Pioneer SC68 9.1 A/V Receiver


The Pioneer SC68 Receiver In Use

Going straight to my favorite music release in the past year, I put on Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here SACD. Through the SC-68 the sound was completely enveloping, with effects that went from speaker to speaker and completely surrounded me in the music. The bass and midrange from guitars and drums were rendered with great depth and detail, as the SC-68 has the power to take control of the woofers and not run out of steam. Pushing the SC-68 to reference level with the aggressive surround mix was easy, with no strain or effort from the speakers or receiver.

Utilizing the DAC, I went through a variety of albums from HDTracks played directly to the SC-68. Comparing the CD version of Not Too Late by Norah Jones to the HDTracks version showed a larger soundstage on the high-resolution download, as well as more clarity and separation between instruments. Paper Airplane from Alison Kraus and Union Station showed increased detail in the treble with notes floating effortlessly in the air of a larger soundstage.

Playback of all the albums through the PC was simple, as I just had to select the USB input on the SC-68. The only issue that came up was the lack of 176.4 sample rate support, which is used on HDTracks albums from The Rolling Stones and many others that are converted from DSD sources. Given the support for 88.2 and 44.1 sample rates, it would seem that this support shouldn't be impossible. The one issue I ran into was an inability to have the Pioneer displaying what sample rate and frequency the incoming file was playing at. This might lead to users playing back everything at 16/44.1 instead of higher bit rates if they forget to install the driver, but have no idea this is the case.

Watching Cars 2, the race sequences sounded great through the SC-68. The effects of driving through tunnels or passing other cars sounded realistic and natural, despite the film being CGI. Panning effects were very transparent as they moved from speaker to speaker. Here I setup a pair of Epos bookshelf speakers to use as rear surrounds for 7.1 and the race sequences were even more involving than before without taking away amplifier power from the main channels. I had concerns that I might hear some issues due to the limited crossover options, but watching a film I didn't notice any.

Listening to Sea Change from Beck, I experimented with turning MCACC on and off to see the change. I found that leaving it on led to a bit more clarity and definition in the music, likely due to the delay adjustments in MCACC that ensured all sounds arrived at the correct time to my listening position. While these aspects were improved, bass response remained the same with room issues remaining unaddressed unless you have a separate EQ for your subwoofers.