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Pioneer A400 phono stage

Diggerpitt

Active member
Mar 15, 2021
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Hi,
I have a Pioneer A400 but I no longer like the sound.I’ve purchased a Cambridge Audio A1 MK1 as a bit of a stop gap.Now the A1 doesn’t have a phono stage but the A400 does.
I thought I could connect the two amps together ,phono into the A400 then connected via the tape out of the Pioneer into one of the line in connections on the A1.
All I can hear coming through is a very faint sound similar to just listening to the stylus on the turntable.Is this right?

I get the same result if I connect anything through the tape out of the A400 into the A1.

Any advice would be welcome.
Thanks
 

Al ears

Moderator
Your best option is to buy an external phono preamp for your Cambridge as it sounds like the tape out on A400 isn't working properly as these should be outputting 1-1.5 volts. Is it a switching issue. What do you have selected as source on the A400?
 

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
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Hi,
I thought I could connect the two amps together ,phono into the A400 then connected via the tape out of the Pioneer into one of the line in connections on the A1.
You're right to think that.
Looks like the A400 has a rec out selector, if it has?? no doubt you've set that to phono (in addition to selecting phono on play source selector?).
(Of course) the Pioneer is powered up, so no reason why it shouldn't be giving phono amp out of its tape outs.
 

Diggerpitt

Active member
Mar 15, 2021
24
4
25
Your best option is to buy an external phono preamp for your Cambridge as it sounds like the tape out on A400 isn't working properly as these should be outputting 1-1.5 volts. Is it a switching issue. What do you have selected as source on the A400?
Not what I wanted to hear really.I set the input to phone and the output to source.

As far as the Cambridge is concerned I’ll either have to buy a separate phono stage or alternatively I’m looking at a NAD 3130 which had a pretty good phono stage,or so I’ve read.
 

Diggerpitt

Active member
Mar 15, 2021
24
4
25
You're right to think that.
Looks like the A400 has a rec out selector, if it has?? no doubt you've set that to phono (in addition to selecting phono on play source selector?).
(Of course) the Pioneer is powered up, so no reason why it shouldn't be giving phono amp out of its tape outs.
Yes I’ve done all those.No joy.I’ve set the output to source
 

Diggerpitt

Active member
Mar 15, 2021
24
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25
Not what I wanted to hear really.I set the input to phone and the output to source.

As far as the Cambridge is concerned I’ll either have to buy a separate phono stage or alternatively I’m looking at a NAD 3130 which had a pretty good phono stage,or so I’ve read.


what’s your opinion on the Cambridge?Worth getting a separate phono stage for it,repairing the A400 or go for the NAD?
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
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I've not heard A400 but out of curiosity got myself A1 once (long ago). It's an ok amp. Best thing about it is that it's musical, but don't count for it to retrieve any detail. What's caused you to stop liking A400? Have you changed speakers?

EDIT
To my understanding A400 should be a far superior amp.
 
Last edited:

Diggerpitt

Active member
Mar 15, 2021
24
4
25
I've not heard A400 but out of curiosity got myself A1 once (long ago). It's an ok amp. Best thing about it is that it's musical, but don't count for it to retrieve any detail. What's caused you to stop liking A400? Have you changed speakers?

EDIT
To my understanding A400 should be a far superior amp.
Yes as you stated the Pioneer A400 is a far superior amp but it needs,as I understand top quality sources and speaker for it to shine otherwise it highlights deficiencies in the system.I haven’t used it in 20 years when I used Wharefdale 505.2s. I think my taste in how I like my music to sound has changed.I find the A400 very harsh to my ears.Listenig to say Sia with her vocal range on high volume makes my ears stand on edge whereas the A1 is a bit softer and more pleasant and I’m able to listen for longer without turning down the volume.My speakers aren’t anything special,a set of Monitor Audio Bronze BC2s
 

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
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I'm still thinking about that tape out issue on your A400.
All the pictures I've seen are small and blurred but it looks as if it's got got tape to tape dubbing, meaning you've got 2 sets of tape outputs (2 L/R pairs) - am I right?
So, just to be clear:
The phono and all other sources play perfectly well through the amp to its speakers.
But no source is ever available on either of the 2 tape outputs on both channels
(apart from what you described as the weak sound you get from a stylus in vinyl).

I would have lost money betting against such a fault......probably be a fairly simple cure - and maybe one that should be done - whether or not you decide to sell it?
 

Diggerpitt

Active member
Mar 15, 2021
24
4
25
I'm still thinking about that tape out issue on your A400.
All the pictures I've seen are small and blurred but it looks as if it's got got tape to tape dubbing, meaning you've got 2 sets of tape outputs (2 L/R pairs) - am I right?
So, just to be clear:
The phono and all other sources play perfectly well through the amp to its speakers.
But no source is ever available on either of the 2 tape outputs on both channels
(apart from what you described as the weak sound you get from a stylus in vinyl).

I would have lost money betting against such a fault......probably be a fairly simple cure - and maybe one that should be done - whether or not you decide to sell it?
yes there are 2 tape outputs and yes no source is available on both channels.

This is a message I’ve had outside of this forum:

“”The A400s tape output won't work that way IIRC, if it does I wouldn't recommend it because it's known to cause slight damage to components inside.
You'd need an amplifier with dedicated preamp outputs for it to work well and safely. Plus through the tape loops is like having two preamps which can cause oscillation issues with the power amplifier stage of your Cambridge Audio amp. It's just not worth the risks.

I would definitely get the A400 restored at some point yet right now, your monies are best going into a separate phono stage from a dedicated brand. They're always a good investment with added benefits.
Separate phono stage is my shout, by a long way.

Hope this helps! 😁””

so there you go.
 

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
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yes there are 2 tape outputs and yes no source is available on both channels.

This is a message I’ve had outside of this forum:

“”The A400s tape output won't work that way IIRC, if it does I wouldn't recommend it because it's known to cause slight damage to components inside.
You'd need an amplifier with dedicated preamp outputs for it to work well and safely. Plus through the tape loops is like having two preamps which can cause oscillation issues with the power amplifier stage of your Cambridge Audio amp. It's just not worth the risks.

I would definitely get the A400 restored at some point yet right now, your monies are best going into a separate phono stage from a dedicated brand. They're always a good investment with added benefits.
Separate phono stage is my shout, by a long way.

Hope this helps! 😁””

so there you go.
I'm afraid that couldn't possibly help anyone.
There is no way under the sun that any tape output could cause 'oscillation' when driving the line input of your Cambridge (or any other) amp.
As for the bit where he says, 'if it does (work) I wouldn't recommend it because it's known to cause slight damage to components inside'.....:)
Then there's the advice that 'you need an amp with dedicated preamp outputs'.
You don't.

Maybe you fancy buying a standalone phono preamp, but don't be influenced by the above.
Just say if you're anywhere near South Essex - I'd like to investigate your A400.
 
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Diggerpitt

Active member
Mar 15, 2021
24
4
25
I'm afraid that couldn't possibly help anyone.
There is no way under the sun that any tape output could cause 'oscillation' when driving the line input of your Cambridge (or any other) amp.
As for the bit where he says, 'if it does (work) I wouldn't recommend it because it's known to cause slight damage to components inside'.....:)
Then there's the advice that 'you need an amp with dedicated preamp outputs'.
You don't.

Maybe you fancy buying a standalone phono preamp, but don't be influenced by the above.
Just say if you're anywhere near South Essex - I'd like to investigate your A400.
Unfortunately I don’t live anywhere near you,and as for taking advice and being influenced I’m trying to get as much advice as possible to enable me to make some sort of informed choice.I don’t know what should work or not to be honest so I’m relying on and hoping you lot can help.
I’m well and truly stuck now lol.The joys of getting into hifi.I’ve tried reversing the roles and connected a streamer from tape out on the Cambridge A1 into the A400 and no sound that way either.
These are my options:

Keep my A400 and find a set of speakers that work.
Buy a phono pre amp for the A1
Buy a different amp.I’m looking at a NAD 3140 ,Cambridge Audio P40,Arcam 9 to go with my BX2s.

I throw my arm up in the air now as I really don’t know what to do lol 😂.Oh the joys!!
 

Diggerpitt

Active member
Mar 15, 2021
24
4
25
Unfortunately I don’t live anywhere near you,and as for taking advice and being influenced I’m trying to get as much advice as possible to enable me to make some sort of informed choice.I don’t know what should work or not to be honest so I’m relying on and hoping you lot can help.
I’m well and truly stuck now lol.The joys of getting into hifi.I’ve tried reversing the roles and connected a streamer from tape out on the Cambridge A1 into the A400 and no sound that way either.
These are my options:

Keep my A400 and find a set of speakers that work.
Buy a phono pre amp for the A1
Buy a different amp.I’m looking at a NAD 3130 ,Cambridge Audio P40,Arcam 9 to go with my BX2s.

I throw my arm up in the air now as I really don’t know what to do lol 😂.Oh the joys!!
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
993
495
5,270
Unfortunately I don’t live anywhere near you,and as for taking advice and being influenced I’m trying to get as much advice as possible to enable me to make some sort of informed choice.I don’t know what should work or not to be honest so I’m relying on and hoping you lot can help.
I’m well and truly stuck now lol.The joys of getting into hifi.I’ve tried reversing the roles and connected a streamer from tape out on the Cambridge A1 into the A400 and no sound that way either.
These are my options:

Keep my A400 and find a set of speakers that work.
Buy a phono pre amp for the A1
Buy a different amp.I’m looking at a NAD 3140 ,Cambridge Audio P40,Arcam 9 to go with my BX2s.

I throw my arm up in the air now as I really don’t know what to do lol 😂.Oh the joys!!
Now we're talking. I didn't want to be the one breaking it to you but I don't think they're quite the speakers for you. Amp compatibility might be issue on its own (not as big as choice of speakers themselves) but you've gone from an older voiced speakers to more modern voicing (brighter) the BR2 weren't as bright as BX2, not sure which ones you have as I've not heard of BC2 (assume it's a spelling error).

With that it's your choice how you want to proceed. But it would be worth to accept early on that most speakers on that level made in the last decade or over might not be your groove.

Looking at your options I would not use A1 in a serious hifi setting. There's literally no detail coming from it. So it doesn't matter what speakers or source you connect to it. It is a nice amp if you want a spare or a second system though.

Edit
Just noticed you did say BX2s in this very reply. Yeah, you could try a different amp as pairing is important but they're are bright speakers. Your choice.
 

Diggerpitt

Active member
Mar 15, 2021
24
4
25
Now we're talking. I didn't want to be the one breaking it to you but I don't think they're quite the speakers for you. Amp compatibility might be issue on its own (not as big as choice of speakers themselves) but you've gone from an older voiced speakers to more modern voicing (brighter) the BR2 weren't as bright as BX2, not sure which ones you have as I've not heard of BC2 (assume it's a spelling error).

With that it's your choice how you want to proceed. But it would be worth to accept early on that most speakers on that level made in the last decade or over might not be your groove.

Looking at your options I would not use A1 in a serious hifi setting. There's literally no detail coming from it. So it doesn't matter what speakers or source you connect to it. It is a nice amp if you want a spare or a second system though.

Edit
Just noticed you did say BX2s in this very reply. Yeah, you could try a different amp as pairing is important but they're are bright speakers. Your choice.
Thank you very much for taking the time to help,They are never quick replies,So thank you.

would you mind me asking what speaker will suit the A400 then?Ive read older mission speakers and wharefdale paired well as they were warm speakers..I used to use a set of 505.2way back(no longer have them).What modern speakers are warm?
The A1 seems to suit my Monitor Audio BX2s so if I kept them what amp would pair well with them.

I appreciate your time.

new Amp existing speakers,BX2s or new speakers to go with the old A400?

perhaps I’m getting there now,narrowing down my issues and working towards a solution.
Kind Regards
 

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
1,785
1,164
13,570
I’ve tried reversing the roles and connected a streamer from tape out on the Cambridge A1 into the A400 and no sound that way either.
You don't have much luck with tape outputs :(
In the above example though, you'd have been better off forgetting about the A1 and putting the streamer output directly into A400 line in.

As Insider suggests, you may be better served by auditioning some different speakers to achieve your desired sound.
One thing many of us agree on is that speakers have a greater influence on the resultant sound than any other hi-fi component.
 

Diggerpitt

Active member
Mar 15, 2021
24
4
25
You don't have much luck with tape outputs :(
In the above example though, you'd have been better off forgetting about the A1 and putting the streamer output directly into A400 line in.

As Insider suggests, you may be better served by auditioning some different speakers to achieve your desired sound.
One thing many of us agree on is that speakers have a greater influence on the resultant sound than any other hi-fi component.
Thank you for taking the time to advise me.Yeah I’m looking at new speakers.I’ve seen a pair of Acoustic Energy AE 120s fairly local.Sound wise I think they’ll match the pioneer.I’m having discussions with the bloke selling them as we speak.
However I have taken somebody’s advice and leaned my current speakers backwards quite a bit.Not maybe what most would advise but it has really opened up the sound.

Many thanks for helping me.
 
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