Pioneer Exclusive C3

1 9 7 3 may 1973
1 9 8 0 1980

Superlative and first of a long-lived series which ended with the M-8 in the late 1990s.

Exclusive is a Pioneer series which from its inception produced only the best possible sources (P3, P3a, P10, F3) and high-end horn systems, the latter sharing some with Pioneer's TAD professional division.

Those with a sharp eye will recognize visual similarities with the SPEC-1 preamplifier (C-73 in Japan) but this is better, even better, bigger and much pricier.

The phono stage is a balanced +/- power supply with differential amplifiers and Class-A SEPP equalizer with 140V power-supply (yes : 140V !) for a 700mV overload capacity with a 2,5mV input signal. Yes : 700mV.

The RIAA EQ section is all ±1% metallized and ±2% styrol caps and all Class-A of course.

The attenuator is a Tokyo Ko-On Denpa 50kOhm 4-gang 22-points fixed resistor sealed tube with ± 0,2dB accuracy ; it was developed in 1971, two years before the launch of the Exclusive series.

The many NF filters and fixed-resistor (again) tone controls (main and sub, both CR type) allow "9801 minutely different tonal responses".

Glass-epoxy PCBs, polyester-film caps as input couplers, and a truly luxurious enclosure make the C3 an Exclusive.

Upgraded as Exclusive C3a in late 1979 (mainly an exchange of Tokyo Ko-On Denpa fixed resistor attenuators) and finally replaced by the much awarded Exclusive C5 in 1982.

It seems the worldwide distribution of the Exclusive series was planned and attempted with the original C3 and Exclusive M3 but never completely carried on.

Only the Exclusive M6 made a brief appearance in some export markets but none of the later preamps made it outside Japan.
The last Exclusive C7 and Exclusive M7 were officially shown here and there but mainly sold to those circling... the proper circles. And having the cash to do so.

Pioneer in Japan didn't advertise much for the original C3 / M3 combo, and always in simple b/w, but sold plenty nevertheless - plenty.

The very interesting design prototyping images will be added at a later date, alongwith a few more detailed images of the attenuator (unsealed) and underside.

Pioneer Exclusive C3, image 1 Pioneer Exclusive C3, image 2 Pioneer Exclusive C3, image 3
Pioneer Exclusive C3 specifications
Title Value
Semiconductors : 64 transistors
36 diodes
Input terminals : phono 1 (2,5mV / 50kOhm)
phono 3 (2,5mV / 50kOhm)
phono 2 (2,5mV...10mV / 25kOhm - 50kOhm - 100kOhm)
tuner (150mV / 100kOhm)
aux. 1 (150mV / 100kOhm)
aux. 2 (150mV / 100kOhm)
aux. 3 (150mV...infinity / 100kOhm)
tape play 1 (150mV / 100kOhm)
tape play 2 (150mV / 100kOhm)
tape play 3 (150mV / 100kOhm)
Phono 1 / 3 overload : 700mV (RMS
1,97V (p-p, 1Khz ; 0,05% THD)
Phono 2 overload : 700mV...1,4V (RMS)
1,97V...3,95V (p-p, 1Khz ; 0,05% THD)
Tape 1 / 2 / 3 outputs : 150mV / 2,5kOhm
Preamp 1 / 2 outputs : 2V / 600 Ohm (rated)
15V / 600 Ohm (max.)
Headphones output : 170mV / 40 Ohm (100mV output)
500mV / 40 Ohm (max.)
THD : < 0,03% (2V output)
< 0,05% (15V output)
Frequency response : 20Hz...20Khz (+0 / -0,5dB)
10Hz...90Khz (+0 / -1dB)
RIAA response : 30Hz...15Khz (± 0,2dB)
Bass control : ±7,5dB (main, 100Hz)
±6dB (sub, 50Hz)
Treble control : ±7,5dB (main, 10Khz)
±6dB (sub, 20Khz)
Low filter : 12dB/oct. below 12Hz
18dB/oct. below 30Hz
High filter : 12dB/oct. above 12Khz
18dB/oct. above 8Khz
S/N ratio : 70dB (phono, IHF-A)
90dB (line, IHF-A)
Attenuator switch : -15dB or -30dB
PC : 28W
Dimensions : 46,8 x 20,6 x 34,2cm
Weight : 12,5kg.
List price : 315,000¥ (1973...1980)
Pioneer Exclusive C3 : 0 topic
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page online since : january 2006
page updated : october 2010
page type : LGT / KNB
page weight : 223.12 Kb / 0 b

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