December 24, 2008 by Audioholics.com
Someday they’re going to have the technology to build a fully functional A/V receiver on a single chip the size of your thumb that will run on solar power. If you believe that, then you probably think we will also be traveling at warp speed and fighting Klingons in a few hundred years. Pioneer, on the other hand, is attempting to take the next evolutionary step in A/V receivers by employing Class D amplifier technology which not only runs more efficiently (> 90 percent vs 50 percent of classic linear AB designs), but can also deliver more available power to your loudspeakers. The question remains, however: Can it do it with the same level of finesses and poise as yesterday’s amplifiers?
The SC-07 is the second in line from flagship status for Pioneer Elite and decodes virtually every known audio format in existence. This 40 lb metal beast houses a highly efficient Class D power amplifier that is rated for 140wpc x 7. Video processing and scaling is accomplished by Faroudja DCDi, proving 1080p support and analog to HDMI video upconversion. There’s also the new Precision Quartz Lock System (PQLS) which, according to Pioneer, re-clocks 2-CH PCM CD audio from the HDMI digital output of a compatible Pioneer Blu-ray disc player to reduce jitter and improve fidelity. Since I didn’t have a Pioneer Blu-ray player on hand, I was unable to confirm this benefit.
The Pioneer SC-07 build quality is typical of what I’ve seen in past Elite products: a nice glossy faceplate, big chassis to house all of the electronics, and a clean and simple front panel as far as the bridge of a Starship goes. Seriously, could they or any other Japanese receiver company figure out how to squeeze more poorly marked buttons on a front panel of a receiver? Removing the top panel was no small task and Pioneer would surely win the award for “most screws in a single chassis” (count ‘em, there’s 22).
The SC-07 is missing one key element bestowed upon its predecessors: a large heatsink on which to mount the power devices. Instead, the ICE amplifier module is located in an isolated compartment on the bottom of the receiver which I was unable to get to for photos. I was a bit perplexed as to why they located the parts that generate the most heat towards the bottom of the receiver but it seemed to be more a real estate issue than one of preference. Make no mistake, despite this is a highly efficient Class D amplifier, the module gets hot to the touch when this amp is running at high levels for long periods of time. This is a fact that I learned after my multi-channel listening test was done and I was packing it back in the box. The top of the chassis is cross beam braced for increased rigidity and reduction of mechanical vibration. This is a welcome feature I am seeing offered on the latest flagship receivers from other brands as well.
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