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Pioneer Elite SP-EC73 Center Speaker Review

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Pioneer Elite SP-EC73 Center speaker. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $399 on Amazon including Prime shipping. It is the matching speaker to Pioneer SP-EBS73-LR bookshelf Atmos which I just reviewed.

This is a 3-way speaker with a coaxial mid and tweeter in the middle, a bass driver and passive radiator:

Pioneer SP-EC73 Elite Center Speaker Audio Review.jpg

As such it is NOT the common MTM configuration which has directivity issues and causes side reflections to be dissimilar to direct ones.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

All measurements are reference to tweeter axis with the grill removed. Frequency resolution is 2.7 Hz. Over 600 measurement points were used to assure high precision in higher frequencies. I am also using averaging to lower noise in bass frequencies. Accuracy of the measurements are better than 1% during most of the frequency range but drop to about 2% in 5 to 10 kHz range.

Spinorama Audio Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker can be used. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

Pioneer SP-EC73 Elite Center Speaker CEA-2034 Spinorama Audio Measurements.png


I am not happy about the performance around crossover frequencies as levels don't seem to be matched, especially around the mid to tweeter. We see distortion characteristics matching this as well:

Pioneer SP-EC73 Elite Center Speaker distortion Audio Measurements.png


Coaxial drivers are good in the way to provide similar vertical and horizontal response. This can be a good thing or bad. The latter materializes here to some extent in that what you get on-axis, you also get off-axis resulting in predicted in room response to also be choppy:

Pioneer SP-EC73 Elite Center Speaker CEA-2034 Spinorama Predicted In-room Audio Measurements.png


Most preferred response here is higher frequencies dropping off gradually as otherwise the speaker sounds bright. Here, the drop is quite slight so you likely will hear a brighter than preferred response. Fortunately this aspect can easily be fixed with "target curve" of an automatic or manual EQ system.

For center speakers as I noted earlier, we want unified response on and off-axis and we have that here:
Pioneer SP-EC73 Elite Center Speaker CEA-2034 Spinorama Early Window Audio Measurements.png


Impedance for a change is above 4 ohm for a compact speaker:

Pioneer SP-EC73 Elite Center Speaker Impedance Audio Measurements.png


Pretty Speaker Graphs
Pioneer SP-EC73 Elite Center Speaker Horizontal Directivity Audio Measurements.png


Pioneer SP-EC73 Elite Center Speaker Vertical Directivity Audio Measurements.png


Pioneer SP-EC73 Elite Center Speaker Waterfall Audio Review.png


Conclusions
I am not setup to test center speakers so no subjective opinion there. Objectively, response is less smooth than I like to see. Granted, maybe this is the best you can do in a $400 center speaker. Judging by what I see on objective measurements, I can't get excited about the Pioneer SP-EC73 so can't recommend it.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Had one of the highest shipping bills (for UPS alone) of $150 last week. Appreciate a few dollars to offset that by using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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amirm

amirm

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sam_adams

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Hi, Amir. Just wondering if the KNFS generates phase data for the measurements or if that is one of those 'ups and extras' that cost real money? If it does, could that be included in the Spin data dump?
 

kokishin

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Pioneer Elite SP-EC73 Center speaker. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $399 on Amazon including Prime shipping. It is the matching speaker to Pioneer SP-EBS73-LR bookshelf Atmos which I just reviewed.

This is a 3-way speaker with a coaxial mid and tweeter in the middle, a bass driver and passive radiator:


As such it is NOT the common MTM configuration which has directivity issues and causes side reflections to be dissimilar to direct ones.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

All measurements are reference to tweeter axis with the grill removed. Frequency resolution is 2.7 Hz. Over 600 measurement points were used to assure high precision in higher frequencies. I am also using averaging to lower noise in bass frequencies. Accuracy of the measurements are better than 1% during most of the frequency range but drop to about 2% in 5 to 10 kHz range.

Spinorama Audio Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker can be used. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

View attachment 55551

I am not happy about the performance around crossover frequencies as levels don't seem to be matched, especially around the mid to tweeter. We see distortion characteristics matching this as well:

View attachment 55552

Coaxial drivers are good in the way to provide similar vertical and horizontal response. This can be a good thing or bad. The latter materializes here to some extent in that what you get on-axis, you also get off-axis resulting in predicted in room response to also be choppy:

View attachment 55553

Most preferred response here is higher frequencies dropping off gradually as otherwise the speaker sounds bright. Here, the drop is quite slight so you likely will hear a brighter than preferred response. Fortunately this aspect can easily be fixed with "target curve" of an automatic or manual EQ system.

For center speakers as I noted earlier, we want unified response on and off-axis and we have that here:
View attachment 55554

Impedance for a change is above 4 ohm for a compact speaker:

View attachment 55555

Pretty Speaker Graphs
View attachment 55556

View attachment 55557

View attachment 55558

Conclusions
I am not setup to test center speakers so no subjective opinion there. Objectively, response is less smooth than I like to see. Granted, maybe this is the best you can do in a $400 center speaker. Judging by what I see on objective measurements, I can't get excited about the Pioneer SP-EC73 so can't recommend it.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Had one of the highest shipping bills (for UPS alone) of $150 last week. Appreciate a few dollars to offset that by using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
As I posted recently in your EBS73 review thread, I purchased the Pioneer Elite Dolby Atmos Enabled floor standers, surrounds, and this center speaker.

When watching movies, I was never satisfied with dialog intelligibility from this center no matter what I tried including Audyssey, Dialog Enhancement mode, room treatments, and jacking up the center volume. I replaced it with a Chane A2.4 and for the most part, dialog seems better to me.

My sig has my current setup.

Edit: And thanks for the review!
 
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617

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This review is of particular interest to me as I just purchased one of these. I don't watch movies much (my hifi system is separate and not in the living room) so I just wanted an inexpensive CC to improve dialog intelligibility and to complete my 5.1 setup. Being a speaker nerd, I wanted a 3 way, but also wanted something relatively small.

I got mine for $150 or so, and it's not too hard to find this unit at much lower prices than listed.

Amir's listening impressions correlate to mine - this speaker doesn't really have smooth 'hifi' sound, but it has lively and slightly bright sound which makes movies sound similar to how they do in theaters - you know what I mean. The increased treble makes sound effects really dynamic, and voices are very intelligible if a bit too forward. A little EQ would soften this if desired. For $300 USD plus, I'd be looking at the ELAC uni-fi or the KEF models, but for under 200 this is a great speaker with some caveats:

1. Bass is handled by one 5" driver, so it is fine for a smallish room but output will not be crazy. You can see the limitations in the distortion plot.
2. PR gives nice bass to 60-80hz which is about right for a CC in my opinion, enough to cover the fundamentals of voice and music but without getting too big or inefficient, just don't expect much beef.
3. My middle-of-the-road denon AVR has no trouble driving this far louder than needed.
4. Dispersion is actually excellent, offers great intelligibility all around the room. This is the big selling point and it delivers pretty well.

For me, this unit is more or less perfect, but for 300 I'd be looking for something else. Not sure what that something else would be; 3 way center channels are not common, and MTMs are just not a good compromise. There is a 2 way Revel unit with a waveguide (concerta 2) which might be good, at around $750, and KEF and ELAC make other concentric models. SVS and Monolith make a traditional 3 way CC, and Paradigm may still as well.
 

LightninBoy

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I dunno - for a low priced center channel, this looks pretty good to me. All the right compromises considering its purpose and cost.
 

Shazb0t

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These are going for pretty cheap on ebay and other sites, around $150 per. Not a bad deal for a 3-way center. I am curious how Andrew Jones latest stab at affordable 3-way speakers turned out; @amirm anyone send you an Elac Uni-Fi speaker for testing yet?
 

LightninBoy

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4. Dispersion is actually excellent, offers great intelligibility all around the room. This is the big selling point and it delivers pretty well.

Indeed. Look at the horizontal directivity from 200 to 1K! Plus it has a little dip around 180, which I frequently pull down to reduce muddiness in my recordings. This looks like a dialog machine.
 

617

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Indeed. Look at the horizontal directivity from 200 to 1K! Plus it has a little dip around 180, which I frequently pull down to reduce muddiness in my recordings. This looks like a dialog machine.
Right, it's perfect for dialog. It's hard to imagine a center channel being better for this money. The fact you can spend 1k on a horizontal mtm is just bizarre to me.
 

edechamps

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I have added the Pioneer Elite SP-EC73 to Loudspeaker Explorer where it can be compared to other speakers.

Consistency within the listening window is… meh:

visualization(36).png


If you put your head in a vice and listen at -20° horizontal, the response is a bit better. Note that this is one of these cases where the listening window average is misleading as it looks better than what you can actually get by listening at any angle.
 

Vladimir Filevski

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As THD is rising toward 2.6 kHz and falling after it mid seems like a more logical suspect.
THD is falling below 2.6kHz as a result of the high-pass tweeter filter. Of course there are some mid drivers with THD peaks towards high frequencies, but I have measured dozens of tweeters and almost all have sharp rising THD below some 1.5 - 3 kHz.
 
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617

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THD is falling below 2.6kHz as a result of the high-pass tweeter filter. Of course there are some mid drivers with THD peaks towards high frequencies, but I have measured dozens of tweeters and almost all have sharp rising THD below some 1.5 - 3 kHz.

2.6khz distortion for a small cone would be very unusual.
 
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