Pioneer A-30K Integrated Amplifier
The Pioneer A-30K
In 1938 the world was introduced to Nozomu Matsumoto’s stunning line of Japanese electronics under the moniker of Pioneer.
Now, over seventy years on and with the reintroduction of phono inputs, quality materials and jog dials, Pioneer’s latest range of stereo amplifiers are returning to the very design principles that made them leaders in audio electronics.
Vinyl’s return to the fore has garnered equal attention in the world of analogue equipment with a lot of our customers looking for designs and materials reminiscent of high fidelities heyday. Timber finishes from their speakers and turntables, yes, but quality materials from their amplifiers too. Pioneer’s A-30K with it’s brushed aluminium front panel and jog dials is exactly that. It’s a throaty 40W per channel stereo amplifier with inbuilt phono stage aimed directly at the analogue audio market and the kind of customer searching for that gold of old.
Remember when amplifiers looked like amplifiers? They were big, chunky metal chassis with huge jog dials and levers to change input selection, attenuate volume and mess with your tone controls. There’s was a certain brawn to them. They weren’t hidden away, they were work’s of art. They took pride of place in the home and as such became testaments to the seriousness of one’s attitude toward their music. This is exactly what you get with the Pioneer A-30K. It’s a big ol’ beast of an amplifier with no digital interface for tone control or input selection, just jog dials and brushed aluminium. And as you change your input selection or adjust treble, there’s a tactile sense of quality from the material choice and fine finishes. And that’s the point, right! People want this aesthetic in their homes once again. They want to be present with their music and their equipment as well.
So let’s break it down.
To accompany it’s 40W per channel of power the A-30K offers four separate RCA line inputs, a moving magnet phono stage, speakers A/B, a quarter inch headphone jack, direct mode (for isolating tone controls), and power amp direct. Now, the power amp direct is a nice touch for those contemplating future upgrades. Should you incorporate a separate preamplifier for line inputs, outputs and volume, the Pioneer A-30K bypasses its internal volume switch, mode selector, balance and tone control circuits and offers a significantly improved audio playback. And it makes sense, too. Because the potential to customise and refine analogue audio is so much broader than its digital counterpoints, once you begin tinkering with your cartridges, your platter materials, cables and the like, the inclination is almost too powerful not to upgrade your electronics as well.
Obviously the big inclusion to note for vinyl junkies is the inbuilt moving magnet phono preamplifier. Some time around the nineties amplifier manufactures removed this component from their products, what with the broader listening community moving away from vinyl records. But not any more! The return of vinyl’s rein has seen a return to inbuilt phono preamplifiers and the A-30K is no different. This is a serious two channel amplifier for serious two channel listeners. No bells. No whistles. No excess features. Just the bare essentials to play vinyl records and draw beautiful detail from them.
But it’s all for nothing if the sound’s no good, and in the past there’s been a number of questions looming over Class D amplification. Though highly efficient, eliminating the need for huge power transformers, heat-sinks, troves of transistors and the like, distortion challenges have plagued Class D amplification. However, this issue has been significantly diminished thanks to Pioneer’s Direct Energy Design and the introduction of the latest ICEpower technology. Intelligent, Compact, Efficient and powerful solutions is the claim from the Danish Class D technicians, and the results speak for themselves. The Pioneer A-30K is a testament to contemporary Class D technology, with significant punch in the mid to low frequencies, detail in the upper range and super low distortion rates. It’s a badass amplifier delivering detailed, high fidelity audio for a fraction of the cost.
So it’s a little of the old mixed with a little of the new from the Pioneer A-30K. Under the hood this amplifier is entirely new-school, with powerful output amplification from Class D computer chips. But the external shell is a complete throwback to the days of high fidelities reign. Brushed aluminium, jog dials for volume, input selection and tone controls and no digital interface. This is a contemporary amplifier with the feel of an audio component 50 years its senior, a cool combination and a great achievement from the guys at Pioneer. If you’re looking for a truly affordable, contemporary amplifier reminiscent of that seventies high fidelity aesthetic then the Pioneer A-30K integrated amplifier might just be for you.