THE TRENDSETTER !
Non-Switching amp using the Vari-Bias circuit and high-speed RET -ring emitters transistors with a high fT- plus a huge toroidal transformer, two rows of shark-fins heatsinks and low-NFB amounts in coherence with the earlier Z1 series.
Vari-Bias consists of a high-speed servo which monitors input signals to feed the final transistors the necessary bias according to input level. The output transistors thus never switch off : no switching distortion.
Lots of flashy lit dots, backlit pictograms and diagrams, tiny push-buttons and two rows of vertical LED meters which distinguished the Communication Components series.
By japanese standards, this wasn't high-end : just good feature-packed mid-end components.
Pioneer in Japan, as often there, didn't advertise for the A-9 or the CT-980 but for the A-780 and CT-780... which were not our A-7 and CT-7.
The export versions of most Communication Components were upped and export-only versions of the original japanese components : our A-9 is an upped A-980 and the japanese A-780 is somewhere between our A-7 and A-5. The export SX receivers didn't exist in Japan either.
The A-9 and A-980 are in fact completely different amplifiers, inside and outside : different trafo, different layout, different power boards, different functions... different everything ! See the A-980 page for the details.
Only the F-9 tuner and CT-9R recorder were identical on all markets : F-780 and CT-980.
The A-9 is a very healthy amplifier just the same, despite the oh-so-modern looks which probably turned down a few potential customers. It did turn me down back then, now I find it funny and naive enough to be desirable :-)
Apart from the colorful picto-graphs to designate sources which were found here and there until 1984, this radical design didn't set a trend at all.
Not even by Pioneer, for the next lineup was adorned with an oh-so-classic silver knobs layout as on the A-80.