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Pioneer SC-1222 AVR Review

amirm

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#1
This a review and detailed measurements of the Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater Audio/Video Receiver. It is on kind loan from a member. The SC-1222 is discontinued. I see one on sale on Amazon for US $540.

The SC-1222 came out in a series of AVRs from Pioneer with class-D amplifiers, running much cooler than competing class AB units of the time:

Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater AVR Audio Review.jpg

I had an SC series which I retired due to a bad TI DSP IC that fails and causes loss of audio. So if you are going after then in used market, be very careful.

Being class D, the AVR ran very cool in my tests and never shut down or go into protection. As I note later though, at or near max power there is a loud mechanical buzz/hum from the transformer that is proportional to power level. Likely you won't hear it because the sound it produces will also be loud but it is something that should not be there.

Testing was performed after a factory reset and disabling subwoofer.

AVR DAC Audio Measurements
As usual, we first focus on digital to analog conversion by feeding the unit a 1 kHz tone and see how much distortion and noise the analog output produces:

Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater AVR SPDIF Audio Measurements.png


I had to go up to +2 dB on the volume control to get the nominal 2 volt output. There is what appears to be jitter components around our 1 kHz tone which is very unusual. Jitter is proportional to frequency so if a 1 kHz tone produces it, it means our 12 kHz test signal for jitter will show a lot more of it. More on that later. For now, SINAD is set by these jitter components and as bad as that is, it is still above average for AVRs:

1586410696190.png


Dynnamic range is "OK:"

Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater AVR SPDIF Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png


Jitter is not as indicated:

Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater AVR SPDIF Jitter Audio Measurements.png


The narrow pulses correspond to changes in the j-test signal which should never be visible. Because they are, it means the nature of the digital data you send to this DAC changes its analog output which is bad. I think this is one of the worst jitter performances I have ever seen in any audio product I have tested!

Linearity is also "OK:"
Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater AVR SPDIF Linearity Audio Measurements.png


AVR Amplifier Audio Measurements
As usual we start with our 5 watt dashboard:
Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater AVR Analog In Audio Measurements.png


This is again above average for AVRs:

Best home theater AVR Amplifier Review 2020.png


And even among larger collection of all amps tested:
Best stereo amplifier review 2020.png


Dynamic range is rather weak:
Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater AVR Analog In Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png



Frequency response test shows peaking, indicating high sensitivity to speaker load (due to output filtering):
Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater AVR Analog In Frequency Response Audio Measurements.png


Power output is good though:

Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater AVR Analog In Power into 4 ohm Audio Measurements.png


Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater AVR Analog In Power into 8 ohm Audio Measurements.png


Conclusions
The Pioneer SC-1222 is a mix of above average and well below average objective performance. Given its age and proclivity to failure around now, I don't recommend that you chase it on the used market. If you have it, mind the rising frequency response and speaker dependency.

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

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peng

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#6
Once again, that SINAD ranking chart is going to led people to believe this thing will sound better than many other AVRs, when it really depends on applications, one being the pre out voltage level. I wish Amir can come up with a metric that covers the "depends..." part, at least a few of the important parts such as the voltage level, IMD, and jitter (if audible)
 

ta240

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#8
Another avr that sucks, colour me (un-) surprised.
I can fault the higher priced stuff for having low quality sound but not the lower priced ones. In this price range it is just what the market demands.

A large amount of shoppers want bells and whistles, power numbers and low price so this is what they get. Most of those customers will likely never realize they have inferior sound quality so they will be happier than they would be if they got good sound instead of one of these: features, power or price.

When shopping they'd likely skip right past an AVR that offered good sound but lacked in either features, power or low price.
 

Severian

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#9
I own this AVR, although I retired it last year in favor of a Yamaha TSR-7810 (Costco's rebadge of the RX-V781) that was 4K capable.

When I bought it I felt like I'd snagged just about the best bang-for-the-buck AVR on the market considering the capable Class D amps and the flexibility of pre-outs. I was leery about the switch to Yamaha and it's probably less capable amps.

This is purely subjective - and I never did a direct back-to-back comparison because it was impractical with cables, furniture, etc. - but the newer Yamaha absolutely blows the Pioneer away in terms of sound quality. It seemed like I was getting clean output at higher SPL from both my inefficient SEAS Idunns and very efficient BIC RTR-EV15s. With the Pioneer, bass was always lacking and it would get harsh as I turned it up. The Yamaha just seems smoother and richer all around.

Prior to getting the Yamaha I experimented with using the Pioneer's pre-outs to a Crown XLS1002 and felt there was a significant improvement. The Yamaha basically keeps up with the Crown past the point where I'm ever likely listen (and sometimes I listen loud).

I don't know whether this is due to the actual output capabilities of the Pioneer (they look pretty decent in this review) or some other facet of the sound quality. All of this was with digital sources, by the way. I've never used the analog inputs on either.
 
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Dj7675

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#11
@amirm what would the DAC performance be at 1 or 1.5? This might be helpful for those using external amps requiring just 1 or 1.2mv to power them fully.
 
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#12
as bad as that is, it is still above average for AVRs
one of the worst jitter performances I have ever seen in any audio product I have tested!
This is again above average for AVRs
:facepalm: At this point it is SO easy for any manufacturer to make an AVR that isn't a complete incompetent disappointment and score high praise on this forum. But until then, if you listen primarily to music, stay away from AVRs. Just get a streamer DAC and a nice amp.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #14
@amirm what would the DAC performance be at 1 or 1.5? This might be helpful for those using external amps requiring just 1 or 1.2mv to power them fully.
It was almost the same. This is a very good aspect of this AVR in that its dac performance doesn't degrade with the amp clipping like newer AVRs do.
 

P_M

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#15
Does DAC SINAD rating include ENOB (effective # of bits/dynamic range), Linearity and Jitter ? or only noise+thd ? I suppose thd could include jitter and linearity but just want to confirm.

Similary, does AMP SINAD rating include freq response non-linearities ?
 

RayDunzl

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#17
So, it needs one of those fancy jitter reducing things?
Assuming the AP's normal test tone is a low-jitter source, the AVR appears to make its own jitter.

1586463209635.png
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #19
Does DAC SINAD rating include ENOB (effective # of bits/dynamic range), Linearity and Jitter ? or only noise+thd ? I suppose thd could include jitter and linearity but just want to confirm.
Imagine taking out the original tone (at 1 kHz) and ALL that remains is blended to make the SINAD score. Linearity does not enter the equation directly. Jitter does but as I explained in the measurements, it usually doesn't show up with 1 kHz tone. When it does, yes, it gets included as distortion and reduces SINAD.

does AMP SINAD rating include freq response non-linearities ?
No. The excitation signal is at one frequency: 1 kHz.

Now, to the extent the product filters its output, then it can reduce some noise but this is usually not the case.
 

P_M

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#20
Linearity does not enter the equation directly. Jitter does but as I explained in the measurements, it usually doesn't show up with 1 kHz tone. When it does, yes, it gets included as distortion and reduces SINAD.
Would linearity, or the lack of, manifest itself as raised noise floor ? Then I guess you can say it is included in sinad. It deserves a much lower score.
The whole reason this question came to mind was that I was a bit surprised it scored that well despite terrible jitter performance.
Perhaps a higher test frequency specifically for jitter testing ? 10Khz ?

Besides that I was also curious why no hdmi test ? In fact I feel with AVRs mostly all connections are done via hdmi these days, no one uses spdif.

I have some thoughts on developing a scoring/ranking benchmark that includes all these things that sinad wouldn't capture. More on that tomorrow.
 
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