Pioneer CT-A9

1 9 8 3 september 1983
1 9 8 5 1985

Produced at a time LP sales had touched bottom and blank media (ie. cassettes) had replaced the former as market leader, the CT-A9 is Pioneer's big early 1980s biggie.

The CT-A9 was the first to sport the new "Reference Master Mechanism" : closed-loop dual capstan with a special capstan edge finish to avoid slippage and secure firm traction.

The RMM's frame rests on a steel plate, the support of the three heads is of two pressure-diecast zinc pieces adjusted with extremely low tolerance. The capstan is moved by a Quartz-regulated high-torque Hall-effect brushless & coreless DC motor.

This mechanism is completely different than the one used in either the CT-F1250 (very old), CT-A1 (old) or CT-9R (CT-980 in Japan, newer) ; I believe it was however carried into the later CT-91 and CT-93 later in the 1980s.

The Rec & Play heads are of low-loss Sendust Ribbon "which limit 3rd harmonic distortion" ; the play head has a narrow gap of 0,6µm.
Componentry is of high-quality : gold-plated head wiring, metal film resistors, select audio capacitors, plus Dual-FET inputs, and SEPP & DC circuits.

All of this is, of course, 4-bit micro-computer controlled for all that touches speed stability, auto-loading (motorized door + reel slack reducing - "may not work well if the cassette's shell is transparent"), auto track & blank search, index scan, repeat functions, tape capacity display and... BLE and MOL.

BLE is Pioneer's own tape analyzing system which automatically sets level, Bias and EQ for each tape inserted.

MOL is Pioneer's own Bias adjusting in view of a preset optimal output level where no more than 3% THD is reached.
PEAK bias allows a large response for popular rock music ; UNDER bias shifts bias up at the high frequencies for an extended and more pronounced high-frequency response ; OVER bias puts forward mid and low frequencies.
All this into a box much smaller than the CT-A1 1979 statement piece - progress I guess.

The CT-A9 also sported what was probably the largest FL display available then : 35 segments !

The CT-A9 was first available in silver color - september 1983. The japanese silver version could receive JT-A9 sideburns while export models remained bare.
The later black version, march 1984, had Pioneer's 1984 blue "digital" logo added above the eject button. No differences other than cosmetics between the original silver and digital-tagged black versions but that black version was exported in some markets under the CT-A9X name, sans sideburns.

Really updated along the smaller CT-A7 but only for the japanese market as CT-A9D in 1985, in black only, still with sideburns, minor redesigns for the cassette lid (not good) and main transport keys (very good) and, mostly, the introduction of Laser Amorphous heads.

Both CT-A9 and CT-A9D are quite probably analogue recorders to rediscover, from a time there was no alternative : CD-R was über-science-fiction, PCM was too expensive, open-reel recorders were bulky and old-fashioned.
Cassette it was.

Pioneer CT-A9, image 1 Pioneer CT-A9, image 2 Pioneer CT-A9, image 3 Pioneer CT-A9, image 4
Pioneer CT-A9 specifications
Title Value
Track type : 4 channel /2 track stereophonic
Recording head : 1x ribbon sendust
Playback head : 1x ribbon sendust
Erasing head : 1x special alloy
Motor with Constant Speed : 1x quartz PLL direct-drive coreless capstan
Reel Driving Motor : 1x coreless DC high-torque
Wow & flutter : < than 0.018% (WRMS)
± 0,048% (DIN)
Frequency response : 20Hz...21Khz
(-20db ; 30Hz...19Khz, ±3dB, Type I)
(-20dB ; 25Hz...20Khz, ±3dB, Type II)
20Hz...11k Hz
(0dB, Type II)
(-20dB ; 25Hz...21Khz, ±3dB Type IV)
20Hz...16kz (0dB, ±3dB Type IV)
S/N ratio : > 58dB (Dolby off)
More than 70dB above 5Khz (Dolby C on)
THD : < 0,8% (0dB)
Inputs : 2x line (63mV / 100 kOhm)
Outputs : 2x line (630mV / 7 kOhm)
1x headphone (0,45mW / 8 Ohm)
PC : 54W
Dimensions : 42 x 13 x 37,4cm
Weight : 10kg
List price : 145,000¥
Pioneer CT-A9 : 0 topic
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page online since : november 2008
page updated : march 2010
page type : LGT / KNB
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