Pioneer Z1 – all models of the famous first series

Virtually all major Japanese audio manufacturers produced special versions of their components in the 1980s for the domestic market only. There were even entire series that were unknown outside of Japan. One of these series is the legendary Pioneer Z1 components, distinguished not only by their original design, but also by unique technical solutions.


Pioneer PL-L1

Pioneer PL-L1 turntable was released at the end of 1978 and is considered the first model in the series. True, the letter Z was not yet in its name. This is the best turntable of the company, equipped with a tangential tonearm, on the basis of which the popular model PL-L1000 was later made. The direct drive spinner featured the use of a Stable Hanging Rotor engine, minimal detonation and rotational fluctuations, and a solid weight of 26 kilograms. The Pioneer PL-L1 supported two speeds – 33.3 and 45 rpm and was sold for 200,000 yen.

Pioneer C-Z1/C-Z1a

The original Pioneer C-Z1/C-Z1a preamplifier was released at the end of 1979 and was produced in a modernized form until 1984. It used proprietary SLM (Super Linear Circuit) modules and a circuit without negative feedback. The preamp had a built-in phono stage for MM heads with switchable input impedance and capacitance. Only high-quality capacitors and resistors were present in the signal circuits, all wiring was done with oxygen-free copper. The Pioneer C-Z1/C-Z1a weighed 12 kilograms and cost 460,000 yen.

Pioneer M-Z1/M-Z1a

The Z Series mono power amplifiers were housed in stunning black cabinets, operated in Class A and delivered up to 60 watts per channel into 8 ohms. Pioneer M-Z1/M-Z1a also used a circuit without negative feedback and a Super Linear Circuit, which used two transistors – the second compensated for the non-linear distortions of the first. Specially selected components, thick printed circuit boards, oxygen-free copper wires – excellent! Each monoblock weighed 19.1 kilograms, the price for a pair was 640,000 yen. The Pioneer M-Z1/M-Z1a was produced from 1980 to 1984.

Pioneer S-F1/S-F1 Custom

The rarest speakers with incredible square drivers with beryllium cones! Only a few dozen pairs were produced. The four-way configuration included a 2.6 cm tweeter, a 6 cm tweeter, a 15 cm mid-range driver and a powerful 40 cm woofer. The crossover frequencies were set to 500, 2500 and 8000 Hz. The sensitivity was 94dB, the nominal impedance was 8 ohms. The Pioneer S-F1/S-F1 Custom was produced in two versions from 1979 to 1982, the weight of each speaker was 108 kilograms, the price started at 850,000 yen.

Pioneer H-Z1

A special moving-coil booster was produced from 1980 to 1984 for wealthy vinyl lovers – the price of the model was 230,000 yen! It could work with heads with sensitivity from 0.0625 to 0.2mV, had a switchable input resistance of 10/47/100/470 ohms and provided an output voltage of 2.5 mV. The Pioneer H-Z1 weighed an impressive 7.6 kilograms.

Pioneer P-D1

Pioneer P-D1 – first CD player in the history of the company was released precisely as part of the Z series. In addition to the laser unit and digital-to-analog converter, all structural elements were Pioneer’s own production. The model was produced for a short time – from 1982 to 1983, and could boast of excellent workmanship. Since the first generation of players of the new format did not differ in outstanding sound quality, this device is more of a collector’s value – excellent design and 12.1 kg of weight. The retail price of Pioneer P-D1 at the time of release was 198,000 yen.

Pioneer CT-A1

It was in the Z series that the best cassette deck of the company was released, which appeared on the market in 1979 and was produced until 1983. The Pioneer CT-A1 had a closed path with two capstans, three heads, an engine with quartz stabilization. For tuning, a proprietary BLE automatic calibration system was used, a discrete audio path was made on PNP/NPN transistors. The signal-to-noise ratio with type 4 film (Metal) and Dolby enabled was over 70dB, and the knock ratio was less than 0.03%. The film type switch had four positions (including a separate one for Fe-Cr), the cassette holder had a beautiful backlight, and the level indicators were LED. Pioneer CT-A1 weighed 18 kilograms and cost 230,000 yen.

More vintage audio equipment from the 70s and 80s here.