Pioneer SC-37 Elite AV Receiver Reviewed

Pioneer SC-37 Elite AV Receiver Reviewed

The Pioneer SC-37 Elite AV receiver is a receiver that brings the goods. Not only does the receiver produces impressive sound, it comes packed with a wide range of features to trick out any theater.

Pioneer_SC-37_Elite_AV_receiver_review_front.gifPioneer, once a leader in the HDTV space, has since retooled its operations to focus mainly on home theater electronics, i.e. Blu-ray players, amplifiers, speakers and of course AV receivers. Pioneer has always provided an elevated lineup of products under the Elite moniker and the SC-37 reviewed here is Pioneer’s most elite AV receiver.

Additional Resources
• Read more AV receiver reviews from the staff at Home Theater Review.
• Look at the Blu-ray player pairing options that exist for SC-37.
• Find a Plasma HDTV or LED HDTV to connect to the SC-37.

At $2,200 retail the SC-37 is not only Pioneer’s most expensive AV receiver but also it’s largest and most powerful, measuring in at 16 and a half inches wide by nearly eight inches tall and over 18 inches deep with Pioneer’s own Direct Energy HD amplification churning out an impressive 140 Watts across all seven of its channels, making the SC-37 an ideal home theater receiver for anyone with a 7.1 home cinema. The SC-37 is 3D compatible thanks to its six HDMI V1.4a inputs. Speaking of HDMI, the SC-37 has two HDMI outputs for those, like me, who choose to run both an HDTV and a front projector in the same space. As well as being on the cutting edge of today’s video formats, the SC-37 also supports and is capable of playing back the latest surround sound codecs including, but not limited to, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The SC-37 is also THX Ultra 2 Plus certified. The SC-37 also features Pioneer’s MCACC which stands for Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration system, which like Audyssey is an automated room correction program included with the SC-37; however the MCACC corrects for phase, standing waves, distance, polarity, EQ and crossover points.

Along with its host of both analog and digital inputs and features, the SC-37 is Apple certified meaning it’s compatible with iPods, iPads and iPhones and will play back iTunes downloaded television and movies as well as music with all the appropriate meta data for each. Also, the SC-37 is capable of connecting to the Internet via its Ethernet input, giving it access to all the latest Internet and Satellite radio stations (subscriptions not included) as well as YouTube. Users even have the ability to connect their portable devices via Bluetooth with the help of Pioneer’s AS-BT100 adapter port, though sadly it retails for $99 and is sold separately.

For more on the SC-37’s including an in-depth breakdown of its many features, please check out its product page on Pioneer’s website.

In terms of performance the SC-37 is a very capable AV receiver. In my time spent with the SC-37 I found its sound to be lively with an upfront nature, though do not mistake that for harsh or lean, for the SC-37 is neither of those things. The SC-37 has an articulate but not overly lush midrange that is grounded by a capable, but not thunderous low end. The SC-37’s bass, while musical and taut, doesn’t plunge as deep as some of the competition, though I can’t say that I miss the extra half octave or so for what is present in the SC-37’s bass performance is so tuneful that it makes other receivers sound slow and bloated in comparison. The SC-37’s upper frequencies have a sweetness to them – though, like many receivers, lack a bit of organic air and decay which gives the SC-37’s high frequency performance a decidedly digital sound versus an analog one. Keep in mind, this is not an indictment of the SC-37’s performance for most AV receivers, regardless of price, possess this sonic trait. Dynamically, the SC-37 is simply explosive and its soundstage is equally impressive though it possesses more width than depth. As far as the rest of the SC-37’s performance, I found no video degradation with it in the chain than without; this included its 3D performance as well. Pioneer’s MCACC room correction software works as advertised and in my opinion sounds better than Audyssey’s efforts. Overall, the SC-37 is an easy to setup, easy to use, capable AV receiver that competes favorably with its rivals from Onkyo, Marantz, Denon, Yamaha and Sony. It even manages to offer up some decidedly upmarket features not to mention good looks, which put it in the cross hairs of higher-end AV receivers from the likes of Anthem and Arcam.

Read about the high points and the low points of the SC-37 AV receiver on Page 2.

Pioneer_SC-37_Elite_AV_receiver_review_back.gifHigh Points
• The SC-37’s build quality is first rate and its physical appearance is second to none in my book.
• The SC-37 is easy to setup and easy to live with day-to-day, which is more than I can say for a lot of the competition, as many receivers have gotten more complicated to use the more complicated the technology has become.
• The SC-37 sounds very good and while not capable of pulling off a separates-like performance, what it does have in terms of overall performance is quite good and among the best in its class.
• The SC-37’s 3D support coupled with its copious HDMI inputs and dual HDMI outs make it ideal for today’s modern home theater setup.
• The SC-37’s MCACC auto room correction feature works like a dream and sounds better, in my opinion, than anything Audyssey has put out recently.

Low Points
• The SC-37 is big by today’s modern AV receiver standards and as such special care should be taken to ensure proper installation and ventilation.
• The SC-37’s high gloss façade is difficult to keep clean and free of greasy fingerprints.
• I didn’t much care for the SC-37’s remote nor its cheap binding posts, two items I thought could be improved, especially given the SC-37’s asking price.
• If you’re a bass head the SC-37’s somewhat lean bass may not appeal to you though I urge you to still give it a try for its speed and control may surprise you.

Competition and Comparison
At just over $2,000 the SC-37 squares off against some pretty stiff competition, though it does compete at the edge of the mass-market receiver price range. Onkyo’s TX-NR3008 at $2,099 is an obvious competitor though it’s getting a bit long in the tooth and is somewhat overshadowed by not only the SC-37 but its own, less expensive stable mates like the $899 TX-NR708 receiver. Another competitor at the $2,000 price point would have to be Denon’s AVR-4311CI, and though I prefer the SC-37’s sound and feature set, the Denon does pack more channels of amplification and a few feature sets not found on the SC-37, such as AirPlay.

I mentioned earlier that the SC-37 does, in many ways, compete favorably with costlier AV receivers. One such up market receiver is Arcam’s AVR500 AV receiver priced at $3,499. Of course if you want to outright best the SC-37’s performance without having to break the bank, you can look to affordable separates such as Marantz’s AV7005 ($1,499) and MM7055 ($1,199.99).

For more information on the latest crop of AV receivers including the latest product news and reviews please visit Home Theater Review’s AV Receiver page.

Conclusion
At $2,200 retail the Pioneer Elite SC-37 AV receiver is not perfect and not without competition, but with its modern feature set, copious connection options and higher-end sound it’s more than a capable AV receiver – it’s potentially all the AV receiver a modern home theater enthusiast will ever need. While you can spend less these days or even get into separates for the same cost, the Pioneer Elite SC-37 is worth a look and is recommended by this reviewer.

Additional Resources
• Read more AV receiver reviews from the staff at Home Theater Review.
• Look at the Blu-ray player pairing options that exist for SC-37.
• Find a Plasma HDTV or LED HDTV to connect to the SC-37.

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