Pioneer SC-79 9.1 A/V Receiver


Design and Setup of the Pioneer SC-79 Receiver

Just like the models before it, the SC-79 utilizes Pioneer D3 Class D amplifiers. This lets them offer 9 channels of amplification at 140 watts per channel while remaining relatively compact. Many people won't use all 9 channels in one room so they are available for bi-amping or for powering up to two additional zones of audio. While last year's model, the SC-68, featured a HDMI output for Zone3 the HDBaseT port is brand new.

HDBaseT allows a full HDMI signal over conventional Cat5e or Cat6 wiring. HDMI cables are typically limited to 50' unless you use Redmere, and become unwieldy at those lengths as well. Running a single Cat5e cable is both easier, due to size, and 100m lengths are supported. Now instead of being limited to a Zone in an adjacent room you can have a zone at the other end of the house and running off the SC-79. You will need a HDBaseT receiver that runs around $115 but the saving in using Cat5e over HDMI practically pays for that. It will even carry an Ethernet signal for you to that room.

Beyond this the SC-79 is stocked. 9 HDMI inputs mean even the largest systems are handled here and there is a plethora of legacy inputs as well. The USB input lets you use the ESS SABRE DACs in an Asynchronous connection to get any high-resolution audio from your PC to your system. Almost all home control systems are well supported, and the Control4 support made it easy to integrate it directly into my system.

I used the SC-79 in my living room system with five identical Paradigm MilenniaOne speakers and an SVS PB-1000 subwoofer. Running Full Auto MCACC setup on these leads to some interesting results. Despite the small size of the MilenniaOne and having a PB-1000 subwoofer, the Pioneer sets the Front and Surround speakers as large. The center channel is set to small, but this is the only speaker stand mounted and not wall mounted.

Looking at the EQ that MCACC applies, it seems that the SC-79 detects measureable bass response at 63 Hz and uses that to determine that the speakers are large. Even though it has to apply a +7 dB bump, that will introduce distortion across the whole range covered by that driver, it chooses this. To verify I ran a few tests using RoomEQ Wizard and adjusting the MCACC parameters.

RoomEQ measures bass out to 50 Hz with that +7 dB correction at 63Hz, but then it falls off a cliff. There is no usable bass below 42 Hz and there is a large dip at around 120 Hz. With a subwoofer bass response extends down to 20 Hz in the room and that dip at 120 Hz is gone. The 150 Hz crossover produces the most linear results and is what I used later. Since MCACC does not EQ the subwoofer below 63 Hz there is no correction applied to it. The volume could be lowered to reduce the bump from 20-50 Hz but it would worsen the room node dip at 63 Hz.

I recommend using manual setup for your speakers with the SC-79. You can set the speaker size manually and then let MCACC handle the rest, including distance and level. Those work correctly and account for delays often present in subwoofers. Using the Manual MCACC instead of Full Auto produces much better results that you will be happier with.