Pioneer Exclusive C7

Pioneer Exclusive C7a

1 9 9 1 september 1991
1 9 9 6 august 1996
2 0 0 2 c.2002

Almost completely unknown outside Japan, the ultimate Exclusive units didn't sell much in Japan either : the european and american revenge on high-end audio had already started to bark back at the japanese industry.

Introduced at the peak of the market and that of the financial bubble, the Exclusive C7 is an ultra-rarity which, like Sony's TA-ER1, didn't rely on super-duper sci-fi circuits but on plain minutious engineering of every possible detail to achieve utmost transparency and musicality - with a 0,1 Ohm output !

The heart of the Exclusive C7 therefore isn't a special potted circuit with mysterious attributes but the research of "zero error in stereophonic transmission" by way ultra chassis structure, ultra power-supplies & regulations, ultra parts and ultra-low magnetic leakage.

Having only a moving-magnet phono input (no MC here !) makes the C7 a high-level preamplifier with buffer amplifiers placed between the input selector and the volume attenuator, then between the same attenuator and the phase switch.
The flat amp is an aluminium-core hybrid IC for excellent conductivity and non-magnetic properties.

The attenuator is the same 40-steps calibrated resistance array allowing a maximum of 0,5dB balance error also used in the A-09, built by Tokyo KO-ON Denpa.
In the C7, however, the resistance arrays themselves are deported to the back of the enclosure and the front knob only acts as "commander" to two switching motors.

Said motors only engage electrically when the front knob is touched so unless you're a constant-adjusting freak, there will only be two resistances and a buffer amp between input and output.

Power supply is done with three transformers (left, right and control), special complementary capacitors cancelling their respective magnetic fields, immensely generous heatsinking à la Sony and separate hot/ground grounding

All inputs and front switches are relay-driven and internal wiring is all made with 99,99% pure OFC.

The chassis is so cast that disformation by heat or weight cannot happen (sides, center and back) or with negligible amount (center front).
PCBs are all monuted "floating" and the AC cord is made of 6-core OFC wiring with a special pigment so that the material of the insulation doesn't alter the copper's conductivity.

There are two versions of the Exclusive C7 and that is where the clarity and simplicity of Pioneer's production schemes are a bit... disrupted.

The C7 is the first (1991), the C7a is the revised version (1996).
Normally, only a taller "power" button and the back plug made for the Exclusive V7 video switcher separates the original C7 from the first series of C7a.

However, both versions can be found with or without the back V7 plug and the C7a can be found either with Pioneer's usual s/n scheme and T-Tag (PNR and MA1000722S for instance ; early batches) or with something which indicates a manufacturing relocation elsewhere for the end of the production trail...

If one were to take actual production into account for the versions, this would make three : if PNR is on the back of the later C7a, there is no T-Tag logo at all.
Pioneer having always been very strict regarding this, my guess is that relocation for assembly did happen, whatever the reason.

Unlike the accompanying Exclusive M7 power-amplifier which later saw an Exclusive M8 version, the Exclusive C7 remained throughout its discreet "career" the original C7 (whether 7 or 7a) and Pioneer's very last high-end two-channel component.

Although vanishing from Pioneer's priorities after the revised "a" version, Pioneer's "7", like Sony's R10 units, remained available on order only for a few (wealthy) cognoscenti until about 2002.

It is however a pity the C7 was designed so bluntly - maybe a way to hint at what it holds which is impressive to say the least but I can think of a number of ways to have done that central redundancy with more grace and coherence...

But all accounts made of actual users say the same : this is part of the top five all-time best.

See a C7a of the first kind here and another of the later kind here as well ; a C7 at the same source.

Pioneer Exclusive C7, image 1 Pioneer Exclusive C7, image 2 Pioneer Exclusive C7, image 3
Pioneer Exclusive C7 specifications
Title Value
Inputs Inputs
MM 2,5mV / 50kOhm
CD 150mV / 50kOhm
Tuner 150mV / 50kOhm
Line 1 > 5 150mV / 50kOhm
Tape 1 & 2 150mV / 50kOhm
Balanced 1 & 2 150mV / 600kOhm
Maximum phono input > 200mV
Outputs Outputs
Tape 1 & 2 150mV / 1kOhm
RCA 1V / 0,1 Ohm
XLR 1V / 200 Ohm
Maximum output level Maximum output level
tape 1 & 2 12V
Line 4 & 5 12V
RCA > 5V (600 Ohm)
XLR > 3V (600 Ohm)
> 5V (10kOhm)
S/N ratio S/N ratio
MM 87dB
lines 105dB
General General
PC : 70W
Dimensions : 46 x 15,8 x 44,6cm
Weight : 27,5kg.
List price : 1,200,000¥ (C7 & C7a)
Pioneer Exclusive C7 : 1 topic
(last updated topic shows up first)
  • Pioneer exclusive C7                             (15)last updated by JwFabrie - 21/08/2011, 17H13
page online since : march 2007
page updated : november 2010
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