Pioneer SC68 9.1 A/V Receiver


Design and Setup of the Pioneer SC68 Receiver

At first glance the SC-68 appears to resemble the SC-57 from last year, but there are a few key additions. First is the USB 2.0 input that I touched on earlier. Sample rates up to 24 bits, 192 kHz are supported, though 176.4 kHz is not and is a common sample rate for some downloads that are converted to PCM from DSD. Because the USB input is of the asynchronous variety, the SC-68 is able to control the flow of data from the computer, leading to lower jitter and other timing errors than for models with synchronous USB connections. For Windows PCs you will need to install a driver to take advantage of the higher sample rates, but with a Mac they will work as soon as it is connected.

Another important update is to the multiple zones of output. The audio output for Zone 2 has had a subwoofer output added to it, but they have also added a Zone 4 output that sends a signal over HDMI. As most sources are now becoming HDMI only, the move away from Component video to HDMI makes for a more useful multi-zone controller. Additionally if you don't need all 11 channels of amplification for your main listening room, you can assign those to zone 2 or 3 and drive a set of speakers in those areas.

Unlike prior models there are no longer exposed heatsinks on the bottom of the SC-68 and only a small fan on the side of the unit that I never heard. The exposed heat sinks on prior units would get very hot to the touch, so I'm glad to see they are no longer an issue. Setup of the SC-68 was quick, as I used HDMI for most sources and then connected it to my Definitive Technology Mythos five-channel setup, and to a projector and plasma using the dual HDMI outputs. I ran MCACC to set speaker distances and levels which worked fine, though it still only supports a single crossover frequency. For testing the USB input I used both a PC desktop running Windows 7 and a MacBook Air running OS X 10.8.2.