that to Mike. I am a Solder Monkey, Journeyman Class and leave the head scratching to him. I will try and remember to ask.

Rocket said...

great blog and great amp.....had a 706 but the power amp blew off...what a pitty.....

Evolve said...

I have this amp, Yes the very same one. I must say not to impressed with the quality of repair that was done. It has had a horrible buzz about a year after I purchased it.
I wounder if the guys would stand by there repair and fix this, or just charge an arm and a leg to fix there own work.