Pioneer SC-79 9.1 A/V Receiver


The Pioneer SC-79 Receiver In Use

Usual testing staples like Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds: Live at Radio City are equally impressive on the Pioneer SC-79. Using the default MCACC settings, the SC-79 soundstage was narrow and thin, with no body to any of the music. Everyone was trapped in the center speaker as the soundstage collapsed between the speakers. Switching to the Manual MCACC settings the concert hall opens up in front of me. The body of the guitars returns and the stage extends deep into the wall and beyond the left and right speakers. Correct setup of a receiver makes a world of difference as the SC-79 sounded like a different beast once I adjust the settings.

In my system the SC-79 has no issues pushing the MillenniaOnes are loud as I can stand. I utilized the USB input to stream a variety of high-resolution audio tracks directly to the SC-79. With a Mac you don't need to install a driver, but for Windows PCs a driver CD is inside the box.

Listening to high-resolution audio on the SC-79 is a wonderful experience. Using J River Media Center it is easy to send the audio directly from a PC with no processing or adjustments at all. Using 24/192 recordings the SC-79 is incredibly clear. Vocals are more realistic and instruments exist in a much more defined space than they do on CD-quality recordings. Norah Jones, Cat Stevens and Alison Krause never sound as real as they do with high-resolution downloads fed through the Pioneer SC-79.

For convenience the integrated AirPlay works as advertised. Streaming playlists from Spotify on my phone or tablet to the SC-79 is easy and works better than having to use an integrated app. Listening to The Civil Wars from, well, The Civil Wars is easy with only the rare drop out or other issue. It doesn't provide the same potential quality as a hard-wired connection but the convenience makes it an essential addition. Bluetooth requires an additional dongle from Pioneer.

My kids both enjoy watching movies, so I see a lot of Pixar films now. During the island chase sequence of The Incredibles the effects of the ship whizzing around your hear are clear and continuous on the Pioneer SC-79. The dynamics of the robot attack on the city come alive with the crunching of cars and deep low bass. Vocals are always crisp and clear and there is plenty of power in reserve for dynamic sections.

The subtle sounds of Monsters Inc. are no less impressive through the SC-79. From the simple sound of countless doors closing to a roaring snowstorm in the Himalayas, the SC-79 handles everything well. One downside to the SC-79, which has been a problem for a while, is the remote. Countless tiny buttons that have 2-3 functions each make it hard to use. Using it in the dark is even harder to do and I highly recommend a universal model. I also think once you get to this price vendors should consider RF remotes instead of IR. A remote that uses RF or even Wi-Fi would be a very useful addition for the HDBaseT zone as well.

When it comes to pure performance the SC-79 is top-notch. Only with the room correction and the remote ergonomics does it trip up.