Pioneer SC-57 9.1 A/V Receiver


Setup and Calibration of the Pioneer SC-57 Receiver

After unpacking the SC-57 I hooked it up to my Mythos STS surround system and a pair of Paradigm Sub1 subwoofers, along with a selection of Blu-ray players and projectors. My first task was to run the MCACC auto-calibration, which should free me from having to enter all the information about the speakers manually, as well as provide phase and time correction to the whole system. My system had changed a lot since I last used MCACC, and I have used a selection of other room correction systems since then. It seems that MCACC really hasn't changed in the two years since I last used it, which leaves it behind the times in a couple of ways.

First, MCACC offers no correction for the subwoofer channel at all. It not only does not do dual subs, but it doesn't even do a single subwoofer. More and more subs do include their own EQ systems, or you can buy an external one, but the SC-57 is in the same price class as receivers that offer Audyssey MultEQ XT32, which does dual independent subwoofer calibration. Along the same lines, MCACC also only supports a single crossover for all channels. My speakers all have very different crossover points that I like to use: 120 Hz for the surrounds, 100 Hz for the center, and 60 Hz for the fronts. MCACC leaves me with having to choose a spot somewhere in the middle which will produce a poor frequency response curve from speakers that should be crossed over higher, as well as causing the amplifiers and speaker to work harder to try to hit those lower octaves. This is once again something available on other receivers in the price range, and another thing I really think Pioneer needs to improve upon.

Once I did calibrate my system using MCACC, I was able to check the results using either the on screen GUI, or an included software package. The distances and levels all looked to be spot on, which saves me a lot of time. I've taken some screen captures from the MCACC software so you can see the effect that MCACC had on group delay for my front channels, which was practically eliminated. The automated MCACC setup measures only a single location, as Pioneer believes that you most often use your system alone, so it is optimized for a single position instead of attempting to optimize for a larger location of seats.

Setup of the inputs themselves was fairly straight forward, as I assigned my components to their correct HDMI or analog inputs and proceeded to rename them. Pioneer would benefit here if you could do this setup and assignment either with a web browser, or with their iOS App. Using a keyboard, physical or on screen, to input names and assign inputs would make the process even quicker and easier for everyone. Most companies don't offer this either, but with everything being so connected it would be an easy way to improve the setup experience. Now that everything was ready to go, it was time to see how the Pioneer could perform.