Pioneer Elite SC-07 A/V Receiver Page 2
If you live in a thin-walled apartment complex or your significant other keeps telling you to turn the damn thing down (and whose doesn’t?), you might want to try the THX Loudness Plus setting. This is a sophisticated update of the Fletcher-Munson curve derived loudness buttons found on ’50s-, ’60s-, and ’70s-era stereo receivers. It’s designed to enhance tonal balance, dialogue intelligibility, and the surround presentation in all THX modes. I accidentally discovered it as I was perusing the manual’s Additional Information section, where it says it’s “automatically applied.” As I found out later, that’s only true if you turn it on in the setup menu, where it’s nested three levels below System Setup. And I only discovered that accidentally. Although the SC-07 delivered outstanding dialogue intelligibility and microdynamic nuance at low SPLs with THX Loudness Plus off, it was even better when it was switched on. It seemed to compact voices and push them forward spatially in the mix, without adding obvious brightness or edge.
Ergonomics, or Lack Thereof
Of all the receivers I’ve reviewed for HT, this Pioneer’s human interface was among the least intuitive. While the GUI is straightforward and intuitive, the remote doesn’t hold up its end. The remote is mostly unlit (the only buttons that are lit are Volume, Mute, and the buttons that can operate a television) and trades ergonomics for design elegance. The SC-09TX uses the same remote, and apparently it didn’t bother Tom Norton too much, but it did bother me.
The remote incorporates many small, identically sized buttons, some of which have multiple functions. The alternative functions are labeled in tiny, difficult-to-read light-blue lettering. Under a sliding lid, you’ll find another series of even smaller buttons, all of which are identically sized. Hit the Tuner button on the remote; I challenge you to figure out how to change stations without carefully consulting the manual. Why, in 2009, should you have to follow a complex set of instructions to play a radio? I’m talking about just playing it, not programming the presets.
I won’t go through the difficulties I had finding other commonly used items on the remote or trying to figure out what others did or what some of the labeling even meant. Combine that with a densely written, 100-plus-page, index-free manual, and frustration sets in often.
Speaking of the instruction manual, it’s no better or worse than any of the other A/V receiver manuals I’ve suffered through, which means there’s no excuse for it. Like the others, it lacks an index, it’s poorly organized, occasionally incomprehensible, and written in clumsy passive-tense grammar by someone for whom English seems to be a second language. Simple, easy-to-understand, declarative sentences are mostly MIA. The diagrams are too small, and you may need a magnifying glass to read them, as well as the overabundance of footnotes set in minuscule typeface.
On the other hand, at 138 pages, it’s probably the most comprehensive and ambitious manual I’ve encountered. It tries very hard to provide a great deal of useful information that goes beyond the basics. Too bad the delivery is so confusing.
For instance, under the DCDi heading, the manual says, “Faroudja’s DCDi processing is selectable and ensures that images are smooth and natural.” After you read that, you’d probably want to make sure to select DCDi pro-cessing, but you won’t find Far-oudja or DCDi processing any-where else in the manual (I couldn’t, anyway). In my opinion, too many reviewers give manu-facturers a free pass on the mad-deningly underwhelming man-uals they supply with their over-whelmingly complex products.