Pioneer's Reasonably Priced SC-61 Class D Receiver - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 140 Old 06-26-2012, 04:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I decided the time to purchase this class D technology from Pioneer was this year. The design was built from the ground up with Air Studios and has been further refined over several years. This is welcome as I've never been a fan of ICE class D technology. Most importantly the cost benefits of reduced parts count has finally resulted in reasonable prices, at least for the model SC-61.
240
Pioneer SC-61

The sound signature of class D3 amplifiers should be similar to Pioneers previous efforts. Two of the best reviews are:
http://www.hometheater.com/content/pioneer-elite-sc-57-av-receiver
http://www.whathifi.com/review/sclx75

My reference is the Samsung C700 which omits the traditional line-level D/A converter. Instead it keeps the signal in the digital domain by using an innovative built-in PCM to PWM circuit. The HW-C700B is controversial, misunderstood discontinued receiver which offers superior technology and sound quality. That is for those who system setup allowed for it. Samsung’s class D technology has become a three-ring-circus this year, as they added tubes to make the sound “warmer”. Their thrashing around detour is not their first, but it is always profitable. If not the technology is abandoned…

Another welcome advance in technology is the HRT HeadStreamer II which takes 96KHz/24 bits through a USB port and generates a pristine two-channel analog signal. Notably the Samsung class D all-digital receiver cannot optimally accept an analog signal, but the Pioneer class D3 can.
http://www.whathifi.com/review/high-resolution-technologies-headstreamer
So I will analyze and evaluate the Pioneers digital upsampled processing and analog conversion compared to the Headstreamer and Adam Audio Artist3 desktop speaker combination. Then overall against the Samsung C700 all-digital receiver.
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-57429868-47/a-new-high-in-desktop-speaker-sound-quality

The objective is to document these true advances in technology (better, cheaper, convenient and more reliable) as compared to the expensive never-ending wild-goose chases the industry commonly leads the consumers on. The fact is, 31 years after the introduction of CD technology, its fun and richly rewarding chasing this great sounding, close to perfect digital technology.

I will post my findings over the next few weeks and months.
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post #2 of 140 Old 06-26-2012, 09:04 AM
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Look forward to it.

Why not go for the SC-68? wink.gif
Other than just comparing amps, that is the top model with the most advanced features & the best Pioneer has to offer this year.

Steve
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post #3 of 140 Old 06-26-2012, 10:50 AM
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As long as they keep MCACC in it's current form. No thanks.
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post #4 of 140 Old 07-02-2012, 02:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Here are a couple of images inside the chassis:
Notice the many layers of circuit boards with additional circuit boards connecting the layers rather than the usual flat ribbon wires.
Also notice the noisy class D power amp stage is largely enclosed or shielded below all these boards.
The A/C transformer gets quite warm at 140 degrees.
450

The small, quiet fan exhaust was measure at 96-100 degrees.

450
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post #5 of 140 Old 07-02-2012, 02:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How do you ensure perfect music playback to test the SC-61's audio capability?

Windows PC's have been notoriously inferior because of the internal design of the kernel mixer.
For reference quality sound this must be bypassed with the freeware Foobar 2000 player.
It generates bit-for-bit accurate output without resampling. Here are the necessary components.
Selecting the WASAPI output is critical.
435
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post #6 of 140 Old 07-19-2012, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been waiting for years for the industry to convert advanced class D designs. The previous two threads I authored, but most consumers were not ready to accept the technology*.
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1272366/new-generation-of-class-d-amplifiers-for-2010/0_60
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1320152/the-transition-to-true-all-digital-audio/0_60

NAD and Pioneer and Samsung were the initial players. Samsung dropped its superior Pulsus all-digital class D technology and raised prices by adding tubes to lowly HTIB!

Recently NAD reduced class D prices by 50% (though still expensive). Because the original M1 was priced high enough ($6K) to allow for high-end magazine advertising, the NAD all-digital class D has always received excellent reviews from the high-end press*.
The trend continues now with a excellent NAD - C 390DD - Direct Digital DAC Amplifier which low-and-behold offers HDMI inputs!
The hardest issue with this product is trying to determine the number of channels. Here will see its still only two:


With Samsung self-destructed and NAD still practicing trickle-down economics, this leaves only Pioneer Elite to offer affordable leadership in the field.
Class D amplifiers should have a reduced parts count and with higher efficiency offer lower prices and weight.

By forgoing the PCM-to-PWM digital converter Pioneer still incorporates a traditional D/A converter. Because the output class D power stage switches at a high magnitude and rate, corruption of the analog (driver) stages become paramount issues. Pioneer has always gone the extra mile with shielding and isolation, so their expertize pay dividends here. In fact Pioneer had to completely rethink the ICE technology and built their own version from scratch. They also wisely sought the expertise from Air Studios and eliminated many parts. This design effort took several years. Now that those development costs have been covered we see reduced pricing, especially with the model 61.

While Pioneer took a longer route the results have been most gratifying to hear and see. The SC-61 provides clean and clear audio and video. Its as if somebody took the time and expense to go through and measure RF/EMI contamination at various points in the analog circuitry and eliminate or reduce it.
I think of many to write but forget! At the risk of getting ahead of myself another reviewer found that the NAD Class D amplifier could be improved by replacing the power cord. An $8 Mouser 3 prong shielded A/C power cord show a marked improvement over the stock two pronged.
It was the largest improvement I've ever noticed for this type of change.
http://nadelectronics.com/articles/C-390DD-Paves-Way-for-Digital-Revolution

More to come.

* Lets see class D, Heil Air Motion Tweeters and Neodymium magnets
* Except Stereophile analog die-hard reviewer Micheal Fremer who has now evolved. wink.gif
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post #7 of 140 Old 07-19-2012, 06:07 PM
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I'm looking into picking one of these up to replace an ancient Onkyo. Interested to hear further thoughts on this unit. Particularly on the in house calibration vs Audyssey.
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post #8 of 140 Old 07-20-2012, 05:43 AM
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How is the FLAC streaming on this unit? I was considering the Marantz SR6006 which is appx the same price, but has trouble from what I read with the FLAC.

Is this the same D3 amp as the previous generation, or has it been refined/improved?
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post #9 of 140 Old 07-21-2012, 08:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by av30 View Post

How is the FLAC streaming on this unit? I was considering the Marantz SR6006 which is appx the same price, but has trouble from what I read with the FLAC.
Is this the same D3 amp as the previous generation, or has it been refined/improved?
Its only good for two channels up to 192/24 bits. I've ripped all my SACD to .iso files (using a PS3 with 3.55 firmware) and DVD-Audio to FLAC format. These multi-channel sources eliminate using the Pioneer for streaming.
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post #10 of 140 Old 07-21-2012, 08:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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In my system the SC-61's phase control reduces the bass dynamic range.
The Hi-Bit oversampling makes the sound overall a bit sharper or brighter. So I leave them off.

I’ve also found several times that leaving of the grill cloths improves fidelity. Stereophile has shown charts for many years of the subtractions covers cause. However the speaker designer may have partially compensated for the grill being on. With the JBL LS80 towers I experimented and found that adding a single sheer window screen sized cover of cotton cheese cloth over the horn and super tweeter dampens the treble really well. Note: class D amplifiers change their treble response based upon load impedance more than other amplifier types.

The owners manual is pretty good but it took me some time to figure out how to turn on the sub-woofer for PCM sources. Speaker Size --> Subwoofer to PLUS. I would have preferred a button on the remote.

Then the manual discusses how great two subwoofers are but then recommends taking the bass away from the woofers built-in to my main towers. This is an area where I disagree with the Thx philosophy of redirecting and summing of the bass to the mono subwoofer. The studio mix is made with full range speakers and high fidelity home theater systems should reproduce the original dynamics and sound-staging as designed. Summing several channels electronically eliminates the delicate phase differences
Rather keep the main towers full range (why did I spend so much money on them anyways) and fine tune the phase control on the subwoofer for maximum bass at the listening position.

Different system settings use different displays. For example the audio and status use the receivers display while the main system setup uses the HDMI output. I would not want to use any receivers display for streaming music. Better leave that to a 1920 x 1080 HTPC display, with bit perfect playback like foobar 2000.

The SC-61 drives speakers of 4ohms which is of great practical benefit. In my 5.1 system there were two extra channels available for bi-amping, which is audibly better than bi-wiring using my JBL LS80 towers. These amplifiers provide a very wide dynamic range without ANY dynamic congestion. It is always remarkably at ease, even when pushing all seven channels hard. Pioneer quotes a very low distortion figure for a class D amplifier. I believe it!
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post #11 of 140 Old 07-21-2012, 08:41 AM
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How's the video processing on the 61?
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post #12 of 140 Old 07-24-2012, 04:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ss10zidane View Post

How's the video processing on the 61?
At this time my goal is to setup the receiver and my system to achieve the maximum thoroughbred performance without introducing unknown variables. This avoids createing a black hole.
In the perfect playback system no enhancements or corrections are required. For example the sharpness should be set to zero.

Further receiver video processing is largely redundant. The display, HTPC or Blu-ray player already have enough controls that can interfere with each other and degrade performance. Why add a fourth? I enable just a few AMD video card controls: deinterlace and pulldown detection and just a bit of sharpness. Then use the displays. Two is enough!

The real question is how transparent is the HDMI audio and video went decoded by the Pioneer? The main issues are HDMI jitter and EMI/RF generation (the noisy class D amplifier section was already discussed).

As a background I've sample many HDMI products over the years and have notice that the basic chips keep on improving and the Pioneer SC-61 is no exception with an increase of transparency noticed. Unfortunately I upgraded the AMD/ATI Catalyst 7.6 software at the time the SC-61 replaced the Samsung C700 receiver. The two upgrades reduced the AMD sharpness from +11 to +5: a worthwhile improvement. This system audio and video is VERY transparent. with a PQ similar to the dynamics of a good movie theater. (I just went to the new Rave xD cinema yesterday). The first-rate Samsung 6700 Blu-ray player serves as baseline reference.

But sometimes its easy to blame the wrong component. For example, audio performance is degraded by this new copy protection scheme: http://www.dvdfab.com/cinavia.htm

A great deal of my time is spent wading through the new technology and finding the few true advancements that are practical, cost effective and convenient to invest in long-term. The Pioneer SC-61 meets that definition. Here are the power specs which look like those of an expensive separate amplifier.

For many years commercial reviewers rationalized that the greatly reduced power when driving all channels simultaneous was unimportant. The experts claimed this did not occur in real-life. (The real motive was to cheapen the product to increase profits). Now the advancements in reduced class D thermal dissipation prove them wrong.
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post #13 of 140 Old 07-24-2012, 04:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Now that my system is baselined with excellent performance, I'm starting to get into exploring the Advanced MCACC features. The situation appears pretty messy with the links in the old MCACC thread broken and the 2.13 PC software only available now from Europe. Further Pioneer still uses old RS-232 com port rather than USB.

Further investigation reveals Pioneer USA wants to keep the consumer from using these advanced features and instead reserve them for Custom Installers.
Perhaps the MCACC PC software has been updated to the 2012 USA line as the zip file is quite large at 19MB. I don't know until i can examine it!

http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Support/Home-Entertainment-Custom-Install/Detailed+Product+Information/A+V+Receivers


Can anyone assist?

Update:
The manual for this software does unzip correctly. This PC program provides the status of the receiver.
It also lets the Custom Installer modify or restore the receivers settings remotely over the local network or Internet.
Certainly a nice to have feature for knowledgeable owner.

Today's Humor:
Knowledgeable Dealer Example or Leave Your Installation to the Professionals or Don't Buy Demo Models
At the local Magnolia dealer all of the receivers were mounted to the left side in their standard cabinet shelf.
Of course the knowledgeable SC-61 owner knows (from reading page 2 of the owners manual under Fire Hazards) right away that the receivers cooling fan needs clearance in that area to properly ventilate.
Otherwise (as I indicated to the manager) the receiver will get very hot!
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post #14 of 140 Old 07-24-2012, 06:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The included installation disc installs the AVNavigator software program on any networked PC.
This rigid program is designed to be idiot proof and offers no flexibility.

I found this reference html front page to be the most useful. It has a link to most everything (but not the MCACC PC graphical software).
Just select the area of interest.
../AV Navigator/MANUAL/en-US/index.html
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post #15 of 140 Old 07-24-2012, 08:08 AM
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Looks pretty exciting. I'm eager to read more about this unit. Especially about it's MCACC performance.
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post #16 of 140 Old 07-24-2012, 10:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Usually its best to go out to the Internet and download the latest software.
*** Not for this years Pioneer ***

The key is to use the sidebar for the included AVNavigator in addition what I already posted. Ignore the tab it opens in you Internet browser if you don't want to suffer.
The good news is Pioneer has switched over from legacy com ports to Ethernet to connect to your PC.
Of course there are firmware updates over the Internet.
I think you can transfer files to the FAT32 usb stick if attached to the receiver. Fun for testing the same track from different sources.


I had to install MSXML first:
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=15697

I was then able to open the MCACC app and transfer the parameters from the receiver to my PC for display:


Now we what they measure and set. Everything is parametric (level, Q, freq) for bass Standing Wave Control: up to three resonant peaks for the sub, center (if set to large) and large L&R speakers

Then a nine band parametric for all channels except the subwoofer.
Theses are the basic settings. The other two tabs are for the advanced expert topics.
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post #17 of 140 Old 07-24-2012, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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After watching the following Hi-bit24 processing video it can be deduced that it should work for sources under 24 bits like CD or mp3 audio.
Yet I configured foobar2000 to expand the 16 bit CD sources to 24 bits. That is, pad the new 8 bits with zeros (unless using a foobar oversamplng filter).
Therefore the SC-61 should detect this and not allow Hi-bit24 processing. But I think it did as the sound quality definitely changed. Am i waiting to learn something new today?rolleyes.gif

In the interest of fairness, I will conduct another test and keep the CD audio at its native 16 bits and evaluate the Hi-bit24 processing once again.

I assumed that Hi-bit24 processing over-sampled too. But that is handled by Pioneers Legato Link conversion, a feature not included in any of the Elite receivers. Then it dawned upon me that the out-of-band aliasing products created would wreck havoc with the class D amplifiers.

Pioneer also has a new Hi-bit32 processing included in the SC-65 and SC-67. This feature is questionable as traditional D/A converters are limited by noise and distortion to ~20 bits of actual resolution. The S/N ratio of the Pioneer amps is an excellent 105db. Also the residual low level spectrum with the ear-to-the-tweeter is clean which indicates excellent grounding and shielding. In this sense a receiver design is superior to separates as the designer has more parameters idealized and also under his local, direct control. Something like after 15 years and billions of dollars in development we'll get a damn ICE amplifier to sound good!tongue.gif
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post #18 of 140 Old 07-26-2012, 10:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Here are the supported SC-61 frequencies, bit depths and formats over HDMI as reported by Windows 7:

Notice that all bit depths may not supported at all frequencies. Microsoft needs to be more explicit and clear-up this ambiguity with this applet!

I did adjust the foobar on my Windows 7 HTPC to have a preferred depth of 16 bits. However I don't want it to truncate 24 bit formats to 16!


Then there is some conversions like SACD where I must manually manually switch Foobar back to 24 bits. The SACD dll should allow for bit-depth settings.

Apparently its still too much to ask Windows 7 and applications to pass through audio signals at their native frequency and bit depth - even in 2012!


In any event I did listen to the Hi-bit24 processing with several CD sources set to 16 bits. They were interpolated to 24 bits.
The SC-61 sound quality reached a new level of realism (and less taken-for-granted digital artifacts) and made my 33K of CD tracks become all the more precious.
The synthesized soundfields improved too. My current favorites are "Unplugged" and "Focus Wide". Unplugged is quit natural and the Focus make instrument "grow larger" as if they were closer microphoned.
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post #19 of 140 Old 07-27-2012, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFiFun View Post

The A/C transformer gets quite warm at 140 degrees. The small, quiet fan exhaust was measure at 96-100 degrees.

Hello. Thanks for the detailed information on this interesting receiver. I've been interested in Class D amps for awhile, having using a Panasonic SA-XR45 receiver for the past nine years. (I've also used several Bel Canto amps, both the Tripath and ICE Power variety, in my 2-channel system.) I recently replaced the XR45 with a Marantz SR-6006. While the Marantz is a great all-around unit, I'm a bit concerned about how hot it runs, which seems to be typical of modern HT receivers. I would expect the SC61 with its Class D amplifiers to run relatively cool, but I see you measured the temperature of the power transformer at 140 deg F, which is quite hot. How hot does the SC61's top cover get during use? The SR6006's top cover hasn't gotten too hot to touch, but it's close. Maybe I'll take a thermocouple home from work this weekend to measure it. Makes me a bit nervous after years of experience with the cool-running XR45. If the SC61 also runs cool, I would consider switching to it.
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post #20 of 140 Old 07-27-2012, 01:03 PM
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The new Pioneer SC is AVR lineup is very interesting however we did uncover some disappointments:

1. 4K video processing is only available from the SC65 and up
2. MAAC still lacks the required resolution for low frequency/subwoofer optimzation available by the competition
3. The ability to handle DSD through USB should go down in all models not just from the SC67 and up
4. The Marvel QDEO video processor was good in its day but now getting dated
5. The TI DSPs are solid performers but they should consider upgrading to some of the latest 3-core and 4-core audio DSPs now becoming available
6. The use of the excellent 192K/32 bit DAC should be available in lower models not just the SC68
7. The amplifiers' sonic performance is very good and now handles low impedance/sensitivity loudspeakers better than previous models. However when pushing the amplifiers @ high level with a wide dynamic range stream we still find the high frequencies to be somewhat brittle

In summary, the new SC lineup has some nice stepups over the previous models. But in my opinion, there is still work to be done for improving their digital amplifier sections to sonically compare with some of the better Class A/B designs...

Just my $0.02.. wink.gif
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post #21 of 140 Old 07-27-2012, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFiFun View Post

Here are a couple of images inside the chassis:
Notice the many layers of circuit boards with additional circuit boards connecting the layers rather than the usual flat ribbon wires.
Also notice the noisy class D power amp stage is largely enclosed or shielded below all these boards.
The A/C transformer gets quite warm at 140 degrees.

140 degrees (F) is about 60 degrees (C)...
Are you aware that it is a UL/CSA requirement that @ 85 degrees (C) or 185 degrees (F) there is an internal, non-resettable thermal circuit breaker within the power transformer which will open @ 85 degrees (C). Basic technical issue is when driving 4 ohms low impedance/sensitivity loudspeakers how well did Pioneer design in the proper protection schemes...
The Pioneer AVR team is very experienced for handling this issue and protecting critical components, but I wonder what happens to the sonic performance when the power transformer/power supply are pushed to their limits and their respective protection schemes kick in/on..

Just my $0.02.. wink.gif
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post #22 of 140 Old 07-27-2012, 11:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFiFun View Post

Then the manual discusses how great two subwoofers are but then recommends taking the bass away from the woofers built-in to my main towers. This is an area where I disagree with the Thx philosophy of redirecting and summing of the bass to the mono subwoofer. The studio mix is made with full range speakers and high fidelity home theater systems should reproduce the original dynamics and sound-staging as designed. Summing several channels electronically eliminates the delicate phase differences
Rather keep the main towers full range (why did I spend so much money on them anyways) and fine tune the phase control on the subwoofer for maximum bass at the listening position.

Definitely agree with you on this, especially if the quality of the speakers in the mains is better than the subwoofer quality. Also, except in mains that explicitly have subwoofers like some of the DefTechs, most mains have woofers, not subwoofers. IMO, subwoofers should be reproducing only the very lowest frequencies, preferably below 50Hz. There's absolutely no reason why a mains should not provide full-range reproduction. We lived for decades without subwoofers when most quality "stereo systems" sounded far better than the junk we're forced to listen to today.

(I don't quite agree with you on your comments about phase: having separate speakers actually increases the phase differences, which can lead to cancellations, it doesn't generally eliminate phase differences. Back a few decades ago, one of the hot design objectives was to "time-align" the multiple speakers within a speaker cabinet so that all frequencies reached the listener at the same time. I'm also not sure what "fine tuning" the phase control on the subwoofer really does. Bass frequencies have such large wavelengths that they're never going to be time-aligned with the other speakers even when they are in absolute phase alignment with the other speakers (both speakers pushing out at the same time)).
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post #23 of 140 Old 07-31-2012, 09:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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First off reviewers should not be evaluating gear under adverse conditions:
http://www.accuweather.com/en/us/national/health-maps
In my 30 years of experience no one has ever discussed this issue. What a headache!rolleyes.gif
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post #24 of 140 Old 08-01-2012, 08:24 AM
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HIFiFun
Thanks for all the info on the SC-61. I blew up my non warranteed SC-37 last night when I tried to reattach a hot speaker wire to its terminal.
I too have always used Class D amps in my home theater . These take less juice to sound good.I don't have any dedicated electrical circuits in my living room while I have two of these in my dedicated tube stereo room.
My main concern is the clarity of the sound at say 100 watts per channel 30hz-20000hz. and you convinced me it is likely in the same class as the beefier SC-37.
Looking at the $500 more SC-65, it obviously has a more powerful amplifier but how much of that extra power can I benefit from in a townhouse with a 5.1 setup and the front channels biamped?
My SC-37 is rated at 164.7 watts at 1000hz for 7 channels so the SC-61 is not as powerful. If I repair the SC-37 I might use the SC-61 as a backup..
Am going to Magnolia this week to buy a SC-61. 4k Passtrough for TV won't be around in 15 years since we haven't even gotten to 1080P yet for tv.
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post #25 of 140 Old 08-01-2012, 08:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by audiophile_walt View Post

HIFiFun
Thanks for all the info on the SC-61. I blew up my non warranteed SC-37 last night when I tried to reattach a hot speaker wire to its terminal.
I too have always used Class D amps in my home theater . These take less juice to sound good.I don't have any dedicated electrical circuits in my living room while I have two of these in my dedicated tube stereo room.
My main concern is the clarity of the sound at say 100 watts per channel 30hz-20000hz. and you convinced me it is likely in the same class as the beefier SC-37.
Looking at the $500 more SC-65, it obviously has a more powerful amplifier but how much of that extra power can I benefit from in a townhouse with a 5.1 setup and the front channels biamped?
My SC-37 is rated at 164.7 watts at 1000hz for 7 channels so the SC-61 is not as powerful. If I repair the SC-37 I might use the SC-61 as a backup..
Am going to Magnolia this week to buy a SC-61. 4k Passtrough for TV won't be around in 15 years since we haven't even gotten to 1080P yet for tv.
First the 4K technology is brand new, with large improvements expected, so I'd advise to pass. As usual buy no new technology before its time.
The power comparisons between a few watts don't make any real-world difference. What is important is the 4 ohm drive capability (key improvement over the Samsung) and the ability to deliver high power (over 100watts) for all channels simultaneously. Now if you need 9 channels of amplification then do get the SC-65.
Correctly set up the SC-61 will "float" multi-channel images all around your listening position.
Since Pioneer actually had the confidence to listen to the sound quality differences during the design phase, they probably removed some of the infamous output short-circuit protection circuitry. That being said, owners should always power-off before fiddling with cables and never drive a speaker cable short!
As for physical heft equating to a quality receiver, imagine if Pioneer replaced their excellent analog power supply with a digital switching design. How much could the weight be further reduced?
However for best SQ, it too should be shielded to prevent the high frequency switching from entering into the delicate analog stage. One way would be to use a resonant mode switching power supply which using a one frequency sine wave. With this design no high-power "bad harmonics" are generated.
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post #26 of 140 Old 08-01-2012, 09:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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System Matching the High Value Pioneer SC-61
It is well established that the SC-61 Class D offers a precise, effortless wide dynamic range and immersive soundstage which optimally should be exploited to allow for the professional-level of dynamics and articulation of digital commercial movie theaters. For that we need to match to a line of speakers.

In past decades JBL restricted their best speaker technologies (horns) to the well-heeled high-end market segment. Given the increasingly frugal economic conditions and the shrinking of that segment, JBL is seriously targeting the quality and value consumer marketplace. This is good news for you and me! The common goal is to seek a magical realism in our home theater system without breaking the bank.

I bought into JBL’s first attempt to gain broader acceptance at reasonable prices with the Studio SL80 series:http://www.jblsynthesis.com/downloads/products/prod_97_634484108436718358_brochure_JBL_LS_English.pdf. These horn speakers use titanium diaphragms and neodymium magnets and have exquisite cabinets. They are also difficult to locate, audition and purchase. From experience the LS80 with dual 8” woofers is designed for large American rooms.

JBL latest high-value design is the Studio 5 series designed by Chief Engineer Greg Timbers, who developed the acclaimed Everest, K2 and Project Array systems high-end speakers. All can be bi-amped. For 5.1 surround systems the Pioneer 7.1 SC-61 can bi-amp the front main speakers to increase the dynamic range.

The Series 5 bi-radial horn uses neodymium magnet but substitutes a Dupont Teonex film diaphragm. This technology “represents a significant breakthrough in dielectric film technology for Flexible Printed Circuitry. The distinct advantages of Teonex PEN Film films combine to meet the special demands imposed on the dielectric substrate during each production stage and ultimate end use.” http://www.pleo.com/dupont/xm020.htm. JBL claims this material is stiffer than conventional materials and delivers ‘tighter, more precise mid and high frequencies’. Well shall see as I have a pair of 570’s arriving shortly. I plan to, bi-amp, fine tune the speaker position and toe-in and then look at what the Pioneer Advance MACC can make any improvement, especially the x-curves.

Looking back at the Harmon/Infinity/JBL consumer lines, I never cared much for the previous CMMD (ceramic metal matrix diaphragm) dome tweeters. The Series 5 new technology eliminates the dome super-tweeter. The results are a two-driver design with all but one incorporating dual woofers. Technically it is significant that the horn crosses over at 1.5Khz an octave lower than usual. From the picture the typical degradation from the grill to the mids and treble is removed. The fully exposed horn accounts also accounts for the unique appearance.
The Youtube video explains the technology behind the JBL horns. Pay particular attention to the drum sound difference between JBL horn and conventional drivers and decide if this is the type of sound you want to explore.


Here are some positive reviews from (god save the queen and British loudspeakers!) England:
http://www.whathifi.com/review/studio-580
http://www.whathifi.com/review/jbl-studio-530
Reviewer Keith Howard gives excellent technical insight pointing out the 580 is best suited for larger rooms:
http://www.hifinews.co.uk/news/article/jbl-studio-580-pound;1300/9638/
The 590 overwhelms the smaller German rooms:
http://www.microsofttranslator.com/bv.aspx?from=de&to=en&a=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.magnus.de%2Ftestbericht%2Fjbl-studio-590-im-test-1316513.html

Price and Availability
The Series 5 is available at many retailers and directly from the Harmon on-line shop. All at the same street price.
The 570 does not appear to be available outside the USA. http://eu.jbl.com/studio-5-series-eu/brand_jbl/home_audio/home-series/studio-5-serie.html
It is available at a discount from the http://www.harmanaudio.com/search_browse/reconditioned.asp. Experience tells its being discontinued. Must be too cheap!
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post #27 of 140 Old 08-01-2012, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFiFun View Post


As for physical heft equating to a quality receiver, imagine if Pioneer replaced their excellent analog power supply with a digital switching design. How much could the weight be further reduced?
However for best SQ, it too should be shielded to prevent the high frequency switching from entering into the delicate analog stage. One way would be to use a resonant mode switching power supply which using a one frequency sine wave. With this design no high-power "bad harmonics" are generated.

Pioneer will stay with the analog power supply as an SMPS (switch mode power supply) even when shielded well radiates too many harmonics which degrades tuner and HD video performance substantially. Also the analog power supply has significantly more current capability. Even though Pioneer has added some of their own IP to the ICE topology a major part of its performance is the methodology for ps tracking with the output stage. Note that I have the Pioneer white paper for this, their tech team just gave us a 2 hour presentation. PM me and I'll shoot you a PDF copy..

Just my $0.02... wink.gif
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post #28 of 140 Old 08-01-2012, 11:33 AM
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Multi Channel Analogue Input.
Does the SC-61 have it? I see the connections on the back but no info in the owners manual. All it talks about is using it for multi amps. On the SC-37 there is a MCH IN button.
If not I will just have to wait until the SC-37 is fixed:(
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post #29 of 140 Old 08-01-2012, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiophile_walt View Post

Multi Channel Analogue Input.
Does the SC-61 have it? I see the connections on the back but no info in the owners manual. All it talks about is using it for multi amps. On the SC-37 there is a MCH IN button.
If not I will just have to wait until the SC-37 is fixed:(

No..
The majority of the later AVRs have deleted this feature, not really required as most source components are connected by HDMI..

Just my $0.02... wink.gif
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post #30 of 140 Old 08-01-2012, 04:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think there is a bit more to this.
Pioneer doesn't want owners to use the SC-61 ONLY as an inexpensive seven channel class D amplifier.
But they provide pre-amp outputs to skip the Class D amplifiers. Doesn't make much sense.
I wish it were the other way around!
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