Originally Posted by Osamede
I'm impressed by the move to continually refine the amplification, move to digital amps etc. But the GUI, the remote and the over all ease of use are really backward. The size of the unit too big, the connection panel on the back cluttered with too many useless legacy connections.
Before I purchased this receiver, I used to obsess over this (even Photoshopping back panels to look like I wanted them arranged), but the problem is that everyone's idea of what legacy (if any) to include is different. For example, if you just have a cable box, a BD player and a game machine and they're all HDMI, then a very simple receiver with only HDMI in/out would suffice.
But now let's say that you're also really into audio and still listen to a lot of music and you have a big collection of CDs and you don't want to move them all to MP3. And you prefer the sound of the analog outs (because perhaps you own an OPPO 95 or similar player). Now you need analog ins on the receiver. And if you still listen to LPs, you still need the turntable input unless you're willing to buy and use a separate preamp.
And let's say you still have a pre-HDMI TV. So now you need component outs. And if you have a laserdisc player, you need component ins. And if you still have a VHS player, even if the only reason you keep it is so you can watch the unaltered version of the original Star Wars trilogy
, you might still need an S-video in (although most receivers have already dropped them).
Between the SC35/37 and the SC55/57, Pioneer eliminated a pair of analog in/outs for CD-R and the like. I actually need that and I almost grabbed an SC37 before they were gone because of it. Instead, I'm just using the DVR in/outs instead, figuring that if I ever bother with a DVR, it will be part of the cable box anyway. And all modern A/V receivers have also eliminated "tape loops", which I also liked because it enabled me to monitor what was going to the CD-R. I realize the original intention of tape loops was to listen to the playback head on a 3-head tape deck, but I still found them useful. If I had more room, I'd drag my Apt-Holman preamp back out of the closet and use that for analog sources, then plug the preamp into the receiver. It's shocking to me that a 31-year-old audio component had better functionality (for analog audio) than this modern receiver.
If I were designing a receiver, I'd probably still keep one composite video in, one component video in and one S-video in, even though I don't need them. Does anyone really need more than that with all the HDMI inputs? But I'm not sure I'd keep any analog video out...maybe one composite in case someone sets up a small monitor next to the receiver. And I'd like to see a receiver that supports Apple's Thunderbolt.
And then there's the issue of "zones". I live in an apartment. I don't need zones and I'll never use them. But do they then have to make yet another model without zones?
So either the receiver manufacturers have to make multiple models or they have to be far more modular or they have to bite the bullet (like Apple does) and simply eliminate legacy connections and take the risk of alienating consumers who still have devices that need them. So even though I don't like it, I understand why the panels are the mess that they are (although NAD and Cambridge do a much better job of organizing their back panels) and it is true that once you're setup, you rarely have to deal with the back panel again.
In my particular case, in spite of all the inputs and outputs on the back of the SC55, I'm pretty much out of inputs for analog devices.
But that's not even the biggest issue. To me, the bigger issue is the way the UI controls the inputs. As far as I'm concerned, there should be no limit to the number of devices you plug in as long as there's an input jack left for it. You should be able to assign any input jack to any input function, even new ones that you create. And while pre-labeling the inputs (DVD, CD, TV) is an attempt to help consumers, I think these defaults confuse things more than they help because consumers don't realize that all the analog line inputs are actually exactly the same. I think each set of inputs should be numbered and the user should assign a "device" to the inputs that are used, although ideally, the receivers should work the way computers work and simply recognize anything plugged into it.
The other thing I take issue with is that Pioneer makes a big deal of supporting Apple's Air Play and being able to plug in an iPod or iPhone and yet their setup software only works on a PC. That's an absurd level of inconsistency. Another bugaboo is that nowhere in the manual does it tell you that you can run the receiver in 2-channel stereo mode, even though you can. And in the section dealing with input setup, where it has the chart of "possible connections", it implies those are the only possible connections, which is clearly not the case. And the setup instructions ignore analog connections almost completely.
And then there's the remote...with a light that lights up the buttons, although not well, but doesn't light up the labels above the buttons, so you've got no freaking idea what they're for if you're sitting in a dark room. This type of poor design should be criminalized.