Pioneer Electronics Corporation announced the ELITE line of high-end components in 1985 through a series of ads in Stereo Review, AUDIO, and other publications.  This is surprising to audiophiles who remember the lavish full color multi-page magazine ads for the ELITE line of components that appeared in the late 1980s.  The ELITE line actually evolved between 1985 and 1988 when the entire line adopted the gloss black front panels with gold trim and high gloss simulated rosewood side panels most people are familiar with.  What follows is a brief chronology of the ELITE line of stereo components.

Pioneer introduced the ELITE Hi Fi Components line in 1985.  These components continued the audio legacy Pioneer had established with its SPEC and SERIES 20 lines.  In the Audio Annual Equipment Directory published in October 1985, Pioneer advertised this new line and explained their reason for being: "They are elite because each is the finest most distinguished and most powerful representative in its category.  These are no-compromise components are designed to meet one specific criterion--to handle the tough musical demands of digital programs, and so reproduce every nuance of music as faithfully as current technology allows."

The components included the A-88X and A-77X Integrated Amplifiers, the F-99X Digital Direct Decoder FM/AM Tuner, The PD-9010X Compact Disc Player and the CT-A9X 3-head Cassette Deck.  These components were distinguished by the black anodized front panels and matt finish simulated rosewood side panels.  Rounding out the ELITE line were the DSS-E10 and DSS-E6 speakers

All the Elite components were carried over for 1986, but in 1987 the Pioneer stereo component lineup gets confusing with regard to ELITE.  In the January 1987 issue of Stereo Review, a double page color ad announced, "Pioneer's Revolutionary C-90/M-90 Elite High-Fidelity Components."  The ad (the righthand page is shown below) continued by saying in part:

"Audiophiles, take note.  The preamp and amplifier you've been waiting for are finally here. 

"Introducing the Pioneer Elite Hi-Fi C-90 Preamp and M-90 Power Amplifier.  Together, they combine the finest in both audio and video to retrieve every detail and nuance found in your cherished records, tapes, compact discs, LaserVision™ discs and other software.  Imagine a soundstage spread throughout your entire listening room!  Stunning, transparent, three-dimensional music, the likes of which you've never heard, apart from  a live performance."  

The ad went on in considerable detail to describe the superb level of engineering that went into the components and the handsome finish and cabinetry on the outside.  The components themselves were identified as the M-90 Reference Stereo Power Amplifier, the C-90 Reference Stereo Control Amplifier, and later during 1987, introduction of the A-90 Reference Stereo Integrated Amplifier.

The February 1987 Special Equipment Buying Guide issue of Stereo Review listed the new C-90 and M-90, but also listed the original ELITE line of components; hence the confusion.  It is possible the original line of ELITE components were listed because they would still be in dealers showrooms while the new line was being rolled out for 1987.

The ELITE Reference line of stereo equipment was distinguished by heavy copper plated steel chassis, the finest internal audio parts, unparalleled specifications and the distinctive gloss black Urushi-finished front panels with gold trim and stunning polished rosewood side panels.  They had looks and audio  specifications that rivaled the esoteric and for more costly high-end components on the market.

When this new line of equipment was introduced, the ELITE name did not yet appear on the front; instead there was the word Reference, as can be seen by the M-90 amplifier shown at the top of this page.   The ELITE name first appeared on the models for 1989.

This website is devoted to the history of the stereo components that carried the ELITE name before the advent of Home Theater.  It is the goal to eventually include every main amplifier, control amplifier,  CD Player, Laser Disc player, Tuner and other components up to the HT era.  This site will hopefully become a reference to owners and collectors of Pioneer's magnificent ELITE line of stereo components.

M-90 amplifier
C-90 control amplifier
PD-91 CD player
CT-91A cassette deck
F-91 tuner











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Copyright © 2002 Øyvind Haugland
Sist endret:  13 januar 2019

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