Where the Elite Meets to Greet the Beat

Pioneer's SC-07 is the second son in the firm's new A/V receiver lineup. As such, it omits the flashy front-panel LCD video display of the flagship SC-09 but retains many of that model's more notable features for a much lower price. Among these are a full alphabet soup of surround modes and enhancements, both XM and Sirius satellite radio, and Pioneer's own Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System (MCACC) auto-setup/EQ processing. An arguably more important item is the SC-07's highly efficient 7-channel ICEpower amplifier. This sophisticated variant of Class D topology eliminates most of the bulk, waste heat, and weight - not to mention the increasingly costly copper - of conventional amplifying circuits.


Setting up the SC-07 was easy as long I stuck to the basics: Plug in the supplied calibration microphone and select the auto-MCACC option from the main menu. After a couple minutes of circulating noise bursts, the resulting channel levels and distances were accurate, and the selected crossover setting of 80 Hz was reasonable. The SC-07 doesn't permit different crossover frequencies for the center or surround channels, and while its 50-, 80-, 100-, 150-, and 200-Hz crossover options aren't as extensive as some, they're perfectly adequate.

MCACC basics also invoke Standing Wave correction, a parametric three-band equalizer that automatically compensates for the three most significant low-frequency room-acoustic effects, and EQ Adjust, which performs basic speaker/room correction through higher frequencies. Standing Wave dialed in cuts at the two frequencies I know to be troublesome in my room, resulting in tighter, clearer bass at the main listening seat. (This sort of correction only optimizes one room position for one or two listeners.) EQ Adjust's 9-band graphic equalizer set itself for a puzzlingly jaggy curve that didn't agree with my ears' notion of how my room and system - which I know to be uncolored - should sound. (Because of this, I left the MCACC corrections defeated for the listening part of my evaluation.) Each of these EQs can be tweaked using onscreen menus, and they can also be defeated on the fly using the SC-07's Audio Parameters function.

At a whole other level is Advanced MCACC with EQ Professional, which opens a world of options and adjustments on the Pioneer for automated tests and corrections. It includes such technical - and to most readers likely abstruse - matters as data-collection time-windowing and phase compensation, and it can also interface with a Windows PC for even more detailed operations.

With the SC-07, Pioneer moves to a new generation of more graphically sophisticated onscreen displays that are clear, attractive, and reasonably quick to pop up and navigate. Its Faroudja DCDi video processing performs deinterlacing and scaling of incoming analog video signals (including 720p and 1080i) up to 1080p, with output onto HDMI. But signals coming into the receiver by way of HDMI pass through without any processing.